A Homeschooling Tool for Personalized Teaching

homeschool laminating

In his 2015 book “Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That’s Transforming Education,” veteran teacher Ken Robinson emphasizes that students learn best at their preferred speeds and in their preferred manner. Engaging them as individuals is the heart of raising achievement.”

The personalization of education is limited in the classroom setting, yet in homeschool scenarios it allows learning to thrive.

According to a 2009 study of standardized testing, homeschoolers scored in the 86th percentile, regardless of  parents’ income, amount of education, teaching credentials, and level of state regulation. Research also suggests that homeschooled kids get into college more often and do better at the university level.

Tools for Home School Personalized Teaching

Laminating Customized Flashcards

Flashcards of been a standard for teaching for many years. They engage active recall and help students self-evaluate personal progress.  On the subject of languages, 93% of teachers say that flashcards help students learn more effectively.  Yet due to costs and limited classroom budgets, flashcards provided for schools tend toward more generic subjects and the most common lesson plans.  Offering customized flash cards in a homeschool setting, allows the teacher to “learn” what engages the student most in different subjects  and create customized flashcards that fit the student’s learning path. For example, creating alphabet printables that incorporate a child’s love of animals makes the lesson more accessible. Similar free printables can be found online or created for math, science and other subjects.

Personalizing Worksheets

A creative homeschool teacher can also craft an assignment that fits a student’s daily experiences with personalized worksheets. For example, play time, crafts and other school activities can become a lesson in telling time. Laminate this telling time printable (which is dry erase, so it can be reused every day) so that activities help a student learn scheduling and  time.

By laminating the personal projects you create for your student, you provide durable learning tools that align with the student’s aspirations and interests and make learning more than just fun–they make it personal!

Select one of these personal laminators  for your homeschool teaching tools.

Why Employees Prefer Better Office Equipment Over a Foosball Table

Sometimes, workplace perks aren’t always about more fun and games for employees. In a survey of  1,200 full-time office workers conducted by Versta Research, 78% would prefer better office equipment over downtime entertainment like a foosball table. The eye-opening study reveals a desire for less frustrating experiences that come with inferior office machines.

 

automatic shredders preferred by employees

This is good news for employers, as it shows a genuine motivation for greater productivity. Employees are willing to giving their opinion on what they think will make the an office more efficient. The same study also revealed that 59% of employees believe that more up-to-date technology would be among the best ways to increase efficiency.

Where Office Equipment Falls Short & How to Improve it

Business machines like paper shredders are usually ignored until they break. This can mean a loss of productive work hours when an employee needs to contend with a shredder issue, such as a paper jam, or is working with a shredder that has limitations, like a short run time or restrictions on what it can shred. If a machine has shredding restrictions, employees may be forced to spend time removing paper clips and staples from documents prior to shredding.

Being proactive as a business owner or office manager means identifying weak performing equipment and replacing it with something better.

 

Upgrading to an Automatic Shredder and its Productivity Perks

  • Automatic Shredders like the AutoMax™ 500CL boosts productivity by offering a hands-free shredding experience. Simply load the drawer, press start and walk away.
  • With continuous run time, there is no delay in shredding caused by waiting for the machine to cool down.
  • The 500CL also features a JamGuard System™ that prevents interruption due to paper jams, ending forever the frustration of extracting half-shredded documents from the jaws of the office shredder.
  • No more need to sort through pre-shred documents, either. The 500CL also automatically shreds stacks of paper with wrinkles, staples, plastic credit cards, CDs/DVDs, junk mail and even documents with paper clips

 

For smaller offices, AutoMax automatic shredders also come in more compact models designed for small businesses and even home offices.

 

Learn More about improving productivity in the workplace.

 

Know the Four Stages of Your Office Files and Always Stay Organized

Bankers Box document life cycle

The documents in your business actually have a life cycle, passing through different stages of development. Understanding these phases gives you a better grip on records organization for your business, improves overall workplace productivity and gives you the peace of mind of an orderly office.

Stage 1: Active Files

Active files are always in use, need to be  kept close at hand and play a daily and often critical role in your workplace.  Active files are never stored or archived, of course, yet they still need to remain organized so that in the flurry of a bustling office they do not become lost or accidentally discarded.

Active File Solutions

Depending on the number of active files used, different types of filing systems keep records accessible and organized.

