What do you value more: time or money?

August 8, 2011

By Lindsey Hobbs, Communications Intern

iStock_000013884892XSmallThey say that money doesn’t buy happiness. But, then again time is money, so which is really more valuable?

If you think about it logically, the money you make from work buys you vacations and items that you enjoy during your weekends and days off. However, you wouldn’t get to enjoy those things without the time away.

TIME magazine published an article that cites a new study by the Association for Psychological Science, which says time is clearly more valuable than money. However, Forbes magazine has an article that explains how consumers are more likely to feel attached to a product if advertisers focus on the price associated with the product instead of the time spent using it.

Clearly, the answer to this question depends on the person, but I think everyone can agree it’s most healthy to achieve a balance in one’s life between investing in time to recharge and making money.

In an era of ever-present online communication, people are in a way connected to work 24/7 with emails on their smartphones and instant messaging, so they’re working around the clock even if they think they’re engaging in and enjoying “free time.”

Sure, staying plugged in at all times may increase your productivity, but it’s also exhausting and can cause a person to miss out on some of the little, and sometimes most important, experiences in life.

Take some time to unplug. Turn off your phone for a few hours while you go to a movie or out to a restaurant. Seriously, turn it off. You can do it … There. Now isn’t that liberating? (Or completely nerve-wrecking. Don’t worry, that feeling will pass.)

And in a broader sense, take time for relationship building during work as well. Especially for small business owners, networking and building relationships with clients is just as important as churning out a product, because if your client isn’t happy they won’t return for future business or recommended you to others.

This may seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised at how many people need to be reminded. It’s all too easy to get swept up in the rush of everyday life.

After all, your phone just alerted you to five new tweets from Twitter and your sister just posted Facebook pictures from her vacation and the client you’ve been playing phone tag with all week finally responded to your email at 10:30 at night because he’s in China and it’s 10:30 in the morning there.

Yes, those things are all important. But so is your sanity. Work hard to buy that Jacuzzi. But then remember to take the time to actually use it.

What do you value more and why?

We want to hear what you value more, time, money or something else, and why. Leave your comments below.


Email effects bottom line

May 13, 2011

By Fallon Forbush

iStock_000016467380XSmall My email inbox reached maximum capacity last week, and I had thought about keeping it that way. Not deleting any items so that I couldn’t receive any more email was liberating.

Then reality set in and I cleared out my folders, continuing on the endless chain of communication that has become the staple of the way the working world communicates. We all know that email is a must, but what you may not know is that the way you email can make or break you.

How can emailing go wrong? Your email etiquette is just as important as how you dress on the job; both are a direct reflection of who you are.

Amanda Moore, the outside sales and marketing representative for PIP Printing and Marketing Services, wrote about an email experience in her Marketing for Tomorrow blog:

“I received two emails this week that caught my attention for two drastically different reasons. The first was from a job applicant who was submitting a resume. Although my company has no job openings right now, I opened the attachment because his email was so well written. The applicant had perfect grammar, spelling, addressed me personally, and took the time to do some research on my company. As I read the email, I felt as if this job seeker knew me, my business, and what I was looking for in an employee. Unfortunately, I do not have a position to offer him but you can bet I am keeping his resume. The second email was forwarded to me by a friend and actually was a marketing email from a competitor of mine. I have never seen a more unprofessional email. The email had purple font, grammar mistakes, spelling issues, illegal use of ellipsis, capitalization mistakes, random poetry-like indentations all over the place, and exclamation point abuse. My first impression was that I would never do business with this person”.

Perhaps you know better and make sure your emails are as professional as you are in the office, but do you forward annoying chain messages? Save the junk mail for your private accounts. Otherwise, people will resent you for making them sift through more emails than they already have to. It makes you look unprofessional and may result in your emails getting automatically deleted, even when they aren’t junk.

Mixing personal matters with your company email can have its consequences. Check out this video segment from the Today Show.

Even for the most well-mannered emailer, there are a few tips to be more effective.

Do you remember the last time your inbox wasn’t saturated with endless messages? If you actually want your emails to be read, you can’t neglect the power of the subject line. About.com offers great advice on how to write precise subject lines that don’t waste peoples’ time. Honestly, did you think “Hi” or “Meeting” actually works well?

Emails are informal, but failure to include a greeting and a closing can come off as cold and your communication will be less effective. Ehow.com suggests different greetings for certain people.

