I had a really productive day yesterday. Well, at least up until about 3:00. That's when I crashed. Completely lost my concentration. It probably had a lot to do with my carb-heavy lunch, which I happened to eat at my desk, working.
Afternoons always go better for me if I take a break at lunch – get away from the office and go for a walk, or spend time perusing the nearby Chapters library. I'm looking forward to warmer weather when I can go sit in the park.
The benefits of taking a break is not new knowledge, but it's easily forgotten or ignored (we're all so busy making our deadlines). To renew your energy and improve your concentration and productivity, step away from the grind, even just for 20 minutes. A walk through the mall will get the blood flowing, but a hit of nature will do you one better.
The reason may be that the brain uses two forms of attention. “Directed” attention allows us to concentrate on work, reading and tests, while “involuntary” attention takes over when we’re distracted by things like running water, crying babies, a beautiful view or a pet that crawls onto our lap.This comes from an article citing research that shows children who are exposed to nature during the school day are better behaved in the classroom and can concentrate more. Stands to reason the same would hold true for us adults. The article continues:
Directed attention is a limited resource. Long hours in front of a computer or studying for a test can leave us feeling fatigued. But spending time in natural settings appears to activate involuntary attention, giving the brain’s directed attention time to rest.
“It’s pretty clear that all human beings experience attentional fatigue,” Dr. Faber Taylor said. “Our attention has to be restored from that fatigue, and there is a growing body of research evidence that nature is one way that seems particularly effective at doing it.”
Remember "the best job in the world" that I posted about – caretaker of Hamilton Island in the Great Barrier Reef? Not only has the competition generated tons of interest and free press for Tourism Queensland, but it's also attracted some creative applications, like this video and blog entry from Vancouverite Marcella Moser.
It's not my taste, but it is completely appropriate for the job to which she's applying. The key is that it's all show, not tell. Marcella has demonstrated that she's capable of writing a blog, producing video and handling the back end by creating a well-designed custom site. The blog also gives a sense of her writing style, interests and personality, and proves that she can come up with a good idea and execute it well.
Now, by no means am I suggesting you all go out and make a video and start a blog for every job you apply to, but think about what would be appropriate. And even if you stick to a simple cover letter and resumé, keep these points in mind:
• Show more than tell. In your cover letter, include examples of past situations that demonstrate relevant talents. In your resumé, list accomplishments instead of just duties.Related posts:
• Consider your audience. Include keywords from the job posting and highlight duties and accomplishments most relevant to the position.
• Tailor your application to the recipient. Do the above for each job you apply to. Every position is different, so every application should be.
I was starting to question my assertion that it's important to send in a hard copy of your resumé and cover letter – email and online applications have quickly become the norm – but this tip from resumé professionals, cited in the New York Times, supports my theory.
[I]f you really want to make an impression, make a hard copy of your cover letter and résumé and send it to the hiring manager by regular mail. Attach a handwritten note that says, “Second submission; I’m very interested,” [Katy] Piotrowski, [author of career books and a career counselor,] said. “I’ve had clients double their rate of interviews simply from doing that,” she said.
[Wendy S.] Enelow, [author of “Cover Letter Magic,”] calls this “double-hitting,” and says she has seen it work remarkably well. She said a senior-level client of hers got an interview and was hired because the hard copy of his cover letter and résumé reached the company president, whereas his electronic application was rejected by someone in human resources because it did not meet certain rigid criteria.
Folio offers up a succinct 14-step guide to assigning and editing a story. It's good reference for newbies, and a nice refresher for old hats. Something that didn't occur to me but seems so obvious: Don't give your writers Friday deadlines – these often become Mondays.
Hat tip to Penny Caldwell.
Check out the profile of Ed2010 on the Ryerson Review of Journalism website. (In case you don't know, I'm the Canadian Director of the editorial networking group.) I just want to add a shout-out to assistant chapter host Briony Smith, who didn't happen to be mentioned in the article (though she was interviewed) – she coordinates all our Toronto Happy Hours, among other things.
Speaking of Happy Hours, Ed Toronto's next one is being held Wed., March 11, 6-9 pm at The Duke of York (39 Prince Arthur Ave., near the Bedford exit of St. George subway station), in the 2nd floor conservatory (go upstairs to the back).