Open Sorters for Shared Active Files

Sorters display critical files openly for shared office use, while labelled shelves on the sorter maintain organization. Policies regarding shared active files may include a sign in and sign out process to track important documents around the office.

Bankers Box sorters for active files

Desktop Organizers Keep Active Files Handy

If files are not shared, a desktop organizer can provide easy and quick accessibility for specific documents used exclusively by certain employees. These types of organizers also offer the flexibility for managing different document types from binders of information to folders of multi-page records, to single page documents.

active file organizers

Managing the “In-Between” Nature of Semi-Active Files

Semi-active documents are those that are no longer vital to the everyday operations of the business, yet need to be retained for legal reasons. These types of documents are the most likely to become lost or accidentally discarded as their lack of importance to everyday business puts them “out of sight and out of mind” until an incident occurs in which they are required and they are nowhere to be found.

Basic and Extra Space Saving Systems for Semi-Active Files

Storage for those types of files still keeps them accessible, yet out of the way, most likely in a records room or in an office.

Only have a few files? Use the basic space-saving solutions that stack two units high for desk side or in the back of an office for infrequent access and storage.

semi-active file storage

Have lots of semi-active files? Use an extra spacing-saving solution, stacking 5 units high, storing quite a few semi-active files and always keeping them ready for unexpected and urgent office needs.

semi-active file drawer system

Archival Records Storage

Archival documents lose their semi-active urgency yet still have importance and need to be retained long-term. These may include tax documentation, employee records, including past employees, and long-term legal documents such as contracts.

Archival records may be stored on or off-site. Using the flexibility of storage boxes allows easy access to these files even though they are in storage. The lightweight design also allows the boxes to be easily transported and stacked , whether in a large records room or in a storage unit. They can be labelled for quick identification when they need to be opened up as well.

The average business purchases up to 12 of these Bankers Boxes a year to archive important documents. Maintaining a retention policy helps keep these documents from simply taking up space without a purpose. Know what files are put in archival storage, how long they have been there and when it is determined that they should be destroyed, especially if they contain any confidential information.

Records Destruction

Most documents reach the document destruction stage. Here are the list of the most common documents, outlined by the IRS, that are ready to be shredded by a business after archival storage.*

  • Business Income Tax Returns and Supporting Documents.-7 years
  • Employee Tax Records- 4 years
  • Human Resources Files 7-10 years
  • Bank account and credit card statements- 7 years
*IRS http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p583.pdf

 

 

Office Manager Tips For Reducing Workplace Disruptions

 

workplace disruptions

 

The best efforts by office workers to improve personal productivity may be thwarted by a workplace that is full of disruptions. From an endless thread of emails to co-worker chat sessions just outside an associate’s cubicle, many office cultures can sometimes seem almost counterproductive.

In fact, results based on a survey of 1,200 full-time office workers revealed some of the most annoying office distractions. Gossipy coworkers pull office mates into their conversation and away from big projects, while unnecessary meetings throughout the day only set workers farther away from critical deadlines. Even the temperamental printer’s paper jams can cause roadblocks to assignment completion. Here are some tips office managers can use to reduce disruptions and improve productivity.

A Checklist for Office Managers

Create Both Collaborative and Independent Work Areas

Friendly discussions among coworkers are essential for strong teamwork, but there is a time and a place for everything. Have areas of the office specifically for collaborative discussion and even informal chats. Reserve other office areas for quiet, independent work. Posting signs such as “Quiet, Geniuses at Work”, can make this policy seem less formal. It may also be secretly appreciated by many who need to get work done.

Maintain High Productivity Office Machines

Curiously a worker may curse a faulty fax machine in private but never mention it to the office manager, leaving the problem unresolved. Check up on office equipment to make sure it is performing at its best, which helps maintain high productivity. Also, look for newer, state-of-the-art business machines that actually improve productivity. For example, Fellowes’ AutoMax™ automatic shredders allow workers to shred without manually feeding paper into the machine. AutoMax shredders offer a truly walk away shredding experience. Employees simply load documents then press the start button to begin the shredding process. This elimination of hand-feeding allows employees to return to important tasks more quickly. Select AutoMax shredders can shred up to 500 sheets in a single session. See AutoMax in Action.

Offer an Attendance Option for Meetings

Not everyone may need to attend a meeting. Allow meeting organizers to list critical attendees, and then those who wish to show up if they have the time. This removes the obligation for some workers to attend non-important meetings, so they can remain focused on current assignments.

