Monthly Archives: February 2009

Charming Ways to Talk Your Way Out of a Meeting

Have you ever attended a meeting that you felt was not beneficial to you or that you weren’t able to make a contribution toward? You’re not alone. Most everyone has spent some time in a meeting thinking, “I could be doing something productive right now if I wasn’t here.” While you can’t always change how an unproductive meeting is managed, you can change whether or not you attend. Although you won’t be able to get out of every meeting, you can charm your way out of some of them. Try using these three ideas to attend fewer meetings.

Politely Decline. Sometimes you’ll be invited to a meeting but won’t be required to attend. Determine if this meeting will affect you directly, so you’ll know if you really need to attend or if you’ll receive any value from it. If you feel you or your team or company won’t benefit from your attendance, politely decline the invitation so you can spend your time doing something more productive.

Request to Skip It. When you’re on deadline, working on a big project, or just need to catch up on your work, ask your supervisor if you can miss a meeting. Explain to him that you feel you have other priorities that need to be taken care of first and will be more productive by continuing to work. Also, be sure to tell him how you and the department will benefit from your time spent elsewhere and the money that the company can save by you working through the meeting, if that’s the case.

Do Your Part Ahead of Time. When you’re expected to attend a meeting to simply report an update on a project or make some other small contribution, do your work before the meeting, and then decline attending. Send an e-mail to the group containing the information you would report at the meeting. If you need others to take action on something for you, you can also request this in an e-mail or phone call instead of waiting to talk with them at the meeting.

Meetings aren’t productive if you don’t receive any value from them or contribute to them, but you can be more productive if you carefully choose which meetings to attend and which to skip. Try using one of these three techniques the next time you’re asked to attend a pointless meeting. It may surprise you how many unproductive meetings you’ll be able to charm your way out of if you approach them the right way.

Check out these posts for more ways to get more out of your work day.

5 Ways to Say Happy Birthday at Work (Without Breaking Your Budget)

Birthdays at WorkIf you’ve ever felt that one day blends into another at work, then you know that any excuse to shake things up and break from the norm is a great way to lift spirits and help your team bond. While each workplace differs on the reasons why and how they celebrate, a popular trend is
celebrating employee birthdays. Though some people dislike the attention and others choose not to celebrate for religious reasons, most people in the workplace enjoy a small birthday party.

But in times like these, budgets are tight for businesses and employees alike. So, here are five ways to celebrate birthdays at work without going broke.

1. Sign a group birthday card. Depending on the size of your workplace or team, a card signed by your group can be a simple way to help everyone save a few bucks. Another idea is to create an electronic group greeting card that everyone can customize. makes it easy to make sure everyone has a chance to sign an electronic card and will schedule the delivery date for you.

2. Bake, don’t order cake. Having a monthly cake to celebrate employee birthdays is a time-honored tradition in many workplaces, but the costs can add up fast. Employers may be looking to cut budgets on items like these, but that doesn’t mean birthdays can’t be sweet anymore. One idea is to have team members bake cupcakes, cookies, or other sweets to bring to celebrate co-worker birthdays.

3. Have a potluck picnic. Instead of catering in or going out for a restaurant meal to celebrate a co-worker’s birthday, a budget-friendly alternative is to have a potluck picnic or lunch. Having everyone bring a themed dish is a great way to build camaraderie within your team and celebrate while keeping budgets in check.

4. Throw a re-gift party. If your team has a tradition of buying gifts for each other but can’t afford to this year, try a unique spin on the popular “Dirty Santa” holiday gift exchange. Have a re-gift party in honor of your team member’s birthday and ask all team members to bring a white elephant gift to exchange (just make sure they don’t bring a gift they received from a co-worker!). Other variations of this idea include having a themed gift swap. Simply select a theme, like funny things under $1, your favorite candy, or a secret recipe. Then, use the gift exchange game rules to provide an inexpensive but fun party game that gets everyone involved and preserves the gift-giving spirit.

5. Host a tournament or game lunch. Another way to celebrate birthdays at work is to schedule a game hour or tournament. Playing cards, board games, or word games can be a fun way for your team to celebrate while not spending a lot of money.

To keep team morale high, especially in times like these, it’s important to make sure we don’t cut celebrating from the workplace when budgets get cut. So, try using some of these ideas to celebrate birthdays in your workplace, or suggest these ideas to your team the next time you’re looking for a much-needed morale boost on the job.

