Why do lists seem to magically help get everything in order? According to The Guardian, people perform better when they have written down what they need to do.
It’s usually easier to remember what you need to get done at work when you write (or type) it out – even if you’re not actively looking at it. That concept can apply to nearly every facet of your life. Here are some tips to make the simple list, an effective professional productivity tool for you.
Your master list should be a broad brain dump of short and long term goals you want to accomplish in your professional life. Don’t over-complicate this list. It can be messy and updated whenever you want.
This is where you start to break down your to-do’s into more manageable chunks. First, collect all the items you want to achieve this week. Include small and big accomplishments like “respond to emails” or “complete part 1 of X project.”
Now you’re ready to make a daily list. This list should be very specific and can be broken down chronologically or you can assign priority to each item. Start with higher priority projects and leave the smaller stuff for later in the day. If you don’t get to the lower priority items, just be sure to add them to tomorrow’s daily list.
Going old school and writing down your lists on a piece of paper is effective (and feels great when you get to check them off). But papers often get lost in the busy shuffle. Consider using a digital tool to keep track of your short and long-term goals. Many phones already have a list app built–in – and you can refer to them any time!
Lastly, make sure you schedule some time for YOU. Ideas include: coffee breaks, a 15-minute walk, or stretch, and video chats with your career mentor.
Penny Wise Office Products has a huge selection of List Trackers and Notebooks.
Visit us at www.penny-wise.com or call 1-800-942-3311. We’re happy to help!
In these uncertain times, many of you are now finding yourself working from home. Our friends at Smead Manufacturing have shared these helpful tips on how you can create an enjoyable workspace at home.
A home office is meant to be a place to work, whether you’re managing the business of life for you and your family or are lucky enough to have an employer who allows you the privilege to work from home. Creating the proper environment and spending your time wisely in your home office will save you time and stress.
1. Make It a Space You Enjoy – You probably spend a lot of time in your home office and you’ll want to create an environment that attracts you, versus repels you. Your space should be inviting as well as functional. Things for you to consider:
o Proper Lighting – Take advantage of natural lighting if you can. However, if you’re someone who prefers to work late in the evening, you’ll need good task lighting in order to lessen eye strain.
o Comfortable Chair – When you work from home, much of your time is spent sitting. Invest in a comfortable, ergonomic chair. You’ll feel better and your back will thank you in the long run.
o A Desk Tailored for You – What do you plan to do at your desk? If your work is primarily done on a computer and entails very little paper, a small desk will do you well. However, if you like to spread out with paper reports and reference material close by, you might choose a larger desk or an L-shaped one. If it’s more comfortable for you to stand and work, consider an adjustable desk.
2. Keep Clutter to a Minimum – It can be a challenge not to have piles on your desk. There’s always more work than you can keep up with, and mail and paperwork are part of that. To lessen the impact:
o Inbox – Ensure you have one place for paperwork and other items to land until you can deal with them, i.e. an inbox. Incoming items like meeting notes, business cards, and items to read should be placed in your inbox, rather than dumping them in a pile on your desk. Set a weekly appointment on your calendar to go through your inbox and process the items inside — add items to your to-do list or calendar, enter into your contacts, create a project file, put in a portable “to-read” folder, etc. Keep in mind your inbox is a holding spot that’s meant to be emptied. It’s not a file cabinet!
o The 2-Minute Pick Up – Before leaving your office, spend two minutes throwing away obvious trash (coffee cups, food containers, random sticky notes, etc.), putting supplies like pens and paper clips back in their drawer or container, and jot down notes about what you need to do the next day. Clearing your head is just as important as clearing your physical space.
o Schedule File Time – No one likes to file paper, but it won’t magically file itself either. Create a file system that is easy to use and easy to access so that you can find what you need when you need it. Then schedule regular intervals to file the paperwork you need to keep.
