Make your voicemail messages more meaningful

Русский: Цифровой автоответчик (фрагмент)
How to make your messages more meaningful and improve communication.

When you make a call and get voicemail - don't just leave a garbled message as you rapidly try to think of something to say.

Be prepared.

Speak slowly and clearly.  If you leave a number repeat it.  It's often difficult to write down a number in one go, especially if the caller rapidly rattles off their number.  Repeating it gives them a better chance of getting it right first time.

State the nature of your call - if appropriate.  What are you calling about, what information do you need?

Say when you're available or when it's a good time to call back.  People will often leave a message just as they're going out - usually as a last minute, 'oops must do this before I leave'.  When the call is returned the person isn't there and you end up playing phone-tag.

If you're going to be away from the phone or are busy - say so in your message and say when you'll be back, so they don't waste their time or yours.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

7 Ways to Create Resolutions and Habits for the Year

So how are your New Year Resolutions going?  We’re three weeks in to the year and no doubt, like many other people you’ve started the year with good intentions.

Perhaps you’re going for a dry January and giving up alcohol or you want to kick start your health by joining the gym, giving up smoking or eating more healthily or even starting a diet.  Are you always resolving to do the same thing but somehow never make it stick?

You’re certainly not alone.  Here are a few quick tips to get you back on track and make your new habits (resolutions) stick.

Take your time: New habits don’t happen overnight so be patient.  Give yourself at least 30-60 days for a new way of working or being to become a habit.

Be positive: Resolutions are really nothing more than replacing bad habits with good habits.  However, resolutions are often seen as ‘giving up’ something.  Change your perspective and turn it around to think about what you’re gaining.

Be specific: The clearer and more specific you are about what you want the more likely you are to achieve it.

Write it down: Any resolution or goal becomes more real when you write it down.  You’ve got it out of your head where it’s just a thought or idea and put it on paper.

Create a plan: Once you’ve decided what it is you want to achieve, create a plan to make it happen.  How much time is involved?  What support do you need?  How can you make your new habit part of your daily routine?

Get accountable: Tell family, friends, a colleague what you want and what you need from them.  They can help you to stay focused and on track when your resolve starts to waver.

One step at a time: Don’t bite off more than you can chew.  Start small and build on your success.

Need help with your resolutions and habits for 2015 - take a look at the 90-Day Habit Mastery or check out my latest newsletter for additional tips to creating and achieving your 'resolutions'.

Surviving the half-term holidays

Some "slow children at play" signs j...
It's half-term week and parents are busy juggling work and home life.

Not only does this create a challenge for business but also for families planning childcare around their busy working lives. So, how do you cope and how can you make the most of both work and holiday time.

Firstly - don't even attempt to cram a normal working week into four and three day weeks.

Secondly - stay focused and be selective. Not only are clients, customers and providers likely to take some time off but you want to spend time with the family too.

Plan WHAT needs to be done over the week and WHEN you're doing to do it.  If you're planning to have time off with the children - PLAN your work time and family time.  Just because there are fewer working hours available, doesn't mean your productivity and what you can achieve should drop in the time you spend working.

Prioritise - select the 'most important' things you need to work on. What's the minimum you need to do to keep things moving? You'd be surprised at the results you can get when you focus on the right things.

If you work from home, share childcare with friends and family and return the favour when they need a few hours or a day off.

A few focused hours is a far more effective use of your time than being distracted or trying to juggle work around family commitments and ending up feeling guilty and overwhelmed as you split yourself between work and family.

Identify the key tasks and actions you need to do over the week and fit them into the time available.

Set time limits on tasks, so you'll get things done quicker and be less distracted if you only have a limited amount of time.  You could get a lot done in one or two hours a day, leaving the rest of the day clear for family time.

TIP: Use a kitchen timer if you want to be REALLY focused.

Enjoy quality time with the family and a break for yourself.

Some "slow children at play" signs just say "Slow" (Photo credit: Wikipedia)