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Achieving a Better Family and Work Balance Makes for Better Job Performance Are you constantly working after hours and weekends at the office? Are beginning to forget what your family even looks like? Many people find themselves in this predicament. Work seems to get more and more demanding with every passing day, and to stay on top of your game at work, you feel like you need to put in long hours. The flipside to this is that of course when you are at the office, you are away from home – away from family dinners, play time and your kids’ sporting events or school plays. You may feel like your hands are tied – that no matter how much you want to be more involved with your family life, you have to keep working as hard as ever to make sure your family is provided for in the long run. The truth is, however, that you may be doing yourself a disservice on both fronts. Studies have shown time and again that well rested workers with well balanced lives are more productive in the time they do spend working. In the end, the best way to be a stand out worker at the office is to be fully involved and present in your family live. But wait, you say, “I’m working practically around the clock now, and everything still isn’t getting done.” However, maybe the problem isn’t that you aren’t working hard enough. Maybe the problem instead is that you aren’t working smart enough. Think about the way you spend you working day. Are you taking on more responsibility than you need to, instead of delegating tasks to others? Are you spending a lot of time chatting in the break room when you run for a cup of coffee? Are you procrastinating so that big projects require you to work all-nighters instead of spreading out the work? Keep a journal of all of your activities at work for a few days. You might be surprised to see how you are really spending your time and in what areas you could make improvements. Simply staying on task and delegating effectively could get you home in time for dinner. When you have done everything you can to make your work habits as productive as possible, it is time to turn to other ways to balance your work life and your family life. Rule number one is the hardest one for most people to follow you – draw clear lines of distinction between work time and family time. Family time isn’t really family time if you are constantly on your cell phone making and receiving work calls or if you are on your laptop for the entire family vacation. When you’re working – work. When you’re with your family – concentrate on them. The time you spend actually taking a breather from work will recharge your batteries and make you a better worker when work time rolls around again. Next, you have to evaluate your priorities. Maybe working around the clock will help you make partner faster, but at what cost? Decide if seeing your daughter’s soccer game every week is more important to you than moving up the corporate ladder quickly, and make adjustments in your schedule appropriately. There is no right or wrong answer, but deciding where you priorities lie will make scheduling easier for you. With your priorities in mind, see what work options are available to you to help you meet them. If you want more time with the kids, see if your office offers flex time or part time hours to help you meet your family commitments. Last but not least, don’t feel guilty about taking time with your family. Not only is this time important to your family, you can rest assured that the time out from the office stress will make you more productive when you return to work.

Working Smarter – Planting Seeds to Earn Employee of the Year To be awarded with the employee of the year and maybe even having your own plaque posted on the wall is the highest of rewards for some employees. With all the competition in the workplace, becoming the employee of the year is not an easy task. One of the first steps to becoming employee of the year is to be a good worker. Being a good worker actually includes lots of different strategies. A good worker is always on time and never leaves early without permission. Of great benefit to you as well as to others is to make sure that you have a pleasant attitude and lots of motivation. The lack of motivation in a workplace can slow down productivity immensely and if your boss sees that you are one major motivator in your department, a small seed towards that plaque is already planted. A good worker is also very well organized and works in an efficient manner. Efficiency with high quality results is a great combination to add more seeds to sprout your career and reach your goal of being the employee of the year. In some companies there is an employee awarded every month. The employee of the month gets awarded for his outstanding work and contribution to the company over the course of the month. Sometimes to become the employee of the year, you need to get several or the most of the employee of the month awards. But since you are trying to be the employee of the year, you must already try to be the best employee every month. You should have a chance for one or more of the monthly awards. Becoming employee of the months is one important seed to harvest your crop, the employee of the year award. Often times, it also helps to have a good relationship to your boss. A relationship of mutual respect, somebody your boss can rely on, likes to exchange ideas and just plain small talk with, are all important. Become his ally and best worker, but do not over do it. Sometimes in the effort to become employee of the year, you try too hard to be somebody you are not in order to show off in front of everybody and forget that working in a businesslike or industrial setting also means teamwork. Try to be a leader and show respect for others at your workplace. If you are just trying to take away work and glory from others, you will soon be the person nobody wants to go to. To become the employee of the year, you need to be a resource for others, help with their daily problems and most of all, respect them and recognize their accomplishments. If you are working in the team, everybody needs to feel welcome and feel like he or she is contributing. As you can see, just doing the most work will not get you the employee of the year reward. Accomplishing many other things at the same time is just as important as the amount of work you correctly and timely deliver. That is why the process of getting awarded is more like planting seeds in the field and seeing them sprout. It is not just one action; it takes many different actions to become the employee of the year. Possibly one of the most important facts at the end of the year-- do not expect that it is you that gets the award. Be humble, think of others that did also tremendous amounts of work and tried to be motivated throughout the year. Do not be disappointed if it is not you.

