Resources
Articles | Time Management

Missing your deadlines lately? Here are some Actionable Productivity Hacks

The deadline lifestyle has become the new normal.

Whether you are self-employed or working with an organization, I am sure, over the last decade, you have noticed an increase in last-minute stress and general running around.

Are we trying to do too much in limited time spans or are we too distracted to focus and get work done? Or is this the modern style of work that’s customary in offices nowadays?

We will go out on a limb and say – a bit of both!

20 years ago, before mobile technology and the Internet, expectations from an employee were different. No one expected you to check mail once you left office and solving a problem took time that was adequately factored in.

Now, not only are we expected to be quicker and more knowledgeable, but also always available! While on one hand, timelines have become tighter; on the other, distractions are making them harder to achieve.

So, if you are a chronic deadline chaser and if you can’t remember the last time you finished everything well before time, then we have set of productivity tips that you need to try out TODAY!

#1. Set Realistic Goals and Learn to Say NO

Before we get started with the task of meeting deadline we need to ensure that these deadlines are realistic. Often, we find it hard to pull back from timelines that are tough to deliver; assignments are thrust on us and right from the first meeting we know it’s going to be difficult to deliver a good result (if at all) within the given deadline.

It’s up to you to take on what you can manage and firmly say no to impractical timelines; it is more sensible to speak up and request extra time or resources at the start rather than failing to meet a deadline at the end.

#2. Make a List

Once the task and the timeline are decided, the first thing to do is make a LIST!

We are not talking about just a basic list but a detailed one with a complete breakdown of all the various steps needed to complete the assignment - time needed for each part, the order in which you need to accomplish each mini task, additional resources or people who will be helping you and what they will be doing and any other details that could be useful.

This list is your roadmap to getting everything done. Done forget to add buffer time in it!

#3. Get resources together

Get everything you need together in one place – people, research and information. Start the ball rolling by sending out all the emails allocating work, requesting for help and communicating your plan and timelines to the people involved.

#4. Focus

Roll up your sleeves and create quality work time so that you can focus on the job at hand. Block large chunks of your calendar, keep meetings to the minimum or allocate certain times of the day for them, block your time-sucking apps and mute your notifications.

Basically, create long periods of distraction-free work time to ensure high productivity!

#5. Get the biggest stuff done first

Tackle the most complicated and the largest part of your work first.

We tend to focus on cutting down the to-do list by doing the smaller tasks, but that will just create more stress at the end. It might not feel as good, but believe us putting the most difficult bit behind you will ultimately pay off!

#6. Keep a Buffer

Always keep some buffer time when you plan.

This is the cut off time for you and your team, so that you have enough time to review and fix problems. Your time cushion also gives you some extra time you can use for putting some last minute finishing touches.

But most importantly, this is when you will be able to evaluate whether you will be able to make the deadline or miss it.

#7. Damage Control

Sometimes despite all the hard work and effort, deadlines are missed. It is important to ensure that you keep your boss, or the client informed of any delays and problems as they take place.

Also, it is much better to call in advance to inform people that you will miss the deadline rather than have them chase you. Be sure to have a second timeline thought out that you can offer straight away – one that is realistic!

Conclusion

In our modern, semi-digital lives, no one is willing to wait – from instant noodles to instant gratification – we want things done now!

You can’t single-handedly change the work culture to make it more relaxed – gone are the days of taking your time to get things done. So, its best to stay ahead of the curve by managing your time and keeping your productivity high.

If you are struggling to manage your time and need to bring your A-game to your new job/position, then don’t try to wing it. Bring in the professional before things get out of hand!

To know more click on the Request Consultation button above.

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Articles | Insight

How Soft Skills Help at Work

15 years ago, all my friends and most of my relatives called me on my birthday; now the love comes digitally via Facebook or WhatsApp. The Internet and mobile technology have changed how humans interact forever! Chats, emojis, and texts now form a bulk of our daily engagement.

However, even in this digital age, social or soft skills are key to doing well professionally and personally - millennials might not agree but trust us its true. Sending emails just cannot replace face-to-face interactions.

In fact, with so much digital technology, artificial intelligence and automation entering the workforce, soft skills have acquired new importance as a crucial differentiator at work. According to a study by Accenture, 95% of people believe they need new skills to stay relevant, and some of the new skills employees are investing in learning are soft skills such as adaptability and decision-making.

