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How to Enjoy a Work Vacation Without Losing Your Mind

School might be out for summer, but that doesn’t mean work is (unless, of course, you work in the education system). But even if the majority of us don’t actually get a three-month hiatus from work every year, there’s still time for a vacation from work.

Man on Trip Taking a Break from Work

Ready for a quick vacation poll? When you get ready to go on vacation, do you:

  1. Stress out until the very last minute, wrapping up deadlines, and throwing clothes into your suitcase.

    -or-

  2. Make a travel plan weeks in advance so you know who’s covering your work while you’re out of the office – along with a packing checklist ready to go a day or two ahead of your travel.

If you answered a), you are most likely in the majority of people who feel like they are rushed into their time off from work, and need a few days before they can truly relax when on vacation. Many employees skip taking their full benefits of time off altogether. Findings from Project: Time Off show that 54% of employees ended last year with unused vacation time. This doesn’t have to be you!

Depending on the number of work responsibilities you have, taking a break from work and preparing for PTO can feel like a job in itself to assure your work is covered and to help avoid any conflicts while you are away. The good news? You can go on vacation without feeling guilty! There are ways to combat this feeling of craziness before leaving on your trip, and tips to help you feel prepared for the onslaught of emails when you return from vacation.

  1. Review Your Tasks

    Alert your team in advance of the days you have scheduled off. The chaos factor will most likely be determined by how many days you’ll be out of the office. If it is one or two days, it is likely you can work ahead and wrap up any forecasted situations before leaving the office. If you are out for an extended period of time, divide and delegate.

    Start with the tasks that have the most pressing due dates, then work with your manager and/or team to find areas where others can assist while you are out. The more you plan ahead, the less stress you will feel as your vacation days approach. You can then leave without feeling like you have forgotten something.

    There might be a to-do list waiting for you when you get back to work after vacation, but the more you prep yourself and your team, the better handle you will feel you have on your tasks.

    Coworkers Planning Getting Back to Work After Vacation

  2. Set Your OOO

    Make sure you set your “out of office” message to direct any pressing emails or phone calls to a manager or another team member while you are out. That way, the person sending the correspondence knows you are not ignoring their messages and know why there will be a delay in the response.

    This also allows for any potential “fires” to be escalated to your team and/or manager right away, rather than waiting for you when you get back or check your email. It is also a good reminder for other people within your company to know you are on a work vacation so they can adjust deadlines and/or expectations for different projects in your absence.

  3. Turn Off Notifications

    Paid time off is designed for taking a break from work and your daily grind to recharge and reset, so you can come back to the office feeling more refreshed. If you continually work while on vacation, you will never get the opportunity to replenish the energy and motivation you may need to put your best foot forward.

    If you are in a position where going completely silent during vacation is unacceptable, designate one time every day when you will check your work emails or respond to notifications. This is better than having constant interruptions during time off of work. No matter how minor they may seem, the alert immediately takes you back to work when you are supposed to be enjoying time off. This can lead to job burnout and fatigue, which can lead to lower performance while in the office, and poor retention by employers. Use this time to also take a notification vacation.

  4. Don’t Talk About Work

    Vacation is vacation and work is work. That means when on vacation, try not to dwell on the deadlines that may be looming when you return. If you do decide to discuss work, try not to make it the focal point of conversations for those you are with. Even if you are taking a solo vacation, the last thing you should be thinking about is work.

    Plan your days to incorporate what will really help you relax. Maybe that is keeping busy with activities from sunup to sundown. Or maybe it is sleeping in, then lounging by the pool with a good book. Whichever way you like to vacation, make sure you are getting the downtime you need.

    Office Chair with Note for Work Vacation

  5. Mitigate Inbox Overload

    One reason why some people decide to check their email while on their time off is to not return to overflowing communication when getting back to work after vacation. Whether you decide to turn off notifications completely or not, when you return to your inbox post-vacation, the best approach is divide and conquer.

    Not all emails will require an immediate response. Prioritize your projects first. That will help determine which emails need to be responded to. Then, in the upcoming weeks, try arriving an hour earlier to get caught up. Also, reach out to your supervisor or co-workers and see where they may be able to assist. Not everything can be done in the first day you are back, and by creating that expectation for not only your team, but yourself as well, it will help you get back into the swing of things without feeling like you are going crazy with a flood of to-dos.

  6. Plan Something Fun

    Coming back to work after vacation and immediately diving headfirst into work again can feel deflating. Schedule a lunch with a co-worker or plan a night where you order takeout and catch up on TV shows, so you have something to look forward to when you get back from vacation.

Finding the work-life balance in your day-to-day can make it seem less extreme when you transition from work to vacation and vice-versa. Although at times it may not seem like it, there is a way you can enjoy your vacation without losing your mind. It may take some planning on your part, but it will feel well worth before, during, and after your time off. Then, all that is left to do is start counting down the days until your next work vacation.

Doctor’s Orders: Healthcare Management for Staff Satisfaction

Employee morale is crucial for any business and with the serious nature that often surrounds healthcare management, keeping a positive mindset is of great importance.

Happy Doctor Standing in Doctor’s Office

The vibe of your practice can be felt among both colleagues and patients, so you want to ensure you have a positive atmosphere as much as possible. In the fast-paced environment doctor’s offices have, it’s important to check the pulse (no pun intended) of your staff and address their needs as much as possible. There are several ways to do this and it’s never too early to get started. With a happy healthcare staff, better work will be done, thus improving patient satisfaction.

