Getting Productive at Work Without Late Hours

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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.

Do You Know Paper Shredder Security Levels?

shredder security

When selecting a new paper shredder, think about your identity theft prevention needs and how it applies to shredding. A shredder cut size can range from strips to infinitesimal particles. Choose from one of these four levels of shredding security.

 

Strip-Cut Shredders-Security level P-2

If you only shred junk mail or are shredding just to declutter your home office, a simple strip-cut shredder is useful. A strip-cut machine reduces documents to 7/32″ strips of paper.

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Cross-Cut Shredders-Security Level 3-4

Cross-cut shredders are the first choice among most small offices and homes for destroying confidential information. Cross-cuts reduce documents to 5/32″ x 1-1/2″ particles, roughly 397 particles per sheet of paper, making them practically impossible to reassemble.

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Micro-Cut Shredders-Security Level P-5

Micro-cut shredders are growing in popularity, especially after former con man and security expert Frank Abnagle indicated that he “shreds everything with a micro-cut.” Micro-cuts are the highest level of document destruction, meeting many federal guidelines for shredding, literally turning documents to dust and leaving behind 5/64″ x 5/16″ particles in your shredder bin—that’s 3,770 particles per sheet! If you manage confidential documents including financial papers or documents containing personal information like social security numbers, than the micro-cut is the best choice for your business.

micro cut shredder

 

Government Approved Shredders-Security Level P-7

The government isn’t satisfied with micro-cut. When it comes to classified and top secret documents, government agencies use high-security shredders, transforming paper into 1/32″ x3/16″ particles. If you are looking for absolute peace of mind when it comes to shredding, selecting a government shredder ensures nothing will be left behind to piece back together.

The Five Worst Dogs for Dander

pet air purifier for dog dander

Your dog may be the culprit for your allergies. Some breeds produce more dander, which can aggravate allergy sensitivity. Select a pet air purifier if you have one of these breeds.

German Shepherds

German Shepherds are more likely to develop dry skin which leads to scratching, which leads to dander in the air. Along with your using your air purifier, also bath and groom your dog regularly.

Akitas

Akitas have a lovely coat, which unfortunately shreds in spring and fall, leaving indoor air rife with allergens. If you have this breed, you most likely will crank up the air purifier to fend off fall and spring allergies along with pet dander.

Alaskan Malamute

The Alaskan Malamute has a biannual “blow coat” along with constant daily shedding. Use a shedding tool to minimize airborne particles and let your pet air purifier do the rest.

Labrador Retriever

Labs have deceptively short coats, but they do shred frequently. Be sure to change your air purifier filters regularly to maintain a dander-free household.

Great Pyrenees

This heavy coated breed produces tons of dander. If you have this dog regularly bath him or her with follicle dilating shampoos.

Dogs Can Have Allergies Too!

In addition to your allergies, your dog may be suffering as well. Allergies to both airborne pollutants and food can cause skin irritation in some breeds, which can contribute to excessive shedding and dander. If your dog itches frequently, sneezes often or experiences symptoms like vomiting, they may have allergies. According to one recent study, nearly 8 percent of dogs presented to a referral vet dermatology practice had food allergies, which represented about a third of all the dogs presented there with allergic skin disease.

 

The Risks of the Ready-to-Shred Slush Pile

shredder slush pile

Many busy offices may not shred daily. In fact, Fellowes consumer research shows that as much 30% of offices still shred only a few times a week rather than everyday, which means confidential documents are accumulating in a ready-to-shred slush pile. When you consider that 43% of data losses were directly accountable to internal factors, ranging from disgruntled employees to corporate spies, the unattended slush pile becomes an overlooked risk.

Slush Pile Solutions

An office of any size can still manage a daily shredding policy without compromising productivity. Using an automatic shredder, makes the process easy.

