Your Work Day is Not the Same as Your Shift Schedule

You start a new job, or are at an existing job, and management tells you your hours are 9AM-5PM. So you get in at 9AM every day, and leave at 5PM every day.

This is not what you want to, and nobody likes a clock-watcher.

If your hours are 9AM-5PM then you should start working at 100% by 9AM.

So your day starts at 8:30AM, or 8:45AM – whatever works best for you – and that is when you aim to arrive for. This serves a couple of purposes. Firstly, it gives you a buffer in case of commuting delays (in NYC I always plan for these). And secondly, assuming no delays, you can get a jump on the day.

I notice a huge difference in my productivity when I have a half hour to settle down, switch from personal to work contexts, organize my thoughts, organize any email that came in overnight, and prioritize my pending tasks.

This compared to mornings when I get in around 9AM and I have to manage incoming work along with organizing my day and outstanding tasks and overnight email, let alone transitioning from personal to work contexts.

Similarly if your hours are 9AM-5PM, you should keep working at 100% until 5PM. If you are wrapping up so you can leave at 5PM then you aren’t working your full shift; you are slowing down and wrapping up before 5PM. So your day ends around 5:10PM or 5:15PM.

Working the full shift you are being paid to work is part of being a professional; part of being an adult.

If you find yourself in this position and do not agree, then perhaps it is time to find a new job with more acceptable work day schedule.

What I Have Learned About How To Dress Yourself

Always Dress Up: How you dress not only affects how others see you, it affects your mindset as well. When I dress up for work, it puts me in the mindset of a professional ready to work, which helps me project that as the first impression others get.

The psychological effect runs deep; weekends where I don’t get out of my pajamas are days where I rarely leave the house. On the other hand, if I start the day dressed as if I were going out, it makes it much easier should I decide to do so.

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Keep Your Shoes Shined: Scuffed shoes immediately dress you down. Conversely, a good pair of well-kept dress shoes almost always dress up an outfit.

Whether consciously or unconsciously it keeps you in the mindset of caring about how you look, which helps project that as part of your first impression. Dressing in business casual attire is something anyone can easily do; shining your shoes requires effort.

When I see someone wearing business casual, or even a suit, with scuffed shoes, it gives a negative first impression; however someone wearing jeans, a dress shirt and well-kept dress shoes gives a positive first impression, over and above the suit-and-scuffed-shoes.

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Pick a Signature Style: Standing out a little never hurts. In this age of networking, anything that helps people remember you is a benefit; you need to stand out in peoples’ memory so you come to their mind more easily when they are looking for someone to fill a purpose.

It could be jazzy ties, or snazzy socks. It could be stylish hats, or unique belt buckles. Pick something that resonates with you and then run with it. I don’t like ties, and don’t care so much about shoes and socks, so belt buckles are my trademark.

Don’t get me wrong, it is far better to be remembered for your work and reputation, but this is easy to do, doesn’t hurt, and often makes a noticeable difference.

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Have a Good Tailor: “Everyone looks good in a tuxedo.” Even rented tuxedos are tailored to fit properly when you get them. You will always look better when your clothes fit you properly.

Any time I get a new pair of dress pants or jeans, I take them to my tailor – I tried a few and stuck with the one I liked the best – not just to have the length corrected, but to adjust the waist, seat, and leg-taper to fit me properly. It inevitably looks like I spent a lot more than I actually did.

The better look and increased comfort from the tailored fit positively affects your mindset, which affects the first impression you project. Being confident about how you look is definitely a visible trait.

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Never Neglect Comfort: This one is pretty simple: no matter how well dressed you are, if you are uncomfortable that will come across in your interactions with other people. This goes for visual comfort as well as physical.

You might fidget a lot, or be more irritable, or distracted, but regardless it has a negative impact on your mindset which detracts from the first impression you project.

Physical discomfort can sometimes be remedied by a trip to your tailor, or something as simple as wearing an undershirt. But always make sure you feel comfortable in what you are wearing. Unless it is Halloween.

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The Whole is Greater than the Sum of Its Parts: it is the combined effect of all of these that makes it solid. Picking one or two and ignoring the rest never works as well.

Why I Wouldn’t Use Exchange 2010’s Native Archive Mailbox Functionality

1) The feature licensing requires Enterprise CALs. Thankfully it does not require Exchange 2010 Enterprise. However, there is still a significant difference in cost between a Standard Exchange 2010 user CAL and an Enterprise Exchange 2010 user CAL.

2) The availability of this functionality to end-users is limited to Outlook Web Access, Outlook 2010, and Outlook 2007 (minimum SP2), the latter having only limited functionality.

3) Most businesses use third-party software for email archiving, allowing them to find a product that fits into their organization. Some simply set quotas and limit the total amount of data an end-user can have at all. Regardless, you wind up being charged for a feature you don’t use.

Why is an IT Support Manager actually a Business Analyst?

A technical recruiter I have worked with once told me that, based on my experience and, more importantly, my personality, he thought that I should seriously consider looking at ‘business analyst’ positions.

I was, at the time, looking at any mid-to-high level technology position, specifically some kind of systems administration. And I thought that a business analyst was someone who analyzed other business. For what reason, I did not know.

The recruiter clarified it for me; he felt that with my technology background, and ability to work with people, I would be effective in a position where I worked with a business, or a group within a business, to better enable its use of the IT systems available.

My experience is heavy on the technology side, and a bit weak on the business side, so I tabled the idea.

If I review my time working in IT over the last 12 years, I see a common theme in my overall interest – how can technology best enable the company, and, more specifically, how can tech support (including *all* levels of help desk) be structured to best meet he needs of the business?

This is where it crosses into a semi-business-analyst role.

The philosophies, roles, mechanisms, workflows, people, SLAs, etc. all have an important role in making tech support efficient and productive, both inside the group and in supporting the company.

A critical part of that is hiring the right people and *keeping* them. Helping them grow into the roles best suited for them. Making sure their needs are met, too, or they are far less productive both for the support team and for the company.

I would say I am passionate about this and it ties together my deep interests in technology and in how people interact. How best to take into account people’s differences and enable them to work at their best personally, within the group, and within the company.

It is about the person, and about the team, and how I manage them so that they are best able to meet the needs of the company.

A goal! A five year plan?