Let us illustrate the importance of social skills with some common work situations.

Situation 1: Managing large teams and delivering on tight deadlines

I am sure all of us have been at the receiving end of a seemingly impossible deadline, but somehow (through a series of mini meltdowns) pulled it off!

This is mostly made possible by the boss; someone who can take decisive and quick decisions, keep everyone motivated and positive and has the ability to think outside the box – these are soft skills that come with time and experience, but without which large teams would cease to function altogether.

Situation 2: Winning big deals

Three competing proposals are on the table; all have great deals and the names of reputable organisations on them. In this scenario, the person choosing the winning proposal is almost always influenced by the person presenting.

Great communication skills backed by confidence and a touch of personal rapport is what will win you the deal. People are willing to live with a bit less in order to work with someone they trust; you just have to develop a relationship that inspires them to take a chance on you.

Situation 3: Leading a Company/Department

A lot has been said about developing leadership skills. But what exactly are they? Empathy, communication, creativity, positivity, and ethics are just some of the basic soft skills leaders possess and practice to get to the top and stay there.

Just think of your favourite boss; what did you like about him/her? I am sure it wasn’t his/her engineering skills or presentation making skills! Employees follow leaders who invest in understanding them and ensuring their growth.

Situation 4: Conflict Management

If you put three people in a room, then over time there is bound to be some clashes! In fact, for most team leaders getting diverse people and attitudes to work together is the biggest challenge at work.

You can’t take sides, and you can’t leave conflicts unresolved; what’s needed is the empathetic, fair and transparent handling of people and egos.

Situation 5: Personal Growth

Careers are lifelong undertakings; you need to ensure that you are not just marking time and passing years stuck in a rut. Continuous professional progress comes with a mindset that is growth oriented.

So you had a bad appraisal, took years out to take care of your kids or lost money on a bad investment – a growth mindset will ensure you get up, dust yourself and fix what’s wrong. You don’t stay down when you hit a roadblock; you find a way out to carry on walking down your path.

Conclusion

Your hard skills will land you a job, but your soft skills will turn it into your dream job! There is no doubt that soft skills are the secret sauce of any successful career.

So, are you wondering if you have the required social skills to progress at work? Here is a list of essential soft skills you need to develop and polish to grow at work -

  • Communication
  • Creativity
  • Problem-solving
  • Adaptability
  • Positive attitude
  • Openness to critical feedback
  • Working under pressure
  • Team player attitude
  • Empathy and active listening

The questions we hear most often - Can soft skills really be learnt? I am not a people person, is there hope for me?

The answer is YES!

We all have our own unique mindsets and personalities, but underneath it all, we have the foundation of similar human feelings. At SoaringEagles, we believe that the first step to developing great soft skills is to be completely self-aware.

Want to know more - click on the Request Consultation button above.

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Articles | Entrepreneurship

Leading Women: Stories of Entrepreneurship

Your maternity leave is coming to an end, and you are frantically looking for a daycare centre that’s convenient, safe and trustworthy. What seemed like a simple enough task (after all you see daycare facilities dotting the roads all around town), appears impossible now that the well-being of your child is at stake.

Divya & Ketika of Proeves - SoaringEagles

Divya and Ketika saw this as a potential area where new parents needed help. But where others see problems, they sensed an opportunity and turned it into a successful business. ProEves, an online portal that aggregates, verifies and engages with preschools and daycare centres across India, services parents and corporates to finalise a childcare centre that meets their requirements.

We spoke to Divya Agarwal, a driven first-time businesswoman, and mommy of two, about her entrepreneurial journey.

Q: You and Ketika started ProEves just a couple of years ago, and it's already growing at a spanking pace! Give us a quick glimpse into how it started and the early days.

Divya: So, I was a corporate workhorse (Ketika is also a workaholic par excellence!), but with motherhood, some priorities shift. I loved my work in HUL – the team and the work environment were fantastic, but I was itching to do something of my own. Naturally, both of us had discussed this idea of connecting parents to good daycares.

During my maternity leave (with my second child) I felt its now or never! So, in 2016, Ketika and I bootstrapped our company and started our business with our little kids sleeping beside our desks!