If one of your company goals for 2017 is to create a more welcoming, calming place for your staff and your patients, here is a list of things you can do to keep everyone in a happier mood with the right healthcare management.

Give Credit Where Credit is Due

While employees value compensation for a job well done, you might be surprised to know recognition is equally valuable. When people on your healthcare staff go above and beyond their job duties, a sincere note or verbal thank you can make a big difference.

Your employees most likely know how busy everyone is with keeping up with new technology, customer service requests, billing challenges, and everything else that goes into making an office run smoothly. But there’s always time to give kudos.

If you have an employee celebrating a work anniversary, buy a card for everyone to sign, initiate a group lunch, or put together another small event to show how much their work and loyalty means to the office.

Implement a Wellness Program

It only makes sense to promote a healthy lifestyle at your place of work when your work is focused on keeping others illness- and injury-free. This can be accomplished in several ways. First, stock the office kitchen or breakroom with fresh fruits and vegetables, protein bars, and other healthy snacks to keep your staff nourished throughout the day.

If it works within your budget, offer a reimbursement for gym memberships, exercises classes, or other similar wellness events. But keep in mind, it’s not only about physical wellness. Mental wellness is equally important. Schedule a chair masseuse to come by the office monthly to help your healthcare staff ease tension that may have built up throughout the day while running around the office and tending to patients.

To understand your staff needs or wants, take an informal poll or send out a company survey and see what would be most appreciated and welcome as an added perk for their hard work.

Stethoscope on Table for a Medical Consultation

Schedule Team Building Activities

Sometimes it feels good to just get out of the office. If your team has been through a recent training or has been working longer hours than usual, set up a time to get out of the office and enjoy yourselves while not thinking about work. Taking a day off from healthcare may be difficult, so try to plan far in advance so no appointments are booked on that day.

Set up a city scavenger hunt, schedule a tasting menu at a new restaurant, or if your city has the accommodations, take them to a sports event. Decide your budget for the year and make sure to allocate the funds toward these initiatives to keep the morale high all year long.

Provide Stress Relievers

Keep a stock of small stress relievers to help your healthcare staff take a few minutes to themselves every few hours. Coloring books designed for adults have been growing in popularity for their calming nature and a mindless way to be creative without having to concentrate. This can also be great to give patients to take home or have available in the waiting room.

Get a diffuser for the office to use for aromatherapy using essential oils like lavender to calm or citrus to energize. Pink Himalayan salt lamps are also often found in medical offices for their therapeutic benefits as well. Too many scents at once will be overwhelming, but a carefully chosen one can help switch the mood for the better.

Host a Company Picnic

Ever go entire work days without stepping foot outside simply because there’s not enough time? Being in a doctor’s office can mean you have back-to-back appointments, making it difficult to take a breath of fresh air. Schedule time for your staff to enjoy their lunch break or a full afternoon outside with a potluck picnic. Have everyone bring a dish to share, and have the company host the drinks, cups, plates, and silverware. Grab a couple of lawn games and soak up the sunshine. A breath of fresh air is sure to help improve everyone’s mood.

If your office simply can’t shut down for that long during the week, extend the idea to the weekend and make it a family affair. Host it at a nearby park, lake, or area where there are picnic tables, grills, and plenty of parking to make it easy on everyone.

Team of Happy Healthcare Staff Outside

Lead by Example

No matter what your office role is, your good attitude is contagious to the rest of your co-workers. Ever notice how someone who’s having a bad day immediately can bring down the entire mood of a room? The same can be said for those who are having a good day. Radiate positivity and sincerity in all you do and see how fast it starts to catch on. This alone can turn an anxious patient into having a calmer mindset.

Talk Things Through

It’s part of a doctor’s job to review patient symptoms, and this can include things not said. The same can be applied to your healthcare staff. If members of your team are being unusually quiet, reserved, or anxious, schedule a private meeting to check in with them and see what might be weighing on their minds. Sometimes in order to avoid bad morale, it’s best to address a situation before it turns into an actual problem.

Offer the Best for Your Healthcare Staff

Work can be a stressful place at times, no matter what industry you’re in, so whatever you can do to project positivity will help.

Like any prescribed regimen, it may take some time for it to work, but the key is to be consistent. Make sure if you decide to implement some of these employee appreciation initiatives, that you don’t let them dwindle after a few months. The result: a happier staff, a happier office overall, and even improved patient satisfaction.

How to Ensure Your Insurance Marketing Stays Top of Mind

In today’s competitive market, it can be hard for any company to stay top of mind, let alone an insurance company. But once people find insurance they like with costs they can afford, it’s likely they’ll stay loyal for years. They will also be more likely to refer them to their friends, family members, and co-workers.

Insurer with Paper Cutouts of Insurance CoverageThis means whether or not your target audience is actively looking for new insurance, you still want to stay top of mind. Word-of-mouth is still a great marketing resource for insurance companies, which makes it important for the majority of people to have familiarity with your insurance company. If they are a current customer, you want their loyalty. If they are not yet a customer, you want them to switch from their current insurance provider to yours. How do you achieve this?

