Foliotek Blog

Work Remotely: Change Up Your Workspace

My gray walls stare back at me as I try to digest the latest series of emails flooding my inbox. Sure, I have a swivel chair, three monitors, and a fan blowing a light breeze at my feet, but I’m still having trouble getting my brain to focus. Working 40 hours a week in the same workspace can occasionally hinder my ability to think outside the box, so I like to switch it up to something new: a change in scenery.

Don't get me wrong; the daily hum of overhead lights and the sound of support representatives on the phone around the corner isn’t a bad thing. Having certain lights and sounds that are familiar can be extremely helpful in establishing a productive routine. But by getting away from my traditional desk and into a different space, both my body and brain get a breath of fresh air.

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A few of my favorite places to hide out and bury myself into my work are nearby coffee shops like Kaldi's Coffee or Starbucks, Peace Park on Mizzou's campus, and sometimes even just a conference room at the office. If you’re not able to take your work and get away, I highly suggest at least taking a break from your workspace. Take a lap around the block to get some fresh air (if it's too cold outside, do a few laps around the office) or stand up and do a few stretches to get your blood flowing again. Sometimes even just changing your position or height of your office chair can give your body a break from the usual positioning.

Most importantly, stay engaged! No matter where you are, focus on getting your work done as efficiently and effectively as you do when you’re in the office. Remember: the purpose of getting away every now and then is to reinvigorate your mind, not to distract it!

Good luck, and enjoy your new workspaces!


Transforming Ideas Into Action

We've all done it. We attend a really great conference, meet super smart people, have engaging conversations and leave with a plan to implement a bunch of ground-breaking projects. We get back to our office with renewed enthusiasm and maybe even round up a team to begin planning. Then what happens? We start running into obstacles: "We don't have the financial resources for this," or "We don't have the staff to manage that." Obstacles turn into delays and soon the project is on the back-burner. The daily grind sets in and we completely forget about our cool, new ideas ... until the next year when we're sitting at another conference, having another great conversation.

If this cycle sounds familiar, you might be excited to know that the folks at eLiterate are trying to do something about it! The Empirical Educator Project (EEP) is an attempt to create a framework that connects great minds across industries. The project joins educators with researchers and vendors who can help transform ideas into action. EEP's first summit was held February 28th at Stanford University with 50 participants. Michael Feldstein (co-author of eLiterate) states his two big takeaways in a recent blog post:

  1. Participants supported the idea that we need to be connected with the right people and resources for true progress to be made. When that happens, the ideas start flying!

  2. Participants agreed with the work of Lauren Herckis, an anthropologist from Carnegie Mellon University, who suggests we need to address the "cultural blockers" that prevent faculty from adopting new practices.

To stay up to date with the most recent happenings, visit the Empirical Educator Project page. That page also contains contact information if you're interested in participating in a future summit.


How to Set Measurable Goals

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Cheesy joke that doesn't make sense, right? That's the point! There is a clear difference between bikes and tigers. The same holds true for Goals and Measurable Goals. While some claim they are the same because they both focus on accomplishing a task, measurable goals take it a step further to give greater focus on how you got to the 'what'.

So how do you take an ordinary goal like 'be more organized' and turn it into one that you can measure? We first have to start at the basics; think about the specifics when planning your goal like you would when planning a road trip:

CURRENT LOCATION:
Where are you now? (What are you currently doing to meet your goal?)

DESTINATION:
What is the end result when completing your goal? (Set your final expectation before knowing how to get there!)

DIRECTIONS:
What steps can you take to get better? (These will all be measurable tasks towards completing your goal)

By creating specific, measurable tasks, you are able to keep track of your goal and easily see when you make progress. So, how do you make something measurable? Remember: don't make your goal so huge that you'll never be able to meet it. Break down your goal into manageable tiers that help you figure out different areas of your goal to focus on. In the example below, we've split the overall goal of 'be more organized' down to mean an organized desk, inbox, and notes.

Next list tasks that you can do to make that specific area of your goal successful and include a number in each task. By including a number, you force yourself to measure the task in some way (red text in the example below). For example, you know you're taking steps to meet your goal when you spend three minutes each day putting supplies where they are supposed to go on your desk.

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By doing this, you are setting yourself up for success in meeting your goals! Once you get in the habit of meeting your daily tasks, you can create new tasks that help you continue to meet your goal or even create a new goal to work on.

As I mentioned in the How to Take Initiative blog post, "Change can take time, and even though your colleagues or employer may not notice a change, take encouragement in knowing that you are working behind-the-scenes to improve yourself!"

What goal will you work on first?


How to Take Initiative

Another email flies into my inbox from a colleague who always seems to come up with awesome ideas to improve our workflow. I'm in awe at how many side projects she seems to be completing and wonder how she comes up with some of them. She has a level of initiative that I just wasn't quite grasping in my own work-life. Fast forward a month, and I'm the one sending out emails filled with tips for new ways to decrease steps in a current process. Because I recognized a quality I admired in a colleague, I was able to implement opportunities for initiative in my own work.

Initiative: The ability to assess and initiate things independently; the power or opportunity to act or take charge before others do

Initiative is a word that isn't thrown around lightly. In an office setting, it demonstrates one's ability to think outside the box and come up with ideas and solutions to problems or situations. For example: Finding a more efficient way to accomplish a goal that benefits the entire team.

Each of us could find several ways to improve ourselves in a particular area at work, but instead of getting bogged down with the idea of overall improvement, focus on one characteristic at a time.

GETTING STARTED

  • Look for a quality you admire in a colleague (or just one you want to work on for yourself!) then focus on this quality and think about it in the tasks you complete each work day.

  • Focus on the process you're taking to complete a task instead of simply going through your typical workflow. This will help you see parts of your current process that could go even smoother or quicker. Once you start recognizing this in your own workflow, you find ways to improve it both for yourself and your colleagues, and therefore; you improve your company.

  • Implement a change each day, whether big or small, that demonstrates your ability to excel in the quality you chose. These changes will begin to add up.

  • Don't get discouraged if your efforts aren't noticed by others for awhile. Change can take time, and even though your colleagues or employer may not notice a change, take encouragement in knowing that you are working behind-the-scenes to improve yourself!

Today I challenge you to pick a quality you admire in someone that you wished you could improve upon in your own life and start actively looking for ways to implement change! Comment below what quality you want to work on first!


New Partnership Announced!

alt Our recent partnership with Pearson and the University of North Texas is taking our mission of 'growing competent, passionate professionals' to the next level! With the combination of Pearson's Career Success Program, the GRIT Gauge™ and Foliotek's digital portfolio platform, students are guided through a process of connecting their academic and co-curricular activities with marketable job skills.

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The content of Pearson's Career Success Program is delivered through Foliotek Activity Groups, where students can monitor their progress through the available modules while completing assignments, projects, and quizzes. As modules are completed, students develop their personal brand and gain an appealing way to showcase their skills to potential employers.

Click HERE to read Pearson's full press release.