Obtaining that Oh-So-Elusive Goal of Work-Life Balance

For many of us, work-life balance can seem next to impossible to achieve.  Again and again, studies show that with the advent of technology, people are working around the clock checking emails, responding to texts, working from home, etc.  Furthermore, Forbes indicates that “a whopping 94% of working professionals reported working more than 50 hours per week and nearly half said they worked more than 65 hours per week.”  So, how can you obtain that Shangri-La of better balance?  Check out our tips below:

  • Eliminate Meaningless Activities.  By meaningless activities, we’re referring to those behaviors that suck up a lot of your time and provide you little real enjoyment.  This might include playing video games, watching TV just because it’s on, etc.

  • Schedule “Off” Time.  Rather than just hoping that one day you’ll have time in the future to relax, be proactive and schedule it on your calendar.  Then, adhere to it in the same way that you would if it were a business meeting.  This opportunity to recharge will give you increased energy, making you more productive when you are working.

  • Outsource.  Do you have too many items on your to-do list and not enough time to tackle them all?  Consider outsourcing what you can.  The Internet is a valuable resource for locating contractors and freelancers who can perform those minor tasks that you just can’t find the time for.

  • Exercise.  While it may sound counterintuitive to work out when you have a lot to do, exercise can improve feelings of wellbeing, boost your energy level, and make it easier for you to focus.  Don’t have time to get to the gym?  Consider taking a 15-minute walk on your lunch hour or spending a few minutes doing yoga poses before leaving for work.  The peace of mind you’ll derive will be well-worth your time.

  • Perform Tasks Efficiently.  Sometimes, people go about things the hard way.  Rather than grocery shopping for the week, do you make it a regular habit to spend a half-hour roaming the grocery store on a nightly basis, contemplating what you should eat?  Alternatively, do you put $10 of gas in your car every few days rather than just filling up?  Start evaluating how you approach your tasks and determine whether there’s a way to minimize the time you spend on them.     

Thought For The Day

“The ideal student would be one who was not working for grades but was working because he was interested in the work and not trying to compete with fellow students.”
Carl David Anderson



How Can You Find a Mentor?

Have you ever thought about finding a professional mentor?  If not, now might be the time to consider it.  Mentors can be an invaluable source of wisdom for recent college graduates, career changers, and entrepreneurs.  For one thing, mentors can warn you of common pitfalls to avoid as you begin your career trajectory.  They can also introduce you to valuable contacts, help you manage your professional growth, and offer useful career advice.  So, how do you find a mentor?  Check out our tips below:

  • Consider Your Needs.  An individual who might make a great mentor for someone else might not be a great mentor for you.  Carefully consider what you would like to get out of the mentoring relationship—do you want someone to offer advice on your budding business?  Are you working at your first corporate job and need the wisdom of someone who is already familiar with the ins and outs of professional development?  Once you know what you’re looking for, you’ll be able to narrow your selection.

  • Think Outside the Box.  When narrowing your selection, avoid making the contender list too small.  By this we mean that you should remain open to finding a mentor at another company or who works in a different industry.  Sometimes the best mentor is found in unexpected places.

  • Network.  When searching for your mentor, be prepared to network.  Attend industry events, join professional organizations and expose yourself to the type of people who would be most likely to help you.

  • Have the Right Attitude.  Mentors don’t want to work with someone who already has all of the answers.  Instead, be receptive and appreciative of your mentor’s ideas.  The relationship that you’re developing should be enjoyable and beneficial to both parties.

  • Be Specific.  Rather than offering a vague, “Would you be willing to be my mentor?” think of a more specific objective.  For example, you might ask potential mentors if you could meet over lunch or schedule a 20-minute phone conversation to discuss how they overcame pitfalls in their own career or what advice they might give a recent college grad.  This will yield better results, because you’ll get more specific and relevant career guidance. 

Want to Achieve your Personal and Professional Goals? Develop Your Sales Skills!