In today’s world, online marketing is a strategic, impactful way to make it more convenient for customers to sign up for insurance with you, but there are still some tried and true tactics that will keep them on board and walking through your door. Here are a few main promotional insurance products and marketing ideas that will help you maintain your customer list and make it continue to grow.

A Token of Appreciation

Let your insurance customers know how much you appreciate their business and loyalty. Send a small gift with a personalized note saying how thankful you are to have them as a customer. Focus on the season to coordinate your gift giving. For example, during the winter holiday season, think about sending ornaments. When it’s warm outside, Koozies are a smart idea perfect for picnics, the pool, and other summer activities. Then again, everyone can use basics like hand sanitizer or lip balm; choose what you think your customers will value most.

If someone has been with your insurance company for several years, think about sending an anniversary gift for bigger milestones like five or ten years of customer loyalty. The sincerity behind what’s given is what will make the biggest difference. It will make your customers smile and remind them why they choose your insurance company in the first place.

Group of People Mingling at Networking Event

Host a Networking Event

Partner with a few other local businesses, and host a networking event that’s linked to the chamber of commerce or other professional organization. When you start with your own professional circle, it can lead to more opportunities and give visibility to your company and its offerings. Ensure you are well prepared with the event with plenty of promotional insurance products like pens, business cards, and perhaps, individual swag bags to give away to attendees so they remember your name.

Use this as an opportunity to connect with others in your community and share referrals, but also to make your branding stand out in a memorable way. Get creative with the kind of products you hand out. It doesn’t have to be all office supplies. Choose a mix of tote bags, magnets, can coolers, mugs, and other items that will be useful and enticing by those in attendance.

Perfect Your Customer Service

Excellent customer service helps your product speak for itself. Besides affordability, there isn’t a lot that differentiates one insurance company from another, which is why consumers often choose the company who has the service they like best. Friendly, helpful customer representatives can make or break it. Keep in mind, reports show it takes 12 positive customer experiences to erase a poor or unresolved one.

Filing insurance claims or understanding insurance policies can be an overwhelming and frustrating experience. By having team members who make your customers feel comfortable and important, it will create loyalty for life. A great “face” to your company is one of the best products you can have.

Couple Planning Insurance Coverage with Agent

Help Your Customers Plan

Planners or calendars will help make your insurance company memorable, because for people who follow a schedule, they are constantly looking at their calendars to set appointments and remember important events. If that calendar has your company’s name and logo on it, then it’s easier to be on the top of their mind. When someone wants an insurance referral, you are the first company they say.

Make it an annual event by sending out calendars or planners to both current customers and a potentially new client base in your area. Send these out at the same time every year, and your customers will not only come to expect to receive it to replace their old one, but will appreciate the gesture as well.

Get Clever with Your Messaging

Using shaped magnets is an easy way to entice people to come in and sign up for an insurance plan or learn about the other types of insurance you offer. Maybe you have customers that use you for car insurance, but didn’t realize you also provide renter’s insurance as well. Pinpoint these types of opportunities where your services could help people further.

With shapes like light bulbs, hearts, homes, and even cats, you have options to speak to your audience in a way that is engaging and fun for them. It’s an affordable way to encourage your customer base to come visit you in person to update their policies, add other people to their plans, or let them know about insurance services you offer.

Know Your Audience

You have to know your audience no matter how you choose to market. Do you know where they are going for information? Is it convenient for them to come into your office? If not, create a reason that will benefit them or encourage them to stop by.

Separate messages that you send to current customers from the ones you send to your list of potentials. Also, don’t underestimate the power of one-to-one communication. Even if you do not have a lot of foot traffic coming through your door, it doesn’t mean you can’t be walking through the doors of other offices, campuses, and businesses to share your knowledge about insurance and the types of policies you provide.

Always make sure you have extra promotional insurance products in your car so you can have them ready whenever needed. Whether that’s an impromptu networking happy hour or a client meeting scheduled on the same day, you will want to be prepared to represent your company and keep your brand top of mind as much as possible with stellar insurance marketing.

Fidget Spinners: Are They This Generation’s Doodles?

Child Doodling with Markers

The history of doodling has evolved as the history of writing instruments have progressed. What started as scratching rocks against caves as means for communication has evolved into creative ways people choose to fidget and pass the time when they’re bored or anxious. From writing in the margins of notebooks, on scraps of paper, and nearly anywhere there’s a surface, doodling comes in many forms.

In the 1980s, when Trapper Keepers were all the rage, it would be rare to find a “blank” binder that wasn’t full of stickers and Sharpie doodles. This period of doodling was the result of boredom from teenagers in class, but it was also a way to express feelings about their favorite bands, gossip about their teachers, and share messages of love for their boyfriend/girlfriend. Remember doodling your crush’s initials paired with yours in a heart? Oh, the memories! The doodles of the 80s were a way to pass time until the bell rang, but they also usually meant something personal to the one doodling.

As doodlers transitioned into the grunge era of the 90s, pen marks of circles, hearts, and bubble lettering transferred from paper and onto jeans and shoes; sometimes even making its ways to arm, legs, and hands, as well. For some, these doodles might have been the precursor to first tattoos. Doodles of this decade were a combination of fidgeting and a reflection of the person’s artistic and emotional side.

