Tag Archive | lifestyle

Desk Organizing Ideas

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Picture thanks to Nick Slater for dribbble.com

Bookcase Desk

Our inventive ideas can help you create the perfect office, no matter how much extra space you have. Easy organizers and decorative touches will ensure your office is as stylish as it is functional.

Doors make great desktops: They’re inexpensive, roomy, and readily available in a variety of sizes. For the legs, you could use sawhorses, but low-rise bookcases offer the added benefit of extra storage. Thirty-inch square bookcases are the ideal height for a desk and are the same width as a standard-size door.

Prime and paint the bookcases and door in the same color. To give the desk a finished, cohesive look, line the back of the shelves with marbled paper (secure it with double-sided tape).

 

Wood-Grain Desk Accessories

Bring a natural note to your home office with coordinated wood-grain accessories. All it takes to make a matched set of mouse pads, file boxes, and straight-sided jars is faux-bois self-adhesive shelf liner.

 

Create a Hallway Office

With the right furniture, an organizing strategy, and a few pretty touches, a dead-end hallway, an under-the-eaves nook, or another such charming corner can have surprising office potential.

 

Office Wire Organizer

Eliminate tangles under your work area by feeding all cords through a hole drilled in the desktop. Then plug the wires into a power-surge protector strip mounted on the underside of the desk. Keep cords in a coated wire basket (available at housewares stores) suspended under the desk with wire hooks. Tags identify where each machine wire comes from.

 

Shared-Space Office

It can be a challenge to create a desk that’s roomy enough for one person, let alone two. This symmetrical setup is the perfect solution, unifying a pair of workstations in an open configuration that fits snugly against almost any stretch of wall without overwhelming the rest of the room.

 

Source: Marthastewart

Five Tips to Get Organized at Work

No one wants to be considered the office airhead. But losing just one important phone number (“I can’t believe I spilled coffee on that sticky note!”) or forgetting one vital meeting (“Where is my darn calendar, anyway?”) because you’re disorganized may make you look like one. These five organizing tips can help you become known for your brilliant ideas rather than your scattered brain.

 

organized workplace

Picture thanks to Britrix24.com

1. Chuck Your Junk

Just like when you declutter at home, think about whether you’ve needed something within the last year. Make a “toss” pile, a “store” pile and a currently active “to-do” pile. That take-out menu from the bankrupt sandwich shop down the street? Toss it. The budget report from 2009? Store it, but only one copy. A printout of the presentation you’re giving on Friday? Keep it on hand.

2. Store, Store and Store Some More

Resist the urge to be a perfectionist in dealing with the old paperwork in your “store” pile, or you’ll be lost amid stacks of miscellany for days. Just create a way to organize your materials in a way that makes sense to you. Everything related to the annual meeting could go in one labeled plastic bin or box, for example. Then work with your boss to find a place outside your office or cubicle to store this stuff.

3. Tackle Your To-Do Pile

This is where you should invest your efforts for the biggest payoff in long-term, sustainable organization. Create file folders for each project you are currently working on (or a different folder for each client or for each upcoming due date — whatever makes sense for you). When you complete a project, go through the file and discard the unimportant documents within. Then store the folder — which has been winnowed down to include only the project essentials — into an appropriate bin.

4. Keep Your Desk Clear

The surface of your desk should now be visible. Hooray! Keep it that way. One surefire way to prevent clutter from accumulating on your desk is to adopt the one-touch rule. Deal with every piece of paper that crosses your desk immediately. Trash it, act on it, file it or — if you really must — place it in your inbox until you have time to deal with it. (The one-touch rule is also applicable to email. Either respond right away, or direct your incoming messages to appropriate email folders.)

5. Use Technology Wisely

Strive to keep phone numbers and other often-used data on your computer and/or mobile phone. Online organizers — which you can access via your computer or your phone — can combine your calendar, address book, to-do lists and more. They can also send you pop-up reminders about meetings and deadlines. It may take a little time to master using these tools, but they’ll save you time (and lots of sticky notes) in the long run.

 

Source: written by Megan Malugani for Monster

How to Organize an Office Filing System

Learning how to organize office filing systems is crucial for any business that handles a lot of invoices, receipts, and other documents. Paperless offices sound great, but the reality is that many small businesses still need to store easily retrievable paper documents.

It’s important to know what files are most important, who needs to access them, and how they can be retrieved easily and efficiently.

