Think Beyond the Big Box...

Showing Category: Productivity

Showing Gratitude in the Work Place

I think we can all admit that in some job we have felt the “hum-dum” repetition. Everyone wants to look forward to something when heading into work! If you are feeling up for the task, change up the pace and mindset of your work place by showing your coworkers that you are grateful for them.

Here are some ideas of how to do that!

  1. Do a little survey or poll to get to know your coworkers a little better! Take your conversations from “how was your weekend?” to the next level ! From the pole, you can have an idea of something to get them talking.
  2. Send a group email or chat with some work appropriate jokes to bright up everyone’s day! It may even get a stream of jokes going so you can look forward to that every day! One of my favorite places to look for jokes is http://www.laughfactory.com/jokes/clean-jokes
  3. If you have some time to spare or you are in need of some unity in your workspace, try a team building exercise! Here are some of our favorites here at Porter’s! http://levymarketingawards.com/2015/08/3-teamwork-games-to-engage-employees-at-work/
  4. Boost their confidence with some motivational messages in places that they frequent. I like to post mine on the bathroom mirrors, computer screens, the water station, and the time clock! This is a great way to make everyone in the office feel great!

               

         

Try it out! When you reach out to brighten others’ days, yours will be brightened as well.

Best Organization Apps

Do you feel like you have a million things to do and keep track of?  Thankfully many people have decided to get over that feeling and make something to help!

Here are the two top rated websites for organizing you work life or your personal life. I used each one for at least a week and took notes on what I liked and disliked about them.

 

 

 

Todoist

  • Premium features comments, alarms,
  • Available with mobile and desktop – syncing to one another
  • Simple looking and allows you to panel them. All tasks, Today, or the Upcoming 7 Days
  • You can set a task to be reoccurring. There is no limit. It can be every Monday, every 15th of the month, every 3 months, etc.
  • You can’t share the list, but you can assign projects to other people. This might be helpful if you are a group leader or team leader. You can keep track of what you assigned to people…but you have to make sure you tell them you assigned them to this task.

 

 

 

 

Wunderlist

  • Share lists with others
  • Not limited and works with multiple platforms like Android, Windows, Linux, Blackberry, etc.
  • Available with mobile and desktop – syncing to one another
  • You don’t have to have premium to add comments, alarms, etc.
  • There are background images on your lists that make it a little prettier to look at
  • You can share this list and have conversations with those group members

 

There are many pros to both apps. I personally prefer Todoist because it fits my work and personal life needs a little better. Let us know what you think! Send us a message on any social media platform or comment below! We’d love to hear what you think.

 

Now, if you are one that likes to keep track of tasks on something tangible and not electronic, we have the goods for you!

Calendars – http://shop.portersop.com/Search?keyword=AAGG52000%2C+AAGPM91707%2C+AAGG52014

Highlighters – http://shop.portersop.com/Search?keyword=highlighters

Tab pens – http://shop.portersop.com/Search?keyword=flag+pens

 

Camera Hacks Tested and True

Each day there is a new “life hack” video on social media. People are loving this idea of cheap and easy ways to get the same result. I have seen a great deal of “hacks” regarding photography. I myself have done photography for many years and was curious about the legitimacy of these tips. Of course, I had to put them to the test.

I have a Canon t5i Rebel camera. This week, I put each of these hacks to the test both on manual mode and automatic mode.

I’ll show you what my camera looked like with the “gear” and the results from the shot.

——————————————————————————————————————————-

Hack #1: Get a sandwich bag and cut the bottom off. Wrap the bag around your lens with a rubber band or hair tie and shoot on either manual or automatic mode. It will create a haze glow around your subject.

I was actually very surprised at how much I liked this tip. Sure, you had to readjust the bag several times around the frame of your subject. I liked it with and without the flash on manual and the automatic mode. I give this one a thumbs up!

——————————————————————————————————————————-

Hack #2: Finish up your can of chips and cut the bottom off. The shiny interior creates a perfect place to bounce light. It will create perfect studio look, even if you’re just in your living room.