Minimizing disruptions is just one way an office manager can improve productivity.  Check out other productivity tips for the workplace: Read the article.

Adding a Sit-Stand Desk to Your Home Office

home office sit stand desk

The daily office grind, doesn’t change if you are managing a small business out of your home or working full-time from a home office. Much like a desk job in a corporate setting, sitting down all day can compromise your health.  In fact, as Marc Hamilton a physiologist and professor at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La. indicates: “a man who sits 60 hours at a desk job but still works out for 45 minutes a day five times a week still has a sedentary lifestyle.”

Making the Change to a Sit Stand Workstation

Sit-stand desks are a healthy option to the traditional workstation in that regular standing and sitting throughout the day provides the flexibility and movement that can encourage calorie burn and minimize the weight gain that comes with a excessive sitting, and the great benefit of having one in your home office is that you don’t need to make a request to HR. Newer sit stand designs come fully assembled so they are easy to set up. Most importantly new Smooth Lift Technology makes it easier to transition from sitting and standing and back again throughout the day.

Customizing Your Home Office with Sit-Stand Workstations

Personalizing your home office to fit you is one of the great benefits of working from home.  Select a Sit-Stand that has full adjustability. The Lotus Sit-Stand features 22 different height settings and 17″ of vertical adjustment so that you can position your workstation for personal comfort.

So Many Computer Cords to Manage!

The high-tech nature of the modern home office may mean tangles of computer cables. Choose a sit-stand with cable management options so your home office looks uncluttered. The Lotus also features a device charging slot which allows your entire workspace to move freely with you-no cable strain or tangles.

Working with More Than One Monitor

If your home office profession requires multiple monitors, you will need to find a sit-stand workstation that accommodates that need. The Lotus offers the option of a dual monitor arm kit that transforms your sit-stand into a multi-screen workstation-perfect for programmers!

Learn more about Lotus Sit-Stand Desks.

 

Getting Productive at Work Without Late Hours

screen-shot-2017-02-20-at-3-46-32-pm

 

Taking on more hours at work may not be the best path to productivity. As a manager or business owner, expecting staff to stay late may be negatively impacting morale, as 72% of employees believe that more hours doesn’t necessarily mean greater productivity. And they are right.

Research that examined the relationship between hours worked and productivity found that employee output falls sharply after a 50-hour workweek, dramatically decreases after 55 hours—so much so that someone who puts in 70 hours produces nothing more with those extra 15 hours, according to a study published by John Pencavel of Stanford University. In addition, extra hours led to increased absenteeism and employee turnover. Yet the “working more” myth still prevails as nearly half of U.S. workers say they routinely put in more than 50 hours on the job each week, often without overtime pay.

Improving Productivity from Nine-Five

An efficient, productive work day is actually easier to achieve than most think and offers the remarkable benefits of an improved work-life balance. Here are some tips:

Better Time Management

Making the most of the time you have at work is one of the simplest ways to be more productive. For example, the average employee spends approximately 15 minutes each day shredding documents. Employers can help reduce the amount of time spent performing this task by incorporating automatic shredders into the office. These machines automatically shred documents and do not require a staffer to hand-feed papers, thus reducing the number of minutes needed to complete the task. The time saved can now be allocated to other work-related tasks. Learn more about what you can do with 15 minutes at work.

Set Personal Breaks

Taking scheduled breaks can actually help improve concentration. Short rests to stretch or take a quick walk, or even a deep breath during long tasks helps you to maintain a constant level of performance.

Set Personal Deadlines

Rather than relying on a project deadline to gauge your time during the work day, set your own self-imposed deadline. You may be surprised how productive you become when you determine your own limits, and you will feel good you finished projects sooner.

Set Performance Intervals for Your Work Day

Researchers have found that elite performers (athletes, chess players, musicians, etc.) who work in intervals of no more than 90 minutes are more productive than those who work 90 minutes-plus. By scheduling your day around 90- minute time slots you may find that you have completed a lot more by the end of the day, and without feeling exhausted or stressed at quitting time.

A combination of personal focus and time management can eliminate those long hours at the office and improve your productivity. You will certainly enjoy the time away from work as well so you are recharged and fresh for work in the morning.

