August 2011 - Posts

Top 10 Back-to-School Products for Tweens and Up
Monday, August 29, 2011 1:32 PM

 

1.           Livescribe Pen: Write your class notes while recording what you miss with digital recorder pens. How cool is that? Be sure to ask your teacher's permission before recording.

2.           Alarms: Forget your parent's snooze button. There's a battery of creative alarm clocks on the market these days: opt for a fire alarm ring, clocks that talk and even one sporting wheels to roll away from attempts to hit the snooze button.

3.           Power Strips: Multi-gadget kids need a surge protecting power cord to keep the juice flowing safely. Check out the Pivot Power, a flexible strip that lets users opt for different configurations, easily pivoting cords around furniture and hard to reach spots.

4.           Laptock Locks: Combo locks aren't just for lockers; make use laptop locks to tether your computer to a desk when you duck out of the library.

5.           iPad: A multitasking master: read eBooks, stream music, take notes and pictures; organize class and activity schedules with time management apps. Anything else? Oh, right, studying.

6.           iPad Accessories: Trick out your iPad with accessories like headphones, eye-catching cases and our favorite, the Padfoot, which holds the tablet in a variety of positions including upright for better viewing and slightly lifted for easier typing.

7.           USB Flash Drives: Store digital materials including presentations, notes and pictures on portable flash drives.

8.           Laptop Bags: Many bags now come with laptop and cell phone pockets. Also, solar-powered backpacks, yes, you read that right, allow you to tap into Mother Nature to recharge devices in between classes with a solar power backpack.

9.           Lunch Pack: Encourage healthy eating by sending your child off to school with a homemade lunch. A wide range of stylish lunch totes, including Japanese-style bento boxes and insulated lunch totes, puts a fresh face on brown-bagging it.

10.        Smart Phone: For many tweens, the first phone is a major rite of passage. Be sure to set parameters for use and keep an eye on texting. Family-plans can help manage usage while allowing parents to keep an eye on their child.

 

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Top 10 Money Saving Tips for Back-to-School Fashion
Friday, August 26, 2011 1:31 PM

Don't let the back-to-school buying season empty your wallet. Score the best deals for outfitting your students with our top ten tips.

1.             Need vs. Want: Use back-to-school shopping as a chance to educate your kids about budgets. Explain that money only goes so far and that "needs" (new sneakers and a winter coat) have to trump "wants" such as designer jeans. Setting realistic expectations can help derail impulse buys and prevent emotional melt-downs at the cash register.

2.             Collective, Bargaining: Try group buying, a phenomenon where items don't have a fixed price, instead the more people who opt in to buy, the lower the item price. Major group buying site Groupon popularized the concept, but clothing retailers such as Uniqlo's Lucky Counter offer their own version. Check out Google for additional clothing brands. The more the merrier!

3.             Get Sales Savvy: Scour fliers and ads for back-to-school sales and be ready to jump on promos like 2-for-1 shoes and jeans.

4.             Go Kidless: Leaving the kids at home can make it easier to stick to a list and avoid impulse buys. For items where the kids need to weigh in, try online shopping which makes it easier to comparison shop.

5.             Off-Brand: Steep savings can be had by buying off-brand. If your fashionista protests, strike a balance by offsetting pricey designer jeans with cheaper off-brand cotton tees and underclothes.

6.             Second Act: Resale shops such as eBay or kids' consignment stores offer gently used clothing at a fraction of the price of new. Teach your kids that buying second-hand saves money and is a sound environmental choice.

7.             Swap Meet: Arrange a clothing swap with friends and relatives. Kids often outgrow their clothes before they wear them out. Swapping is a great way to replace outgrown items for free.

8.             Kiddie Contributions: Encourage older teens and college-aged kids to dip into their summer job money to help with the costs of back-to-school clothes. For expensive, designer items, agree to meet half way, with parents pitching in the cost of an off-brand item and students making up the difference for the pricier option.

9.             Shop Your Closet: Who says you need all new? Take time to review the clothing in your children's current wardrobe. Many items can transition into fall; just add bright tights and a fitted shrug, and a sundress can be worn through a warm fall. Ditto for tees which can be layered under cardigans or hoodies.