I doubted this one the most out of all of them. However, I was pleasantly surprised again and how much of a difference it made. The light was targeted directly around my face giving the spot light effect. My next attempt is going to be in a darker room.

Note: When I think of studio shot, I think of indoors. I don’t know what kind of effect this might have outside at night. Try it yourselves and let us know what you think!

original                            result

——————————————————————————————————————————-

Hack #3: Grab a pair of old tights and gently stretch them across your lens. Wrap it with a rubber band to keep it in place. The tights will help soften the light in your shot. Tip! Use different colors of tights to get some fun images!

Don’t count me in for using this one again. The tights made it very hard to focus on the subject on either manual or automatic mode. It just looked like you had something covering your lens as a mistake. It may possibly be better with something significantly thinner like panty hose. The tights did not do well.

original                           result

——————————————————————————————————————————-

Hack #4: Sometimes the flash on a camera can be annoying to the subject’s eyes or showing up in the wrong place in the image. To fix that, take a business card and cut two little slits on the bottom short side. Netsle that onto your hot shoe or the flash popper while its up. Now that light will be redirected upwards!

Honestly, I am not 100% sure how I feel about this. With a few more tests, I might find a good opportunity to use it. I wanted to demonstrate this trick on inanimate objects to show you where the reflections and light ended up. It certainly did its job redirecting the light. However, I think with how much it redirected, you might as well just not use the flash.

original                            result

——————————————————————————————————————————-

Hack #5: If you are playing around and are looking for something fun. Try adding some self-made vignettes to your image. Take black card stock paper and create a lens cover. Cut a shape out of the center of you newly made lens cover. Hold it up and snap away!

This was kind of a fun variation on framing and adding that vignette. In many of the examples, they recommended you tape your newly created lens cover to the body of your camera. Personally, I liked being able to move it back and forth to better my image. The only thing I didn’t love about this trick is how much black is in the image. I think I would cut a bigger shape next time.

——————————————————————————————————————————-

Overall, I was very impressed with these tricks and hacks! These are great ideas to add a little something extra to your images. Try them out and let us know how they worked for you!

 

Computer Mouse Tricks You Need to Know

 

If you don’t already know these tricks, this is going to be a major time saver for you! I found one by accident and realized, “Hey! There must be more out there!” I have compiled a list of some that will help you significantly. These tricks are applicable in web browsers as well as many programs like Microsoft Word.

Using the left button of your mouse:

  • Double click on a word and it highlights the whole word
  • Triple click and it highlights the whole paragraph
  • Put your curser over where you want to start, click, and let go. Now, move your cursor to the end of where you want to select, hold SHIFT and click! It highlighted everything in between!
  • If you want to copy a whole paragraph, highlight it and hold CTRL and drag it to where you want it to go!
  • Same concept, if you highlight and hold SHIFT

Using the Wheel of your mouse:

  • You can use this for scrolling AND clicking! The wheel is a button that you can use when browsing the internet. If you click the wheel on a web link, it will open up a new tab automatically with that link rather than using the tab you’re already in!
  • Hold down CTRL and scroll the wheel at the same time, and you can zoon in and out.
  • Instead of scrolling a up or down a million pages, click the wheel, slightly move your mouse, and viola! You are zipping to the top or bottom of the past faster than you know!
  • Middle click on a tab in your browser to instantly close it.

I hope you learned at least one new trick today. Go ahead and test them all out! It has helped me during my work day to effectively navigate my browsers and documents.

Five Things Every Office Work Space Needs

Everyone has that one item that makes their work day more productive. It may be your favorite pen, a ball of rubber bands, or maybe even a jar of candy!

