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If you had 3 wishes, what would they be?

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If you could wave a wand and change things about your job, what would they be?

Recently, a few of you shared your ideas for making this year better and happier than the last. In honor of all overworked office managers out there, we're sharing a list of the top three wishes that could make a difference in your workplace—and how to take the first steps toward change.

So wave your magic wand and grant yourself these three wishes:

Wish No. 1: Fewer, better meetings. "I'd like to have fewer committee meetings, and those that must be scheduled should provide an agenda prior to the meeting to allow participants to come prepared,” says admin Cheryl. "Too many meetings are just time wasters. Hours are spent talking, yet nothing is ever implemented,” she says.

Solution: Set ground rules. Create a set of agreements at the beginning of the meeting that establish explicit expectations for the group. Use rules to keep the meeting on track, encourage participation and maintain order.

For example, does the group feel strongly about ending every meeting on time? Make a rule that commits to doing that. Other examples: Only one person speaks at a time, no interruptions allowed, time limits on contributions, everyone gets a voice.

Ask the group to set ground rules together, if the group meets regularly. To get the discussion going, raise questions such as, "How can we stay focused on the agenda?” With everyone writing the rules, participants buy in to the end result.

Finally, there's a resource the office's 'go-to' person – you! – can go to. Office Manager Today's newsletter, website, e-letter and Special Reports offer you a full suite of services that will bring you instantly up-to-date on ALL the office management topics you need to stay up on. Learn more here.

Wish No. 2: Less complaining around the office. "Negativity just drags everyone down, and doesn't help to accomplish anything. I'd like to try to be as positive as I can in 2011 in hopes that a good attitude will become contagious!” admin Carol says.

Solution: Fight a cynical, negative office culture with a higher personal standard. Do it by rejecting negative language and thinking. By saying the right, positive thing you can reverse a negative situation—and help put an end to snippy emails and backbiting comments.

Become known as a problem-solver by using phrases like "Here's a possible solution” or "This might work.…”

Halt gossip in its tracks. Change the conversation topic. Or take the more direct approach by saying, "I'd feel better if we didn't talk about Gail while she's not here.”

Stop a constant complainer by saying, "I can see you're not happy. What are you going to do about it?” or "What's your idea?” It will encourage him to think about solutions, rather than dwell on problems. And when one of his ideas is used, the rise in his self-esteem will lead him to seek more solutions.

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Wish No. 3: Tighter control over my time. One admin, Mary, says she's already taken steps to gain control over her schedule: "Since I started to put time constraints in order, I feel more in control. I no longer make myself available just because someone asks.

"I do plan to continue distributing courtesy, customer service, loyalty and availability,” she continues. "I just plan to have time limits. So far it feels good, and everyone is complying.”

Mary raises a good point: It's possible to give great service, even as you teach other people to respect your time.

Solution: Clamp down on poor planners. Consider whether others cause your day to run late with requests of "Can we have a quick meeting?” or "Can I talk to you about something?” Ask colleagues to plan face-time with you in advance.

Another tip: Under-promise and over-deliver. Some people try to look heroic by promising to deliver an assignment in record time.

The result: an overcommitted schedule.

Instead of looking like a star, you look stressed out. Work on gracefully communicating and setting expectations, then deliver earlier than promised, if possible.

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Operations. A poorly written employee handbook can do more than just con­fuse your staff – it can actually be used against you in a court of law. Office Manager Today lays out the Top 10 Handbook Mistakes – so you can avoid them.

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