Tech gifts from the recent pass

Fifteen years of various tech gifts.  Like all in computing, things have gotten more innovative along with faster, better, and cheaper.  And it's a lot more connected than in 1999.

Do you remember what gifts you were giving—or more importantly, hoping to get—a few years back? Tech devices have long been a holiday favorite, but technology changes fast. The top spots on our own wish lists rarely stay the same day-to-day, let alone year-to-year. So we thought it would be fun to revisit some of the coolest tech gifts of the last 15 years to see what it was we loved about them—and if we still would put them on our wish list today.


Feedback that works


Our daily lives revolve around people. Whether we’re at home with our family and friends, or at work with our colleagues. And because we are so dependent on the people around us for life to work, we have to communicate. If we don’t, problems or concerns tend to build up; and what started out as a ping pong ball could start feeling a lot more like a wrecking ball.

That’s why regular useful feedback is so invaluable. But giving feedback itself is not the key. It’s how you give feedback that could unlock a world of potential in the recipient. Here are five tips to help you give feedback that works.

Start by asking

The way you approach the act of giving feedback is paramount to the outcome. You could call a meeting with your colleagues without telling them what it’s about, just to bombard them with an evaluation the moment they’re seated. Or you could start by asking permission first. A simple, “Hey Tom, do you have time for some quick feedback later today?” will give your colleague ample time to get into the right frame of mind to receive it.


Bad eMail Habits Wasting Your Time?

eMail has become a primary means of communication for many of us.  It also can lead to more work and effort than is necessary.

Are bad email habits distracting you, wasting your time, and causing miscommunications with clients, employees and others? Making a few simple changes to the way you handle email will help you improve focus, save time, and communicate more effectively.

Here are five bad email habits that could be holding you back—and positive alternatives to get you moving forward. 

Bad habit #1: Sending emails late at night, early in the morning, and on weekends. This sends clients the message that you’re on call 24/7, so they treat you that way—which ultimately stresses you out. It also sends employees the message that you expect them to be on call 24/7—which stresses them out.
Instead, try: Limiting the hours during which you and your employees send work-related emails. Prohibiting email from, say, 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., will give everyone time to unplug, rest, and recharge.


Tips for Taking a REAL Vacation

(Editor's Note:  Although our local summer ends with the return of students to Ithaca, this article regarding vacations is still useful.  It's all too easy these days to stay connected which is a blessing and a curse. But it does allow many of us to take vacations at any time of year.)

The rise in mobile tech has made it possible to work remotely—but it's also made it harder to truly disconnect during that much-needed vacations. Just in time for that summer trip, here are some tips for unplugging the right way—before, during, and after your next vacation.

  • Set expectations and delegate. Whether it's an out-of-office notification, a calendar notice, or an announcement during a meeting (or all three), tell everyone you'll be away. Work out a detailed plan of action with your manager and coworkers that covers who's to take care of what when you're gone. Remember, if you truly want to unplug it's best not to leave your cell number (in case of emergencies.)


The Modern Office: How Place & Space Affect Planning

How your offices are laid out of if you even have offices for that matter, all have an affect on how your business or organization performs.  

If you’ve worked in an office, you know there are often many obstacles to productivity. Whether it’s too many interruptions, a loud coworker, or just poor communication—there are things, specific to the work environment, that detract from your ability to work. Over the years, office spaces have evolved to suit modern working styles, but there are still inefficiencies that need to be ironed out. Here’s a look at where we’ve been, where we’re going, and how these changes will impact workplace productivity.


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