There are countless items that can improve your productivity. Here are the top five that other people say that can’t work without:

 

5.  Snacks

Everyone has that one hour in the day that their body wants to take a nap. When your at work, that is not a possibility. You got things to do and people to help! But your eyes are still getting heavy. You need a little bit of a pick me up! Chewing gum can help keep your brain chugging along. Chocolate can give you a sweet burst of energy to carry you through. Whatever your preference, get a couple packages of them and store them in your desk drawer for when it is really needed!

http://shop.portersop.com/Search?keyword=candy

 

4. Cleaning Wipes

For some people, your workspace is your home away from home. Areas such as your keyboard, phone, and monitors can collect a lot of dust and particles. Just like keeping your house clean, you often need to do a routine clean up of your desk.  It’s a good chance to take a breath, clear your head and your workspace.

http://shop.portersop.com/Product/CLO/30112/1021069987

 

3. Framed Photos

Again, this is your space! You should take care of it so you feel at home. Bring in a few photos of your family or your puppy to give you a smile throughout the day.

Plus, here at Porter’s we believe the bigger the better. If you want a poster sized photo of your puppy, we got you covered!

http://shop.portersop.com/Product/DAX/2863U2X/1010067079

 

2. Stress Relief Items

Sometimes the best ideas come when you are thinking hard and keeping your hands busy with a stress ball or a fidget spinner.

Check out the ones we have here at Porter’s Office Supply!

http://shop.portersop.com/Product/POP/BLUECOW/217627169

http://shop.portersop.com/Search?keyword=fidget

 

1. Calendar/To Do List

The key to productivity is to be productive of course! There is a lot to remember and events can sneak up on you! It is important to have something to keep track of dates whether it is pocket sized or desktop size.

http://shop.portersop.com/Search?keyword=calendar

http://shop.portersop.com/Product/AAG/7003505/11957845

 

Don’t let your workspace be a place you don’t want to be. Add some flare, personality, and flexibility to it! These items will help you be more productive and feel better about your work day.

 

photo credit: Julie Bonner

Space to Yourself; Creating Getaways Within the Office

Modern office design has seen an evolution toward open, collaborative spaces.  Cubicle walls are lowering, collaborative lounge and conferencing areas are being added, and even private offices often have full glass walls to give a feeling of openness.  There has been extensive research on how accessible collaborative office design can promote productivity in the workplace, and it can be easy to get caught up in the idea of having “no walls” to prevent separation and disengagement at work.  However, while the open office has its benefits, it is still important to remember that there must be a balance between areas where team meetings and group sessions take place, and spaces where individuals can hunker down and focus or take a break.  Thus, the importance of the ‘enclave’.

“These short-term retreat spaces give workers the change of pace—and of posture—that often stimulates new ideas and leads to better conversations down the road.  And for mobile workers, a private oasis is exactly what’s needed as they grab a few minutes to prep for the next meeting.  Meike Toepfer Taylor, a former Coalesse design researcher, calls these enclaves “ready refuge places where we can hide if needed.” 

“There’s mounting evidence that the lack of privacy is causing people to feel overexposed in today’s workplaces,”said Donna Flynn, who leads Steelcase’s WorkSpace Futures research group. Along with giving people easy access to their colleagues, companies who practice collaboration also need to give workers “the time and places to focus and recharge,” she said.”

An enclave can be anything from a small nook with a table and chair to a completely separated room with lounge furniture.  Coalesse’s Massaud and Hosu lounge chairs are perfect for such a location, allowing relaxation or individual work to take place.

Others, like the Lagunitas collection from Coalesse and the Brody Lounge from Steelcase both create enclaves in and of themselves, no walls required!

Whatever it looks like, an in-between space like this may be just where you need to go to relax, take a phone call, or work on projects that require intense focus.  Everyone needs a place to get away from their desk and recharge during a hectic day.

Office Anxiety: Avoiding a Stressful Mess

Most office workers know how it feels to have a stressful day and have so much work that it bombards their cubicle. There can be so much chaos in one day that we can only wonder how so many items end up spread out everywhere across the desk. Along with the work, agitation increases very quickly. Why does a mess create more stress?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sherrie Bourg Carter Psy.D. gives us a great list about the effects of clutter on the mind.

