28 August 2007

Finding Time in Your Day for Exercise

I am a firm believer in finding time in your day for at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. It may even improve your health and your productivity.

So join a gym, go for a walk, climb the stairs each day, but do something and keep healthy...

Check it out...
At most gyms they offer corporate discounts for employees, check with your HR Manager or the gym when you sign up. Our firm did not have a corporate discount so I applied for one. It was an easy process and resulted in a savings for my co-workers.

Click for an article by Jacqueline Stenson: Is Your Job Making You Fat?

For an article entitled, Fitness in the workplace boosts productivity, morale, click here.1

1 Stenson, Jacqueline, "MSNBC.msn.com", Is your job making you fat?, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16927021/, (accessed August 28, 2007)
McFadden, Joanne, Fitness in the workplace boosts productivity, morale, http://www.bizjournals.com/stlouis/stories/2002/12/30/focus1.html, (accessed August 28, 2007)

25 August 2007

Dressing for the Office

How important is it to your career how you dress at the office? Here is what Marjorie Brody, Fabjob.com, says: "Most business professionals recognize that the expression,"You don't get a second chance to make a first impression" is true. The simple fact is that in and out of the business world, people are judged on their wardrobe. The clothing you wear can have an adverse affect on your career."1

Our office thought it was important enough that they organized an event for the assistants and invited a clothing consultant to speak on proper business wear, buying clothing on a budget and tips for office makeup, accessories and hairstyles. I felt it was well worth the effort, but it also showed me how important the topic was to them as an employer.

Here is a helpful link that gives good advice on dressing for the office.2

1 Brody, Marjorie, "Advice & Ideas", Wardrobe Wisdom for Men and Women, http://www.fabjob.com/tips131.html, (accessed August 25, 2007)
Ramsey, Lydia, Proper Business Attire, http://www.sideroad.com/Business_Attire/proper-business-attire.htmm, (accessed August 25, 2007)

22 August 2007

Getting organized and staying that way...

I cannot stand clutter so to me it is very important to keep myself organized. If my desk has sticky notes all over the place, files here and there and papers, papers, papers, then I begin to feel buried and out of control. I need to be organized so I can think and function better.

I have found what works for me is having a place on my desk for everything. If it has to do with accounting, I have a bin for that. If it has to do with scheduling meetings, I have another bin for that. And if it has to do with waiting, any kind of waiting: waiting on an answer, waiting for a return phone call, waiting for just about anything, I put it in what I call my "Wait Bin". I have found when I have a place for everything and get in the routine of using it, then when I get a phone call about a meeting or my boss has an urgent request, I will know to go right to my "Scheduling Bin" or "Wait Bin". It just makes my life so much easier. When my boss sees me in control, then he or she can relax and know that I will be able to look after the matter.

I have also found that having a good bring-forward system is essential so you do not miss important dates or timelines. I use my Task function in Outlook and continually set tasks and dates with reminders of what I need to do. Sometimes I refer my tasks to my special bins, for example if I am waiting for information from someone so I can complete a letter, I will put the file with my notes in my "Wait Bin" and put a task in to remind myself to check to see if I received a reply to my enquiry so I can follow up and not just let the file sit in my "Wait Bin".

I keep a handy notepad by my phone and write things down throughout the day and when I've completed that item I strike it off my list. I find this is very helpful when your boss just passes by your desk and asks you to follow up on something, call someone on their behalf or wants you to make a reservation for them. I write it down immediately as a reminder. I also bring a notepad and a pen with me when I am called into my boss's office so I can take any notes or instructions and then again once I have completed that item, I cross it off my list.

What works for me, may not work for you, but the important thing is to have some kind of system in place that will enable you to find things, and help you keep track of dates and important tasks.  Also see an article I wrote on the bring-forward system for a good way to keep track of things that are coming up.

11 August 2007

Blogging can get you fired...

I was interested to find this article on blogging and work. For the complete article click here.

1 Wallack, Todd, "San Francisco Chronicle", Beware if your blog is related to work, http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/01/24/BUGCEAT1I01.DTL, (accessed August 11, 2007)

4 August 2007

I or me?

