As an administrator, you will often be in charge of organizing groups of people in order to get things done at work. Even if you are not actually the official team leader, because you are the one with the calendar and all the phone numbers, you will likely function in a leadership capacity simply because – as you know – you are the one that “knows where everything (and everyone) is.” As a result, it will be up to you in many cases to help keep a team together and motivated even if you are not the acknowledged or appointed leader of the group.
One of the best ways to keep people motivated is to keep them connected, and this is where administrators like you can shine. Particularly if different team members are located in different geographic locations, it can be difficult to create a cohesive, functioning, productive unit. One way to keep people in sync with each other on various parts of the project is to send out periodic updates. These updates should let team members know where the team as a whole stands on various aspects of the project and also will give individuals an opportunity to ask for help, insight or assistance on a facet of the project that may be troubling them.
In addition to the updates, you may wish to provide some online training sessions for team members if they are engaged in distinctly different aspects of the project so that those who are not actually in charge of other facets of the project are at least familiar with the direction that the project is taking as a whole. Finally, consider maintaining a team blog. Of course, this blog should have an administrator – probably you – to prevent it from turning into a forum in which aggravated team members are able to fly off the handle in the event of a bump in the road. However, a blog can be a great way for people to interact and share ideas and for you to share updates, thoughts and insights on the way that the project is going.
By keeping your team in touch, you will find that all members instinctively are more timely, understand what is required of them and are more willing to work together on the project to create a cohesive, productive whole.
One of the biggest advantages that you can give yourself in both your personal life and your professional life is positivity. You probably know someone who is always positive. They may appear to waltz through life without ever encountering any problems. You may even be jealous of them because things always seem to “go their way.” Even when things are bad, these people tend to find a solution and remain upbeat throughout the process.
So do you have to be born with that kind of energy to be that kind of person? Absolutely not. While some people are born with naturally sunny dispositions, most people who use the power of positive thinking to their advantage have done at least a little self-training in the past to help them stay positive in the face of adversity. You, too, can develop habits to help you remain positive and think good, creative thoughts when you would rather be banging your head against a wall so that your every action is pro-active and positive, netting you a positive outcome even in the worst situations.
One of the easiest types of training that you can do when it comes to cultivating a positive outlook is to practice the art of the compliment. This does not mean that you have to walk around telling everyone you like their ugly shirt or their tacky hat, but it does involve silencing some of your inner criticisms to help you look for something positive.
For example, if you have someone on your team that is chronically late, instead of berating them for their tardiness, try to turn it to your advantage. Find out if you can help. This will usually result in your getting an explanation for the tardiness. Based on this explanation, you can turn the tables on the person, who is probably feeling defensive because technically they know that they are not supposed to be late, and get the result you want: their on-time arrival.
For example, if the person explains that they are late because they never have time to prepare ahead of time, compliment them on how much they do each day for the company or the project. Then offer to send out notes the night before so that they can just grab them and go without having to develop their own outline. By complimenting and then offering a positive, thoughtful solution, you have placed the person in a position where they will feel that they really should try harder to arrive on time because you are putting effort into helping them achieve that goal.
Although everyone seems to be in agreement that Facebook should play an important role in your business, the sad fact of the matter is that most people just do not understand how to use it effectively. Even the best email marketers out there who have thousands and thousands of “friends” and “fans” have publicly expressed frustration at their inability to turn those individuals from acquaintances into clients and sales. Having the ability to effectively utilize Facebook in your business is one of the best ways to make yourself stand out from the rest of the crowd and is often worth a hefty pay hike in the bargain. You will find that it will pay off for you fast in just about any administrative or other position if you can make money for your business using Facebook.
One of the most important things to remember when you are using Facebook or other social networking sites for business is that they are, at heart, social. While you may not actually consider every single person on your friend list a personal friend, you need to provide a social context for your communications. To some degree, you need to have a real relationship and rapport with the people that you are targeting via social networking in order for your efforts to be effective. This means that you need a picture of a person rather than a logo, for example, as your profile picture. It also means that you should generally post in the first person and post periodically throughout the day, in real time, instead of just once or twice on a schedule.
Next, remember that the big advantage of social networking is that you can elicit action. However, that action may not necessarily be making a purchase. What you can do in a reasonably predictable manner is move people – literally. For example, some retail companies offer their “friends” extra coupons or special sales that take place only if you work through Facebook. Sometimes you even have to go to the store in person at a certain time and show you are a friend by displaying a coupon. This might get you a free item or a good discount. The important thing is that the people are inside the store and exposed to the merchandise.