Q: Tell us a bit more about ProEves. What services do you provide exactly?

Divya: A lot of parents don’t know what to ask or check when they go scouting for daycare facilities for their kids. I mean we check reviews of restaurants before we go out for a meal, so how can we rely on word of mouth for our kids! Basic questions about staff and first aid kits etc. are never touched upon. There are no legal requirements and licenses for day-cares in India, the industry is not transparent, and it does not provide flexible options to parents.

So we come into the picture as a daycare aggregator, we help corporates and parents discover, decide and book centres. There are features like mom references, block a visit, counsellor chats that parents can make use of.

On the other hand, many local, regional childcare centers are not tech and marketing savvy. The investment in infrastructure and staff is sizable, but they only end up relying on word of mouth to attract business. They don’t know how to manage social media or get reviews or do reputation management.

ProEves helps both sides of the child care spectrum; we help parents by ensuring that the daycare centres meet all requirements and we help daycares by streamlining their marketing and giving them a trusted platform.

Q: This is a completely new service. It must have been tough to create an ecosystem from scratch. Tell us a bit about some of the challenges you faced.

Divya: Well yes, any business is challenging. For us specifically, the biggest bottleneck was creating a large network of preschool, daycares and getting inroads to our target customers of new parents. It took a while to talk to managers and owners and explain the concept to them and get them on board and to create a list of standardised features that everyone followed - safety, first aid, staff training, etc.

Also, as we were bootstrapped, we had financial constraints. Putting together a good team took some effort as we were looking for like-minded professionals.

The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act 2017 gave a good boost to our business – it made crèche facility mandatory for every establishment employing 50 or more employees. By this time, we had already connected with over 600 daycare centers and had honed our knowledge of the whole ecosystem (in fact we were the only ones in the field).

This helped us work with corporates as consultants – they outsource their entire process to us. We shortlist facilities, conduct audits and manage the entire front end between the creches and parents.

Our corporate business has helped us grow and sustain our other operations. Now we are ready to go in for a round of funding in 2019 to expand our B2C business.

Q: What are your plans for the next phase? How do you plan to use your funds?

Divya: Increasing the depth and breadth of our network, technology-enabled bookings and ramping up marketing is a priority for our business. We plan to roll out various services like event booking, hourly daycare bookings etc for our customers

And yes! We also continuously conduct large-scale surveys and research with corporates the whole year round. Extra funding could help us increase the scope of these as well.

Yeah! So, lots to do! We have big plans!

Q: Did you face any special women-centric issues? Are there any struggles that are specific to women entrepreneurs?

Divya: Well, to be honest, not really. The field is largely women dominated. There is a perception that women don’t have a good head for figures, so maybe we will face these biases when we start tapping investors for funding. But I am pretty confident that in our field we are the experts and we have a tested business model, so I am not too fussed with how we will be perceived by investors.

Q: What are your learnings from your professional journey?

Divya: Business is not easy, setting up a new concept or service is even harder. I wouldn’t lie – there were times we wanted to give up. But am glad we hung around.

I have been blessed with a great team that has grown with us and with the support from my family. For both of us, Ketika and I, things worked out great – we found a good business idea that we are passionate about and a complementary partner in each other. She is meticulous in her work, plans for the next things and brings the big picture thinking, while I focus on executing with excellence. Maybe starting a company with a 6-month-old baby wasn’t the best timing – but there is no perfect timing for everything in life!

Q: Anything you would like to say to women starting their entrepreneurial journeys.

Divya: You need to let go of the salary mindset. Initially, for the first year, I was validating when the business outflows will be matching my corporate salary. It took me some time to realise that when you are building a business you need to think long-term and you need to think big. What excites me now is - what is the growth rate of our business, how many customers are we acquiring, how soon we will hit the 30 Crore, 50 Crore and 100 Crore mark.

Divya, Ketika and their team are doing a commendable job of helping women get back to work without worrying about daycare centers. We wish them all the success because therein lies the success of many women returning to work.

If you would like to share your entrepreneurial journey, then drop us a quick note or a comment below. We would love to hear from you.

Resources
Articles | Communication

Public Speaking For Youth

Ace meetings and gatherings with polished public speaking and presentation skills.