3. Have the Right Tools – Sometimes having the right tool is half the job. If your home office includes outdated technology that you constantly have to troubleshoot, you could be wasting a lot of time. Yes there is a monetary cost to keeping up with current devices, but you won’t have to deal with the time cost (in addition to the frustration from a slow computer or internet connection) when everything is working properly. Besides your basic computer and printer, other good tools to consider:
o Office Supplies – These should be within easy reach and you should have a supply on hand so you don’t have to head to the store or await a delivery when you run out of something. A well-supplied office contains: pens, pencils, sticky notes, paper clips, binder clips, a stapler, a tape dispenser, file folders, mailing supplies, etc.
o Label Maker – Keep it close by and as common place as your stapler. You can label files folders, containers, shelves, drawers and other areas for easy identification of where everything goes. Your 2-minute pick up will be a breeze!
o Scanner – If you’re aiming to have less paper in your office, a good quality scanner will help get you there.
4. Create Structure and Routine – There are so many distractions when working in a home office, it’s easy to lose focus. Set-up routines that work for you and your particular situation.
o Determine your office hours and stick to them. o Process emails at scheduled times rather than letting them overtake your day. o Allow for breaks in your day so you can refresh and recharge. o Have a system for tracking tasks and projects. (Random notepads and sticky notes are not a system.) o Know your priorities so you’re less overwhelmed and can put time and energy into what is important.
Follow these 4 simple steps and you will find your home office can be a productive and stress-free environment! Lori Krolik
Lori Krolik is a professional organizer and productivity specialist and founder of More Time For You. For over 18 years she’s helped residential and small business clients create systems out of their most serious clutter challenges. Whether its piles that prevent a home from functioning the way it should or paper piles that impede office productivity, Lori brings the expertise and insight needed to create an organized system that is personalized to a client’s space and lifestyle. Lori became a Certified Productive Environment Specialist in 2010 and is a long time member of NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers).
Penny Wise is proud to announce that our partner, Double A Paper, has successfully planted 500,000 trees, meeting the goal of their fantastic One Dream, One Tree Campaign! Throughout the campaign, Penny Wise has helped to provide sustainably produced Double A Paper to our customers while also helping Double A to save the planet.
What is Double A Paper?
Double A Paper is a paper production company based in Thailand. With the sustainable movement gaining traction across the globe, Double A has been dedicated to producing quality paper in a completely eco-friendly way, involving a production process that leaves no negative impact on the environment. The process begins with Thai farmers planting Paper-Tree saplings on their KHAN-NA, the unused land between rice paddies. This allows Double A to source from high-quality trees without contributing to deforestation or taking up large amounts of land. Not to mention, all the waste from the pulping process is made into a renewable biomass fuel that provides electricity to fuel their paper mill!
The planting process of the Paper-Tree also allows the partnering farmers in Thailand to earn extra income as Double A compensates them for the use of their land. This money allows the farmers to meet many goals of their own, such as providing for their families, paying for their children’s education, and putting more money into their local economies. Double A Paper believes in promoting economic and environmental sustainability, and their One Dream, One Tree campaign has allowed them to make a major difference.
What is One Dream, One Tree?
To promote environmental sustainability and help make Earth a greener place, Double A Paper kicked off their One Dream, One Tree campaign in November 2019. During One Dream, One Tree, for every ream of Double A paper purchased, one tree is planted by a Thai farmer. These trees will fully mature in only three to five years, and in the meantime, they will provide much-needed shade to the Thai farmers and much-needed oxygen to the world. Double A set a goal when they launched One Dream, One Tree: they wanted to plant 500,000 trees by the end of February, and thanks to partners like us and customers like you, they finally met that goal!
What is the Value of Each Tree?
Every tree contributes to the environment by helping to combat global warming and climate change, absorbing carbon from the air and producing oxygen. Planting trees could remove as much as two-thirds of the carbon dioxide that humans have put into the air from daily life, helping us all to breathe a little easier. With these trees growing on the KHAN-NA, Double A also helps reforestation efforts by not requiring trees from forests, allowing that land to be restored over time. Reforestation will help to restore damaged lands, bringing life back to the environment and promoting biodiversity.
If you want to help Double A’s cause, you can buy their high-quality paper and support a company that is making a difference. Contact Penny Wise (www.penny-wise.com) to place an order for Double A Paper today, and help improve the world, one ream at a time.
Is the overall energy and output of your office dragging, leading to a loss of output and – of course – profits? If so, you could benefit from changing up your office’s color scheme.