The Best Lunchtime Workouts for the Business Professional

tehrene-firman

Guest Post by Tehrene Firman. A health & fitness freelance writer, formerly of Dr. Oz

Making sit stand workstations part of your workout

Making time to work out sounds easy enough, but sometimes it can feel like another job — aka something no one wants on top of their typical 9 to 5 workday. You’ve tried morning workouts to no avail, and exercising after a long day makes you laugh just thinking about it. So what’s a business professional to do when they want to squeeze in some gym time?

 

It’s easy to forget about the actual “break” part of a lunch break, but it’s time to take advantage of that unused time. Instead of spending your golden hour chowing down some food while typing away at the computer, lace up your sneakers: Early afternoons are primetime for workouts. Your energy levels are at a high, and you’re probably getting a little antsy in your seat anyway. Wave goodbye to your desk and take up one of these lunchtime workouts that will have you feeling like a million bucks the rest of your day.

 

  1. Hop on a Treadmill or Elliptical

If you have a gym nearby, head over for a quick session on the treadmill or elliptical. As long as there’s no wait time for a machine, you can be in and out as fast as you need to be. Perfect for those days you only have 30 minutes, you’ll still feel the burn and reap the cardio benefits in a short amount of time.

 

  1. Sign Up for an Express Class

Many fitness studios have jumped on the lunchtime workout bandwagon, putting classes on the schedule that are 45 minutes or less. Depending on your area, it’s easy to find something worthy of your break — from a high-intensity boot camp class to some relaxing yoga on particularly stressful workdays.

 

  1. Hit Up a Rowing Machine

The treadmill and elliptical are great and all, but the rowing machine is often overlooked at the gym. Not only does rowing burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time, but it also gives you a 2-in-1 cardio and muscle-building workout. Plus, unlike running, it’s low-impact and won’t put any unnecessary pressure on your knees.

 

  1. Give the Stair Climber a Shot

Yeah, yeah, we know. But hear us out: Climbing a set of revolving stationary stairs isn’t as awful as it sounds. Anytime you step foot on a stair climber, you’ll get your bang for your buck: It’s almost impossible to be lazy on this machine, and you can burn hundreds of calories in just 30 minutes.

 

  1. Challenge Yourself to Some Real Stairs

If you don’t have a gym nearby, turn your office into your playground. Whether it’s stairs inside your building or outdoor stairs nearby, you’ll definitely work up a sweat in no time if you decide to lace up your sneakers and give this idea a shot. Want to really take things up a notch? Do some jumping jacks every time you get to the top.

 

  1. Go for an Outdoor Run

If you love running, you’re in luck: Hitting the pavement is probably the easiest way to squeeze in a workout over your lunch break. It’s quick, you have total control over how long you go and the intensity level, and you get to breathe in some fresh air. Not a runner? Go for a walk instead.

 

  1. Sign Up for a Cycling Class

If you’re the type who wants to avoid getting sweaty during lunchtime workouts, you might as well skip ahead now. Cycling classes are a great way to get your heart rate up midday, but you’ll definitely need to take some time to shower afterward. Luckily, getting that natural high from spinning to some of the best pump-up jams makes it all worth it.

  1. Try a Standing Desk

On those days it’s nearly impossible to take a break, there’s a solution that will help you move around without all the fuss: a standing desk. (And no, not the kind you have to tear your entire office area apart for.) You can upgrade your set-up in seconds by topping your current desk with Fellowes’ new Lotus™ Sit-Stand Workstation, which easily rises and lowers depending on your needs. Alternating between sitting and standing positions throughout the day is the perfect way to stay active, and having a healthy workspace that moves with you is the best way to do it.

Seven Productive Tasks You Can Perform in 15 Minutes

15 minute productivity tips

Given the opportunity, many of us will focus on major projects and put aside the minor tasks. Eventually, these smaller “to-dos” become “must-dos” that cut into our time better spent on the big picture assignments. With 15 minutes to spare, here are everyday tasks you can easily complete. But how can you get that precious 15 minutes?

 Your 15 Minute Office Hack

The average office worker spends about 15 minutes a day shredding. Using an automatic shredder, which does the shredding for you hands-free, you can get lots done.

Respond to email-Answer those emails that have been lingering in your in-box.

Organize your desk-It only takes a few minutes to transform a desktop nightmare into an organized work space.

Send a thank you email to someone-It’s not an email that requires your immediate attention, but a courteous gesture that you now have time to do!

