Our last blog of the year comes from Christopher Littlefield of BeyondThankYou.com. Christopher has lots of thoughtful questions to ask yourself as the year comes to a close, and the New Year unfolds.
Answer These 5 Questions Before Wrapping Up Your Year!
Do you ever find that no matter how hard you work or how much you accomplish, you end up focusing on everything you didn’t do? No matter if your last year was the best or worst yet, before you mentally and emotionally reset and establish goals and resolutions for the year ahead, invest thirty minutes to an hour to reflect, learn from, and celebrate the last twelve months. In my latest article in Forbes, I share a simple, personal reflection activity to support you in this process. You can read the full article on Forbes, and I have included the questions below.
1. What were my most interesting moments and unique experiences over the last year?
Did you attend a conference, start a new job, or get to sit in on a meeting with the boss? Did you attend a cool concert or a friend’s wedding or pick up a new sport? What moments or experiences defined your last year and why?
2. What challenges did I face in the last year, personally and professionally? How did I grow from these?
Did you start a new position that required more responsibilities? Did you or a loved one face a health issue? Did you go through a breakup or start a new relationship? How did you deal with these challenges and what did you learn in the process?
3. What new skills did I develop/improve last year?
Did you learn how to code, give presentations, or start learning a new language? Did you improve your ability to run meetings, coach employees, or increase the speed at which you write reports?
4. What have I learned about myself, how I work, and what I need to be at my best?
Did you develop any personal routines/processes that support you in and outside of work? Did you learn anything about the types of projects or topics you enjoy working on most/least? Did you learn anything about the types of people or work environments you enjoy most/least? Did you learn about what impacts your physical or mental health the most?
5. What am I most proud of?
After answering the above questions, reflect on what you are most proud of yourself for over the last year.
After, take a minute to reread and celebrate all that happened over the last 365 days. When you are done, schedule time to brainstorm what you want to make happen in the year ahead!
This month’s blog comes to us from author Pamela Bump and our friends at HUBSpot. They have a huge selection of resources to help balance your work and personal life.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “If you love your job, you’ll never have to work again.”?
Well, that myth is both false and incredibly misleading. In fact, research shows that the more passionate you are about a job, the more work you’ll actually do.
The truth is a successful career takes time, initiative, and hours of hard work. And, while some companies enable employees to successfully execute on their roles within 40 hours each week, you’ll occasionally need to work later or longer to excel at other organizations
When you think you have the perfect job, you might tell yourself, “I clock in 70 hours a week because I’m doing what I love,” or “The family dinners I’m missing will be worth it in the long run.” But, while your role might not “feel” like a job, working long hours without making time for yourself eventually takes a major toll.
In fact, research shows that throwing yourself into work too heavily could cause stress, burnout, and — commonly — a lonely personal life.
Yes — Managers value employees who take initiative and put in extra effort when needed. However, your personal life is important to your
physical, psychological, and emotional well-being
So, how do you continue to excel in your career while making time for yourself and your loved ones?
The truth is there’s no simple trick to achieving an ideal work-life balance. But luckily, there are a handful of strategies that can get you pretty close.
To help you juggle your work and personal life, even if you work remotely, here are six tips that I collected from a few highly motivated HubSpot marketing managers.
While the tips below work well for in-office employees, these can be especially helpful if you’re working remotely and finding it hard to separate your work life from your personal life.
6 Tips for Achieving Work-Life Balance
1. Set hard-stops for each workday.
Despite the thought that successful employees will work late into the night, studies show that you’re least productive at night. Additionally, working late hours can make you tired in times of peak productivity during the day.
If your role revolves around large projects or long to-do lists, you might be tempted to work late or on weekends to get more done. However, our marketing managers suggest setting hard stops so you don’t overexert yourself.
“When working on a long-term project, it’s very easy to keep going into the night thinking, ‘I can get the whole thing done today,’ which was obviously bad for work-life balance,” says Joe Mayall, an associate product marketing manager at HubSpot. “Setting hard stops for myself in the evening really helped me balance things out.”
“Set (and abide by) your own boundaries and accept that a task is usually not THAT important that it can’t wait until tomorrow,” advises Lisa Toner
To prevent any tasks that you can’t plausibly complete in normal work hours, Toner says, “You should manage expectations with your manager about how much can actually be done during business hours.”
When you’re working remotely, setting hard stops can be even more import.