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Picture thanks to MoneyCrashers.com

Receipts and Invoices

Filing receipts and invoices properly is one of the most important things a small business needs to do. A nonexistent or messy filing system can add days of extra effort at income tax time as you don’t want to miss out on tax deductions because of missing receipts. If your business is ever subject to an audit and you are unable to produce the required documents in support of your expenses your claims will most likely be rejected and your tax return re-assessed.

As a small business owner, you need to be able to operate at your desk swiftly and easily. Though setting up a paper filing system sounds difficult, it is a relatively easy task that can be made easier through a few filing tips and tricks.

5 Steps to Organize a Filing System

To get yourself and your business on the right track, follow five steps to make sure papers are easily accessible and easily identifiable.

 

1. Assess personal and office habits: Think about which employees need access to files, where they work, and what will make the most sense based on their work stations. If you are the person who is most in need of access to papers, think about how you use your workstation. If that filing cabinet to your right instinctively makes sense, that’s probably a good starting point. If it is someone else, get their input—what works for one person won’t always work for another.

2. Decide on a filing system: What you do as a business will determine, to a certain extent, whether you choose to file numerically, alphabetically, or some other way. For example, do you search for customer information by name or account number? Do you file paperwork by category, such as expenses, financial, marketing, etc.? This is a critical step, as it will determine how you will lay out your filing system. Do this before you buy anything for your filing system.

3. Calculate storage needs: If you have a large number of files that you access daily, they should be at your fingertips. If you access them less frequently, you might not need them at your work space, but you still might need them close by. There may be a combination. Some files might be needed daily while others can be filed in long-term storage further away. Allow for growth when looking at filing cabinets—buy something to accommodate twice the files you think you will have now. This will limit the number of times you will have to reorganize your filing system.

4. Invest in a good labeling system: Being able to read file labels sounds obvious, but clarity in labeling will save you more filing time than you can imagine. Most companies who make labels provide templates that integrate with the most popular word processing software. You may want to consider one of the small label-making systems that also can print out individual mailing labels. Items that perform double duty are usually a wise investment.

5. Purchase file folders: The best investment is to purchase colored hanging folders with plastic label tabs and plain manila file folders. Colored hanging folders are easily available and easily recognizable. For example, if you put all of your client files in yellow hanging folders, financial information in blue folders, and anything related to marketing in red folders, you easily can see roughly where you should be searching for a particular file.

Simple Is Best

The KISS principle—Keep It Simple, Sweetheart!—applies to setting up a filing system that is easy to use and easy to grow with. Broad subject categories will allow you to easily add new files as you grow and will eliminate the need to upgrade or reorganize your filing system regularly.

Keeping it simple also will make it easier to integrate your paper and digital files as part of your overall document management system.

Going Paperless

If you are trying to green your business and make the shift to a “paperless office” you can scan expense receipts and store them with your other digital accounting information. Some cloud-based accounting software applications facilitate this by having mobile apps that allow you to take a mobile phone snap of an expense receipt and record it on the fly.

Reviewing Tax Laws

The IRS and the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) both accept digital images or paper copies of scanned items including:

  • Cash receipts
  • Bank statements
  • Canceled checks
  • Pay stubs
  • Credit card statements

The copies must be clear and legible. If not, the IRS or CRA may demand to see the original paper documents during an audit or routine request for documentation, so keep originals for the prescribed period of time.

 

Source: written by JILL CHONGVA / SUSAN WARD for The balance smb

The Basics of Branding

Branding is one of the most important aspects of any business, large or small, retail or B2B. An effective brand strategy gives you a major edge in increasingly competitive markets. But what exactly does “branding” mean? How does it affect a small business like yours?

branding

Simply put, your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services, and it differentiates your offering from your competitors’. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be.

Are you the innovative maverick in your industry? Or the experienced, reliable one? Is your product the high-cost, high-quality option, or the low-cost, high-value option? You can’t be both, and you can’t be all things to all people. Who you are should be based to some extent on who your target customers want and need you to be.

The foundation of your brand is your logo. Your website, packaging and promotional materials–all of which should integrate your logo–communicate your brand.

Brand Strategy & Equity

Your brand strategy is how, what, where, when and to whom you plan on communicating and delivering on your brand messages. Where you advertise is part of your brand strategy. Your distribution channels are also part of your brand strategy. And what you communicate visually and verbally are part of your brand strategy, too.

Consistent, strategic branding leads to a strong brand equity, which means the added value brought to your company’s products or services that allows you to charge more for your brand than what identical, unbranded products command. The most obvious example of this is Coke vs. a generic soda. Because Coca-Cola has built a powerful brand equity, it can charge more for its product–and customers will pay that higher price.

