A Business Vacation

Are you planning a break, a holiday, or business vacation this summer? It’s great to get away from it all, but without advance preparation, you may find that you are not “quite” as away as you intended. Interruptions such as phone calls, IM messages etc, can prove to disrupt what should be a proper break away from work.

Business Vacation - The Smart Train

While you attend your “Zen silence meditation” for a week, or “Sit on the beach, drink cocktails and read 6 novels” for a fortnight, or go ”trekking in the Himalayas” for 6 weeks; here is a great check list to help prepare your communication flow and avoid distractions and interruptions: continue reading…

Do you blog? Are you blogging? No? It’s classic procrastination ~ why do today, what you can put off until tomorrow?

Actually, I really enjoy blogging, but I really don’t have time to blog, my life is so busy. But I think about it all the time, I think to myself “I really should sit down and spend an hour researching and writing a blog”. Then I think, “I’ll see if I can find time tomorrow, or maybe over the weekend”.

What kind of a blogging action plan is that?

It’s merely a plan of inaction, procrastination, fear and excuses. It’s a plan to make sure you never get it done, spend more time and energy worrying about not doing it, and then getting stressed because your website hasn’t had an update in 6 weeks. Full circle, you think you’ll make time tomorrow, and then spend all day today thinking about when you will do it tomorrow.

Blogging – What’s the solution? continue reading…

Ergonomic health – what’s it all about?

We are all business people, working hard! Some of us may find ourselves sitting in front of the computer for many hours during the day (like you are now, perhaps). So I thought I would share a few simple ergonomic exercises with you to help stretch your limbs, eyes, ears and other areas of your body. Sit up and get ready for some action with these great ergonomic tips!

Your Posture!

Ensure your chair and desk are the correct height so your eyes are level with or slightly above your screen and your knees are slightly lower than your hips. Feet flat on the floor (My hairdresser always instructs me to uncross my legs –> bad posture = bad haircut). Your wrists should rest easily on the surface where your mouse is sitting. Keep your shoulders and back relaxed down (not hunched up) continue reading…

Selling to your marketAre you talking about your products or services? To whom? Are you selling to your market, the people who matter? Or to yourself, quietly, un-noticed? Well let’s talk sales.

Selling to your market

For those of you who have been reading my posts previously, will know that I don’t normally discuss sales. But in actual fact the reality is that unless you do not exist, you are selling something. So let’s assume you work in or run a business. Then you are definitely selling. Perhaps you are selling an idea to peers or management, perhaps a service to your most revered client, or perhaps convincing yourself to purchase a new iPad.

If you are not pro-actively selling, you are hoping the sales will come to you. However, hope is not a strategy. There is an element of trusting in the universe to survive, but on the whole we need to be pro-active in gaining customers.

So how are we selling? continue reading…

#SMEcommunity – an inspiring idea that “viraled” beyond belief in a tiny country that possesses a HUGE business community.

Last year, I attended the #Birr2012 tweetup, which really was a full-scale conference and with amazingly beneficial seminars. Here’s what happened:

#SMEcommunity 2012

Day 1 – June 2011 – over on Twitter

It began with a tweet or two, 2 entrepreneurs chatting and supporting each other one evening. Then more tweeps hopped into the conversation. The hashtag #SMEcommunity was created to continue the conversation the following day, and it trended that day. Very quickly the conversation spilled over into counties all over Ireland, which provoked a dedicated twitter account @SMEcommunity_ie. Small businesses around Ireland began to take notice, and within weeks, tweetups and networking events began to spring up all over the country. The ethos of the “conversation” was INFORMAL and SUPPORTIVE. continue reading…

“People are always blaming circumstance for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances.” George Bernard Shaw

Personal Responsibility

Is this taking personal responsibility for your professional behaviour:

You are at work. Something has happened. You messed up. But hey, John messed up last week, and he managed to wangle his way out of it. So if you could just blame this one on time constraints, or perhaps Jane, as she didn’t finish the draft correctly. Or maybe when James didn’t come back to you within the half hour you specified, that would have delayed you also, right?

Wrong! If you mess up, are late submitting a project, or get something wrong – It’s your fault! – the sooner you own up to it, the sooner something can be done to rectify the issue!

A “Blame” culture is all too prevalent in organisations in Ireland. But it is not just up to the Owner or Managing Director to instil a healthy culture in an organisation.

Everyone has a personal responsibility for his or her professional conduct. Consider the potential cost to an organisation if there is a blame culture: continue reading…

Yes, it’s that time of year again!!!

What a year it has been for The Smart Train. We have launched, blogged, tweeted, facebooked, and newslettered till we cannot type anymore, so I want to share with you some beautiful photos I took during the big snow in Ireland of 2010. These photos warmed my heart even though they are of cold snow :)

Merry Christmas and Enjoy! continue reading…

Employee of the Year – Do you deserve the Award?

Attributes, characteristics, skills, it’s easy to check the boxes, think we are the best employee ever, and be safe in the knowledge that we all are the following:

  • Dependableemployee of the year - The Smart Train Blog
  • Trustworthy
  • Team Player
  • Honest
  • Respectful
  • Strong work ethic
  • Flexible
  • Knowledgeable
  • Great Communicator
  • Reliable
  • Personable
  • Intelligent
  • Enthusiastic
  • Responsible

OK, so we know some of the attributes that employers look for when hiring a new employee. However, besides the above attributes, and relevant qualifications and experience, how can you ensure that you have been a great employee in 2012, and can be in 2013? And more importantly, WHY should you be the best employee that you can be?

Here are 5 reasons to be the best employee that you can be: continue reading…

Do you go to networking events? Do you enjoy them? Do you find you seem to rub people up the wrong way while at professional networking events? Do you normally get on with people in your personal social circles? If the answer is “Yes” to both those questions, consider these possibilities:

  • You choose your friends, you do not choose who will be present at a networking event
  • You are comfortable in small groups, but are petrified when surrounded by strange people
  • You are great at organising events for friends and family, but perhaps feel out of control when arriving at an event organised for professional purposes

A part of working life for someone in business is to network. It comes with the territory. Whether we should network or not, and whether that should be online or offline is a debate for another day.

Effective Networking continue reading…

Do you have an iPad? whether you do or not, do you struggle with Productivity anyway? Are you unsure what IT systems you should have in place? Would you like some insight into what may work as an alternative to the traditional systems? This is the post for you!

Can an iPad or other tablet be productive?

Productivity, a measure of the efficiency of production, can also be referred to as a measure of output from a production process, per unit of input. It is the ratio of what is produced to what is required to produce it. Usually this ratio is in the form of an average, expressing the total output divided by the total input.

Productivity has become quite a buzzword in recent years, and is often referred to in terms of time management, stress management, employee assessment and self-development. It is clear that we can only be as “productive” as we believe, and it is often mistaken for effectiveness, whereas it is merely a measure of efficiency.

Effectiveness vs Efficiency continue reading…

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