Come out and mix and mingle with other magazine editors. We're having another Chat-with-an-Editor Raffle, with a chance to win dinner with Liza Cooperman, executive editor of Hello! Canada. Tickets are $6 in advance, $5 at the event. Plus, we've got door prizes: Everyone in attendance has a chance to win one of two free one-year subscriptions to Walrus Magazine.
So come on out and bring all your friends!!! For full details, check Ed Toronto's Facebook event page.
Q. I just started a job about a month ago. The people are nice and there is good job security, but I don't particularly enjoy the day-to-day work and I don't feel like I fit here that well.
I've been asked to interview for another job that's not quite up to par with my experience, and as thus, it pays a bit less, but it's back in publishing doing what I love, and the commute is better. There was also talk about another position that interests me opening in a few months, so there's a chance I might be able to talk them into hiring me now to fill both positions and paying me a bit more but saving on a salary in a couple of months.
Am I totally screwing up my reputation/career/resume by leaving a company so quickly after joining with them?
How do I explain why I would leave this job after a month without scaring the new employer off? Do I tell them that it's a temp position or something?
How do I deal with taxing my references again? They just received phone calls from my current company less than two months ago. I'd hate to wear them out!
A. Seems like you are in a bit of an awkward situation, but the thing to keep first and foremost in mind is to do what's right for you and your career, and to be honest.
A month may be too little time to truly determine whether your current job is a good fit, but there's no harm in talking to another company to figure out if it's where you'd rather be. If you feel you can negotiate and convince them to hire you to fill both positions, and if it is your dream job, then go for it.
Don't worry about screwing up your career: just be honest and sincere about why you're leaving, and be considerate. If you are offered and decide to take the new job, explain to your current employer that it's an opportunity you just cant give up. Acknowledge that you're putting them in a tough spot of having to look for someone again, and say that you'll try to make the transition as smooth as possible. Do not mention that you're not happy where you are. Every conversation – with your current employer and all future employers – needs to be about how good the new job is. In your interview, stick to the story that you're really excited about the opportunity – it will only flatter the hopefully new boss.
When it comes to references, same thing: be honest. Explain the situation, acknowledge that you're asking a lot of them, and say that you understand if they'd rather opt out of vouching for you this time around.
As for your resumé, there's no rule that you have to list every job you've ever had, so you can just leave off your current gig (a month of not working won't ring any bells for people looking at your resumé in the future).
*Question is edited for length and identifying details.
It makes sense that anything a company can do to minimize layoffs is a good thing, but it seems this isn't necessarily true. An article in Maclean's says
[W]age rollbacks are actually worse for worker morale than layoffs. When workers are fired, it generally sends a wave of discontent through the ranks. But then the affected employees are gone, and after a few weeks, things return more-or-less to normal. In contrast, when wages are cut, bad feelings linger in the office for months as employees grumble and debate whether they’ve been mistreated by management, and when they’ll get their “real” full paycheque back. Strange as it may seem, employers believe it’s actually less disruptive to simply fire people.
CEO of the Art Gallery of Ontario, Matthew Teitelbaum shares a few words in a video on the Globe and Mail website. Here's a bit of what he had to say about managing the Frank Gehry renovation...
"My job as a leader was, in a general sense, to give people the tools to do the best job they could."
On goal setting:
"Keep alive the short-, medium- and long-term goal."
"At the very root of this project is the notion of change. And in any change process, there is an extraordinary sense of loss. My experience is, if you don't anticipate the loss, if you don't somehow talk to what people have to give up, then you can't keep them with you. So you have to talk about what they're giving up in the language of what you're going to create for them. And when you do that, you can keep diverse interests together because everyone feels that they're part of the end goal."
On relaying a vision:
"Leadership is about clearly articulating, to the best of your ability, the path to the goal. Repeat the goal, repeat the goal. ... Keep your eye on the goal and find effective, powerful ways to communicate that in different ways."
On work relationships:
"To lead a process of change, you have to empathize both with what people are getting and what people are giving up. So stay close to the people who you need as your community and really listen. Stay close to them, create the relationship, listen so you can move forward because a change process is painful."
Corinna vanGerwen is a freelance editor and writer. She has worked as senior editor at Style at Home, senior design editor at Cottage Life and is the former Canadian Director of Ed2010. She has also held the position of operations manager at a boutique PR agency, where she handled strategic planning and daily operations.