The paint color you choose for your office can make a big difference in your employees’ work performance and, more so, your business’ success. Want to stimulate creativity, productivity, or a sense of balance in the workplace? Then consider painting your office in one of these shades of color:
Yellow to Stimulate Creativity
More and more businesses rely on an “out of the box” way of tackling situations, making creativity a necessary quality for any workforce to possess. Unfortunately, unlike pure manpower, creativity is something of an elusive creature – one which may not always be at your employees’ disposal.
While you can’t simply pull creativity out of thin air, you can make steps to coax it out of the recesses of your staff’s minds. To do that, have your office painted in shades of yellow. Shown to stimulate creativity, this shade of paint will do wonders to keep your employees thinking and performing in innovative ways.
Blue to Stimulate Productivity
What’s the good of a workforce that’s inventive if they can’t produce the output you need? The most creative ideas in the world won’t stuff your business’ coffers if they aren’t getting put out there to make you money. That’s why you also need to maintain a productive workforce.
If you find that your staff’s productivity is lagging, then you could definitely benefit from painting your office in shades of blue. Blue is shown to stimulate employees’ productivity. While it’s not as effective for creativity-driven businesses, blue is great for offices that focus on number-crunching.
Green to Stimulate Mental Balance
You need to be careful about how much of the above-mentioned colors you use for your office. After all, too much of a good thing is just too much, as they say, and the saying certainly applies to colors that stimulate your employees’ productivity and output. Too much of them could quickly lead to mental exhaustion.
If you find that your employees are feeling a bit mentally fatigued, try breaking up these stimulating colors with a much more calming one such as green. Green inspires a sense of mental balance that will give your staff the mental calmness it needs to maintain a consistent output that can be far more effective in the long run than bursts of extreme creativity and productivity.
Color matters. Penny Wise carries a huge selection of colorful office products to help keep your business running smoothly. Visit us today!
I’d choose Option One and I’ll bet you would, too. As we start the new year, and a brand new decade, I thought I would shake things up a bit and write about a different topic that is of interest to us all – reducing stress and avoiding burnout.
Before writing Competitive Selling: The Guidebook to Being Proactive in a Reactive World in 2019, I got about 70% finished with a book focused on nutrition and good health for the super busy professional. Notice I said only “70%” finished. I never completed the book for a number of reasons, but it is still a topic I feel passionate about.
Besides being a writer, I’m also a passionate reader. I’ve read countless books on business and the profession of selling. In my pursuit of living a balanced life, I’ve read an equal number of books on improving nutrition, relieving stress, and strengthening relationships.
On the active side of things, I’m an avid runner and mountain biker. Work-wise, I travel most weeks and put in long hours on the job, as you probably do, too.
Life can be very busy. A busy life can easily lead to burnout, but with focused daily habits, it can largely be avoided. Here is my advice on how to do just that in 2020:
1. Get the list out of your head before you hit the bed.
We’ve all been there. Your mind is racing and you can’t sleep. One strategy that works is to make sure you compile your master list of things to do before you hit the sack. This can be done before you leave the office or even later in the evening. It frees up your mind to truly rest and helps you prioritize tasks much faster in the morning.
One of my all-time favorite books on time management is Brian Tracy’s book, Time Power. The author boldly promises you’ll learn how to get more done than you ever thought possible. It’s a great resource. I think we can all improve in this area!
2. What you track improves.
Just like I would advise a salesperson to track their sales activities, I would also suggest tracking your physical activity and your food intake.
The more conscience you are of your daily habits the better you will do. Life is stressful. Eating the right foods can help. They can truly be medicine to the body and build up your immunity and stress-tolerance. One way to tap into more tracking this year is to try out an app like MyFitnessPal. Other good ones are available, too.
Most nutrition gurus say for an active person, your diet should be made up 40% carbs, 30% protein and 30% fats. These percentages can shift depending on your fitness goals, health needs and doctor instructions.
Whatever the numbers are, how do you know if you are hitting them if you don’t track them?
Along with tracking nutrition, track your exercise. Let’s get physical…every single day. We have all seen the rise of the sale of standing desks and for good reason. Stand up. Get your body moving!