10.          One's Still Fun: Often back-to-school doesn't truly necessitate a major wardrobe overhaul, many items still fit from last season unless there's been major growth spurt. Offer to buy one special outfit to kick start the first day back and then encourage your kids to wear what they own until sales drive prices down in the colder months.

 

 

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Top 10 Trends for Back-to-School Fashion
Thursday, August 25, 2011 1:29 PM

Camps are ending, summer internships wrapping up. Time to hit the mall for back-to-school fashion before hitting the books in September. Surprise your student with your style savvy by boning up on these top ten trends. Smart parents know what's what before opening their wallets.

1.           Backpack Plus: Sure backpacks are for hauling books, but the newest, grooviest backpacks do more. Look for fleece-lined audio pockets with headphone exits and padded laptop sleeves. Some bags even sport skateboard straps to secure your wheels while at school.

2.           Ethical Fashion: Green your student's wardrobe with eco fashions featuring sustainable materials such as bamboo and banana fabric or vintage clothing. Major retailers are promoting eco fashion as a major trend: witness fashion giant H & M launching a line of organic and recycled fabric.

3.           Look Good, Do Good: Many fashion brands now link sales to fundraising for specific charities. Hot shoe purveyor TOMS will donate one pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair purchased. Google "ethical fashion" for other brands raising money for charity.

4.           Mad for Plaid: Plaid is still rad; check shirts and plaid clothing are all over the stores so mix a few items into your wardrobe for major style points.

5.           Preppy Looks: The letterman sweater is back in a big way. Retailers are showing cardigans and 1950's style letterman sweaters for both sexes. Yea team!

6.           Tribal Matters: Global fashion is all the rage as ikat and tribal patterns grace everything from clothing to accessories.

7.           Sneaker Authority: Snazzy sneakers come in every price point so make a style statement with your kicks. If your budget allows, buy two pairs, one for style, the other for substance.

8.           Duh, Denim: Some things never go out of style: denim for example. Jeans are a wardrobe staple but think outside the box by mixing in denim dresses and shirts.

9.           Tech-Cessorize: Make a style statement with eye-catching cell phone cases and iPad skins. Even headphones can be customized to make a personal statement.

10.        Shop Your Closet: Who says you need all new? Take time to review the clothing in your children's current wardrobe. Find out what fits, what needs to be handed down and what can transition into fall.

 

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Top 10 Ways to Keep Your Kids Organized
Wednesday, August 24, 2011 1:28 PM

Back-to-school shopping catalogs are flooding the mailbox. Time to think about getting the kids organized for school and the fall sports season. Smart parents keep busy households organized with these top ten tips.

1.           Designate a Drop Spot: Backpacks and sports gear can easily engulf a home; designate a convenient drop spot for off-loading when the kids arrive home. Nothing fancy is needed: a simple hall bench, set of cubbies or even wall hooks can do the trick.

2.           Kitchen Command Center: Deputize a bulletin board or white board to track all family commitments, sports schedules and major tests and projects. The shared schedule lets all family members see major events at a glance.

3.           Calendar Smarts: Teach your children to maintain their own calendar to practice optimum time-management. Even the very youngest students can be taught how to chart tasks on a calendar. Talk about how to assess how long a task will take and allocating sufficient time for completion.

4.           Designate Study Time: Get your children in the study habit by designating a specific block of time for homework each day. Encourage children not to race through work, but instead to proceed slowly and methodically, leaving time for proofing.

5.           Checklists: Encourage your child to use checklists to prioritize tasks and keep track of each item's status. Crossing off items on a to-do list provides a sense of accomplishment.

6.           Quiet Zone: Find a quiet area for students to do their work. An interruption-free zone enhances focus and productivity.

7.           Homework Caddy: Set each child up with a portable homework caddy with must-have tools such as pencils, pens, erasers, stapler, etc. Keeping study tools close at hand will prevent students from wandering off in search of needed items.

8.           Backup Supplies: Keep a supply of notebooks, binders, report covers, poster board, glue and markers and crayons on hand during the school year. You'll be glad to have a ready supply when a child inevitably announces late in the evening they are missing X item for a project due tomorrow.