My blog colleague Christina Perricone explained that knowing when to stop working is a common struggle of remote employees who usually work where they live.
“Since you miss out on the social cues to head out for lunch or end the workday that are inherent in in-office settings, you have to create them,” says Perricone. “Set calendar appointments for lunch or a walk or a midday workout. Otherwise, you might find yourself sitting in front of your computer for 10+ hours a day.”
2. Make time for self-care and breaks each day.
Whether you’re working remotely or in an office, you can take steps towards managing your personal life without getting distracted from work. If your schedule allows, one way to do this is by blocking time for breaks or short self-care activities, such as taking a walk, on your calendar.
“Schedule personal things in your calendar like workouts, phone calls with family or friends, or coffee breaks. Then honor those commitments. This will force you to take a break in your workday and do the things that will recharge and fulfill you,” says Jennifer Stefancik, a marketing manager in our acquisitions department.
“When I get back to work after doing something personally fulfilling, like going on a run, I always feel more focused and energized.” Stefancik shares.
3. Be transparent with your manager and colleagues about your personal-life boundaries.
While you need to set work-life balance boundaries for yourself, you should also be transparent about boundaries you’ve set with your team or manager.
One way to do this is by noting your work and off-work hours on your company’s internal calendar. Additionally, you should also talk to your manager to come up with a schedule that enables you to experience and manage important moments in your personal life.
One HubSpot manager who’s transparent with his team and creates a public schedule to embrace his life as a parent is Victor Pan, HubSpot’s Head of Technical SEO.
“I cherish the small talk I do when I drop off my daughter at school and with other parents. To do this, I talked to my manager about blocking out time in my work calendar — which is shared externally to my peers and colleagues,” Pan explains.
However, Pan notes that establishing a flexible schedule with managers won’t always be doable at other companies.
“Being able to engage in work-life design is a privilege for teams with safe spaces, but it’s also something someone engaged in part-time work can consciously control,” says Pan. “At the end of the day, we’re here to make the most out of the time we have given to us.”
4. Prioritize and audit your to-do list.
Along with establishing a transparent schedule that fits in both time for life and work, you can prevent yourself from instances where you’ll need to work overtime by taking on prioritization tactics and auditing your to-do list to ensure that you’re working efficiently.
“So many of us get bogged down by never-ending to-do lists and as you check off one item, three more gets added. In today’s world, it’s more important than ever to focus on the high impact activities and reduce or cease the activities that do not drive significant results,” says Toner.
To help her prioritize her tasks so that the most important items fit smoothly into her work hours, she draws out an “Impact/Effort Matrix”: a four-by-four chart where you list all your tasks on scales related to the effort needed to complete them and the impact they’ll create.
Once she’s done filling out her matrix, Toner follows these steps:
• Review the activities in the high effort low impact bucket and assess if you can simply stop doing them — these are usually not worth your time.
• Take the activities in the low impact, low effort bucket. Determine if you need to keep doing them or if they can be delegated to someone else.
• Look at the high impact, high effort bucket and research more efficient ways to achieve the same results. If so, move those items into the high impact, low effort square.
When you’re done using the matrix, “you should have one to two items remaining in the high effort, high impact bucket that you continue to work on over a longer period of time,” says Toner.
“Everything in the low effort, high impact bucket should be the work you prioritize,” Toner adds. “By doing this exercise regularly you can learn if your to-do list is actually worth the time it takes to do it. Then, you can decide if you should stop, delegate, improve efficiency, or keep going.”
5. Schedule time off as needed.
In a recent blog post where HubSpot marketers revealed how they prevent burnout, Irina Nica, a community and influencer relations manager, noted that taking time off can help you eliminate stress while also adhering to your personal life.
“I was one of those people who would rarely take any time off because ‘there are so many things to be done,'” Nica said. “Even when I did, I still let some work slip into my day, even if that meant only checking my emails.”
“Over time, I’ve changed my views on time off and it’s been great for my productivity,” Nica explained, adding, “I learned to disconnect in the evenings and during weekends. Now, aside from the regular summer and winter holidays, I take long weekends off every now and then. That helps me relax and refreshes my perspective.”
Taking time off doesn’t necessarily need to be devoted to vacations or travel. For example, if you live with family, time off can be used for staycations, where you stay in and spend time with loved ones. Or, if you live alone, you could simply take a few days off to relax, video call friends, binge some TV, and perform self-care.