  1. Clutter bombards our minds with excessive stimuli (visual, olfactory, tactile), causing our senses to work overtime on stimuli that aren’t necessary or important.
  2. Clutter distracts us by drawing our attention away from what our focus should be on.
  3. Clutter makes it more difficult to relax, both physically and mentally.
  4. Clutter constantly signals to our brains that our work is never done.
  5. Clutter makes us anxious because we’re never sure what it’s going to take to get through to the bottom of the pile.
  6. Clutter creates feelings of guilt (“I should be more organized”) and embarrassment, especially when others unexpectedly drop by our homes or work spaces.
  7. Clutter inhibits creativity and productivity by invading the open spaces that allow most people to think, brain storm, and problem solve.
  8. Clutter frustrates us by preventing us from locating what we need quickly (e.g. files and paperwork lost in the “pile” or keys swallowed up by the clutter).

 

If clutter is so bad, what can be changed to decrease clutter and increase productivity? The obvious first step: Organize.

If you have papers piled and scattered all over your desk, get a little file cabinet with some file folders. By sorting all the papers into categories, it will save time in the long run. Have you ever written and printed a paper for a meeting and then lost it in your mess of a desk? With a well-organized file cabinet, you can rest at ease knowing that all your important documents can be found in a few seconds.
Even if those important papers are all tucked away in a secure place, there are still going to be random papers that are not needed anymore or pens, paperclips, and highlighters scattered.

At the end of each day take some time to throw away the junk and put away the miscellaneous items. For items that still need to be sorted by the end of the day, have a desk organizer to put them in so they aren’t all over the desk the next morning. I guarantee you will leave feeling better, and decrease the stress while coming in the next day. It’s also great time to ponder what you learned that day, take notes, and declutter your mind while you declutter your office. Many people leave the office still thinking about what they didn’t finish or what they are going to have to do the next day. If you write it all down, you will be much less stressed after the work day is over.
Going along with writing things down, during the work day many different tasks can be thrown at you. They will be rattling around in your brain until you finish them.

If you don’t write these down on a note pad, sticky notes, or a white board then your brain will be too busy to fully concentrate on anything else. Create a task list every day, and any time an assignment is thrown at you, jot it down. Holding the tasks in your mind while trying to focus on something else is like a baseball player holding onto every ball he caught during practice while trying to eat during his lunch break. Just catch each of the balls as they come, put them in a little basket next to you, and take care of them when you have time.
Stress may always be a part of the everyday working lifestyle, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be decreased. Free your mind of the weight of worry by getting rid of any excess disorder.

Working on the Go

Oh Hiya, Meg here! Have you noticed that there are so many more offsite meetings during this time of year? I find myself always needing to be prepared for a meeting over lunch or for an offsite client presentation. In the rush of leaving for a meeting, it’s so easy to forget the essentials. To help, I’ve put together a little list of off-site must-haves to make any meeting or presentation run smoothly.

BE PREPARED

  1.      Pack a Bag- Just like keeping a bag ready for a weekend away, I find that having a bag ready for offsite meetings helps me stay prepared for anything. Be sure that the bag has plenty of space for a laptop, charger cord, and all other meeting essentials. When it comes to preparing for a meeting, I find that it’s better to be over stocked with supplies than to go without.
  2.      Bring Extra Energy- Technology is a wonderful thing when it comes to meetings but there are so many times when a little glitch can throw off the whole system. Make sure you’re prepared with extra power cords and of course, a spare set of batteries. I always keep a pack of Energizer Batteries in my bag for unexpected energy outages. Don’t forget a travel mug of coffee to keep your own energy levels high, as well!
  3.      Powerless Planning- Of course there are times when even a spare set of batteries may not solve a technology hang up. When tech fails, it pays to have a backup plan. I pack a spare set of notepads and pens in my travel bag for meeting note taking. When it comes to tech-free presentations, I rely on my Post-it Self Stick Dry Erase Film. I can’t always count on a venue to supply a dry-erase board, and this film certainly gets the job done without leaving behind a mess when the meeting is done.
  4.      Check It Twice- Before leaving for your off-site meeting, be sure that you’ve double and triple checked the items you’ll need. There’s nothing worse than arriving at your meeting only to find that your notebook is still at your desk!