I once worked in an office with a former grade-school grammar teacher, and she taught me an easy way to remember when to use I or me in a sentence. She said if you can change the sentence around and use we or us you can easily determine whether you need to use I or me. For example: In the sentence, "We went to the store", the correct use would be "Brenda and I went to the store." In the sentence, "Do you want to go to the store with us?" the correct use would be, "Do you want to go to the store with Brenda and me?"
Therefore, if you can change the sentence around and use we, then the correct use would be I and if you can change the sentence around and use us, then the correct use would be me.

For more on this and answers to other questions please click here.1

1 AskOxford.com, Ask the Experts, http://www.askoxford.com/asktheexperts/faq/aboutgrammar/meandi?view=uk, (accessed August 4, 2007)

And for other grammar helps, please see the link list on the right called "Grammar - Ask the Experts" for good websites for grammar, spelling and punctuation helps.

3 August 2007

Successful Resumés

Updated this article February 13, 2008

Unfortunately, in one job I had I was involved on the downside of government downsizing, but I feel that even during a seemingly bad experience, you can always learn something positive. The employer I was working for sent me on career counselling as part of the "downsizing package". One of the many things I remember, and have put to good use, was a workshop on resume writing. I will share some of what I recall from this workshop.

In resume writing they suggested that any experience over 10 years was too old to put on your resume. They discouraged listing duties, but rather suggested setting out your skills and strengths in point form right up front so the potential employer can see if you have the skills for the job. They also suggested using action words when describing what you do, for example utilizing, preparing and maintaining. And rather than putting 14 years experience or 22 years experience, they suggested you use "Almost 15 years of progressive achievement" or "Over 20 years of progressive achievement".

I have used this format for writing my own and many other resumes and have always had comments from potential employers on how impressive it was and how easy to read. Here is an example, but please remember these are only suggestions:


[Your Co-ordinates (Name, Address etc.)]

[What is your objective? What kind of position are you looking for and what do you have to offer? Customize this paragraph to the job you are applying for. For example I was applying for a job in the legal environment so wanted to highlight that].

Administrative support utilizing strengths in typing, speed, accuracy, software programs and organization to provide high quality services to professional staff in a legal environment.

[Summarize your work experience]
Over twenty years of progressive achievement as a secretary in the legal, medical and high-tech fields. Recent experience as a legal assistant in a major law firm. Previous experience as a legal assistant to a Corporate lawyer. Highly skilled typist with excellent knowledge of various computer software programs.

[Set out your computer skills, but also your strengths such as:]
· Fast, accurate typist · Ability to work with minimal supervision
· Interpersonal skills and a team worker · Organization skills
· Hard worker · Reliable

[Highlight some of your accomplishments]
· Maintained excellent attendance record
· [Any courses you have been on]


Name of Employer and Job Title September 2004 - Present
Name of Employer and Job Title November, 1996 – September 2004

[If you feel you need to put some of your older experience (anything over 10 years), they suggested you write a paragraph summarizing what you have done. If they want to know more, they can ask you at the interview.]
For example: Secretarial experience in offices including [names of different companies you worked for].

LANGUAGE: [Languages spoken]


For more information on resumes please click here. (accessed August 3, 2007)

2 August 2007

A Different Kind of Networking...

In all my years as a secretary I have found having a network of other assistants has been a tremendous help when I just can't figure out how to word a sentence in a letter or if I'm wondering where to look to find the information I urgently need, or even "Do you know of an opening, I have to get out of this job!"... What a help knowing I have these people that I can email or phone and get an answer to my dilemma in minutes, including another job opportunity. Sometimes I think my boss thinks "I know all things", but he doesn't know my secret... and that is my secretarial network.

Because of this, I thought I would form this blog for other secretaries where we can share what we have learnt over the years or ask questions we need help with.

I have found that the other assistants you work with can be your greatest resource. Treat them with respect and you will find a wealth of information and help and make your working environment a more pleasant place to be each day.