6. Physically separate work from your personal life.
If you occasionally or regularly work from home, the lines between work and life can get incredibly blurry. Because of this, you might find yourself working too late or thinking about work when you try to relax in your home. Luckily, one strategy that can help with this is creating a workspace for yourself.
“Try to designate a space in your home exclusively for work,” Perricone advised. “Taking calls from your bed or writing memos in front of your TV likely won’t be very effective. You need a space that allows you to focus and be productive. That way, you can keep your work and home life as separate as possible.”
Finding a Good Balance
While the five tips were all slightly different, they all followed just a few major themes that you can keep in mind when aiming to achieve a work-life balance:
• Time off: Everyone needs breaks or time to disconnect from work. Even if you work remotely, be realistic with yourself about when you’ll need a break from work and schedule break times in your day or longer PTO accordingly.
• Setting boundaries: Schedule hard stops and breaks for yourself, while also setting boundaries related to your work hours with your team and manager.
• Prioritization: Recognize the tasks you can save until tomorrow and how to complete your weekly to-do list more efficiently.
• Separate work from life at home: When you work from home, the lines between work and life can get blurry. Be sure to use the tips above to help separate your work life from your personal life at home.
Is “Inbox Zero”—the clean slate with every email handled—an impossibility at your workdesk? Whether you work in the office or remotely, archiving, keeping tabs, delegating, and crafting the right responses to every important email you receive is probably becoming another job in itself.
There is an epidemic of email overload, and virtual work has led to serious stress for many professionals. According to a 2021 Superhuman survey, email fatigue is the leading cause of distraction at work and a major cause of rising dissatisfaction with remote work. It’s such a pain point that 22% of remote workers want to leave their current job because of the volume of email they receive.
While your flood of email can’t be stopped, here are some efficient ways to handle overload so that you can minimize interruptions, decrease mistakes, and gain back more of your time for productive pursuits:
Email Strategy #1: Set clear expectations for email use with your team
Harvard Business Report reveals that 57% of employees report not being given clear direction, and 69% of managers are uncomfortable communicating with employees. Set communication guidelines with your team, accounting for the following points:
• When email is the appropriate communication platform and when it is not • When direct messaging, phone, or in-person discussions should be used • When a “reply all” is necessary and when it is not • Which team members certain types of requests and communications can be delegated to, as needed • The importance of being concise and getting to the point immediately
Email Strategy #2: Answer emails at designated times
Set up 3-4 blocks of 15-30 minutes per day, depending on your email volume, to respond to emails, so that you can maintain your workflow at all other times. Communicate this to your team so that no one expects immediate responses, and provide an alternate channel for urgent messages such as direct messaging.
Email Strategy #3: Turn off email notifications
With your time block system in place, you won’t have a need to receive distracting notifications. Notifications can be stress-inducing and overwhelming themselves.
Email Strategy #4: Delete, do, delegate, or defer
Go through your inbox during the designated time slots and organize emails in folders by using the 4 Ds model. You’ll notice an immediate feeling of relief when you see how many emails can be deleted, delegated, and deferred. This habit will enable you to take timely action on the emails that matter most, and still effectively handle other communications as your priorities require. You may want to add a fifth option—a “waiting” folder for action-pending emails that require others to respond before you can do anything.
Email Strategy #5: Create subfolders, if necessary
If step 4 still leaves you with too many emails in the “do” category, create subfolders and group together important emails and email chains according to key topics. This archiving method will make it much easier to find what you need when you do have time to respond. Outlook and other email applications can automate this step once you set up rules to categorize or filter emails into subfolders and prioritize based on the sender.
Email Strategy #6: Add follow-up reminders to your calendar
For messages that require a follow-up action that you have designated to defer, put a reminder on your calendar including the folder location and date when a follow-up is required.
Email Strategy #7: Unsubscribe from unwanted email
Do you receive industry newsletters and marketing communications in your work email? Remove yourself from these lists by using the unsubscribe button. For those communications you still want to receive, change your email to a non-work address that you can review by choice during your personal time. Mark all unwanted communications as “spam”, so that you won’t continue to receive more of the same from these sources.
“Inbox Zero” may be an unrealistic pipe dream, but with these strategies, you should be able to conquer your inbox without feeling overloaded. Let us know how these tips are working for you!
This year, we are focused on Mindfulness and Self Care – both at home and in the office.