9.           A Look Ahead: Get in the habit of spending the end of the day planning for the next morning. By taking just 15 minutes to round up school supplies, paperwork and special items such as rain boots and umbrellas, you can stave off the stress that often adds to the morning rush.

10.        Weekly Clean Ups: Keep chaos at bay with weekly clean-ups. Update the family command center calendar, restore missing items to their rightful place and restock school supplies that are running low. Revisit your children's personal planners or calendars and provide feedback on how they managed their schedules and workloads for the week. Praise successes and offer suggestions for improvement where necessary.

 

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Top 10 Ways to Preserve Summer Memories
Tuesday, August 23, 2011 12:53 PM

 

Ah, summer. Surf, sand, sun, fun. Maybe the highlight was a long-planned family reunion or an impulsive romantic getaway for two. Preserve the memories of the lazy, hazy days of summer with these top ten tips.

1.           Print, Not Pixels: Nothing evokes a memory like a wonderful photo. Don't let yours languish in digital format. Print the best in photo books and for display in frames.

2.           See, Shell: Some memories are tangible: a sea shell, a postcard. Turn treasured mementos into displays in your home. Group shells in a clear vase or mount along a frame's edge. Create a postcard collage or use the images to decoupage a tray.

3.           The Written Word: Diaries aren't just for tweens. If you aren't in the habit of journal keeping, consider starting now. Jot down your favorite moments of the summer. Even a few lines can capture a treasured memory for review down the road.

4.           Picture Book: Capture camp memories for your children with a picture photo book of the summer. Be sure to scan in any artwork, certificates or awards won during the camp.

5.           Repurpose: Did you pick up a treasured souvenir from a trip or summer event? Trinkets from your travels, or even a medal won by a child at camp, can make lovely additions to a Christmas tree or holiday display.

6.           Recipes: For many, summer is a season for grilling and culinary creativity. Capture those culinary highlights in a recipe book to share with friends and family.

7.           Garden Glories: Nothing says summer like fresh picked goodies from the garden. Don't let fall end the fun; preserve fruits and vegetables to enjoy year round. Too Martha Stewart for you? No worries, even novices can easily turn unruly basil plants into batches of pesto to grace the table through the year.

8.           Sports Fan: Loving your newly improved backhand or golf swing? Weekend warriors don't need to let their sporty summer successes fade into memory. Honor the blood, sweat and tears you put into your improved game by playing year round indoors or by booking a warm-weather getaway to strut your stuff.

9.           Summer Soundtrack: Happy summer events often unfold to the beat of a certain soundtrack. Capture the summer's effervescent fun with a soundtrack that takes you back. Download all your favorite hits of 2011 onto your iPod and blast it during winter's doldrums.

10.        Ah, Summer 2012: Did you fulfill your summer wish list for 2011? Hit every vacation spot? See every friend? Finish that reading list? Perfect that new tennis serve?  Draw up a list of what you didn't get to, Memorial Day will be here before you know it.

 

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Top 10 Ways to Store Summer Gear
Wednesday, August 17, 2011 3:09 PM

Labor Day is approaching faster than ice cream cones melt on a hot August day. Before you know it, cool weather will spell retirement for boogie boards, beach umbrellas and other summer gear. Start your fall on an organized note with ten tips for storing seasonal summer items.



1.         Wash and Dry: Before storing beach chairs, pails, etc. give each item a rinse and allow to dry in the sun so sand and salt don't corrode them during the off season.

2.         Shrink, Wrap: Reduce the number of bulky items to store by deflating all beach balls and inner tubes and storing like items in a plastic storage bin.

3.         Towel, Off: Free up closet space in the off-season by storing all beach towels and bathing suits in plastic storage bins in the garage, basement or attic.

4.         Get Vertical: Maximize storage by going vertical: use your garage or basement walls to hang lightweight items. Mark off the dimensions of beach chairs, umbrellas, and surf and boogie boards along the wall. Next, add eye-hold screws along the measurements' perimeter and then use bungee cords to affix items to the wall.

5.         Thrill Your Grill: Once the summer BBQ season is over, be sure to dismantle and clean your grill. Once the gunk is gone, coat the grill with a light oil spray to repel winter moisture and store in an indoor, protected environment such as a garage. The exception to this rule? Propane tanks: safety dictates well-ventilated, protected outdoor storage versus indoors.