Unlock the power of good communication skills. Conveying your thoughts to people in public is an ability you will need, not only at college but at work too.

Just think about it: you need this skill to take leadership roles in college events, to make presentations to your class, and even to convince a recruiter to hire you!

It pays to start working on this skill early, while you are still a college student. From impromptus to debates and group discussions, good public speaking skills are key to doing exceptionally well in today’s world.

To stand up in front of a team, a person or a crowd and deliver your message with confidence or to give clear and convincing presentations are core competencies for doing superbly well since a younger age.

Our highly interactive programme will help you overcome your public speaking problems and give you the skills to become a successful communicator. This course is a wonderful start for anyone who is afraid of public speaking or wants to get better at it.

IS THIS PROGRAM FOR YOU?

  • Do you fear speaking in front of a large audience?
  • Do you want to go to college and be more competitive in the job marketplace?
  • Do you want to improve your presentation skills?
  • Do you fear being embarrassed because you think you will forget or get evaluated negatively?
  • Do you want to be able to get people to do what you want them to do with the power of your speech?

Then, definitely, this course will help you enhance your knowledge and experience about public speaking and help you become an influential speaker.

Public Speaking ForYouth gets you ready to become a powerful speaker by

  • Helping you get over your fear of public speaking and approaching every opportunity with confidence.
  • Helping you articulate your thoughts effectively that leaves the audience awestruck
  • Grabbing the attention of the audience with a powerful opening
  • Memorizing enough content so that the speech does not come off as a reading of notes
  • Modulating vocal tone to emphasize important points and avoid monotonous presentation
  • Using humour to enliven a talk
  • Maintaining eye contact with the audience and providing an energetic, animated physical presence

PLEASE NOTE: All of our programs are flexible and offer rolling admission and flexible start dates. That is, you don’t need to wait for a new cohort to start in order to join us. Please contact us for details on how to sign up.

Resources
Articles | Time Management

These are the top 4 time-wasters at work! How many do you encounter every day and what can you do to avoid them

Time flies… and it is especially fleet-footed when we are wasting it. Time-wasters can really pull you down!

5 minutes of Facebook time equals 20 minutes of real time! And when you multiply the social media platforms and add email and WhatsApp to it, then it’s really not very surprising that we never end up finishing our work.

Compared to 15 years ago, office work today requires superhuman willpower to stay focused! But we can’t just blame social media or the Internet.

When we started collating some information on productivity, some statistics blew away our mind – Do you know that an average worker admitted to wasting 3 hours of their work day! In dollar terms that totalled to $759 billion in wasted salaries.

Wow! Right?

But this is not just a loss for your organisation; time wasted at work is the time you could have spent doing other things such as spending it with your family or on a hobby.

Better time management is the obvious answer to this problem. You can see this as an opportunity to change for the better – whether it is to stand out as super productive employee at work or to free up time to spend with your family and friends or on yourself.

It is not just about stopping time wastage, but more about using that time to better yourself.

However, the first step is to identify and avoid time wasters at work. So, here is the list of the biggest time wasters!

Top 4 Time-Wasters at Work

1. Meetings

Yes! Right at the top!

1 in 4 employees complains about too many meetings taking too much of their time AND (this is my favourite) 91% of the employees surveyed DAYDREAMED in meetings!

So, what can be done? While you can’t cut out meetings at work altogether, there is a lot you can do to minimise the disruption within your team -

  • Make sure only some people can call large meetings and encourage employees to have smaller team meets on their own.
  • Send a detailed agenda beforehand.
  • Set a time and stick to it. If a meeting is for 45 minutes, ensure that it finishes on time.
  • Always follow up a meeting with a MoM (minutes of the meeting)
  • Moderate and don’t let people digress from the topic of discussion.
  • Spend the last 5 minutes summarising the decisions made or the main points.

2. Social Media and the Internet

It's no secret that almost all of us check our social media feeds and browse the Internet at work. Statistics point out that we spend 135 minutes every day on various social media sites and naturally a whole lot of this is bound to be at work!

If compulsive Internet surfing or social media grazing is something you identify as a time suck at the office, then the solution also lies with you.