Preparing Questions to Ask in your Upcoming Job Interview When you get ready for a job interview, chances are you have spent a lot of time trying to guess the questions you will be asked and prepare your answers to them. How will you explain that gap in your work history? What will you say when they ask you why you left your last job? In the rush to make sure that you have all of your answers perfectly prepared and ready, don’t forget to prepare a few questions of your own to ask the person who is interviewing you. Asking questions is an important part of your interview. When you get asked the old “do you have any questions for us” one, it pays to actually be able to come back with a few questions instead of a, “no, I don’t think so.” Asking questions will show that you are engaged in the interview and have done some thinking about the position, plus, the questions you ask will help you elicit valuable information you need when you have to decide whether or not to actually take the job, should it be offered to you. The first thing you should want to find out is why the job is open in the first place. Is the job you are applying for a new position? That means you can expect to have a lot of transitional bumps along the way as you are integrated into the company. If the job is not new, and the person before you was fired, then you can expect things to be in a state of disarray when you take over and that you will have to spend a lot of time up front cleaning up spilled milk. If the job is open because the person who had it before you moved up in the company, then you will know that this is a job with a lot of future potential. Next, find out a little bit about the person who will actually be your boss if you get the job. Sometimes, this person will be involved in the interview, but often they will not. Finding out how high up in the company chain you will be reporting will help you gauge how important the position for which you are applying is to the company. Also, it helps to know a little bit about the personality type of the boss to be. If you like to keep your head down and do your work, and your potential new boss is one of those “wacky” types, then you may want to look elsewhere. From there, ask about the kinds of responsibilities you will need to take on board right out of the gate. When companies are hiring for a new position, they usually have a few ideas about what that person will need to start working on right away. Getting a clue about your first project will help you decide if this job is right for you. This is also a good time to ask the interviewer about their job and why they like working the company. You may find out that this really could be your dream job, or you may end up sensing from your interviewer that you should run away, fast. Last but not least, ask your interview when you should follow-up on your interview. Don’t open the door for a “don’t call us, we’ll call you” kind of interview closing. Let the interviewer know to their face that will be making the effort to contact them again. You may get the vibe from your interviewer that the job probably will be going to someone else, so you can move on quickly, or you may end up being offered the job on the spot. Either way, you will have opened the lines of communication to take the next step.

Copyright Music Infringement Copyright Music Infringement is Not Preferred Method for Music Lovers In recent years, copyright music infringement has seen an unprecedented leap in scope and scale. This is largely due to online services that allowed unchecked file sharing among their subscribers. While this abuse of copyright is not by any means limited to music, this is where the most profound effects of file sharing have been observed. Industry giants of file sharing are cropping up left and right with the demise of the pioneer for illicit file sharing, Napster. The Recording Industry Association of America (or RIAA) has made copyright music infringement their primary cause to fight. They estimate that peer-to-peer file sharing takes around 4.2 billion dollars each year worldwide from the coffers of the music industry. I really cannot blame them that is a fairly large chunk of change. The problem with their estimates however is the assumption that people would actually buy every piece of music they download or that they aren't buying the music they would have bought at any rate. While I by no means condone copyright music infringement or any other copyright infringement I do believe they are overestimating the damage to the industry that is being done by these file-sharing programs. One of the primary arguments that the RIAA is using in order to, hopefully, discourage people from not supporting their favorite groups and artists by buying their recordings, is the fact that new and struggling bands are less likely to continue making music because it will no longer be profitable. The bulk of musician's incomes are the result of royalties, which depend entirely on the sales of their albums. The RIAA is using the legal system to back them up by taking the fight to court. Recent claims made by the RIAA include one rather controversial claim that people ripping CDs they have bought and paid for does not constitute fair use because CDs are not "unusually subject to damage" and that if they do become damaged they can be replaced affordably. This assertion has raised more than a few eyebrows and is giving rise to opponents of the RIAA who claim that the lawsuits and crackdowns against those presumed guilty of copyright music infringement are actually hurting music sales and the profits of the music industry. During the height of Napster popularity (the hallmark by which all file sharing seems to be compared) CD sales were at their highest rate ever. People were exposed to music and groups they otherwise may not have heard without file sharing. As a result of enjoying the music by these groups people went out and actually bought the CDs of the music they enjoyed. It's ironic that the very lawsuits designed to stop copyright music infringement have actually managed to stifle file sharing enough that CD sales are dropping noticeably around the world. Opponents and critics also challenge that rather than being a source of copyright music infringement, peer 2 peer networks offer unprecedented exposure for new artists and their music. Another argument against the RIAA is that the real reason for the lawsuits against file sharer is because they want to keep the prices for CDs over inflated while keeping the actual royalties coming to the artists relatively low. The copyright music infringement claims made by the RIAA have become suspect. The music industry is currently working on ways where fans can legally download music. This will mean that fans have access to the music they love from their PCs and directly to their music playing devices without resorting to illegal copyright music infringement. The truth is that most people want to do the right thing and given viable alternative will elect to do so.