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1-minute strategies for career-minded professionals

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in Career Management,Workplace Communication

Each month, AdminProToday.com puts together a digestible collection of 1-minute strategies that help you save time and stress. Because we know they save you time and hassle, here are some of our best recent strategies:

Focus on knowing where to get information quickly rather than knowing how to do everything. Admin JoAnn from York, Pa., says she keeps a "How-to” folder on her desktop. When she needs to remember how she did something, she consults her files, which include screen shots, and sends those same files to others when they ask, "How'd you do that?”

Watch what you say on Face­book: More than 90% of job-screeners say they're using social network tools to weed out applicants. What are they looking for? Complaints someone posts about a former em­­­­ployer and lousy communication skills, among other things.

Take the lead in developing your own professional skills. Symantec CEO Enrique Salem tells The New York Times that he dislikes hearing people say that a company isn't "looking out for me.” It's not the company's responsibility. "You've got to own your development,” he says. "I absolutely believe that the best people make the time to develop skills, and they're hungry for knowledge.”

Limit teams to five members. Intuitive Surgical limits working groups to five members, "like jazz bands,” for effectiveness. Team members tend to share ideas more easily, respond quickly to problems and hold each other accountable, CEO Gary Guthart tells The Wall Street Journal.

Plot where you want to be in two to five years, then figure out the skills you'll need to get there, advises Dorothy Tannahill-Moran. Create a plan that shows how you'll achieve each skill, along with specific dates for each one. That way, you'll hold yourself accountable.

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Resist the urge to do several things at once. In one study, Dr. David Meyer of the Uni­­ver­­sity of Michigan found that the time costs of shifting can be "anywhere from 25% to 50% time increment to complete a task compared to what would be involved if you were to only concentrate on that task,” according to CNN.

Start a new job, or the new year, by penning a job manual. Write down your responsibilities as you go through your day, along with the information you need to do those tasks. The benefits? A better way to track your accomplishments and an easy training guide.

Sucking up to the boss doesn't usually work, but being politically savvy in the office sure does. Recent research in the Journal of Management Studies shows that it takes political skill to really ingratiate yourself. One of the researchers describes "sucking up with skill”: Sound genuine when you speak. Show real interest in other people. Pay close attention to people's facial expressions.

Two ideas for 2012 workplace resolutions: Renovate your office space. A fresh coat of paint or a cleanup day can brighten your environment. Update, or create, a desk manual.

Improve traffic to your company's website through search engine optimization (SEO). One of the most important SEO principles is this one, from Write It Well: Find the most targeted key phrases for your site (Woopra or Analytics can help). Then tweak the text on your website, using those key terms no more than once every four to eight sentences.

Carry a "magic pocket” with you everywhere, advises tech guru Brian Chen. He's talking about DropBox. From any computer, drop files into your DropBox folder, then hop on your iPhone (or any other computer) and retrieve them. It works for photos, music, movies or Word docs.

Go ahead: Ask for a $100,000 salary. In a simulation at the Uni­­versity of Idaho, students ­applied for imaginary jobs as admins, saying that their previous salary had been $29,000. Next, some students joked that they'd like to earn $100,000. Those "admins” were offered, on average, a salary $3,000 higher than the candidates who didn't toss out a high figure. Why? An initial offer during a ­negotiation can serve as an "anchor,” affecting the outcome.

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What helped clinch this year's OfficeTeam Administrative Excellence Award for Deborah Carter? She took the initiative to learn Microsoft Office Suite 2007 before her colleagues, and then she trained them. She also proposed that the com­pany use Skype to conduct interviews with long-distance job candidates, and consolidating mobile phone contracts into a corporate plan, saving her organization time and money.

Become a "star” by sprucing up your protocol and etiquette skills. "To be a star in this profession,” says Joan Burge of Office Dynamics, "you have to do 100 things well and be a sponge. It is in the knowing of the 100-plus things. Yes, etiquette and protocol are important.”

Hang out with interesting professionals who are pulling you into the future. Look at your "port­folio” of acquaintances with that in mind. "We are who we hang out with, we are the company we keep,” says business author Tom Peters.

Set aside a few minutes each week to answer questions in the Q&A section of LinkedIn. Always include your contact information and a brief elevator pitch about yourself. You never know who might see it and decide they need you.

What it takes to succeed: grit. One thing successful people have is grit, writes Heidi Grant Halvorson on the HBR Blog Network. "Grit is a willingness to commit to long-term goals and to persist in the face of difficulty,” she says. Grit predicts who will survive the first year at West Point or make it to the National Spelling Bee. Grit tip: Effort, planning, persistence and good strategies—what it takes to succeed—are not innate abilities.

You know what it's like to feel "derailed” – careening from crisis to crisis at work and arriving home frazzled, fed up ... and late again.

But you don't have to. You can gain back control at work.book cover

Thousands of successful executive secretaries and administrative assistants already look to Administrative Professional Today for on-target advice for prospering in today's busy offices. You too can rely on Administrative Professional Today to be there like a trusted friend, showing you the right things to do — and the things to avoid.

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