Social networking and social media are highly effective forms of advertising in addition to being great ways to stay in touch. However, you have to have a light touch or people will feel that their trust in you as a “friend” has been violated. Always tread lightly with social media and take care to be considerate and your marketing will have greater effect.
We’ve all met this person. In fact, there is one in pretty much every office. Sometimes it’s the lady with the twenty pictures of her dog and the gilded stature of her dog’s paw print and the 3 stuffed dogs on her desk. Other times it is someone who is a little too loud, a little too nosy or a little too outspoken. Regardless of what this person’s personality traits are, they fall in the category of quirky. However, since they do a good job or haven’t done anything terrible (depending on how the employer runs the office), they continue to work there and do quirky things.
While some people make their idiosyncrasies work for them, generally as an administrative assistant it is best to avoid falling into the “quirky” trap. While it will make you easy to remember, it also diminishes your professionalism. As the first line of contact with the outside world – and all the customers and potential clients in it – being quirky can be a greater liability for you than it can be for people who do not work as directly with clients. In fact, if you are overly quirky, it can even prevent you from being lined up for projects or getting a job in the first place.
This does not mean that you should not show any personality whatsoever. Having a picture of your family or even your dog on your desk does not hinder your professionalism. Even letting some of your slight eccentricities show will not hurt you – as long as you keep them in their place. The important thing is to make it very clear that you are fully professional when it matters, and not be one of those people who the rest of the office warns people about before they ever set foot inside. If you let your “funny” habits get the best of you, then you could find that they end up getting the best of your job as well.
When it comes to organization, it is hard to beat a good color coding system. It is one of the best ways to quickly access information and to set up a system that others can use even when you are not in the office to find items that you need. Color coding is a great tool, but you must use it effectively or you may find that you are spending more time deciphering your color code than you are finding your target information.
Here are three different ways to color code your files:
- Code by number
When coding by number, you assign a color for each number 0 through 9. This is a great system if your files are organized by number or if you use a lot of different dates to sort your files. However, if you have a complicated numeric system for your files, you may need to assign additional colors in the spectrum beyond the initial nine to help identify misfiles.
- Code by letter
If you categorize your files by letters – either names or other alphabetical designations – then color coding by letter can be useful. In this instance, you will need a spectrum of 26 colors in order to color code by letter. Some offices actually make the letters themselves large and colorful, while others opt to use the file folders to create the color spectrum. Color coding by letter can be combined with color coding by number to create a more elaborate system, but in this case the main benefit of this decision is that it creates a system in which misfiles are easily apparent. It can still be quite difficult to navigate.
- Code by topic
If you have a manageable number of topics of types of files, then you may choose to color code by topic. You simply need to assign a color to each type of file, then alphabetize within each color.
You will need to take a close look at your file contents to determine what is needed for your personal color coding system. Color coded filing prevents misfiling since an out-of-order file is immediately apparent, and you will love the ease with which you can file things and find things at your fingertips.
While generally you read about how you need to keep social networking out of the workplace, in one instance my ability to navigate Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and the like actually snagged me a job over some pretty tough competition. As more and more employers start focusing on the internet as a source of business, you will find that a careful and strategic presentation of your ability to connect with people via social media can actually enhance your resume rather than hinder your chances at getting a job. In some cases, your time online might even be all the employer is really looking for.
When you are presenting yourself and your job skills, however, be judicious. Do not simply announce that you spend hours a day on Facebook, for example. Instead, point out that you are fluent in “Web 2.0” or that you have experience in social media and marketing. You can use the number of friends that you have on Facebook or the number of followers you have on Twitter to help back up your claims that you network effectively in these media.
If you want to use this type of social networking to your advantage, then you need a professional, “work profile” as well as your personal profile. The work profile should be used for building a base of clients and potential clients as well as friends. It generally will not include the pictures of you with a lampshade on your head in a bikini at that beachside pool hall last spring break, although you should include pictures of yourself having fun and enjoying life because research shows that you will likely accumulate more friends if your profile is not “all business.” Just be careful not to post anything in this profile that you would not want a prospective employer to see, and remember that if they can find one profile, they can find another – so keep your personal profile private!
Make sure that if you are hired for your social networking abilities that your employer is very clear with you about what he or she expects from your networking. Some employers really just want you online building a rapport with potential customers. They may want a certain number of posts or a certain number of friends added each day. You need to know how your progress is being measured so that you can adjust your social media habits accordingly.