Enter Fidget Spinners

Do kids today still doodle like they did in decades past? It’s not surprising to see a notebook or two still filled with sketches and scribbles. But in many cases, laptops or iPads have replaced paper notebooks. If pen and paper are no longer the primary or preferred form of note-taking, how do people doodle? The fidget spinner, this year’s toy craze, has taken over schools across the country. What seems like a simple innovation has captured the attention of many.

Child Playing with Fidget Spinners

Fidget spinners were created to help kids release stress in a positive way. Some suggest they provide health benefits and soothing side effects. Does this mean we’ve learned to fidget better? Was all the doodling of years past child’s play and the way we fidget now a smarter way to avoid boredom? Not necessarily.

The Benefits of Fidgeting

One of the key points made about fidget spinners being more than just a toy trend,  bringing doodling and fidgeting full circle, is that the body movements used to play with the fidget spinner is part of the expression process. In one Forbes article, where they break down the science of fidget spinners, it says, “fidgeting could actually help you think and express yourself.” Ultimately, the fidgeting tool or medium doesn’t matter, it’s the attempt to relieve stress that’s the common denominator.

Much like the use of worry stones and stress balls in the past, the use of fidget spinners is a comforting habit that helps combat anxiety in a benign way. Whether or not fidget spinners truly provide health benefits is still up for discussion, but what is certain is that humans naturally seek out stress relief, and this generation is no exception. Whether it’s with a pen and notebook, a marker and sneakers, or a fidget spinner, it’s proof that sometimes the simplest things are what can calm us down and help us focus.

Top Executive Gifts for Business Partners in 2017

Gifts for your boss or business partners can be a tricky landscape to navigate. You want something personal, while still keeping a professional buffer.

Business Partners Exchanging Executive Gifts

Executive gifts should be classy, but they don’t have to be expensive. Depending on the kind of office environment you work in, your boss or business partner could more laid-back and may prefer a practical or funny gift over one that is more expensive. If you are in charge of ordering corporate gifts for several people, think about buying the same gift and personalizing it for each person.

Determine the budget, the occasion, and person you’re buying for when you start gathering ideas on executive gifts. If you’re having trouble thinking of what might be appropriate, here are some of the most popular ideas for gifts for executives in 2017.

  1. Coffee or Espresso Maker

    Though your boss may enjoy a regular cup of joe from the company coffee pot, it’s a nice thought to buy your caffeine-loving boss a coffee or espresso maker of their own to keep in the office or at home. There are several models on the market today that can whip up coffee shop-style drinks in no time.

  2. Personalized Wine Bottle

    Wine is the signature gift for most any occasion. If you’re celebrating a wedding, housewarming, or promotion, wine seems to be the top drink of choice. It’s not any different when it comes to holiday gift giving or special work milestones. Find out your exec’s favorite kind of wine and splurge for a nice bottle with a customized label. Most online sellers will do this for their own bottles, but if the winemaker your boss likes doesn’t provide that option, you can have one made and affix it on top of the original label. Or, you can pair the gift with a set of customized wine glasses for the total package.

  3. Headphones or Earbuds

    If your boss travels a lot, consider giving headphones as a gift. Of course, these can be used at the gym, in the office, and at home, as well. A set of noise-cancelling headphones for long flights can be just the thing your boss needs to drown out the noise and concentrate on work or take a few hours to relax. Research different brands for the best value and make sure they’re portable enough to fit into a purse or a briefcase. That way your boss can take the gift with them wherever they go.
    Businessman Listening to Music at Desk

  4. Business Card Holder

    This is one of those executive gifts that everyone needs. While at trade shows, your boss can have business cards gathered neatly into their own holder, eliminating the need to rummage through pockets or bags to find them. It can also be used to collect the contact information of new acquaintances for safe storage and use for a later date. Get it customized with your company’s name and make sure they are a professional representation of your brand.

  5. Office Wall Art

    Although your executive team will mostly talk about sales, growth, and ROI, they still have interests outside of the office. Try to find what they are interested in. Is it architecture? Travel? Sports? Fashion? Pick a piece of understated wall art your boss can hang in the office to add some personality. An alternative would be to get an art piece for the desk or shelves, such as interesting bookends or a quirky paperweight.

  6. A Day to Relax

    Wouldn’t it be great if we could literally package a day off and present it as a gift? Here is the next best thing that can help you with that endeavor. A gift certificate to a spa or a booked staycation are both thoughtful corporate gifts that say, “Thank you for your hard work. You deserve a break.” Everyone who works hard deserves a day off now and then to recharge before coming back to work.

  7. Celebration Dinner

    Maybe your boss doesn’t like the idea of “things” but would rather enjoy an “experience.” Plan a meal in their honor to show appreciation from your team. Add in personal touches like customized dinnerware, napkins, or a banner thanking the guest of honor. Many bosses like feeling the camaraderie with their employees and colleagues, so this is the perfect opportunity to get together and reflect on how far your boss has brought the team.

    Business Partners Enjoying a Celebratory Dinner

  8. Personalized Gifts

    No matter the kind of gift you choose, you always want it to have a personal touch. Turn a recyclable bag into one filled with goodies such as favorite drinks, artisan foods, and office items they can use.

  9. Themed Gifts

    For example, if your company is located where the sun always shines, send a beach-themed gift complete with a tote bag, beach towel, and bucket hat. It can be a fun way to remind them where you are and be used as a fun invitation to set up an in-person meeting.