The added value intrinsic to brand equity frequently comes in the form of perceived quality or emotional attachment. For example, Nike associates its products with star athletes, hoping customers will transfer their emotional attachment from the athlete to the product. For Nike, it’s not just the shoe’s features that sell the shoe.

Defining Your Brand

Defining your brand is like a journey of business self-discovery. It can be difficult, time-consuming and uncomfortable. It requires, at the very least, that you answer the questions below:

  • What is your company’s mission?
  • What are the benefits and features of your products or services?
  • What do your customers and prospects already think of your company?
  • What qualities do you want them to associate with your company?

Do your research. Learn the needs, habits and desires of your current and prospective customers. And don’t rely on what you think they think. Know what they think.

Because defining your brand and developing a brand strategy can be complex, consider leveraging the expertise of a nonprofit small-business advisory group or a Small Business Development Center .

Once you’ve defined your brand, how do you get the word out? Here are a few simple, time-tested tips:

  • Get a great logo. Place it everywhere.
  • Write down your brand messaging. What are the key messages you want to communicate about your brand? Every employee should be aware of your brand attributes.
  • Integrate your brand. Branding extends to every aspect of your business–how you answer your phones, what you or your salespeople wear on sales calls, your e-mail signature, everything.
  • Create a “voice” for your company that reflects your brand. This voice should be applied to all written communication and incorporated in the visual imagery of all materials, online and off. Is your brand friendly? Be conversational. Is it ritzy? Be more formal. You get the gist.
  • Develop a tagline. Write a memorable, meaningful and concise statement that captures the essence of your brand.
  • Design templates and create brand standards for your marketing materials. Use the same color scheme, logo placement, look and feel throughout. You don’t need to be fancy, just consistent.
  • Be true to your brand. Customers won’t return to you–or refer you to someone else–if you don’t deliver on your brand promise.
  • Be consistent. I placed this point last only because it involves all of the above and is the most important tip I can give you. If you can’t do this, your attempts at establishing a brand will fail.

By John Williams for Entrepreneur.com

Staying healthy at work

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Work can be a place where healthy habits fly out the window. Despite the daunting task of making time to take care of yourself, you’ll find yourself happier and more productive if you do.

Consider these five tips for staying healthy at work.

Hydrate

There’s a decent chance you don’t get enough water either because you don’t take in enough liquid daily or because you substitute water with carbonated beverages and other sugary drinks.

“Drinking lots of water is a secret weapon that helps you avoid adding calories throughout the day, says Jacqueline Twillie, author of “Navigating the Career Jungle.” “Not to mention the extra trips to the restroom from all of the water will help you to take mini breaks from your desk, so that you can recharge and go back to being productive in the office.”

Give yourself a break

Just because your schedule makes you feel like you should jump robotically from one task to the next without so much as a bathroom break doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

“Set a timer to force yourself to STOP! -every 30-45 minutes, the alarm (could be kitchen egg timer or an app) reminds you to stop, stretch, and take a break…walk the dog if you work from home, leave the office for a quick walk, or meditate with an app like Calm (on the app store)…allow yourself to refocus,” suggests Stacy Lindenberg, chief change agent and owner of Talent Seed Consulting.

Meditate

Whether you’re closing your eyes to pick a mantra, an intention, or giving yourself a moment of silence, you’re helping yourself. “This practice speaks to mental health,” says Maren Showkeir, and author and a certified yoga instructor.

“Meditation, even for short periods, has many benefits, including increasing the ability to stay focused, calm and non-reactive. It can lower heart rates and blood pressure. It can increase lung capacity. And it’s backed by research.”

Work together

“We like to encourage collaboration in our office, so we meet monthly to discuss new ways for our office to remain in a healthy state (physically and mentally),” shares CEO Tony Sorensen of Versique Search and Consulting. “One of our employees teaches yoga, and offers a class free to co-workers during lunch hour. We also have friendly office competitions like ‘The Biggest Loser’ to those willing to participate and join the movement.”

Put down the sugar

Eating healthy food instead of sugary snacks keeps you from hunger pangs and overeating, says speaker and fitness professional Lorraine Bossé-Smith. “Sugar is an immune suppressor, so you are more likely to get sick when you partake in too many sweets. Lastly, add glutamine to your routine by drinking a glass of water with one teaspoon of the powder mixed in once a day.” Getting older means a significant decrease in our production of glutamine, which boosts the immune system, so consider adding this supplement to your daily routine, advises Bossé-Smith.

 

By Hannah Hamilton for Monster.com