6.           Patio Protection: Hose down patio furniture and clean pillows with a mixture of water and mild detergent. Scrub mildew stains with a stiff brush. Allow all items to dry in the sun, then store indoors in a garage or basement.

7.           Repair and Retire: Repair summer sports gear such as tennis racquets and swim goggles before storing for the winter. Make a list of items that need to be replaced before next summer and look for fall and winter sales to snap up bargains before next Memorial Day rolls around.

8.           Swap Outgrown Items: Kids grow like weeds so don't waste time storing outgrown summer clothes and bikes, etc. Organize a swap with friends whose kids are older or younger to pass along outgrown items and inherit what your family can use the following year.

9.           No Room at the Inn?: Nowhere to store your seasonal gear? Storage items are traditionally on sale in the fall as stores court back-to-school shoppers looking to get organized. Evaluate your current storage needs and stock up on what you're missing.

10.        Toss: Sometimes an item just isn't meant to be stored. Turn a critical eye on your belongings. That slip 'n slide that is more slip than slide? Toss. Rusty gardening tools? Toss. Inner tubes that constantly lose air? Toss. You get the idea.

 

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Top 10 Ideas for Last Hurrah Vacations
Tuesday, August 16, 2011 6:54 PM

 

August is in full swing; Labor Day, right around the corner. If you haven't booked a vacation yet, it's not too late for a last hurrah. We have ten last-minute trip ideas that get you from desk to dunes in no time flat.



 

1.           Bright Lights, Big City: Enjoy hotel discounts in many major cities as business travel drops and hotels seek to woo vacationers. As an added bonus, city dwellers are often out of town, meaning shorter lines at cultural attractions and restaurants.

2.           Warm Weather Deals: Can't get a hotel room during Disney's busy season? Many popular winter destinations offer summer discounts. Say hello to Mickey & Minnie.

3.           Paradise, Close at Hand: For East Coasters, the Caribbean offers a three-hour flight to white sands and turquoise surf. Off-season rates and fares make a high-end winter getaway a summertime bargain.

4.           Europe: Many European capitals are a relatively short 5-6 hour flight from major U.S. cities. While it's tough to cram an entire city into a short trip, you can focus your time by picking one or two destinations per day and reserving the late afternoon for relaxation in local parks followed by leisurely evening dining.

5.           Home for Dinner: With so many vacationers departing their homes for weekend getaways, a wealth of newly vacated homes can be found on rental sites such as VRBO.com. Troll the site for last-minute openings in your desired destination.

6.           Camping: Warm late summer weather makes camping a low-cost way to immerse yourself in summer scenery. Visit www.nationalparks.org for information on parks and availability.

7.           Be a Tourist in Your Town: The high cost of travel (plane tickets, high prices at the pump) can put far-flung travel out of reach. If budget is an issue, save travel costs and check into a hotel or inn in your hometown. Room service and the absence of household chores can make even your own backyard feel like a vacation destination.

8.           House Swap: Check with relatives or close friends about swapping homes for the weekend. Saving on hotels can free up funds for dinners out or theater tickets.

9.           Go For Bargains: Check web sites for last minute vacation packages; if you're flexible about the destination, terrific packages can be found online.

10.        Staycation: While staying at home may not hold the allure of a time away, you can make the most of a staycation by taking a true vacation from all technology and chores. Put naps, books and recreation on the agenda and let work wait.

Enjoy your summer; it's fading fast!

 

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Top 10 Tech Tools for College
Monday, August 15, 2011 5:16 PM

 

Generation Digital is heading to college. Incoming freshman, take a break from your smart phone long enough to load up on these top ten tech tools.

1.         iPad: A multitasking master: read eBooks, stream music, take notes and pictures; organize class and activity schedules with time management apps. Anything else? Oh, right, studying. Major textbook publishers are now making materials available on the iPad.

2.         Voice Recorder: Record lectures and class discussions; use voice-to-print software to create study guides.

3.         USB Flash Drives: Store digital materials including presentations, notes and pictures on portable flash drives.