For a few more helpful tips on organizing the perfect offsite meeting, take a look at what Meeting Tomorrow has to say. Happy planning!

Until next time,

Meg

Manage Your Snail Mail

Oh Hiya,

snail mailMeg here! A few years ago, the mailman was one of the sole carriers of information and documents for your office. But today, the rise of email has taken us further away from traditional snail mail. While technology has made quite a few things quicker and easier, snail mail still holds a strong place in our offices. So how can you juggle both forms of communication while staying neatly organized? I’m here to help!

  1. Start A Routine-Whether your mail carrier delivers directly to your office or you have a P.O. box, be sure that you know when and where the mail is delivered. With the immediacy and ease of email, it can be difficult to keep a schedule on direct mail. Once you make a note in your schedule to keep watch on the mail, you’ll never miss another bill or letter again!
  1. Organize a Mail Center– Be it on your desk or at a separate table in the office, a mail center is incredibly helpful. Depending on how much mail your office receives, it can be a quick five-minute job or it could take an hour or two out of your afternoon. When I’m sorting through mail, I like to keep this Writing Pad handy to jot down notes for any important payments or events that may be coming up. In the instance that something requires immediate attention, I also keep a stack of envelopes and Shipping Labels for quick turnaround. That way I can cross those items off the To-Do list as soon as possible!
  1. Unsubscribe– Does it seem like your company receives more junk than mail? Just like you would unsubscribe from a bothersome email list, look into unsubscribing from unwanted mailing lists. Sometimes this is easier said than done, and in the cases of unavoidable junk mail, toss it in the recycling bin!
  1. Safety First- While junk mail can easily be recycled, there are some items that contain more detailed information about your company. When in doubt, shred! I couldn’t live without our Cross-Cut Shredder. It shreds paper into cross sections, which is much more secure than a strip-cut. I also love how I can load the tray with papers for automatic shredding. It saves so much time.

I sure hope these tips help you to stay organized and on task when sorting through your office mail! Email may be a bit faster but there will always be a need for snail mail and keeping organized is a useful skill no matter what your preferred method of communication. If you’d like a few other ideas for keeping your mail organized, take a look at what the folks at Level Money have to say.

Until next time,

Meg

Make Those Little Tasks Even Easier

Oh Hiya! Meg here and I know that if I find any opportunity to save some time, I jump on it. There are plenty of little tasks that can be cut down in the office, allowing you to put your time and effort toward larger, more important projects.how to

  • Start with a priority list! My day goes along so smoothly when I spend a couple of minutes in the morning organizing my to-do list. While not every day follows right along with the list, I can save myself some time by keeping on track of the main projects that need to be completed throughout the day.
  • If your job is anything like mine, you have quite a bit of mail to send out during the day. All that time spent preparing envelopes for the post office really takes a toll on my day. I’ve started using this neat Envelope Moistener with Adhesive to quickly seal the envelopes I need to send. I also try to set aside time in my day to just focus on mail rather than taking several trips to the post office box.
  • Some days it seems that I spend most of my time at the paper shredder! But since we’ve put an Auto Feed Shredder in our office I’ve been able to save so much time. All I need to do is put the papers on the tray and the shredder does the rest of the work for me. It’s so nifty!
  • A tidy desk is a time saving desk! At the end of the day I take a few minutes to clean up my desk and prepare for the next day. I love starting out my day with a clean desk instead of spending time neatening up a mess from the day before. It’s so much easier to start fresh and be prepared for the day ahead of me.
  • Every minute saved counts, which is why I use Print-On Dividers! I can prepare the documents on my computer then just send them to print on the dividers directly, without needing to spend time filling out labels. It’s one of the simplest and biggest time savers I have.

These time saving tips are great for helping you stay on task without overworking yourself or filling your schedule with extra chores! For more great ways to save yourself time and worry in the office, take a look HERE.

Till next time, Meg