That’s why this month’s blog comes to us from Lori Deschene, the founder of one of our favorite new websites, Tiny Buddha. We hope you enjoy her blog as much as we did.
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” -Eleanor Roosevelt
Growing up I often heard the phrase You shouldn’t care so much.
Derivatives of this idea included: So what if they’re talking about you. Who cares what they think? He’s a jerk; why do you care about him? You’re your own person; why do you care about what she’s doing?
I associated the word “care” with stress, because in all these instances, caring meant feeling bad.
It meant being overly worried about someone’s opinion of me, or feeling for someone who didn’t feel for me, or thinking someone was somehow better than me.
I frequently responded, “What kind of person would I be if I didn’t care?”
I also argued that not caring could be a limiting choice.
Sometimes someone else’s criticism contains a valuable lesson. Sometimes someone who seems like a jerk really needs someone to take a chance on him (or her). Sometimes someone else’s choices help us illuminate the path we really want to take.
If we decide to stop caring in all instances that might push and challenge us, we risk closing ourselves off to insights, relationships, and ideas that could change our lives for the better—and potentially do the same for others.
I’ve since realized that the real message isn’t to stop caring, but instead to recognize how we care and why so that we don’t give our power away.
Sometimes we care with love; sometimes we care with fear. Sometimes we care with self-respect; sometimes we care with self-contempt. Sometimes we care with a sense of possibility; sometimes we care with fears of inferiority.
The important thing is that we don’t let caring about people or circumstances detract from our ability to care for ourselves.
A friend of mine recently told me she’s stopped caring about what people expect of her. Knowing that she values those relationships, I concluded that she really meant she stopped stressing about how well she met their expectations.
She essentially decided to stop worrying about things outside her control, and focus instead on all the things that were within her power.
That’s what it means to care for ourselves: to do our best and celebrate that, even as we keep learning and growing.
Why are successful people so often the most effective time managers? Because they do three things better than everyone else: 1. They are continually aware that time is a very limited resource. 2. They learn and apply critical skills to arrange their schedules efficiently. 3. They monitor their use of time and adapt effectively as variables change.
You wouldn’t be here if you had time to waste, so follow these five rules to become the best time manager you can be and get back hours you never knew you were wasting each day.
Time Management Rule #1: Delegate work that others can do 75% as well as you
If you are a manager or executive, consider what you’re doing that others could do almost as well, and free up your valuable time in the process. Because we’re all biased toward the way we do things, make a list of all of the projects and tasks that you’re confident someone you could delegate to would do 75% as well. Then clear your plate for what really matters.
Time Management Rule #2: Organize your day around SMART goals
What makes a goal worth scheduling? It should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound). Specific goals are clearly defined, down to the nitty-gritty details. Measurable goals can be tracked or even quantified. Achievable goals are realistic and attainable. Relevant means there is a real purpose or benefit to getting something done, and Time-bound means the goal has a specific deadline. If your goal is MART or SMA but not fully SMART, it isn’t worth scheduling.
Time Management Rule #3: Stop falling prey to time-wasters
If you’re like most people, you could save an hour a day or more each day by following this rule alone. According to Salary.com, 89% of people waste time every day at work, and 69% of men and 62% of women use the internet for personal reasons. To squeeze more time out of your day, every non-essential activity or task that isn’t getting you closer to your SMART goals has to go. This includes surfing the internet, posting on Facebook, and getting a haircut during the day (not every time-waster is digital).
Time Management Rule #4: Prioritize, schedule, and monitor your time
“Spontaneous” is a word for time-wasters. If you can avoid it, make sure you account for all your time in your daily schedule. Create a task list and prioritize the times, first according to deadlines and second to importance. If a task seems complex, break it down into more easily Achievable components. Record how much time you allocate each item in a calendar, and then monitor your time to see when you’ve gone into overtime. Review at the end of each day and week to modify your estimating process and your efficiency for each task.
Time Management Rule #5: Set aside a block of time for reading and responding to emails
U.S. workers now spend an average of 3.2 hours per day checking work emails and more than 90 minutes per day recovering from email interruptions. This is a serious crisis and An excellent first step to take is to set aside a block of time each day to read and respond to emails and let your collaborators know you’ll be reachable and responsive during that time.
Try these tips and share them with your team. Then tell us on Facebook how many hours per day and per week after week one you’ve saved by implementing them!