Perhaps before even thinking of composing an email, think about what you’re doing. It’s always easy to shoot off an email, but what is it accomplishing? When composing emails, Oprah suggests taking 10 seconds to evaluate whether or not email is the best way to say what you need.

For more, Lydia Ramsey, business etiquette expert, has a lot to say about the top email faux pas.

Is it time for a business etiquette makeover?

April 21, 2011

etiquette You see yourself as a professional and you put forth a lot of effort to make sure that others see you that way as well. In a world where perception is everything, it’s easy to lose your professional side even occasionally, especially when you get more comfortable with your colleagues.

While most businesses have office policies in place that should ensure (or at least guide) the professionalism of its employees, small and isolated offenses might not seem like anything to the casual observer, but to another they can add up to create deep resentment between co-workers, an article on forbes.com states.

“It’s like a marriage. It’s the little things that get under your skin and mount up after a while,” says Jacqueline Whitmore, founder of EtiquetteExpert.com and author of Business Class.

There are a lot of thorny situations that require you to maintain your professionalism.

How do you politely say no to a favor request, or meeting invite when it’s the norm to say yes or accept the invite? How do you react to unwelcome chatter across cubicle walls? What’s your reaction when someone else receives credit for your idea or hard work? These issues and more are crossed by every professional at some point in their career, and often times repeatedly.

Emily Post, everyone’s favorite go-to etiquette extraordinaire offers advice on everything from everyday manners to on-the-job issues with clients, customers, vendors or contractors.

“Successful employment requires that you perform as expected, practice common courtesies, and solve problems as they arise. The office environment functions best when employees are respectful and considerate of each other and the workplace. This ranges from not eating someone’s lunch out of the fridge, to avoiding office gossip, to communicating respectfully to co-workers.”

Hopefully after the first few rounds of uncomfortable or inappropriate etiquette slights, you’ll learn how to handle your reactions in a more appropriate manner, as it’s imperative to keep in mind that you can’t control others’ behaviors, but you can control yours. Remember, perception is everything.

So while you’re reevaluating and readjusting your own professionalism, flip through Forbes’ picture edition of “How to annoy your co-workers without really trying” as a starting place.

Networking series: Mistakes you aren’t even aware of

April 13, 2011

This is the first post in OSCPA’s Networking Series, helping professionals at all levels navigate the changing rules – and venues – for networking.

networking No matter what walk of life you’re in, be it professional, college student, or something else, everybody networks. And often, you may be networking and not even realize it. It’s no wonder so many of us make mistakes that we’re not aware of. But when that contact you unexpectedly met on a plane last month never sends you the information he or she promised, you’re scratching your head and wondering if it was something you said.

Networking mistakes can show up in many forms, but unless you practice some self-awareness, you’re bound to keep making them with little or no positive results coming your way.

Don’t wait until a crisis

Repeat after me: There is no time like the present.

Waiting until you’ve lost a job and you’re suddenly in survival mode is a huge mistake, but one that’s too easily made by most people. With the explosion of social networks over the last several years, it’s easier than ever to maintain and grow your connections. Get out there and create a LinkedIn profile and actually manage it. No excuses!

Take care not to go overboard with your online professional networks (keeping your Facebook personal is probably a good idea), but also don’t discount in-person networking events completely either, which leads me to the next mistake…

Don’t make it all about you

If everybody out of a crowd of 500 went to the same event all expecting to make a sale, or do even a small amount of business, then nobody would benefit. If everybody is out to sell something, then who is attending solely to buy? This happened to Ivan Misner, author of “Don’t Make This Networking Mistake.” His advice: Don’t confuse direct selling with networking.

So why do people go to networking events? Misner sums it up best:

You go because networking is more about farming than it is about hunting. Sometimes you go to increase your visibility and to connect with people you have never met. Sometimes you go to establish further credibility with people you know. And sometimes you may go to meet a long-time referral partner and do some business. In any case, the true master networkers know that networking events are about moving through the relationship process and not just about closing deals. Visibility leads to credibility which, with time and effort, leads to profitability.

Not being prepared

Elevator speeches aren’t just for trying to sell your company. Have one prepared so that you can really sell yourself in the process. Monster.com suggests practicing your pitch as well as your answers to questions about your career goals that might arise.

Make sure you know what you’re talking about ahead of time so that you can not only hold up your end of the conversation, but also so you can strike the perfect balance between casual and professional conversation (without talking about yourself too much, remember?).