As an administrator yourself, you probably are fully familiar with the feeling of being underappreciated. Since part of your job is to make things in the office flow smoothly, when you do it successfully you may find that people fail to recognize just how hard you have worked to “make the magic happen.” Unfortunately, sometimes this can actually spill over onto your own assistants who may themselves feel that you have overlooked their efforts in the hubbub of making the office run smoothly.
Here are three ways to make sure that the administrative staff on your team feel appreciated:
- Just Say “Thank You”
It sounds too simple, but many times a simple, “Thank you, I know how hard you are working,” can go a long way toward making someone feel like you recognize their efforts.
- Feed Them
Remember how much better you used to feel after Grandma gave you a glass of milk and a cookie? Well, doughnuts and coffee work too! A five-dollar box of doughnuts at the end of a particularly tough week can let your staff know just how much you appreciate their efforts and keep them working hard for you.
- Remember the Little Things
While it might seem silly, letting people know that you are listening when they talk lets them know that they are important and appreciated. For example, if you know that "Betty's" son has a ballgame on Thursday afternoon that she opted to skip in order to meet a deadline, be sure to thank her for that sacrifice specifically. Even if her decision is no less than anyone else is doing, letting her know you are aware of the sacrifice will help keep her from resenting you for it.
You know just how important it is to you that your efforts do not go unnoticed. Make sure that your team gets the same courtesy from you that you want from your supervisors and your productivity will skyrocket.
I have been slacking, so here is something written awhile back. I hope I didn't post it already!
As an administrator, you may sometimes feel that you need some extra support. One of the best ways to support yourself and your staff is to create an admin support group within your office. You may meet on a regular basis or only once in a while when things get hectic, but having a support group of other administrative staff will help you all identify issues and solutions in the workplace.
Once you have determined that you have a need for an admin support group, make sure that your employer is okay with you taking time out of your day for this. Generally, these types of groups meet during a lunch hour on business property. However, some employers think that these groups are so useful that they allow them to meet on company time.
Establish clear goals for your group. It can be easy to allow a support group to deteriorate into a “complaint fest” if the group does not have a common goal. While you may wish to discuss problems, the goal should always be to find a solution for those problems, not to just air “dirty laundry” for everyone else to hear. Your group should have a clearly stated goal and mission statement so that people who participate know what they are getting into.
Finally, your admin support group can benefit from training opportunities in the workplace. This is an ideal way to support your staff and make them better prepared to help you as well. Find out if you can get some training in basic software or in new technology that could help in the daily life of an administrative professional. Then, through the support group, consider offering training to help members participate more fully in their jobs as administrative professionals.
If you don't have something nice to say, don't say nothing at all.
Particularly in the summer months, many offices adopt a “Casual Friday” or other “Casual Day” during which employees can dress down from their usual professional attire. Often these days are designed to bring a little fun into the workplace, but a mistaken idea about what is appropriate for Casual Day could end up with you cooling your heels at home early or making a horrible first impression on someone that you will be working with. If you have not experienced a casual day in the office before, make sure that you err on the side of caution when you are dressing down.
In many offices, casual day simply means that you do not have to wear a suit (and tie) if you are a man and that you do not have to wear the equivalent level of dress if you are a woman. However, for women, the line is less distinct, since many women wear skirts and blouses on a regular basis, which slightly lowers their level of professional dress already. So before you wear jeans in to work, make sure that this is acceptable and that Casual Day is not really just “ditch your tie and/or heels day.”
Another way that offices may try to make Casual Day fun is by giving it a theme. For example, there might be “Hawaiian Shirt Day” or “Luau Day.” As with any other casual day, be moderate in your interpretation of what is appropriate. Avoid coconut bikinis and other beachwear, including flip flops, unless there has been a precedent set for this type of behavior! Even then, tread lightly so that your behavior is not misinterpreted.
Casual days can be a great way to lighten a mood or reward an office that has really had its nose to the grindstone. Just always be careful to keep propriety in the back of your mind, and think carefully about whether or not you will be participating if the day is not officially sanctioned.
Whether you work for yourself or you are part of a larger company, you will from time to time find it necessary to send emails for work. While most people are not aware of this issue, emails have been used in courts to prove obligation, meaning that if a client or customer or even just a potential business associate can "prove" that you emailed them to the effect that you would provide a good or service for a given price, they may be able to sue to you if you do not ultimately provide that service and that price. This is of particular import for investors and other types of financial companies.