Inc. Magazine Contributing Editor Jeff Haden recently wrote that having spoken to 20 business owners and CEOs, they overwhelmingly identified sales skills as the number one reason for their success.  Furthermore, these industry leaders believed that solid sales skills were crucial in any profession to achieve one’s professional goals.

Why are sales skills so valuable?  For one thing, most employers rank solid communication skills as one of the most important qualities that a potential job candidate can possess.  However, communication skills aren’t the only thing that distinguishes a good salesperson.  The best salespeople also handle rejection well, develop resilient attitudes, negotiate effectively, display confidence, and practice self-discipline.  We’d argue that in virtually any job, these qualities are essential for success.  Not only is that true for professional goals, but these traits are equally useful in the pursuit of personal objectives.

With sales skills being so beneficial to success, you’re probably wondering how you can develop them.  We have some ideas below:

  • Go Beyond your Comfort Zone.  Salespeople often have to cold call leads and for the new salesperson, this prospect can be very intimidating.  However, it is valuable—by going beyond your comfort zone, you confront your fears and develop more confidence in the process.

  • Brush Up on Your Communication Skills.  Does the thought of having to persuasively communicate your point of view to your superiors make you nervous?  Consider joining a local Toastmasters organization.  As you become more adept at communicating, you’ll find that it gets easier.

  • Learn to Handle Rejection.  Rather than concluding that your last project that didn’t go well was a failure, think about it more constructively.  For example, you might remind yourself of everything you learned from that experience and how you’d handle things differently the next time.  One of the hallmarks of a great salesperson is the ability to bounce back quickly from setbacks.

Object-Oriented Programming: Classes and Objects

In our last two articles, we gave a brief introduction to object-oriented programming, particularly classes and objects – we explained properties and methods, and mentioned constructors.  Now we will further explain these things with code examples in C++.  (The syntax for these basic things like defining classes and initializing objects is similar in other object-oriented languages like Java and C#.)

Let’s create a simple class to model a city:

class City
    string name;
    int numberOfPpl;
    bool isCapital;
    string country;

    int population()
        return numberOfPpl;

Some of the lines above are pretty self-explanatory: there is data in the form of fields, and one method which returns the number of residents of our city.  The data types we used are string (this time, we have a built-in string class), integer and bool - all of which are familiar from our C tutorial.  The public keyword is a so-called access modifier, and it determines whether certain data from the class is "visible" (and who it's visible to), i.e. it allows or forbids access to the data (to objects of different classes, for example).  Other access modifiers in C++ are protected and private, but we will discuss access modifiers in greater detail later.

Note: This is a trivial example of a class. It's very simple and uses just a few fields to give you an example.  Usually, classes are much more complex, and they are the building blocks of your program.  It is important to construct your class intelligently, in a way that will allow you to easily modify and upgrade it in the future.

Now, let's see how we can create objects of the class.
The most common way is just writing:

City city1;
City city2;
Here, city1 and city2 are objects of our City class.  You can also write that like this:
City city1, city2;
Now, let's assign some real values to one of our objects, for example:
city1.name = "Paris";
city1.numberOfPpl = 2000000;
city1.isCapital = true;
city1.country = "France";
Now, we can use that data like this:
cout << "The number of people in Paris is: " << city1.numberOfPpl;
or like this (the two ways are equivalent in our case, since the population() method returns the numberOfPpl):
cout << "The number of people in Paris is: " << city1.population();
Note: The cout << part is writing the output (in our case, 2000000) to the console. cout is a method similar in its purpose to C's printf function we already used.

As we said, this is one way of creating objects in C++.  These are automatic objects, which are going to be destroyed (by a special method called the destructor) upon exiting the current scope.  There are other ways of creating objects, and one of them is dynamically, using the keyword new.  We will discuss this method in a future post, as it requires a deeper understanding of OOP methodology.