  10. Go Beyond the Coffee Mug

    Coffee mugs are fantastic corporate gifts, and will always be popular because it’s likely your clients or vendors drink plenty of coffee to buzz through their never-ending list of things to do. But a fun, unexpected alternative is a Moscow Mule Mug Gift Set. You can personalize it with their name, company, or another greeting or slogan. Coffee says, “We’re here to work” and Moscow Mules says, “Relaxation awaits you after 5 o’clock.”

  11. Gift for the Weekend

    One of the best gifts a client or vendor could receive is one that enriches heir weekend life. A grill and cooler combo set is convenient for camping, road trips, days by the pool, and pretty much any other adventurous excursion that has nothing to do with responding to emails, poring over spreadsheets, and worrying about time in the office. It’s not only a gift, but a nudge toward living a good work life balance.

Gifts for Executives in 2017
Giving gifts for executives has changed over the years. While there’s still tradition behind a nice pen set, explore all your options and choose something meaningful for the person you’re giving it to. No matter what you decide on, you can always add a special touch by making the gift personalized.

Think about the person on the receiving end of your gift and how they might respond to something generic versus one where there was thought put into it and a genuine thank you note from the team. Not only do you want the executive gifts to be well-received, you’ll want to feel good about giving them as well.

New Desk Personality Quiz – What Does Your Desk Say About You?

Take a look at your desk right now. What does it have on it? A keyboard, monitor, computer mouse? Does it have your leftover lunch? A pile of papers? Do you think what remains on your desk is reflective of your work personality?

National Pen has released a new quiz, What Does Your Desk Say About You? The quiz groups different desk personalities including the “multitasker” and the “master organizer.”

The Link Between Desks and Personalities

Everyone has a different approach for how they decorate, organize, and like their desk to look. For some, a clean, well-organized desk means it’s easier to navigate the day-to-day, while others have an in-depth understanding of the many piles that fill their desk and what belongs in each one.

According to Salary.com, your desk speaks for itself even when you’re not around. When someone walks past your desk, they may immediately have a first impression about your personality, even if they’ve never met you. For example, several stacks of papers may give the presumption of a disorderly personality to an outside perspective, when in reality, it may reflect a personalized system of a truly organized person.

In some cases, a desk aesthetic may totally differ for how someone decorates or organizes at home. That may be especially true for those who work in fast-paced work environments. In the office, the desk may be full of papers, files, water bottles, and other random office supplies to match the chaos of the space. But at home, the opposite may be true, since people usually consider their home a safe haven that is meant to be serene and relaxing.

Then again, who knows how accurate your desk can reflect your true personality? A psychologist reviewed the desks of several Business Insider employees and many revealed her assertions weren’t necessarily true. One employee said the conclusion seemed to be pretty accurate in understanding her organizational workflow. However, another desk that was summed up as: “Cluttered, chaotic, colorful: this is a desk of an extrovert” really belongs to a self-proclaimed introvert who simply didn’t have a place to put her phone or books.

How do you think your coworkers would describe you based on your desk? Now you can get a better idea by taking our What Your Desk Says About You quiz and see if your results match up correctly. The fun part is finding out and guessing which personality matches which coworker. Which desk personality type are you?

Construction Management: Tools of the Trade

The digital age has proven we can get things done efficiently and effectively online. But when it comes to construction management, there are processes and business needs that require a good, old-fashioned, pen-to-paper mentality and construction management tools.

Group of Construction Workers Standing on Worksite

To ensure a smoothly run construction company, there are several pieces that must work together for the process to be successful. There are internal processes, marketing, and operations to think about, but there’s also the actual project management required to handle several construction jobs at once. Although there are several online apps and tools necessary to keep everything organized in a centralized place, especially if there are multiple collaborators, there are those office supplies you’ll always need no matter what new technology is introduced over the years.

Day-to-Day Operations

From invoicing to memos to attending conferences and off-site meetings, you’ll need a few office basics to make sure you have information and materials posted where they’re most visible to your team. Every construction office will most likely have:

  • Pens

    Whether to use on-the-go, give to customers, or use internally, you can never have enough pens.

  • Notepads

    Use these to jot down ideas, notes to enter into a database later, or self-reminders when you don’t have access to an online portal.

  • Wall calendars

    While it’s likely you’ve gone digital with your project timelines, seeing upcoming projects at a glance are still nice to have for everyone to see. It helps paint a broad picture of timelines and scope of work being done.

  • USB flash drives

    If you need to transfer several files or blueprints at once between team members or to clients, a flash drive is a useful and practical way to get the job done.

Construction sites may have fewer office supplies than most, but there are still essentials required so that day-to-day tasks may be achieved in a timely manner. By having the basics in stock, it prevents any unnecessary, operational setbacks.

Table with Blueprints and Construction Tools

Construction Management Specifics

Construction management projects require time and attention given to many moving parts in order to see the final result come to fruition. The actual management of the project is ints own category, but there’s also budget, time, safety, and quality assurance components to consider.

The use of construction management software helps align these different categories to follow the scheduled timeline and achieve the required goal. The software you choose will be based on the size of your construction company, how many projects you handle at once, and the extent each project requires, among other factors such as price and usability.