4 Things You Can Do to Help Your Company Save Money

When you turn on the news these days, you hear about companies cutting jobs to save money. In fact, the government just reported that the unemployment rate hit 7.6% last month. For once, I would like to hear about companies cutting costs to save jobs.

Not all companies can cut enough costs to save a lot of jobs, but it doesn’t hurt to suggest it. Talk with your boss or schedule a meeting with management to see what you and your fellow co-workers can do to help your company cut back on spending to save jobs. To help you get started, here are four ways to help your company save some extra cash.

Cut back on electricity. Whether you work in an office or in a factory, turning off lights and computers when not in use can save companies money on their electricity bills.

Clean up your own space. Instead of having cleaning crews come in to clean up around the office, offer to do it yourself. If everyone pitches in, you can save the company from having to hire an outside cleaning crew to clean up after you.

Take a cut in benefits. This is a hard one to swallow, but if you aren’t employed, then having benefits is the last thing on your mind. Offer to suspend some of your benefits for a predetermined amount of time until the company starts increasing their profit margin. Prioritize to keep the benefits that really matter – like insurance – and realize the rest may be optional for a time.

Reduce waste. Ordering office supplies can cost companies thousands of dollars every quarter, so to help your employer save money by reducing the amount of supplies you need, or combine departments and order in bulk. If applicable, bring items from home such as pens, paper, or other materials.

Finding ways to save your company money could possibly help save jobs. And even though it doesn’t seem like a lot, it all adds up. So, find out from your supervisor what ways you can contribute to help your company get through this recession without job loss.

Have other ideas that can save companies money? List them in the comment section below.

Are You Abusing Your Computer Privileges? 5 Ways Not to Use the Internet at Work

If you have access to a computer at work, it’s easy to get sidetracked and waste time on the clock. In fact, most employees admit to wasting part of their day on non-work-related activities, with 48% of those employees wasting time by using the Internet, according to a study completed by Are you one of them? Whether you are, or have just thought about it, here are five things to avoid doing on the Internet at work. After all, it’s the company’s dime and the company’s time, and it’s doubtful you’re getting paid to not work.

Socializing – If you have a MySpace or Facebook account, you might be tempted to spend some time updating yours, but don’t do it. Using your personal account probably won’t help you in your career unless you’re in a very niche field, so stay away from your social network while you’re on the job. Some companies even restrict access to social media sites like these specifically to keep employees from wasting time there.

Personal Business – You might use the Internet to pay your bills or make a doctor’s appointment, but it’s best to limit these activities to a non-work computer. Make sure you pay your bills from home, or use a public computer lab to take care of your personal business. This can also be a security issue. Some companies monitor keystrokes, so by typing in your password, you may accidentally give it away. Taking time on the clock to use the Internet at work for personal use shows your employer your lack of commitment to get the job done that you’re paid to do. 

Job Hunting – Looking for another job while you’re still on the job is a big no-no. If you’re looking for a new opportunity and the Internet is at your fingertips, it might be tempting to search job postings online, but don’t do it. Respect your supervisor, co-worker, and company by completing a job search on your own time using your own resources.

E-mailing – You might be able to check your e-mail from anywhere you are as long as you have an Internet connection. But it’s best not to check your personal e-mail at work using the company’s Internet. You also need to be careful about using your work e-mail for personal use. All of your work e-mails are owned by your company, and even if you delete them, they can be re-accessed. Use your own time to catch up with long lost friends and forward chain e-mails to your family instead of wasting time at work. Instead, spend your time learning a new skill or helping out a co-worker.

Shopping – Online shopping is easy and convenient, but when it has no relation to your job, leave your shopping habits at home. Don’t be tempted to use the company’s Internet to buy the latest DVD or a new pair of jeans. Instead, run to the store on your lunch break, or shop on the weekends when you’re not on company time. Also, your credit card could be vulnerable to hacking when you use it at work.

The Internet makes almost everything easier and more convenient these days. But, it can be a hindrance in your job, or even in your career, if you abuse the privileges you were given at work. So, avoid using the Internet inappropriately at work, and give your best to the job you have. Trying to fight the urge to surf the Internet? Check out these ways to use your extra time wisely.