3. Take your vacation time this year and lose the guilt.
Without regular rest periods, your mind quickly fills up and the hard drive of sound thinking can be disrupted. When I started my business 16 years ago, my father-in-law, a successful business person, told my husband and me to get away every ninety days, whether we had the resources or not. That’s something we’ve stuck to and it has paid huge dividends in avoiding burnout and feeding our marriage.
For me personally, taking a vacation is an act of faith. There is always a long list of tasks to tackle and it never stops. But give yourself permission to rest guilt-free. Come back re-engaged and even more focused. Go ahead. Look at the 2020 calendar and plan your time off. If you don’t, it will be 2021 before you know it!
4. Get off the Complain Train.
There is a great book by Jon Gordon called The Energy Bus. In the book, he describes a great “No Complaining Rule.” Aspire to hold yourself to this rule and encourage others to do the same. Be conscious of this energy and time sucking activity and stop it in its tracks!
As the old hymn says, “Count your blessings, name them one by one.” Work on driving up your awareness of how much there truly is to be grateful for!
5. Find passion in your work.
You have been gifted with certain skills, talents and abilities that are uniquely yours. Do you know what they are? Here’s a quick question to figure out one of your gifts: “What is something you can do almost effortlessly, without much planning, and still perform it with excellence?” The “without much planning” is not advised but it’s still a way to think of your most natural gifts! (The Gallup Poll Strengths Finder is a great tool to use to create a more comprehensive list.)
Recognize those parts of the role you play at work that give you the most joy versus those that drain you. For a salesperson, it is helpful to look at things you do that are proactive vs. reactive (often draining activities). Analyze how much time you are spending in each area. Then make it a point to be more proactive in the areas you are gifted in the most…the areas where you find your passion.
So, reflect on these coping strategies and see which ones make sense for you. Remember, people love to do business with someone who loves what they do.
Are you that person?
Reignite that passion, take good care of yourself, and make it a fantastic 2020!
Marisa Pensa is founder of Methods in Motion, a sales training company that helps businesses execute training concepts and create accountability to see both inside and outside sales initiatives through to success. For more information, visit www.methodsnmotion.com
As we enter into the holiday season (yes, brace yourself, it’s that time of year again) we thought this would be a great time to reflect on the importance of kindness.
Kindness in the office, at school, in traffic, or at home, can change a bad situation into a tolerable one.
In a world that moves so fast, and is digitally driven, ironically, we are less connected with one another on a deeper level than ever before. Since we only see the surface (or the highlight reel) we have no idea what another person is going through in their lives. They may have just lost a loved one, or a job, or may be dealing with pain or an illness. Those who treat others poorly or fly off the handle, are more likely to need our kindness than we can possibly imagine.
Being a little kinder than necessary is always a great way to go through life. Even ONE person can make a difference. Will that person be you? Or maybe you will be the recipient of another’s kindness?
We’ve included a few ideas for random acts of kindness here. We’d love to hear some of your ideas.
All of us at Penny Wise wish you a peaceful season filled with goodwill and kindness.
The way your day starts sets the tone for everything that follows. That’s why it’s very important to be intentional about your morning routine. While we know that you don’t have much time to spend on intricate and unrealistic wellness practices, there are a few short and simple things you can do each morning to ensure you find a better footing to take on the rest of the day with ease.
1. Get some natural sunlight first thing in the morning.
Would you believe that there’s something totally free you can do each day to boost your happiness hormones and energy levels? Get sunlight! Natural sunlight, that is. Our bodies and hormones get a lot of information from the light that we’re surrounded with, and that’s why it’s important to spend a little bit of time, anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes, in natural sunlight, without sunglasses, within about 30 minutes to an hour of waking up.
This time in the sunlight will signal to your brain to release serotonin, which is a feel-good hormone that also makes you calm and focused. In addition to that, starting your day with some natural sunlight and vitamin D can actually help you sleep better at night, because it resets your circadian rhythm to follow the natural pattern of light and dark, so your body will be ready to power down in the evening time.
2. Drink 16 to 32 ounces of water as soon as you wake up.
During the night-time while you are sleeping, your body is going through a ton of processes, and it also isn’t taking in any liquid. That means that when you wake up, you are technically dehydrated and in need of fluid intake. In addition to that, when you drink water first thing in the morning, it actually helps to flush all of the toxins through your system that were accumulating over night.