Capterra has listed its top construction management software picks, but review each on its own merit to see how it could work best for your company. Software options such as CoConstruct, NoteVault, and Smartsheet all receive high consumer reviews for their capabilities offered.

The Digital Era

Back in the day, it was all paper invoices and tracking receipts. Now most paperwork is kept more organized with cloud-based systems and other ways where several people can be logged in at once to view the status of a project and leave notes that relate to the progress.

Companies range from using sophisticated software systems that house all their materials and project specifications, while others use different platforms to organize documents and information. Some of the most commonly used programs and software includes:

  • Google Docs

    Google Docs make accessibility easy for anyone who has WiFi and a Gmail account. You can share, view or edit permissions, leave notes directly on the document, and refer back to previously saved versions.

  • Dropbox

    Another free tool is Dropbox, which is a place to house all your shared documents and images and organize them into labeled folders. There is an upgraded version available for $9.99 a month that expands your storage availability, which is great for those who have a lot of digital media being passed back and forth.

  • Skype

    Even with central offices, it’s most likely many of your employees are working remotely or rarely in the office. Skype is a great way to keep in contact with each other and create specific groups for different constructions projects where everyone can chime in. This can help get quick answers and keep the process streamlined so everyone is on the same page.

  • GoToMeeting

    GoToMeeting has proven to be a valuable resource when you need to gather several people for a conference call. The service allows you to easily share your screen in order to demonstrate walk-throughs or present visuals for your team to better understand your projects.

Construction Worker Using Construction Management Software

Marketing Opportunities

The construction world relies on putting forth a positive reputation in the industry. If no one has heard of you or know what kind of work you’ve done, it’s less likely for a company to immediately agree to have you come in as the construction lead on any project. Make sure you are being competitive and properly branding yourself, whether it’s at a tradeshow or in person for kickoff meetings.

Carry professional business cards with all pertinent information to make it easy to contact you and make yourself known within your industry, not only among potential clients, but associated vendors or associations. Next time your company is in a position to network, make sure you carry:

  • Business Cards

    Include your company logo and contact information so clients have a way to get a hold of you always at their fingertips.

  • Business Bags

    Whether you carry a laptop or briefcase, here’s a prime opportunity to spotlight your brand in a way that makes sense. The idea is to subtly remind anyone who sees your bag who you are and what you do.

  • Customized Lanyards

    When you attend any conference, you can use and give away branded lanyards. This is especially useful if you sponsor or host an event.

  • Banners

    Banners are great for marketing if you’re at a tradeshow, at your job site, or even in the office. Make sure you have a logo, tagline, or other relevant company information that will keep your name in mind for new and long-standing clients.

With any industry, organization is key to ensure projects are done on a timely and cost-efficient manner. Are the right resources in place? Is the project on track for delivery? What are potential challenges and how can they be minimized or avoided altogether? The right construction management tools will help you stay efficient, on track, and relatively sane for the duration of your project.

Creating the Perfect Tradeshow Experience for Your Brand

Looking to maximize your brand’s tradeshow experience this year? Keep the following dos, don’ts, and must-haves in mind when formulating your plan for your next expo hall visit.

Aerial View of a Tradeshow Hall

You’ve made the wise choice to attend a tradeshow to highlight your business and increase market penetration. The plan is sound – show up, bring free goodies, talk to the attendees, and you’ll go home with a stack of leads that will surely keep you busy until the end of the year. Right? Well, not exactly.

Many business owners and sales team leads learn the hard way that participating in a tradeshow doesn’t always equate to a successful event. Instead, the before, during, and after segments of the tradeshow experience must be managed in a very deliberate manner in order to net positive results.

Let’s look at some of the ways to create the perfect tradeshow experience for your brand, focusing on three key areas – before, during, and after the show.

Before the Tradeshow

You’d never walk into a sales meeting unprepared, so why do so many of us feel like we can waltz into the expo hall and tradeshow experience without a well-defined plan? Here are four of the key considerations to make prior to attending an exposition or tradeshow:

  1. What is my goal?

    Before considering the tradeshow route, ask yourself – what is the ultimate goal here? Break down your priorities into the following categories to help plan your strategy:

    1. How many attendees do I want to talk to/attract to my booth during the show?
    2. How many leads do I want to generate from the show/what is an acceptable conversion rate?
    3. Do I want to sell products or services directly to the end-user at the show, and what supplies (contracts, forms, etc.) do I need to bring along?
    4. Am I promoting my business, increasing awareness of my brand, or launching a new product?
    5. How much revenue do I need to generate from the show to net an acceptable ROI?
    6. What is my overall budget for the show and how am I going to pay for it?

     

  2. Is this the right show?

    The next thing to investigate is which tradeshow most ideally marries with your specific business plan. If you’re looking to net a big boost in short-term sales (i.e., making sales at the actual tradeshow), you may want to consider a smaller show where you won’t have 15 other competitors alongside you. Tradeshow organizers often publish statistics on past attendees, so you can glean whether your target market will actually show up for the event, too.

    And, if you can’t afford to pay booth fees and the litany of other expenses that pop up during a tradeshow, you may want to preserve your marketing budget and opt for a smaller regional show. Also, consider travel costs when planning which show to attend. This may be a big expense if you’re bringing along several team members.