Update your calendar-Things change, which means so does your calendar. Make sure cancelled meetings are removed, which can make time for other tasks.

Organize your computer files-Your computer desktop can becomes as cluttered as your real desktop. Take fifteen to organize folders and word docs so you are not staring at a wall of square icons.

Review your voicemail-If that red dot of unanswered calls is staring at you, your fifteen minutes is the perfect time to delete unwanted messages and return calls.

Take a break-15 minute breaks actually improve productivity. While your automatic shredder is shredding away, you can take a few minutes to stretch, breathe and simply meditate.

Learn more about  productivity in the workplace with this infographic

Try a Weekly System for Tax Time Organization

tax form organizer

Organizing your taxes doesn’t have to occur just once a year. With the right organization system, tax-related documents can be neatly and quickly organized on a weekly basis. Tax time will be less hectic as all your paperwork will already be in place!  Using this tax document organizer ,you manage all your papers throughout the year. Here’s how to use it:

Create Main Categories for Tax Paperwork

Make a list of all the papers you will most likely accumulate over the year related to your taxes. Create manageable categories or buckets, as daily, weekly or monthly documents will be tossed into these categories. Here is an example:

  • Income (including documents received from third parties, such as form W2s and form 1099s)
  • Medical documents
  • Donations
  • Child care costs including daycare
  • Business or professional deductions
  • Tax correspondence (with IRS or state officials)
  • Student loan payments
  • receipts for other deductions
  • Payments of tax made throughout year (such as for quarterly estimated taxes, etc.)

Set Up the Tax Document Organizer in Your Home Office

Label each of the compartments of your organizer, and as documents need to be filed, insert them into the appropriate slots, every day or every week. Come tax time, all your paperwork is already organized.

sorter

Create an Organizer Just for Receipts

If archiving receipts over the course of a tax year is your biggest organizational hurdle, then setting up a sorter just for receipts is easy. No more digging around in the file cabinet for a wrinkled business lunch expense. Select a smaller sorter for this task and organize your categories of receipts in areas such as the following:

  • Medical and dental expenses that exceed 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income
  • Deductible taxes you paid elsewhere (including state, local and foreign income tax, property tax, sales tax, etc.)
  • Home mortgage points
  • Charitable contributions
  • Casualty and theft losses
  • Certain education and work-related expenses
  • Miscellaneous deductions – some, like unreimbursed employee expenses, professional dues, job search expenses and tax preparation fees, must exceed a combined 2 percent of adjusted gross income to be claimed; others, like gambling losses up to the amount of winnings or casualty/theft losses from income-producing property, are not subject to that limit.

How Restaurants Save Money by Laminating Menus

laminating menus

Laminating menus reduces costs.

 

Running a restaurant has its share of hurdles, including the cost of supplies. The endless re-ordering of soda straws and napkins are part of doing business. Certainly no restaurant owner wants to reduce quality by cutting costs. Fortunately there are ways to minimize waste in the restaurant business such as paper menu reproduction. Assuming your menu remains fairly consistent, you can reduce your costs of reprinting menus by laminating them. And there are other benefits as well.

Benefits of a Laminated Menu

Durability

Overall, your paper menus, once laminated, are now completely waterproof, protecting them from customer drink spills. Also they are resistant to stains and greasy fingerprints, tears and wrinkles. If you analyze the cost of reordering paper menus due to this daily loss, you will soon realize the value of laminated menus. They last longer and remain durable until you change the contents.

Easy to Clean

Yes, laminated menus can be sanitized. Simply spritz with disinfectant and wipe clean. These simple measure keeps your laminated menus pristine and protect against germs transferred through contact.

Impressive Presentation

Laminated menus also enhance the vibrancy of food images with their shining surface, creating a more appealing marketing tool for your business.A nice-looking photo of an entrée or appetizer increases sales by 30%! Why not protect and enhance those succulent images with laminating?

Low Cost and Easy to Do Yourself

Lamination is DIY, which saves on print shop costs and ends the constant reordering of paper menus.

How to Create Laminated Menus

After printing your menus, enclose each one in a  3 mil menu laminating pouch. The 3 mil thickness will protect the menu from all the hazards of a messy customer or busboy including moisture and grease.

Pass each menu through your laminator. If you have a lot of menus to produce, select a laminator that heats up quickly and laminates quickly so you can get the job done. Good laminator for menu-making.  Show off your new menus to customers and enjoy the savings.