Penny Wise is here to help you achieve maximum productivity during your workday! Visit us online today: Click Here »
We’re excited to bring you today’s post written by LCSW, Amy Moran. With more people working from home those days, we know many are struggling with motivation and the challenges of staying engaged in your workplace. We think you will find her suggestions helpful. Please let us know some of your own tips for staying motivated!
Most people find working from home to be challenging—especially at first. From piles of dirty laundry to daytime TV, there are tons of distractions.
And sometimes, pajamas and a comfortable seat on the sofa just don’t provide the same type of motivation you get from a suit and an office chair.
Whether you’re home alone and the house is too quiet, or you’re home with the family and the kids are out of control, you may find it’s tough to stay on task, get your work done, and feel productive. Fortunately, the following strategies can help you stay motivated when you work from home.
1. Create a Schedule
Without a structured workday, time can get away from you. You might find that you start shifting your workdays later and later as you sip an extra cup of coffee. Then, your work hours extend later into the evenings, which causes you to stay up later at night, as well.
Or you might find that you easily get off track or distracted while working. Projects that used to take 20 minutes are suddenly lasting 2 hours.
That’s why it’s important to have a clear schedule. Establish a time to begin and end work. Try to stick to it as much as you can.
2. Establish a Dedicated Workspace
You might be tempted to work in bed. After all, it’s likely the most comfortable space in the house.
But when you associate your bed with work, it can interfere with your sleep. And trouble sleeping will affect your performance the following day. Most sleep experts recommend reserving your bed for sleep and sexual activity.
So even though your bed might feel like a comfortable spot, create a workspace somewhere else. The kitchen table or a desk in the corner of the living room might be better alternatives to your bedroom.
3. Work in Small Blocks of Time
Blocking out small amounts of time—and planning what you’ll do during that timeframe—can make big tasks feel more manageable.
You might find you have more motivation when telling yourself that you just need to complete one invoice in the next 30 minutes, rather than telling yourself that you have 50 invoices to create by lunchtime.
Scheduling your time will also hold you more accountable. You’ll be less likely to get lost on social media when you know you only have 15 minutes to complete a task. And you’ll be less likely to procrastinate when you’ve given yourself a tight deadline.
4. Limit Distractions and Interruptions
You might find that you struggle to get back on task each time you’re interrupted. You can stay motivated by limiting the distractions and interruptions you experience.
This may mean muting your phone notifications and only checking your email once an hour. Or placing your phone on “Do Not Disturb” until you complete a specific task.
If you’re working from home with kids, keep them occupied to reduce how often they interrupt you. Give them tasks to do and plan to check on them at a certain time.
Establish some ground rules about what constitutes a legitimate reason for them interrupting you while working. Then, you can reward them for playing well on their own with a chance to do something extra fun when you’re finished working.
5. Practice the “10-Minute Rule”
It can be hard to convince yourself to start working on a task you really don’t want to do. Whether you know it’s going to be boring, frustrating, or just really challenging, convincing yourself to get started is tough.
One of the best ways to get moving on something you don’t want to do is by using the “10-minute rule.” Tell yourself that you only have to work on something for 10 minutes. Then, after the 10-minute mark, you can take a break if you want.
More times than not, you’ll likely find that at the 10-minute mark you’ll choose to keep going. Usually, getting started is the toughest part. But once you do, it’s easy to keep the momentum going.
6. Reward Yourself
You might find you work best when you know there’s a little reward waiting for you. For example, tell yourself you can watch your favorite show if you get your work done by 6 p.m. Or tell yourself you can have a cup of your favorite tea as soon as you finish this report.
A little incentive can often go a long way toward helping you get work done efficiently. And it’ll help you see what you’re capable of accomplishing.
7. Challenge Yourself
Sometimes, a little challenge can help get you moving, too. For example, you might try to write a certain amount of words in 30 minutes. Once you see how many words you write in 30 minutes, you might try beating that during the next 30-minute time slot.
You might also make some discoveries about yourself. Maybe you type faster when you’re sitting at the kitchen table, or perhaps you have better focus right after lunch. Learning these things about yourself might help you set up your day for success.
Being more aware of your time helps you use it wisely. And challenging yourself in some way might provide the extra incentive you need.
8. Practice Good Self-Care
You’ll never be at your best if you’re exhausted and running on caffeine and sugar only. You need a healthy diet, plenty of rest, and good self-care strategies to perform at your peak.