4.         WiFi Directory App: In need of WiFi? Download this app which uses an iPhone or iPad's current GPS location to create a list of nearby WiFi hot spots. A bonus for broke college kids: it even tells you which ones are free.

5.         Cloud Computing: Working on a group project? Or need to access files from your boyfriends computer? Savvy students store materials using software such as Dropbox, a free downloadable software program that allows users to store their files in the "cloud" and access them from anywhere.

6.         Speakers: Turn your smart phone or iPad into a stereo with a set of portable speakers.

7.         Headphones: Don't bug your roommate; invest in high quality headphones to listen to music or watch a movie on your laptop or iPad without broadcasting your selections room-wide.

8.         Wireless Printer: Print, copy, scan and fax: all without a cord. Now if you can only get it to do your laundry, it'd be perfect.

9.         Solar-Powered Backpacks: Yes, you read that right. Tap into Mother Nature to recharge devices in between classes with a solar power backpack.

10.      Surge Protectors: Protect your digital devices with a surge-protection power cord; they handle multiple plug-ins with ease.

And remember, the best tool for college success is right between your ears. Have a great year!

 

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Top 10 Must-Haves for the Freshman Dorm
Friday, August 12, 2011 5:01 PM

 

Saying good-bye to the family nest? Ease into dorm living with these ten must-haves.



1.           Power strip: Multiple power cords vie for dorm space; provide an easy landing spot with a surge-protecting power strip.

2.           Plastic storage: Master Organization 101 with dedicated storage to keep papers and clothing neatly at hand. Use mini-bins for jewelry, toiletries and desk supplies.

3.           Command Center: Deputize a bulletin board or white board to corral crucial calendar items, invites, phone lists and keys.

4.           Extra Lighting: Brighten spaces and banish dark dorm room corners with extra lamps. Desk task lamps help you keep laser focus through late night study sessions.

5.           Accordion Folder: Keep critical documents close at hand with a portable accordion folder that closes. Great for organizing and guarding receipts, pay stubs, taxes and bills.

6.           Mementos from Home: Personalize your space with photos and mementos. Creating a homey dorm room will help ease the transition to your new environment.

7.           Laundry Supplies: Clothes don't clean themselves. Now that mom has retired as laundress-in-chief, it's time to don the mantle. Load up on laundry bags, detergent and drying racks for delicates.

8.           Portable Shower Caddy: Tote your supplies in style: plastic shower caddies keep supplies corralled when using shared bathrooms.

9.           Coffee Maker: Get your caffeine fix before even hitting the dining hall; a coffee maker will pay dividends when pulling an all-nighter.

10.        Closet Hangers: Must dorms don't supply hangers; opt for slim hangers to maximize shared spaces.

Enjoy the dorm room days: they go quickly!

 

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Making the Most of To-Do Lists
Wednesday, August 10, 2011 2:32 PM

Take a break from your summer beach reads to bone up on some reading to help make the most of an old classic: the to-do list.

Too many of us are guilty of writing up lists and then letting them languish. Say good-bye to the half-finished list and hello to the list that does more.

Intention Meets Action

In A Better Way to Manage Your To-Do List,consultant Peter Bregman suggests viewing the to-do list as a collection tool: one that assembles the list of things that we hope to get done.

Next, turn intention into action by syncing your list with your calendar and scheduling time for each item.

If your to-do list outnumbers available hours in the day, it's time to re-priortize your list. Important items need to float to the top; items that aren't crucial need to be re-slotted to another day. Asses your list carefully: want-to-do doesn't always equal need-to-do.

Bregman also suggests tackling some of the toughest, least palatable tasks at the beginning of the day; knocking those items off the list builds feel-good momentum.

One Size List Doesn't Fit All

Organization blog Unclutterer  always has useful tips on streamlining, be it your home, your hectic schedule and yes, your to-do list.

In How to Create a To-Do List That Helps You Get Tasks Accomplished, the Unclutterer rounds up advice from readers on best-practices for to-do lists.

Suggestions include: creating multiple lists such as daily and monthly lists to keep track of both immediate and long-term needs; organizing lists into categories such as money, kids, fun and must-do. Yet another reader advocates making lists with no more than six items.

One type of to-do list doesn't suit all styles so be sure to create lists that work for you.