Digital detox is not as simple as it sounds; most of the time we don’t even realise how many 5 minute chunks we end up spending on online, but limiting your online presence at work is something you will have to do on your own.

As always technology comes to the rescue and there are several apps that help to track your online behaviour and can even block the biggest time wasters for certain periods of time. Here’s a list of 10 best apps to keep you focused at all times.

3. Emails

Yes, this backbone of the business world has made it to the list of the biggest office time wasters.

Employees, on an average, check their emails 36 times every hour! And then it takes them 16 minutes to refocus on what they were doing before they checked their mail!

And what’s worse is that many of these emails are completely unnecessary, or so badly written that you waste even more time trying to figure them out.

So, what do you do to minimise the productivity drain your email causes?

  • You can allocate certain times of the day for checking your email. Don’t keep your email window or its notifications open the entire day. Depending on your work, log on once every hour or two.
  • You can also use email sorting apps such as Boomerang or ToDoist for Gmail or recommend apps to your HR to integrate with your office mail.

 4. Socialising

Humans are social creatures, so it's not surprising that when thrown in an office together we will chat and gossip. But how much of it is acceptable at work, is a question we need to ask ourselves very seriously.

A survey discovered that an employee has to deal with an average of 56 interruptions a day! Apart from the time wasted during the interruption, there is the added time required to refocus on what you were doing before you were interrupted.

In an open plan office where you are sitting next to colleagues who might also be your friends, you need to set some clear boundaries.

  • What works best is just to say honestly that you need to finish something quickly and will return for a chat later.
  • Practice what you preach: don’t interrupt your colleagues often and always check if they have a few minutes to chat. If they see you do it, they might reciprocate.
  • Schedule specific breaks every few hours when you can step out for a coffee and a chat.

While you might feel that you are doing fine professionally even with all the distractions, believe us you will do even better when you control and spend your time at work more wisely.

Do you see your team or your organization struggling with time management?

I guess you see the time wasters mentioned above all around you but are unable to stop them. Sometimes an outsider can be more helpful to make your team sit up and become more productive.

For more information click on the Request Consultation button above.

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Articles | Entrepreneurship

Leading Women: Stories of Entrepreneurship

The last few years have seen a huge resurgence in conversations about women returning to work. The concept is not new – generations have seen women drop out of the workforce for years to care for their children and their homes; some returned, some couldn’t quite make it back.

Like with everything else in the world, digital technology, and the Internet has opened new opportunities for millions of women – either as job opportunities or as online support systems and job boards.

Neha Bagaria JobsForHer - SoaringEagles feature

One such leading online platform is JobsForHer, a connecting portal that is designed specifically to help women restart their careers after a break.

We chatted with Neha Bagaria, Founder and CEO of JobsForHer to find out how she channelled her personal experiences as a restarter to help other women.

Q: Your bio on your website makes it clear that JobsForHer is something that came from your personal experiences. Tell us a bit about why you started this venture and the motivation behind it.

Neha: I was the usual career woman, and when the children came along, I decided to take a break to raise them – the break ended up being more than 3 years long.

During this personal journey, I became aware of the various difficulties a woman faces in order to re-enter the workforce. There are innumerable accomplished and qualified women around me who just stopped working for personal reasons such as marriage, motherhood or elder care, and then never returned to the workforce.

I started delving into the reasons behind this female brain drain, and it became clear that there are many re-entry challenges that need to be addressed in India.

Something as basic as school pick-up becomes a huge issue – most schools get over at 2-3 pm; offices go on till 6 pm at the very least – unless you have someone to take care of your child during this time how can you hold down a full-time job?

This is just one situation – women returnees not only need flexibility but also need help to regain their confidence and retraining to enter the workforce properly.

On the other side of the spectrum, companies and employers need to overcome gender biases and change cultural mindsets.

My own experience made me determined to enable other women to restart their careers and connect them with whatever they require to do so. And this idea grew to become JobsForHer, I founded it on International Women's Day, March 2015.

Q: How did you jump into entrepreneurship? What was the progression from idea to execution?

Neha: I’ve always been a social entrepreneur at heart; during my last semester at college, I founded my first company Paragon to introduce the Advanced Placement Program in India, and I also became the College Board Representative of India.