  3. Who can I trust to help run the show?

    One of the most important aspects to maximizing the tradeshow experience is positioning your best people in front of potential clients – and this might by you.Before committing to the tradeshow and sending a deposit to reserve your space, ensure you have plenty of support from your sales and marketing groups to help man the booth, interact with attendees, and act as a support system for anything you may need.

    You’ll want to make sure no key players are on vacation, have travel restrictions, or otherwise cannot attend – you need all your leaders in place.

  4. How do I create awareness early on?

    It is imperative that you not only create awareness of your involvement in an upcoming tradeshow, but that you also specifically invite members of your industry to visit you on-site.

    You can create an incentive for appointments booked at the show or contracts signed during the event to promote attendance. Provide all the necessary details to make finding you at the show as easy as possible, such as the booth number, dates of attendance, and a map detailing how to find you at the show.

Business Professionals Attend an Exposition

During the Tradeshow

Now that you’ve committed to attending a tradeshow or exposition and have a firm idea of what results you need to see from the event, it is time to discuss how to manage the actual event. Let’s break it down into two key areas: what to bring and what to do.

In terms of what to bring, you’ll have to consider your specific business line. Here are the top 10 basic items you’ll want to have in your tradeshow booth:

  1. Tape

    Duct tape, masking tape, and Scotch tape. You’ll find a million uses for these during the show.

  2. Refreshments

    Keep your tradeshow booth stocked with water, soda and snacks. Leaving the booth leaves you underprepared for visiting clients and prospects, so tote along snacks and drinks that don’t require refrigeration, aren’t messy to eat, and aren’t too pungent.

  3. Pens

    Bring ten times more than you think you need. You’ll need them for signing up attendees for raffles, meetings, and other activities, and 70% of the pens you bring will inadvertently wind up in attendees’ pockets. Invest in company-branded pens to net an immediate marketing boost.

  4. Business Cards

    Though the standard business card will at some point seem a little quaint, there is still a definite need for something tangible to hand to a client. Another option is to hand them an alternative business card, like a business card magnet, a USB drive business card, or something similar.

  5. Marketing Materials

    Make your brand stand out with customized tablecloths, banners, and other marketing collateral. Take advantage of every flat surface on your creative tradeshow booth design and display your brand on the back wall, tabletop, and even on the entrance mat.

  6. Sealable Containers

    You’re going to gather a lot of client information during the tradeshow, and information security is incredibly important today. Don’t be the business that leads to a leak of confidential information. Seal attendee data, sign-up sheets, and other relevant information in a locking container or secure document holder.

  7. Laptop

    Tradeshow attendees want to be able to access your information electronically, so have at least one laptop computer available to log on to your site. Better yet, a tablet is even more effective because it allows you to interface more freely with a visitor to your tradeshow.

  8. Cords

    Bring all necessary extension cords and charging cables. Most tradeshow booths only come wired with one 110-volt outlet, so bring a power strip, extension cords, and all charging cables. It is incredibly expensive to rent or borrow electrical supplies at tradeshows – so plan ahead on this one.

  9. Wellness Items

    There are going to be long days, so tote along breath mints, hair care products, cough drops, a nail file/nail clippers, cold medicine, aspirin, bandages, and more. You’ll be prepared for any minor mishaps that may occur. And don’t forget some hand sanitizer and lotion. Hopefully you’ll be shaking a lot of hands, but that certainly reinforces the need for personal care items to keep you and visitors healthy.

Now let’s talk about what to do. Your activities and behaviors during the expo or tradeshow are the single biggest driver of success, so make sure you:

  • Create One-on-One Time

    The average tradeshow visitor spends 5-15 minutes in a tradeshow booth. You have to make that prospect feel valued and appreciated in very little time, so ensure you have dedicated one-on-one space in the booth to speak privately. Tradeshows are loud, noisy places; create an oasis for your valued visitor and they’ll feel like their potential business is important to you.

  • Monitor Your Team

    Keep tabs on the way your team is working the expo booth and the tradeshow, in general. They should be outside the booth as much as possible, interacting with attendees in a polite, inviting, and positive manner. Listen to make sure they are asking leading questions that will drive conversations and engage potential clients. This is their time to turn on the charm and deliver.

  • Create Excitement

    Order promotional gifts that feature your logo, business contact information, or promotional message for pennies on the dollar, because the benefit of spotlighting your brand long after the tradeshow is over is priceless.

Tradeshow Attendees Shaking Hands

After the Tradeshow

Organized individuals often fare better when managing tradeshow results. Here’s the bottom line – you’ll talk to a lot of people during a tradeshow or exposition, and you’ll gather a lot of information about them during the event. By creating an organizational system that funnels attendee data into clearly defined categories, you’ll find follow up is easier and conversion rates will be higher. To create the best possible client experience, make sure you keep the following post-tradeshow activities in mind:

  1. Follow Up

    Make sure you follow up within days after the event. This timeframe is critical. Make contact via email, social media, written letter, and phone, if need be.

  2. Nurture Leads

    Assign leads gathered at the tradeshow to specific individuals who will have the best chance of converting the prospect.

  3. Ask Attendees to Sign-Up

    Keep the connection alive long after the tradeshow is over by inviting attendees to sign up for your newsletter or emails. You can provide a small incentive for doing so, like a promotional gift or discount on future sales.