How do you tackle your to-do list? Do you have tips for getting the list finished? Share your thoughts here and at the Pendaflex Facebook page.

 

 

 

 

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"Why Didn't I Think of That?" Tips for Job-Hunters
Tuesday, August 09, 2011 2:28 PM

Job hunting is increasingly a complicated endeavor. Tired of hearing "don't call us, we'll call you?" We've rounded up some creative job hunting tips to get you from prospective candidate to paid employee.

The Best Job Hunting Advice You'll Ever Receive:
This Huffington Post piece can be summed up in a nutshell: work harder than anybody else. Well-worth a read, the article encourages job hunters to forget about redoubling efforts to find a job but instead triple that effort. Bottom line: those that try hardest get ahead.

Seven Radical Steps for Career Changers:
This Fast Company article says to forget the conventional wisdom that job hunters should build a personal brand and work their network to find a job. Instead, the author advocates identifying the 5-6 companies where an applicant wishes to work and persuading those companies that you offer them value.  Bottom line: It's about them, not you.

20 Mind Blowing Creative Resumes:
Looking for a resume to set you apart from the pack? The wildly creative resumes in this article are attention getting to say the least. While out-of-the-box resumes are probably best used by applicants in the graphic design or creative fields, any job hunter can benefit from the examples of creative ways to package oneself. Bottom line: You need to stand apart from the pack.

10 Out Of the Box Job Hunting Tips:
Business Week has a list of useful tips, although they aren't as unconventional as the headline suggests. The best tip in our book? Check out Craigslist for job listing from small business and start-ups. Bottom line: Don't leave any stone unturned.

Finally, we leave you with a fun article for any job hunter who has ever worried they'll be sidelined with an unexpected interview question: Offbeat Interview Questions Asked to Make You Think. Bottom line: There is no right answer, just opportunities to demonstrate you are undaunted by challenges.

Do you have creative tips for job hunting? Share your out-of-the-box advice here and at the Pendaflex Facebook page.

 

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Crack the Color Code: Tips for Better Filing
Thursday, August 04, 2011 2:26 PM

Files are the building blocks of office organization. Maximize your office's organization by creating highly visual, efficient color-coded files.

Fundamentals of Color Coding

Color coded systems assign colored labels to key letters, file names or categories. The highly visual system makes it easy to quickly asses where a file belongs or to spot misfiled folders. Experts agree that color coding offers several benefits including:

  • Fast, easy access to files. Color coding makes it a snap to determine where files belong.
  • Dramatically reduce the number of misfiled folders.
  • Lessens negative emotions associated with filing such as frustration, confusion and boredom.

Seeing is Believing

We've rounded up a few examples of successful color coding from across the web to get you up and running.

Professional organization site Color Coded has a wonderful post, Color Coded Spaces, Smiling Faces,  that demonstrates how color coding can be used in the filing cabinet and beyond. From organizing appliance cords to bookshelves and more, color coding helps keep life organized.

LA lifestyle blog Cupcakes & Cashmere trains its finely honed aesthetic sensibility on home office files. Read the post Office Etiquette for details on synching an attractive streamlined desktop holder with a more comprehensive, color coded system in your filing cabinet: it's a vibrant example of form meeting function.

How-to site eHow has a useful video primer on color coding. Check out How to Color Code Your Files to get started.

Have you made use of color coding in your files? Do you have tips for getting a color coded system up and running? Share your thoughts here and at the Pendaflex Facebook page.

 

 

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Focus! Tips for Boosting Concentration
Wednesday, August 03, 2011 2:08 PM

We live and work in a distracting world. The ping of incoming emails, texts and calls makes concentrating a challenge. Want to enhance your ability to focus? Read on for tips on optimizing concentration.

Minimize Outside Distractions

Find a quiet place to work. Not an option in your office? Try noise canceling headphones.

Co-workers quick to distract you? Let colleagues know a closed door is a no-interruption zone. Cube dwellers can opt for a "closed" sign at their cube entrance to serve as a gentle reminder that it's quiet time.

Take technology breaks; turn off your phone ringer, close down your email. Scheduling "technology-free" periods throughout the day can allow you to drill down on the task at hand.