It may be tempting to think to yourself, "I'm just the administrative assistant. This has nothing to do with me." However, if you send out emails from a company email account, you need to make sure that your "bases are covered." This means making sure that any ambiguous correspondence on your part does not lead to a successful legal action on someone else's end.
For starters, ask your employer if he or she has a legal disclaimer. There may be something that you need to append to the end of all your emails anyway. If this is the case, then be sure to do so in order to protect yourself, your employer and your correspondence. If your employer does not have a disclaimer, ask them about having one drawn up. It is extremely important. In the interim, consider affixing your own at least to emails sent from your personal account simply stating that nothing in your emails constitutes a binding legal commitment.
Next, find out if there is any list of prohibited language for emails. Some employers make it a point to never talk about certain business in email. At a minimum, you should never email account information or passwords, since email systems are hacked all the time. You may have heard that Google recently found that thousands of accounts had been exposed! Since emails that you send are stored in your account history, even if you delete them after receipt or delivery a malicious person may still be able to find that information.
When it comes to legal issues and email, it is always better to be safe than sorry. Protect yourself and your employer by taking the time to find out what methods are in place for safeguarding information and how to insure that your emails do not become a legal liability for you or your boss.
Most of us like to restrict our work to a single area of our houses, offices or our lives - specifically to our desks in most cases. However, as the world becomes more mobile and we have more and more options about how and where we work, the idea of working only at a desk is fast becoming outdated. You need to be able to work away from your desk in order to get the most out of your workday and to give yourself better flexibility in your working life.
At first, it may take some practice. I know that I grew up in a household where homework was done at a desk rather than on the floor, at the kitchen table or even outside. You did your work at your desk, then you left that area in order to enjoy the other areas with the family. It was a way to keep work and work materials contained. While this sounds good in theory, this kind of background made it nearly impossible for me to work anywhere other than in a quiet environment with a desk or table for many years. I could not work on planes, and even had trouble in libraries. I needed isolation and utter silence. If you have similar workspace habits, be patient with yourself. Start out working in slightly uncomfortable places like a coffee shop before you attempt working in the food court at the mall, for example.
Additionally, keep the work that you are doing in mind when you work away from your desk. Remember that not all internet connections are secure. There may be some things that you simply should not "take away" from the office even if you would rather be working elsewhere. Being aware of your environment - but also able to tune it out - will help you determine what types of work you can do away from your desk and also what types of work are appropriate for out-of-office focus. You will love the flexibility that being able to work away from your desk gives you, so definitely give it a shot!
One of the most common complaints that I hear from my administrative colleagues is that they are not taken seriously at work. For me, this is difficult to understand. After all, administrative workers are the lifeblood of any business. Without us, nothing gets done. So how could our employers, who hired us to manage their daily working lives, not take us seriously?
Well, I spent a little time looking into this, and I'll admit, I was a bit surprised by some of the things that I learned. Below, I've listed three reasons that administrative assistants and other administrative personnel are not taken seriously, and what you can do about it if you are experiencing this frustrating work situation.
Dress the part
Many times people in administrative positions forget that in many ways, they are the "face" of their company because they are the first person that people see when they walk in the door. Dress professionally at all times, and people will treat you like a professional.
Act the part
Whether you are answering the phone or talking to your best friend in the office, be sure that your behavior is always professional. Never use slang in the workplace, get "rowdy" or allow your emotions to influence your behavior. Acting serious about your job will lead to your being taken seriously.
Steer clear of "drama"
Workplace drama can make the day fly by. It can also send your professional reputation flying out the window. As an administrator, you have access to lots of information about everyone. Do not allow yourself to fall into the trap of taking advantage of this information. Be discreet. The more trustworthy you are, the more serious jobs and information will come your way.
By making these simple changes, you can change everyone's perceptions and start to be taken seriously in your job.
Going to work is probably a pretty routine event for you. You roll out of bed, grab a shower, chug some coffee and stumble out to the car or down the street to the bus or train. When you arrive at work you likely sling your briefcase or laptop bag onto your desk, turn on your office machine and log in, then head to the kitchenette for another cup of coffee before settling in on your work for the day.
But what would happen if disaster struck?
Disaster can take many different forms. In this day and age, we usually think of disaster in terms of a terrorist attack or other destructive and even cataclysmic event. In these scenarios, common means of communication would likely be cut off, and you would probably be unable to reach loved ones via IM, cell phone or even a landline or text.