When marriage brought me to Bangalore, I started working with Kemwell, a pharmaceutical services company, in the fields of HR, Finance and Marketing strategy.

The growth and development that I experienced at Kemwell were immense, but social entrepreneurship was my first love and after I took a few years out for the kids; it all just fell into place. I knew this was exactly what I wanted to do. But apart from my gut feeling, I had enough experience to understand the gap that existed in the market and how I could fill it.

Q: It’s not easy setting up a new business, and I am sure it must have been challenging for you as well. Tell us a bit about some the hurdles you faced.

Neha: Well yes, when I decided to start JobsForHer, there were a lot of challenges - to put it mildly.

Firstly, I had started working after a long career break and untangling motherhood responsibilities from work demands was difficult. It was a challenge to figure out how to divide my time between my kids and my new business.

I hadn’t yet started working full-time, and I felt that not picking up my children from school was a deal-breaker. I was fighting against the traditional stereotyping where women are made to believe they are the sole caretakers.

The last time I had founded and run a company was 12 years ago, and I didn’t have kids then so the challenges of balancing work-life was different at that time.

Professionally, there was also the challenge that my past work experience was in education and pharma, which was diametrically opposite to the fast-paced rollercoaster world of tech start-ups.

However, slowly but surely, I started piecing it all together. I started with strong advisors to fill in the gaps in tech, HR and to build a scalable start-up. This gave me immense confidence in my idea, and I felt I could achieve the scalability I had envisioned.

Q: Did you face any special women-centric issues? Are there any struggles that are specific to women entrepreneurs?

Neha: I think we are our biggest hinderances. Through my entrepreneurial journey, I have realized how often women tend to hold themselves back because of fear.

It is so important to recognize our fears and to name them; only then can we find a path to overcome them. Whenever I am at a crossroads, I ask myself this question, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” It is critical that we don’t let our fears hold ourselves back and stride on, confident of figuring things out - eventually.

Q: What are your learnings from your professional journey?

Neha: I strongly feel that for a woman entrepreneur to succeed in the competitive business landscape, it is imperative that we become comfortable giving equal importance to our careers as we do to our other obligations, roles, and responsibilities. And for that, we need to build a thick skin and a strong support system.

Because until we don’t, we won’t be able to create the ecosystem required to support this challenging journey to the top.

We will need to rally the troops and have our support structure firmly in place - parents, in-laws, extended family, friends, and yes, husband too.  We will need to stop caring about people who don’t understand and help the people we care about to understand us. We will need to make sacrifices and compromises about being there for everyone all the time and having everything perfect.  And we will need to stop feeling apologetic about it.

Q: Wow! Well said! What’s next?

Neha: More of the same! We have come a long way in the last 3 and half years. We have made huge progress in changing the mindsets of both the women and companies. Women, so that they feel confident about the gap in their resumes and portray it in the right light and companies, so that now they are not only taking back a huge number of women returnees but companies like Dell, Epsilon, Facebook, Diageo, Sapient, Credit Suisse, etc. are working with us closely to reach out to this candidate pool.

It gives me enormous satisfaction when I hear of women restarting their careers through JobsForHer. We’ve seen success stories of women who restarted their careers at companies ranging from large enterprises to SME’s. I see them happy and confident and excited about regaining their financial independence and a sense of self-worth. In fact, we have launched an e-book called “Way Back to the Way Forward” to chronicle some of their restarter journeys. Whenever I read this book and delve into their challenges and achievements, it makes everything feel worthwhile.

Q: How was your experience with SoaringEagles? Did you see a direct business benefit?

Neha: Working with SoaringEagles has been a great experience!

Since they offer a wide range of professional development courses and JobsForHer is India's largest portal for women returning to work post-sabbatical, we found a perfect partnership.

Run by a fantastic and empathetic team, the courses they run are perfect for women returnees to reskill themselves before dipping their toes back into the professional world.

Q: And finally, is there something you had wished you had done differently?

Neha: Not let guilt and fear hold me back from dreaming big!

Neha and her team are doing a commendable job of helping women get back to work after a break. We wish them all the success because therein lies the success of many women returning to work.

If you would like to share your entrepreneurial journey, then drop us a quick note. We would love to hear from you. If you want a sounding board to grow your business fearlessly, click on the Request Consultation button above.