Maximize Inside Focus

Having trouble focusing on the big picture?  Break projects into discrete chunks and tackle one at a time.

Jettison bad habits, such as reliance on caffeine or erratic work styles, and spend time assessing when and how you perform optimally. A combination of optimal work scenarios in combination with regular breaks will allow concentration to flourish.

Rest, relaxation, exercise and good nutrition all will help increase concentration. Burning the candles at both ends results in scattered focus at best.

For more tips, we like the advice in Web MD's 6 Top Concentration Killers

Straying from the task at hand? Here's how to regain your focus. 

How do you ignore distractions and focus on the task at hand? Do you have tips for concentrating? Share your thoughts here and at the Pendaflex Facebook page.

 

 

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Is the Business Card Dead?
Tuesday, August 02, 2011 2:17 PM

When was the last time someone handed you a business card? In some circles, business cards are going the way of the mimeograph and typewriter. In others, the business card still has relevance.  

Alive or About to Kick It?

Harvard Business Review editor Susy Jackson examines the health of the business card in her tongue-in-cheek article The Business Card Is Dead, Long Live the Business Card.  Jackson concludes that while younger, tech types don't place nearly as much emphasis on the business card; they are far from over.

Jackson argues that business cards provide an opportunity to learn more about a person than mere contact details. Decisions about paper stock, font and color choices all speak to a person's style and taste.

Marketing expert Martin Lindstrom sees business cards as valuable real estate for brand building. In a Fast Company article, Your Business Card Is A Billboard For Your Brand--What Does Yours Say?, Lindstrom says business cards are akin to the "napkin test."

"In my universe," says Lindstrom, "a powerful brand should be able to explain their mission in a single paragraph--the fewer words, the better. But what most brands forget is that their business card is indeed their "napkin," a blank canvas enabling them to communicate the essence of their brand (or fail to do so)."

Still, for many, especially the tech-savvy, the paper business card is fast becoming a relic. Companies such as HashableAbout.me and Contxts.com make the collecting and organizing of virtual contact information easy breezy. And an app for the networking site LinkedIn makes it easier to share contact information using Bluetooth.

Making the Most of Business Cards

Not ready to give up your cards? Make the most of paper cards by carefully choosing the information you put on it. Information need not be limited to phone and fax; cards in today's world often include Twitter handles and QR codes,  allowing smartphone users to quickly scan the cards with applications like Cardmunch. 

For more on optimizing business cards, we like the recent New York Times article Business Cards Go Paperless, or Almost.  And online stationery site Minted.com offers business cards for the so-called tech geek. 

Do you use paper or virtual business cards? Do you think the business card is dead or alive and kicking? Share your thoughts here and at the Pendaflex Facebook page.

 

 

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Best Summer Business Reading
Monday, August 01, 2011 2:13 PM

Mindless beach reads are popular fare during the summer months but smart cookies also stock their bedside with the best of business reading.

Summer comes with downtime, the perfect chance to read and reflect on topics often overlooked or glossed over during the busyness of the day-to-day. Crack open a few of the selections from the lists we've culled and settle in for that most restorative and rejuvenating of pastimes: reading and reflecting.

The Washington Post rounded up a list of reads  from the faculty of the University of Maryland's Business School. The list covers a range of topics including the emergence of China and India as business powerhouses, a peek inside the workings of Google and effective change management.

Business Week also has a "poolside MBA" list  with selections from professors at the nation's top B-schools. Selections include new millennium favorites such as The World is Flat  by Thomas Friedman and Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point as well as golden oldies such as Benjamin Franklin's Poor Richard's Almanac.

And for some unconventional business reading, we like the recommendations in this Fast Company article. 

Bold-faced names such as Dan Pink and Eliot Spitzer offer their take on business reading; for example, Spitzer's suggests The Bonfire of the Vanities as a cautionary tale of Wall Street greed run amok.  

Do you have any must-read business selections to recommend? Share your thoughts here and at the Pendaflex Facebook page.

 

 

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About Beyond Folders™

Beyond FoldersTM is written by a team of Pendaflex associates passionate about time management, communications, productivity and workplace organization.  Believing in  "continuous improvement" on both a personal and professional level, they share their unique perspectives on subjects of common interest to our readers.

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