Failing to follow up

People network for a reason. You want to add new contacts to your pool of business professionals who you can turn to for advice, referrals, favors, jobs, etc. But what good are these new contacts if their business cards just sit at the bottom of your briefcase?

“Sharing information — whether a website, article, report or phone number — with new contacts builds your credibility,” said Lynne Sarikas, director of Northeastern University’s MBA Career Center in an article on how to network for shy people. “So if you promised to email a report to someone you met on the plane, make sure you do that.”

“When you do what you’ve said you were going to do, it gives the other person the impression that you keep your word,” she says. If you don’t, you’re just another schmoozer.”

This just scratches the surface of networking dos and don’ts, but I don’t want to forget to mention the most important aspect of networking: your information. Whether you subscribe to the tried and true method of handing out business cards, or go the more technological route of “bumping” iPhones to swap info, it’s important to make sure your new contacts know how to get a hold of you so you’ll respond.

Go forth, and network

So let’s hear it. What’s working or not working for you? What’s the worst networking mistake you’ve made or have seen? Share your stories with me!

Get more info

OSCPA’s Career Center features several resources from Janice Worthington, president of Worthington Career Services and OSCPA’s career coach of choice.

5 ways to reinvent your work/life balance

February 21, 2011

balance It wasn’t long ago that employees and employers struggled to find some stability on the work/life balance tightrope. In fact, it was probably just yesterday.

Companies that are more technologically advanced and provide options to have their employees “plugged-in” nearly 24/7 aren’t really giving them the chance to have a healthy work/life balance. Right?


I work in an organization that allows employees to be connected wherever they are. Some might view this as burdensome and unproductive. I view it as just the opposite, as it allows me to be more productive and is a sanity-saver. There’s something about the ability to check my e-mail on a Sunday night or Monday morning and knowing what I’ll be walking into the next time I go into the office.

But being able to check work e-mail from your smartphone at any given moment can, if you’re not careful, start to take over your down time. If you’re like me, any ding, ping, or ring my phones makes, sends me running straight for it wondering what’s going on or who needs me.

So what’s a digital-aged employee to do to maintain their sanity and still satisfy that craving to stay connected?

Create boundaries

There’s something to be said for having a great work ethic and wanting to constantly prove your worth, especially during off-hours. But there will come a time when you’ll suffer from burnout personally and professionally. Set guidelines for yourself – say you’ll only check your e-mail once the kids go to bed on the weekends. You’ll still feel plugged-in and able to respond if necessary, but won’t be sacrificing any family time.

Cultivate healthy habits

Getting out for a walk at lunch or getting your family moving outside right when you get home, eating right, and planning meals at the beginning of the week, and family game nights: instituting these small, but effective changes into your routine can make a world of difference. Creating a clean break for home and family life for a predetermined amount of time before jumping back into “work mode” later in the evening (if you must) will leave everyone feeling happier. They also won’t resent you for having to log on to your computer yet again.

The power of saying, “no”

Everybody at some point in their life has a hard time saying no to work projects and social engagements alike. The next time you’re invited to something, weigh the benefit and cost before saying yes, advises SavvySugar.com.

“If you think the event or project will have a positive impact on your productivity, career, and networking without disrupting your non-work schedule, go for it. If you think your personal life will suffer because of it, say no.”

Schedule your time wisely

Your time in and out of the office is valuable. To ensure you stay on track schedule everything into your days from workouts, to 5-10 minute breaks to catch up on your personal life and make some phone calls. Also falling into this category is leaving work at a decent time. There’s no need to burn the midnight oil (okay, unless it’s tax season!) and turn down fun commitments that could leave you feeling happier and stress-free. Especially now that winter and tax season will both end before you know it, we can all come out of hibernation. “Getting outside at a healthy time will boost your mood and make you happier about resuming your work in the morning,” recommends SavvySugar.com.


I had to do a week-long experiment in college where I had to shelter myself from any type of media. That meant no phones, computers, radios, televisions, newspapers, magazines, etc. It was difficult, especially at first, but I made it. (It probably helped that I wasn’t on Facebook yet or didn’t have a smartphone.) But I’ll be the first to admit that I need some serious help in this area, but if all of the aforementioned tactics fail and we’re still struggling to balance our work and family lives – simply unplug. Turn off your gadgets and put them away. Reconnect with your family and friends. I know, it might be painful to go even a few hours without your “electronic leashes,” but you’ll be surprised at how liberating it can feel.

What do you do to create and maintain your work/life balance? I would love to hear your tips, and maybe I’ll just try to adopt them myself!