But meeting your physical, social, and emotional needs right now will be a bit more challenging than usual. Eating a healthy diet might not be as easy when you’re limiting your trips to the grocery store. And video chatting with friends isn’t the same as meeting in person.
So take a step back every once in a while and ask yourself what else you can do to better take care of yourself. As your stress level increases, your self-care should increase right alongside it.
9. Experiment With Different Strategies
There are plenty of online tips about how to work well from home. But everyone is different. And what works for one person might not work well for another.
So it’s important to experiment with different strategies to discover what works well for you. You might find you feel more motivated in the evenings, or you might have more energy after a morning workout.
10. Practice Regulating Your Emotions
Research shows we tend to put off tasks that stir up uncomfortable emotions. If you’re anxious about a medical appointment, you might not be motivated to call the doctor. Or, if you’re afraid studying will bring frustration, you might find yourself binge-watching Netflix instead.
In these cases, the lack of motivation stems from your desire to avoid discomfort. And when you’re working from home, there are always plenty of opportunities to engage in something more fun than the work you’re supposed to be doing.
So consider what emotion(s) you’re trying to avoid feeling. Acknowledging the emotion might make it feel less scary. Remind yourself that you can handle feeling uncomfortable.
Additionally, remind yourself of how good you’ll feel when you get the project done, as opposed to how bad you’ll feel if you don’t do the work. This might remind you to take action regardless of whether you feel like it.
What This Means For You
Working from home can be challenging in the best of circumstances. But if you find yourself working remotely during the coronavirus pandemic, the added stress of the situation will make it harder than usual to stay motivated.
Be willing to cut yourself a little slack if your productivity isn’t on par. Rather than beat yourself up for not being motivated enough, you might find a little self-compassion goes a long way toward helping you feel your best.
Penny Wise Office Products has the products you need to be productive whether you are working from home or in the office. Contact us for fast, free delivery on over 50,000 products today. 1 (800) 942-3311 or shop www.penny-wise.com
With the growing availability of COVID-19 vaccines, 2021 is opening the door for many businesses to consider a partial or full return of employees to the workplace. While small and medium-sized business owners feel a sense of urgency to return to business as usual, there are facts to consider about where we are now in the pandemic and practices that can help to ensure the safety of everyone in your workplace.
By March 15, more than 38 million Americans had been fully vaccinated, or 11.5% percent of the country’s population. The Biden administration has announced goals to get all Americans eligible for vaccinations by May 1 and to get the nation “closer to normal” by July 4. While vaccinations have helped to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 and many of those at high risk for serious health consequences have been vaccinated, 88.5% of the country is still waiting (or worried about taking the vaccines). There is still much to be done before we reach herd immunity, but progress is happening quickly.
So where do we stand now in terms of what we should and should not do in our workplaces? The CDC recently advised that fully vaccinated people can gather indoors with other fully vaccinated people without wearing masks or physically distancing. They may also gather with a small group, such as coworkers, even if that group has not been vaccinated. Those who haven’t been vaccinated are advised to continue to minimize the number of people they are in physical contact with and to wear masks in public.
If your business is like most others, most of your employees, customers, and visitors have not yet been vaccinated. With this in mind, here are some key safety considerations for gradually returning employees and visitors to your workplace:
1. Promote vaccinations: Over the next few weeks, the Biden Administration will deliver vaccines directly to up to 700 community health centers and will double the number of pharmacies and community vaccination centers operating. Simply communicating the availability of vaccines in your local area and the eligibility criteria as they are announced will maximize the number of employees who can gather without masks or physically distancing.
2. Require face masks for all employees and visitors, including those who are vaccinated, since the findings on whether vaccinated people can transmit the virus are still unclear. Keep spare face masks on hand and educate employees on the proper way to wear and handle masks. Noses must be covered!
3. Stagger a return to work: Some of your employees have been vaccinated. Others can only work effectively in the workplace. Bring these two groups back to work first, then stagger the rest according to vaccinations and need to be in the workplace in order to execute their roles. If an employee lives in an at-risk community or immune-compromised household, extend their ability to work from home.
4. Have a pre-screening policy: If you can prevent sick employees from putting others at risk, you are taking the most important step in ensuring a safe workplace. Consider having someone check temperatures at the door and turning away employees running a fever. Ask all employees to stay home if they are experiencing symptoms including body aches, a fever over 100 degrees, chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, or loss of taste or smell.