It is important to think ahead of time about what your work environment and responses would be like if disaster struck and develop a plan with family and with co-workers that will help insure that you stay as safe and organized as possible in the event of a disaster, natural or otherwise. Review this checklist and make sure that you have an answer for each issue so that you can deal with disaster in the workplace as safely and effectively as possible.
Where will you go?
In the event of a disaster, you and your family should have a safe place determined ahead of time where you can meet. You may want to establish several safe places: one might be a local church, while another might be farther away in case the surrounding area is not safe to stay in. Once you have picked your safe places, then you should determine several different routes that you can take to get there from your workplace.
Additionally, if you work in a hurricane area that has the potential to be evacuated, you should be familiar with evacuation routes and have selected an additional meeting point for your family that is outside of the danger zone. For example, if you run the risk of being evacuated far inland, you might pick a town or a relative's house that lives outside of the danger zone.
How will you get there?
Of course, you probably will hope to get to your disaster destination by car. However, you should also know your walking and biking options in case roads are blocked or they are too packed with traffic to make traveling via road or railway an option.
What are your workplace responsibilities?
In many workplaces, there is a disaster plan in place, but no one is particularly familiar with the plan. Find out what you need to do. Are you responsible for helping any handicapped colleagues out of the building? Do you need to alert another co-worker to the event before exiting the building? Who should you check in with to let them know that you are safe, and how will emergency workers know that you are trapped inside if you are unable to leave the building? Generally there is a chain of communication for this process, but it cannot work if the links in the chain are not aware of the order of actions that they need to take.
What will you do if you are trapped?
Think ahead to what might happen if you are trapped in the building. Do you have a supply of food or access to drinking water? Many employers keep some rations around in case of emergency. You should know where they are located. How will you make your presence known? Are there first aid kits or defibrillators accessible in your office area? Do you know how to use them?
Of course, we all want to hope for the best. It is not reasonable or healthy to spend all of your time worrying about disasters. However, it is your responsibility to be aware of your options for dealing with disasters in the workplace, should they strike. Your knowledge and foresight could not only keep you safe, but it could also help others who have not planned ahead.
Once you have established an emergency plan, review and update it once every few months to make sure that it is still a viable plan and that locations, travel and transport options and emergency action plans are still implementable. Staying on top of potential disaster will, hopefully, never pay off for you. However, in the event that there is a disaster in your workplace, you and your colleagues will greatly benefit from your dedication and preparation.
When the cost of living spikes and inflation sets in, the economy is generally in the worst shape to take these kinds of developments. This is not Murphy's Law, but just the way that business works. After all, if business is good, then your raise is pretty likely to mirror the state of the economy and be enough or more than enough. On the other hand, if a business is suffering then it is less likely to be in a position to hand out good raises even when employees deserve them, and your lifestyle may suffer as a result.
Here are a few ways to deal with the problem without forcing a confrontation with your boss or leaving your current position:
Look for additional ways to provide service
If you are a contractor, then expanding your role in the company generally will lead to an expansion of your pay as well. Consult your boss to see if there are places that you could help out for additional hours or for extra pay since you are performing at a higher level. This can be a big advantage for both of you since if you can take over needed roles in the company, your employer will not have to spend the time and expense on hiring another contractor or a permanent employee.
Check out your benefits package
It is possible that you are paying for benefits that you could get cheaper elsewhere. As more and more people start working on a contract basis, individual health insurance rates are falling. If you are young and healthy, investing in catastrophic health insurance could be a way to save money and add some needed dollars onto a paycheck.
Make sure you are not withholding too much
While it is good to withhold money over the year so that you do not owe a huge amount of taxes in April, there is really no need to wait on a huge refund check when you could be saving and using that money throughout the year. Work with an accountant to make sure that you are withholding enough - but not an excessive amount - on your taxes. Your monthly income could rise dramatically when you repair this situation.
I noticed there are some blank blogs and I have found a way to get past having all your text disappear. Type it into a text document such as notepad (or copy and paste into notepad). Then copy and paste paragaph by paragraph, once it disappears you know something within that paragraph is goofy. I have found " in a wrong format can do it, simple ... (3 periods in a row). What ever it is, I fix it and then move on to the next paragraph. I have heard from DeskDemon they are fixing this. In the meantime, there is my fix and how I get posts up.