Automatic shredders can handle loads of shredding all at once hands-free, eliminating the need for hand-feeding documents into the machine. This is the most common cause of the slush pile, as papers are typically set aside for a time when an office employee can handle a large shredding task.

Some models of automatic shredders feature scheduled shredding options, allowing automatic shredding to be done after business hours on a daily basis. Piles of confidential documents left exposed overnight are vulnerable to identity thieves who often take jobs with cleaning crews for the very purpose of gaining access to these documents.

Automatic Shredding-Not Just for the Big Corporate Office

Add automatic shredders to a small business as well. With the 130C  automatic shredder, small offices can also improve productivity and eliminate the risk of the ready-to-shred slush pile.

New Government-Backed Rating System Promotes Sit-Stand Desks for Healthier Workplaces

Developed by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Fitwel, a new workplace design standard seeks to improve office health and productivity through improvements in design and policy. The government certification analyzes and assesses facilities designed for work for well-being and health benefits including indoor air quality, well-being enhancements for employees, such as implementing sit stand workstations,  and even evaluating the overall design of the building itself. Fitwel will be used as a standard for new federal government construction projects.

The Reason for the Sit Stand Focus: Office Workers Spend 5 Hours a Day at Their Desks

New evidence shows that alternating between standing and sitting at your desk throughout the work day improves circulation and energy.  The design of the Lotus Sit-Stand allows for easier transition from sitting to standing positions.

Lotus Sit Stand Workstation  sit

In a recent poll by American City & County, 53% of government office workers agreed that standing desks boost productivity.

How Experts View the Value of Sit Stand Desks

Workplace Trends expert Jonathan Webb sees sit-stand technology as a practical and healthy part of the new standard.  “The cost of sit-stand desks continues to drop as the product becomes more popular worldwide. The cost delta between sit-stand and static desks has dropped over 50 percent in recent years. Secondly, organizations see the benefits of allowing workers the ability to sit and stand throughout the day. For one, keeping knowledge workers at their most productive place – their computer – makes for a more productive employee. In addition, there are significant health benefits to altering postures throughout the day, including improved metabolism and heart rates, and reduced blood pressure.” Fitwel hopes to provide a definitive outline of the essential characteristics of a healthy workplace more clearly for business owners, human resource departments and facility managers.

Learn more about the Fitwel standard.

Sources: http://americancityandcounty.com/office-equipment/expert-expect-see-more-standing-desks-workplace-2017

 

Why Accountants Need To Review Their Shredder Policy During Tax Season

shredding during tax season

Digital identity theft is the primary concern for most business professionals, including accountants. Yet during tax time, strategic dumpster diving is a common technique used by identity thieves. Focused on dumpsters behind office buildings where accountants and tax preparers conduct business, identity thieves rely on the hectic busy season to create lapses in document-based identity theft prevention.

Shredding Policy Basics

  1. Ensure all employees know what documents must be shredded. Create a list of key documents as reference for all employees.
  2. Shred all documents during working hours. Avoid leaving slush piles of paper to shred while not in the office. Cleaning crews may accidentally toss these papers if they appear as trash.
  3. Ensure shredder bins are emptied regularly. When employees are busy, full shredder bins often lead to documents being set aside to be shredded later, only to be discarded as regular trash.

Choosing a Shredder for an Accounting Office

Select a paper shredder that accommodates the size of the office.  Large, commercial shredders are ideal for any size shared office as they require less frequent emptying. Small office shredders placed by employee desks work well too. Automatic shredding is the latest in shredder technology and allows documents to be safely destroyed even after office hours with computerized settings. Learn more about Automatic Shredding

Make sure to use cross-cut shredders. Strip cut shredders are okay for households, but do not provide adequate document destruction for businesses. Cross-cut shredders grind documents into 5/32” x 1-1/2” cross-cut particles.(Security Level P-4).  For greater peace of mind, consider a micro-cut shredder.

Learn more about shredding security levels

Lax  Tax Document Destruction in the News