5. Seek emergency medical attention for anyone in your workplace exhibiting sudden signs of trouble breathing; persistent pain or pressure in the chest; new confusion; inability to wake or stay awake; or pale gray or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone.
6. Routinely sanitize and disinfect the workplace, carefully following these CDC guidelines for the materials to use, surfaces to clean, and frequency of cleaning.
7. Adjust your floor plan to reduce congestion and the potential for face-to-face contact as people pass one another. Consider using tape to mark areas where people can walk to ensure that there are six feet of width between people as they pass one another, especially in intersections. If there are areas where congestion or face-to-face contact is almost impossible to avoid, use partitions to reduce the potential for viral transmission.
8. Promote physical distancing by not holding meetings in closed rooms, if possible. Use open spaces instead. If this isn’t possible, use the largest possible rooms for in-person meetings and limit the number of attendees to only those that must be present. Consider holding virtual meetings or hybrid virtual/present meetings.
9. Post signage reminding workers of proper protocols including individual mask-wearing, handwashing, avoiding handshaking, not sharing objects, and other hygienic practices.
10. Be ready to adjust your protocols and plans as the situation changes. While it is highly likely the pandemic will continue to subside as more people are vaccinated, there is a possibility that COVID-19 variants could complicate the situation. Be prepared to reverse course and let your workers return to remote work temporarily, as necessary.
There is no doubt the impact of COVID-19 has been greatest for smaller businesses. As a small-to-midsize business, you have fewer resources to deal with an unexpected crisis. These ten guidelines can be implemented by businesses of all sizes. When put into place as a matter of policy, they should be all you need to gradually and safely return employees to your workplace.
The warmer weather and the longer days intensify our desire to clean and organize. While many people take the time to clean out their wardrobes and organize their homes, one area that is often neglected is an office or desk space. Since your work area is a place where you spend 8+ hours per day, it is important to take the time to clean out these spots, as well. Use these tips to get the most out of your spring cleaning and prepare yourself for the rest of the year.
1. Digital Declutter
Digital clutter slows down your computer over time and leaves you with little space to store your work files, which is why a routine e-cleanup is necessary for top performance. Start by going through your files and transferring ones you want to keep but don’t actively use to a server or an external hard drive. If there are files that you do not need at all, go ahead and delete them! After completing these steps, organize your desktop and folders to simplify your file search.
2. Clear the Unnecessary
Your desk should hold your most important items such as a computer, phone, notepad, and a reliable pen or mechanical pencil. If your desk has drawers, use them to sort any paperwork you have on the top surface away, to keep your surface clear and streamlined. The trick is to keep your most used items within arm’s reach. Being organized and having a clean slate can help you become more productive during the workday.
3. Wipe it Down
Now that your workspace is tidy and streamlined, it is time to clean it. Start by using a disinfectant wipe to sanitize your work tabletop and then move on to using a screen cleaner spray for any electronical surfaces like your computer and phone screens. One area you’ll want to make sure not to forget—your keyboard! Using a microfiber towel and cotton swabs can help you get into all the spaces between the keys. Try making cleaning part of your weekly routine to truly feel a difference.
4. New Supplies
Now that you have gotten rid of all the clutter, it is time to take inventory of your supplies and make a list of what you still need. At the top of that list should be new pens and mechanical pencils for the rest of the year. The Sarasa Grand Retractable Gel Pen comes in 6 aesthetically pleasing barrel colors and rapid drying gel ink for an effortless writing experience. For a mechanical pencil option, try out the DelGuard Mechanical Pencil. Its lead won’t break under pressure and is refillable.
5. Add Some Pizzazz
Finally, don’t forget to make the space your own by injecting your personality into it. Show off your style with a potted faux plant, sleek metal mousepad, or a few framed photographs. No matter how you do it, adding your own personality to your workspace is a great way to breathe in new life and help you (and your desk) feel refreshed.
Even if it isn’t spring, adding some personality to your newly cleaned and organized office can help you refocus and improve your productivity. We hope these tips help you organize, clean, and refresh your workspace.
All the supplies mentioned here are available from Penny Wise Office Products. Call to Order – (800) 942-3311 or Shop Online www.penny-wise.com
If Wellness in 2021 is your goal, we’ve got 4 great Work Day Wellness Activities for you, even if you are working from home.