Disaster could be just around the corner. Are you prepared?

September 23, 2010

Tornado For many, September means back to school, football, the beginning of fall and gearing up for the holidays. But what I bet most don’t know, is that September is also National Preparedness Month.

Those that live along coastal areas and on fault lines have disaster plans in place for hurricanes and earthquakes. The worst natural disasters Ohioans have to worry about are tornadoes and occasional flooding. But that shouldn’t stop us from thinking about man-made disasters and the potential emergencies that may arise. Ready America, designed to educate and empower Americans to prepare for and respond to emergencies, states that preparing for disaster goes beyond hurricanes and tornadoes:

“Emergency preparedness is no longer the sole concern of earthquake prone Californians and those who live in the part of the country known as ‘Tornado Alley.’ For Americans, preparedness must now account for man-made disasters as well as natural ones. Knowing what to do during an emergency is an important part of being prepared and may make all the difference when seconds count.”

It’s important to have a plan at home in case of a disaster, but how many people think about their company’s disaster plan? Do you know what your company’s disaster plan is, or even if it has a disaster plan? With small businesses making up 95% of all businesses, it’s vital to have an actionable business continuity program and effective solution to address what would happen if any or all of your critical business functions were compromised due to a natural or man-made disaster.

In light of National Preparedness Month, the Small Business Administration (SBA) offers the following tips for home and business owners to prepare for disasters:

  • Develop a solid emergency response plan. Find evacuation routes from the home or business and establish meeting places.
  • Business owners should designate a contact person to communicate with other employees, customers and vendors.
  • Make sure you have adequate insurance coverage. Disaster preparedness begins with having adequate insurance coverage—at least enough to rebuild your home or business. Homeowners and business owners should review their policies to see what is or isn’t covered. Companies should consider business interruption insurance, which helps cover operating costs during the post-disaster shutdown period. Flood insurance is essential.
  • Copy important records. It’s a good idea to back up vital records and information saved on computer hard drives, and store that information at a distant offsite location in fireproof safe deposit boxes. You should have copies/back-ups of important documents ready to take with you if you have to evacuate.

Consider implementing these strategies for your company. Agility Recovery Solutions, states that business interruptions can take many forms and seldom give us warning. And, what might constitute a nuisance to a large corporation could be a ‘disaster’ to a small or mid-size business. What’s more, nearly 90% of all companies unable to resume operations within five days after a disaster are out of business within a year.

For more information, check out these resources:

  • Agility Recovery Solutions, a former division of GE with over 20 years of disaster recovery and business continuity experience, provides comprehensive, turn-key recovery solutions and testing options to businesses across North America
  • Plan, prepare and stay informed with Ready.gov
  • IRS.gov lists some simple steps that can help taxpayers and businesses protect financial and tax records in case of disasters

Is it possible to truly unplug for the sake of a good vacation?

August 6, 2010

business_vacation One month. That’s all you have left until the unofficial end of summer. Until CPE season kicks into high gear, which will then launch you straight into tax time or other pressing deadline. So if you’re still waiting to take that summer get-a-way, then you’d better get a move on.

Oh wait, did I mention that you have to leave the work behind? Sorry to break it to you, but the beach is not your office. If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times: You’ll be a more productive worker with a little time off to recharge. Consider it a favor to your boss, coworkers, friends, family and even yourself.

Not only does taking a little R&R increase your productivity, it might also prevent you from being one of the 3,500 statistics in a recent Microsoft study on working outside of the office. According to this article from Entrepreneur.com, business trips aren’t the only time people work on the road:

“The most common provisional workplaces, at 37%, are wherever the family happens to be vacationing. A surprising number admitted to toiling in grocery stores (10%) and parks (10%). Some couldn’t manage to put the BlackBerry down while camping (4%) or, no joke, at a funeral (1%).

Men apparently find it harder to put aside work: 43% of them said they worked during family vacations, compared with 31% of women. But please, guys, put away the laptop while you’re on the can – 12% of men confessed to working in the restroom.”

In a time that might have some people worried about job security or who feel that the office just cannot function without them, a survey on workload conducted by WFD Consulting found that even with the improving economy, workloads for employees and managers continue to increase and the stress is taking its toll.

While completely shutting down from the office might not be feasible (a CareerBuilder survey revealed that 49% of employers surveyed expect employees to check in while away), it is important to prepare as much as you can in advance so that you can stop worrying about what’s happening at the office and keep your check-ins as just that, a check-in to deal with what’s most important.

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