Six Tips for a Stress-Free Holiday Season

If you are thinking about the holidays right now and frowning, smooth your face, square your shoulders and take a cleansing breath. A little positive thinking can go a long way in helping you to enjoy the holidays this year instead of agonizing over all the little details. These 6 tips for a stress-free holiday season will start you off on the right foot.

1. Plan ahead. Print out return address labels for cards (I’m really doing it this year – bad hand cramping), update your address book, make room in your front hall closet for guest coats instead of piling them on a bed like usual, and prepare guest rooms ahead of time. Tackling a few of these tasks before you get really busy can make a world of difference.

2. Rethink your gift giving. Cut down on the mad shopping rush and stress of finding exactly what everyone wants this year – consider giving experiences instead of material gifts, and maybe even implement The Four Gift Rule. My extreme-gift-giving mom is actually trying it this year. Thanks, Mom!

3. Keep things simple with food and d├ęcor. Stick to your favourite recipes instead of trying something complicated and new, and a simple homemade centrepiece is all you need on your table. Please don’t belittle yourself for not having matching napkins and candleholders! Focus more on the family and friends you are gathering with rather than stressing over too many fussy preparations.

4. Have a few extra gifts on hand. A small stash of thoughtfully wrapped gifts is perfect for unannounced friends or last-minute invites. Choose items that have universal appeal and can be used by you and your family if they are still around come January. Think locally-made condiments, soy candles, handmade chocolates, wine and preserves.

5. Be choosy when it comes to events. This can be tough for social butterflies (my husband) and people who have trouble saying no (me). Only accept invitations to gatherings that are pertinent to the holiday and meaningful to your family. When planning your own event, keep it small and intimate with just a few close friends and relatives. We used to have a big Christmas open house but after a few years, we realized it was too chaotic as we spent most of our time greeting and seeing friends out, refilling glasses and snack bowls, and making sure little ones didn’t trash our house (even if they were adorable). Choose to host big parties at a different time of the year, when there is less going on and you are not so taxed.

6. Live in the now. As you trim the tree or make cookies with your kids, don’t forget to pause and really live in the moment. Don’t worry about what’s still on your to-do list (there’s always something), because before you know it the holiday will be over and you’ll be disappointed that you didn’t make the most of it. Also, carve out some time to do something just for you – take a walk, read your book, have a hot bath – it will go a long way in helping you to keep your sanity during the holidays.

Future of an IT Career

Based on who you ask, a career in IT is both bright and risky. The information technology industry is going through dramatic changes because of the consumer technology, social media, recession and cloud computing, just to name a few. These changes in the corporate world and IT industry are impacting the availability of IT jobs, required skills and salaries. Read on to find out more about it.

If you ask IT professionals, especially those who consider their profession in the IT industry as a dead end will say that the IT departments are facing a non-stop cycle of downsizing. Others things that are adding to the concerns of professionals are offshoring, and the use of the high-tech labors in the form of H-1B visa holders. This is the reason some people think that the pursuing a career in the IT sector is somewhat risky.

Aside from this, the existing professionals in the industry are also fed up with the fact that they are not appreciated for the time and effort they invest in order to get their routine work done. They have been finding it hard to maintain a balance between work and life, not to mention the fact that they are not getting the salary increments they expect.

Other the other side, some professionals are optimistic and they say things in favor of the IT industry. They agree that the industry professionals have a lot of problems to face, such as globalization, offshoring, technological changes and so on. But they still believe that it is the best time to be an IT professional. They are of the opinion that jobs in this industry and the jobs in the near future will be so lucrative that the job holders will be considered well-rounded employees. And they will be better prepared to handle other business tasks. This is because technology is making its way into all types of businesses, and there will be need for IT pros in every business.

Why pursue a career in IT

Although the problem of layoffs and outsourcing is there, the IT sectors still have some jobs that are more stable. Some employers are of the opinion that this trend is leaving towards long tenures. Moreover, large companies want their IT pros to work for them for long term because the knowledge of the IT architecture that the employees have will be hard to replace.

The importance of architecture is on the rise, and companies know the value of highly tenured employees. These companies look for ways in order to attract talented people and want to keep them for a long term. And when they hire someone, they want to make the part of their company.

If you want to pursue IT career, you should be flexible enough to adopt changes. This is way to stay ahead of the completion and achieve your goals. Keep in mind that you won’t be jobless if you are hardworking and talented. No matter what career you choose, you will be successful.

Plan The Most Professional Conference Call Possible – The Simple Tips

A conference call is a telephone call that allows more than two people to join in the conversation. It breaks geographical barriers and makes it possible for professionals to hold meetings without the cost or need to travel and make accommodation arrangements. More and more companies are now embracing the technology that saves so much cost and time and also offers lots of convenience. There are so many platforms you can use for your business conference calls, some of which even make the calling free for your convenience. But how do you make sure the call is as professional as it ought to be?

1. Consider even the smallest details in your plan. Before anything else, you need to know what you are doing and when you will be doing it. Set the date and time and make sure you have all relevant participants include and laid out. If it is an international conference call, then make sure that you remember to consider time zone differences so all participants are comfortable with the scheduling.

2. Give participants early notice. Professionals tend to be very busy people and for this reason you really cannot assume that they will be available at the time you have scheduled the conference call. It is advisable that you tell them about the conference call at least a month or few weeks to it. This is good enough time for everyone to reserve time for the call or make any necessary changes to the scheduling early enough for you to come with better alternatives. If everyone is okay with the date and time, then you need to provide them with instructions to access the call including dial-in numbers and PINs. Proposed start and end time and also the topic should also be provided.

3. Keep all necessities handy. Visual aids, charts, spreadsheets and even graphs may be necessary during the call and you should have them handy. If possible you can send them out to the participants before the call for their analysis. Whether your call is an audio call or a video call, you will need to avail necessary guides to get the most from the session.

4. Create a good agenda. Your teleconference will only be successful when you have a complete and well-organized agenda for it. A good agenda should cover topics, speakers on each of the topics, and even time every speaker has on the topics. Consider any requests from the participants and include them in the agenda too.

5. Exercise good teleconference etiquette. It may be a conference call, but you should show professionalism in handling it. Call on time and introduce yourself appropriately immediately you dial in. Allow speakers to finish talking before you jump in and keep your phone mute when not talking to prevent background noises from seeping in. You should also remain attentive to what is happening during the call; you do not want to seem lost in the conversation just because something distracted you during the session.