Try keeping a bottle of water next to the bed each night, then you can down those 16 to 32 ounces as soon as you wake up. (Quick tip: Room temperature water is actually a lot easier to drink than cold water, so it’s better if it sits out all night.) From that initial drink, you’ll get a boost of energy from the hydration, your brain will feel more focused — as it’s mostly made up of water and always needs fluids to function — and you’ll also feel full, so you don’t have to run to the kitchen for breakfast right away. Hydrating throughout the day is important for everyone, but that first glass of water is perhaps your most beneficial one of the day, so don’t skip it.
3. Spend a few minutes of quiet time meditating or being mindful.
It’s very common to wake up and immediately check our phones for emails, messages and other incoming requests from other people, thus setting us off in a reactive mode. Yet, focusing on other people’s issues can fill us with stress and worry, and this isn’t the best way to begin a day. That’s why, it’s beneficial to take anywhere from 3 to 15 minutes in the morning to sit quietly and be alone with your thoughts before consuming any technology or social media. If you’re not comfortable sitting alone in silence, you can also try out a guided meditation app, like Calm or Headspace, and let the narrator tell you what to do.
Meditation has been shown to reduce anxiety and stress, enhance self-awareness, improve attention span, as well as a host of other perks. And one thing it definitely does is make sure that you go into the day with a more mindful approach. While it may seem like meditation is a fluffy practice just for those who teach yoga, it’s growing in popularity in the mainstream as more and more people understand its powerful benefits for daily life.
The right morning routine can do wonders for your day, so choose at least one of the above and give it a try tomorrow morning. Good luck!
If you’re going to spend a lot of time on your keyboard, it might as well be a comfortable one.
Verbatim has the perfect keyboard for you!
Are you still using the mouse and keyboard that came with your computer? Or maybe you’ve tried something new, but you’ve got some nagging RSI strain, cords tangled everywhere, or a lagging mouse that’s left you unjustly fragged into oblivion? If your mouse and keyboard aren’t working for you, it’s time to buy new ones.
Our office tried out several different brands of keyboards and mice. In the testing, Verbatim came out the clear winner. We gave their keyboards and mice 5 stars. Find out why…
Verbatim Slimline Corded USB Keyboard and Mouse-Black
Looking for an affordable keyboard that still provides a better typing experience? Try Verbatim’s Slimline Corded USB Keyboard – it’s sleek, yet sturdy, with convenient plug and play USB connectivity. The Slimline Corded Keyboard features low-profile keys and adjustable tilt legs for quiet, comfortable typing. The layout features a full numeric keypad and full-size function keys, all within a slim, efficient design that frees up space on your desktop. Compatible with both Windows and Mac operating systems, the Slimline Corded USB Keyboard is a great addition to any corporate or home office workspace. Order Yours Today: VER-99202
Verbatim Silent Wireless Mouse and Keyboard – Black
Say goodbye to noise and hello to silence with the Verbatim Silent Mouse and Keyboard. Using new Silent Technology, silent click switches, and rubber covers, these Verbatim products are truly silent. The nano receiver is small enough to plug in and leave connected and the 2.4GHz wireless performance allows for a lag-free connection. The Silent Mouse features Blue LED technology, allowing users to point and click on more surfaces than other mice – from a glass table to the granite kitchen counter! The Silent Keyboard features a full numeric keypad and full-size function keys, all within a slim, efficient design. The Verbatim Silent Mouse and Keyboard are backed by a 1-Year Limited Warranty.
Verbatim Corded Notebook Optical Mouse
If you want a stylish mouse for your desktop or notebook computer, try the Verbatim Corded Notebook Optical Mouse. This mouse has been ergonomically designed to fit your hand comfortably. With its high-resolution optical technology, the Verbatim Mouse also offers smooth, precise tracking and a precision scroll wheel for easy scrolling. It’s ideal for your notebook, ultrabook and desktop computer. This mouse is also compatible with PCs and Macs. If you’re looking for the perfect companion for your computing needs, try the Verbatim Corded Notebook Optical Mouse.