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To-Do Lists an Important Part of Being a Better Employee What makes a good employee? Take a look at how the star employee in your office operates. Chances are that they don’t run around in a constant fog of stress and pressure. Good employees are usually calm and conscientious; they seem to always get the job done with a minimum of hair pulling and frantic rushing around. Is it just genes that these people have that allow them to work like this, or are some people just better at managing stress than others? The answer is probably not. If you take a closer look at the star employee in your office, you will are likely to see that they are so stress free and productive because they are good at managing their time. And chances are they manage that time with the help of a to-do list. The to-do list is an often-overlooked part of working life. While they are the kind of thing people expect housewives to carry around with them in their purse while they run errands, many people think they can do without them in the work place. This is a big mistake. Being productive at work is all about being able to carry out your tasks in a timely manner, and being productive at work is also about managing your stress. If you are too stressed out, your work will suffer for it. You will fall behind because you won’t be able to concentrate, and you will make mistakes you might not have made if you were able to take your time with your work. So, how can a to-do list help? To-do lists can do many things for you in your busy working life. For starters, to-do lists remove the problem of having that all important phone call or meetings slip your mind. When you have a to-do list, everything that needs to be accomplished is set out there for you, so there is no more explaining to your boss why you stood up your company’s most important client. With a to-do list, you can also see the bigger picture of everything that needs to be done, so you can plan your time wisely. Working on tasks one after another as they come up is not a smart way to accomplish things at the office. Some jobs are on a tight deadline, while other jobs can stand to wait a little while. When you set everything out for yourself in a to-do list, you will be able to prioritize your tasks in order of importance, so you get the crucial work out of the way first thing, and only move on to less important jobs when you have the time to devote to them. All of this organization will make your working life less stressful. Imagine a typical day without a to-do list. You come in to the office in the morning, you work through all of the email sitting in your inbox, you make a few phone calls, chat with some co-workers in the break room, answer a few more emails, and then bam! All of the sudden, you remember that the presentation your boss needs for the big meeting is due at 2 p.m., and you haven’t even started it. Now you resort to hair pulling and frantic working. Then, you give your boss the presentation over an hour late, and it is filled with mistakes and sloppy work. Now imagine the same day with a to-do list. You get the presentation out of the way first thing, and you have time to check it. Then you can move on to less important tasks without the dark cloud of stress hanging over you. To-do list writing is time well spent if you want to succeed at work.

Important Networking Follow-Ups: How to Get Those Job Leads Calling When you leave a networking event, you may be buzzing at the prospects offered by all of those new contacts you made, but soon, the cold reality sets in. How will you be able to convert those contacts you made over a glass of wine into valuable business opportunities for you? Successful networking is all in the follow-up. If you’re looking for a job, following up is all the more crucial. Without touching base after a networking event, you become just another face in the crowd of job hunting hopefuls. The first important rule for following-up with networking contacts is to lay the foundations for the follow-up during the initial meeting. At networking events, there can be a lot of empty promises thrown around. Use that first meeting to convey the message that you haven’t gotten caught up in “networking fever” but instead that you are very serious about exploring the job opportunity that you’re discussing with your new contact. Ask the contact when would be a good time to follow-up with them, and then reiterate the information back to them at the end of your conversation: “I look forward to speaking with you Friday at 2 p.m.” If they don’t give you a specific time, then suggest one to them. This rule holds true even if your contact is giving you a lead on a job not with them but with another contact of their own. Let them know you appreciate the information by saying, “Thanks. I will plan on calling Mary on Monday afternoon at 1 p.m.” Not only will this convey your seriousness about the opportunity presented to you, but it may also get you some handy inside information, as the contact may reply, “Oh, no, Mary will be out of town until Thursday – call her then.” The next important rule to networking follow-ups is to follow up with EVERY lead a contact gives you. If a contact suggests that you call someone whom you know won’t really be able to help you in your job search, call him or her anyway. Otherwise, when your contact finds out you aren’t taking their advice, they may just decide not to give you any more the future and any business person can tell you that you never know from whom the most valuable lead will come some day. Keep the lines of communication open by giving any and all suggestions a whirl. Last but not least, do the actual following-up. Follow up with your contact exactly when you said you would, and in the exact manner you said you would (phone, email, letter, etc). If for some reason you can’t make contact at the arranged time, keep trying. If you haven’t made arrangements for a follow-up with a contact, then the rule of thumb is to follow-up with them as soon as possible after meeting them. Try to at least send an email or letter the next day saying what a pleasure it was to meet and that you look forward to talking more in the future, and then say in that note when you plan to follow-up with your contact by phone. Then, of course, stick to that new follow-up obligation. Even if the promises made by a contact while networking don’t pan out for you on the job front, don’t cross them off of your contact list. Keep them in the loop about your job search and your career goals. While they may not have been able to make if happen for you this time, you never know what they might be able to do for you in the future. Your most promising business contact may be someone you already know.

The Convenience of Online Writing Degree Programs (online writing degree programs) Online writing degree programs are not readily available, but they are growing in popularity. There are many traditional and online schools that offer online degree programs to busy writers. The online degree programs offer courses that teach students the basics of writing, including paragraph structure, theme writing, descriptive writing, tech writing, and grammar. Usually in writing degree programs, writers are given many assignments within one week, which range from analyzing the work of others to composing their own short stories and essays. The courses offered in an online writing degree program are much like the ones offered in traditional programs, and students will begin their program by taking beginner’s courses and eventually work their way up to the more advanced. The beginner’s course teaches the basics of writing, but after taking them, students will be able to take more specific courses, such as creative writing and tech writing. The online programs give students more freedom, but the workload is almost the same and students will have more and more writing assignments as they move further into the degree program. The online writing degree programs offer bachelor degrees as well as masters’ and there are many schools that offer these online programs. Chatham College is one school that offers online writing degree programs. Chatham online is the online division of Chatham College, which offers online masters’ degree programs for writers. The writing degree program offered by Chatham online offer 7-week courses and it has no residency requirement. The programs give students the freedom to study anytime or anywhere an Internet connection is available. Chatham online offers many degree options for its students, including the Master of Professional Writing degree, which gives students training to become technical writers, content developers for the web, advertising copywriters, and public relations specialist. It also offers the Graduate Certificate-Non-fiction Writing. This program gives students the opportunity to use their nonfiction writing skills and focus one subject, which include nature, environmental, or landscape writing. Students are given many writing assignments and attend many online writing workshops where their work is presented and critiqued. Once the program is finished writers will have a portfolio of their work that is of publishable quality. Another unique program is the Graduate Certificate-Writing for Children and Adolescents. The Certificate in Writing for Children and Adolescents provides students the chance to write fiction and nonfiction for children and adolescents. There are also many other colleges that offer online writing degree programs including Burlington College. Burlington College offers a Bachelor of Arts in Writing and Literature through an online program. However, this school does require a four-day residency in Burlington, Vermont at the beginning of each semester. Goddard College is also a school that offers a master’s program online. The college offers a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing degree through their online program. In this program, students are able to study poetry, fiction writing, creative nonfiction writing, and memoir, play writing, and screen writing. A short residency is also required for the program at Goddard College. The University of Denver is another school that offers online writing degree programs. It offers the Certificate of Advanced Study in Creative Writing. The program includes a range of courses on content and writing processes for fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and other areas of writing. There are many other colleges and universities that offer online writing degree programs including Goucher College, Lesley University, University of Central Florida, and Washington State University. Like all degrees, online writing degrees are not simple to obtain, but they can provide convenience and knowledge, which helps them advance as a writer, or develop writing skills to that will help them in the future.