Potlucks seem so easy. Invite people, and instruct them to bring food. Add a fun atmosphere and, voila, instant party! But there are some hidden pitfalls behind potluck planning. Overlook them, and while you may have food, family, friends and festivities, you may also have nothing but green bean casserole for dinner. Follow these simple potluck planning rules to insure a successful - and varied - potluck dinner.
Take control of the main course.
As the host of the event, you are responsible for insuring that there is one main dish. This can be something simple, like a large ham, or something more elaborate, like vegetarian lasagna. The important thing is to know ahead of time what that course will be and let others know so that they can tailor their offerings appropriately. By taking charge of the main course, you insure that there will be a real dinner rather than just a bunch of side dishes.
Do not be shy about handing out assignments.
You do not have to tell people what to cook, but it will result in a better balanced menu if you give them a type of item. Note who you have instructed to bring what, and make sure that you are keeping things in perspective. For example, while 5 side dishes and 5 desserts may be entirely appropriate, it is not likely that you also need 5 people to bring crackers. One or two people in charge of breads will likely be plenty.
Do not forget the flatware.
Because everyone is contributing, it can be easy to overlook simple necessities like napkins, utensils and paper plates. Either assign these to someone in place of food, or resolve to provide them yourself.
Plan ahead a little for how the event will go. When will you start eating? Will there be foods that people can munch while they are waiting for everyone else to get there? Will you need someone to say a blessing? Establishing a timeline for yourself will help you keep the entire event running smoothly and prevent your potluck from collapsing into bedlam.
The internet is an incredibly versatile and varied source of information. However, not all information that you find online is created equal. In order to do effective research online, you will need to be able to distinguish between good information and bad, and also learn to cite your online sources in such a way that they supplement your credibility when you deliver your findings.
Here are some tips for doing research online:
Use Google as a Guide, Not an Authority
When you use Google or any other search engine to do an internet search, you will get a lot of options for sources of information. Just because these webpages show up in search results does not mean that they are valid sources of information. You will have to evaluate the information and content on these sites to determine if they are a good source or not.
Check the Authors' Credentials
Just about anyone can post just about anything they please online. However, there is no certification process that marks one website as an acceptable source of information and another as a source of invalid information. For this reason, you need to identify who compiled the information before you determine if they are a good source. If they have other publications on this topic, or have a resume that indicates that they should know about the topic that their website covers, then it is probably safe to use the information.
Know When to Rely on Peer-Reviewed Publications
If you are researching information for a scientific publication, then you probably need to use data that you can verify in peer-reviewed journals. Fortunately, this is fairly easy to do (assuming that the information is, in fact accurate) by using Google Scholar to search all peer-reviewed publications online and determine if your information is accurate. You can also contact the author directly to find out how they determined the results and findings.
When you do online research, it is your responsibility to insure that your facts are straight. If you fail to do so, the only person who will suffer is you because you will lose credibility thanks to your reticence when it came to fact-checking. It is vitally important that you insure your information is good before you distribute it or hand it over to another member of your work team.
In todays highly electronic and virtual world, confidentiality is a greater concern than ever before. You need to protect more information more carefully because it is so easy to steal an identity, an idea or a concept, but you have to deal with the fact that there are more ways than ever to access information as well. If you are going to be an assistant, then you will likely have access to many pieces of confidential information including social security numbers, passwords, usernames, and credit card information.
In order to do your job as an assistant, you will likely need to use these pieces of information on a regular basis. However, simply locking up the codes in a desk drawer when you are done with them is not enough to keep this information confidential. You must also be very aggressive with virtual confidentiality so that you do not accidentally expose an employer to serious theft and other problems. Here are some ways that you can keep confidential, work-related information secure:
Never save passwords or usernames
Even if you are the only person who uses your computer, you cannot rely on internet security to block all forms of virus that could contaminate your computer and/or steal information residing in any internet-based account. The only way to keep your information fully secure is to resist the temptation to allow web browsers to save your info for faster access.
Do not email any confidential information
Even if your email is encrypted, the host of your email account can probably still read it. In addition, whoever hosts the recipient's email account will also have access. This is entirely legal, and you cannot do anything about it. Of course, in addition to this you cannot control where an email goes once it is out of your hands, so putting confidential information in an email is "begging for trouble" anyway.
Shred it all
If you have ever handled confidential documents before, then this probably is not new to you. Confidential information must be shredded. However, since it is so much easier than it used to be to steal an identity or use other confidential information maliciously, you should also dispose of the shredded papers in separate containers. This lessens the likelihood that the documents can be found and pieced back together.