Most of the work from home guides you may have read focus on productivity, with tips about how to concentrate on work and better utilize tech, such as external monitors or laptop docking stations. But productivity is just one half of the recipe for WFH success.
Wellness is also a crucial ingredient. After all, it’s not easy to perform at your best if you’re feeling unhealthy or stressed-out. There are some easy wellness activities that you can take advantage of during your lunch break to stay active and engaged.
Activity #1: Eat Lunch Somewhere Other Than Where You Work
When you work from home, time can seem very fluid, with no clear boundaries between work and leisure periods. Similarly, the lines between “workspace” and “leisure space” can become blurred.
But you still need clear differentiation as well as regular breaks to avoid long, uninterrupted periods of staring at a screen in the same spot, which can quickly put you into a lull. In other words: Don’t eat lunch in your WFH workspace, or deprioritize doing so just because you feel like you’re “in the zone.”
A survey from hygiene and health company Tork found that employees who regularly took lunch breaks felt more engaged on the job than those who did not. It might seem counterintuitive that people who work fewer hours overall, and do so more sporadically with interspersed breaks, are more productive than ones who just power through all day at their desk, but it makes sense in a way:
• Leaving your workspace for a kitchen or patio table lets you switch contexts and can help recharge your mental energy.
• It also spares you from literal multitasking – for example, trying to eat and respond to emails simultaneously – that taxes the brain and decreases the quality of any attempted work.
Activity #2: Take a Walk or Do Other Exercise During Your Break
Going for a walk offers multiple benefits to productivity, health, and wellness.
First, like eating lunch somewhere else, it provides a clear break from sitting in front of your computer. That’s important for resetting your mind. Walking helps sharpen the senses and improve key brain functions for memory, learning, and cognition.
Second, if you can walk outside, you can give your immune system a boost. Georgetown University researchers once found that sunlight boosts T-cell activity.
Third, it’s good for keeping up with a formal health and wellness program or regimen, if you follow one. Specific requirements of these programs – such as getting in a sufficient number of steps each day or achieving a certain heart rate – can be more easily met with some lunchtime physical activity.
If walking isn’t your favorite thing, you can still do some other beneficial exercises with minimal setup:
• Bodyweight exercises like squats, lunges, and pushups require nothing but a little space and can pay dividends right away in how physically and mentally alert you feel.
• Consider getting a pair of dumbbells and a yoga mat to add more challenge and create a more comfortable surface, respectively.
• Track your time so that the exercise routine doesn’t run too long or make it more difficult to fulfill your work-related commitments.
Activity #3: Eat a Prepared Meal
Switching from a commute-based job to working remotely can dramatically change your eating habits, and not necessarily for the better. Since snacks might be readily available from your WFH workspace, it can be easy to eat junk food throughout the day. On top of the risks already present from sitting for too long (like higher blood pressure), there are possible downsides for your health.
Planning your meals is one way to avoid falling into this trap of impulsive and stress-induced snacking (plus, it’s good dietary advice in general). Enjoy a meal that was prepped in advance, like you might have done before if you packed your own lunch for the office. This helps instill structure in your workday, too, helping avoid the boundary-less work-life muddle discussed earlier.
Consistent hydration is also important, so keep a water bottle nearby as well as grab your favorite drink of choice at the beginning of each workday. Making these kinds of preparations benefits your health as well as your productivity, since they reduce the time you spend on tasks such as getting up from your desk to get a drink.
That said, do take breaks as needed, perhaps on a schedule aligned with a time management technique like the Pomodoro Technique. This particular technique entails intentionally breaking the workday down into 25-minute increments, with frequent 5-minute breaks and less frequent 15- to 30-minute ones.
Activity #4: Listen to Music or Look at Art
Every lunch break is an opportunity to do something positive for your health and wellness – and that “something” doesn’t have to be physically strenuous.
If you don’t listen to music while working (maybe because it’s disruptive to others at home, or has to be paused/stopped frequently for meetings), try doing so during a break to give yourself a boost of endorphins that elevate your mood. Music may be good for productivity because of its mood-enhancing effects. A study of software engineers found that programmers who listened to music while working felt better and produced higher-quality code.
Likewise, looking at art or – better yet – creating it is a proven health and wellness activity. Even a 10-minute art break with just a pencil and some paper can get the creative juices flowing, with a spillover effect on your productivity and your overall wellbeing.
Check out all our Work From Home Products for Improved Productivity and Comfort at www.penny-wise.com
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!