Creating the ultimate tradeshow experience isn’t as simple as it sounds, but by planning ahead, involving the right people, investing in appropriate marketing collateral and promotional tradeshow gifts, then executing a strict follow-up plan after the show, you’ll maximize your time spent at the event.

Meditation at Work: Strategies to Make Waves by Drowning Out the Noise

Modern life is noisy and often overwhelming. Is meditation the answer? It’s never been so imperative to brain health and general wellness. But can it be done in the workplace?

Coworkers Meditating at Work

Meditation at work may sound counterintuitive. Most work environments are a hub of activity, constant interruptions, and background noise that can prove to be distracting rather than relaxing; hardly the place for Zen. However, it’s for these reasons that office meditation is all the more necessary.

With hectic paces and cut-it-close deadlines, it can seem like there’s simply no time for meditation in the workplace. But once you know how to quiet your mind and drown out the noise, you’ll find taking meditation breaks will help boost your productivity, improve your focus and mindset, and ultimately, be better for your bottom line. For many, it is a life-changing practice that provides heightened self-awareness and a newfound sense of calm.

Why is Meditation Important?

Meditation has been heralded as one of the best exercises you can do to better your mind, reduce stress, and present an overall calmer presence, all of which is important to have a healthy work life. The value of meditation is in making a conscious effort to do nothing and clear out the clutter that overtakes your brain.

It’s important to “reset” your mind every once in a while to prevent burnout. Just as we take time to care for our bodies through healthy eating and regular exercise, it’s also necessary to give that same care and attention to our mind. Several high-profile, successful business leaders have advocated for meditation at work. Rupert Murdoch, Oprah Winfrey, Russell Simmons, and Arianna Huffington all appreciate the powerful effects of mindfulness.

How Does Meditation at Work Help?

Many work situations can lead to long hours, little sleep, and unhealthy habits like sitting for hours at a time, little to no exercise, and snacking throughout the day instead of having a proper meal away from the desk.

Meditation in the workplace benefits people in countless ways, including improved performance and a better sense of wellness when in the office, which isn’t always easy to achieve. Every day is filled with mini (or major!) obstacles, which require the brain to work overtime to get through the day. Rather than transitioning from task to task without a break, a meaningful slowdown can help the brain operate at a higher level.

In a Washington Post interview, Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital neuroscientist Sara Lazar shared her findings about meditation and its countless benefits, stress relief being a main one. She looked at several studies and concluded meditation can “change the brain.” If a person meditates for 20-30 minutes a day, it can help increase or improve:

  • Communication
  • Productivity
  • Wellness
  • Calmness
  • Engagement
  • Physical and mental health

But what does this mean for the workplace?

Woman Practicing Meditation at Work

Being Present and Having a Purpose

There are several characteristics that can be directly tied to how a person performs at work. Presence has been a buzzword lately mostly due to the popularity of Amy Cuddy, and being present is essential to work.

Amy Cuddy has built a following based on her TED Talk and book covering this topic. She discusses the importance of presence and how to maintain “being present” in everyday life. It’s easy to multi-task and be thinking of a response before someone has even finished talking rather than being present. This often leads to miscommunication, ineffectiveness, and lack of efficiency. This where meditation and presence go hand in hand.

Office meditation can help you listen more efficiently, which can help streamline task, make meetings more meaningful, and instill a sense of purpose behind every part of the project. In short, the practice of meditation in the workplace allows people to work smarter. The Guardian posted an article that indicated 80% of employees don’t take a regular lunch break. Does this mean they’re working harder? Or, should they be working smarter by allowing themselves a break to eat, meditate, and walk around to then tackle their afternoons with full stomachs and better focus?

For the business bottom line, meditation at work delivers a positive return on investment. There’s little to no cost and a minimal time dedication necessary to reap rewards that will prove to be long-lasting.

Implementing Meditation in the Workplace

Once you realize how beneficial office meditation can truly be, the next step is to implement it and make it part of your routine. The best way it’ll get done is if it’s scheduled. Set a timer or a write it in your calendar to prioritize it into your workday. Meditation is exercise for the mind and typically, gets easier with time. For those starting out, it may be difficult to sit quietly for more than a couple of minutes without getting distracted or letting the mind wander. Start small and grow.

If you have five minutes, focus on your breathing. Close your eyes and breathe slowly in through the nose and out through the mouth.

If you have ten minutes, practice visualization. Picture a serene place that instills a sense of calm and happiness or focus on a specific goal (it doesn’t have to be work-related) and hone in on that one thought for the entirety of your meditation.

If you have twenty minutes, shut your office door, go to a quiet space, or head outdoors where you can clear your mind without interruption. To start, download a meditation app or find a meditation on YouTube that will take you through a guided meditation.

People meditate in different spaces and in different ways. Shavasana during yoga is a popular time to meditate and clear clutter from the mind. Others prefer to use apps like Headspace or other programs like Deepak Chopra and Oprah’s 21-Day Meditation Experience. Then, there are those who simply have a mantra they repeat to bring their stillness to do their day. The point is to find what works best for you.

Tabletop Zen Garden for Office Meditation

Making Meditation a Habit

Like your morning coffee or afternoon walk around the block, make meditation a habit. Here are a few tips to meditate at work even if you don’t think you have the time.

  1. Ask yourself why.

    Why do you want to meditate? Is it because it’s being offered as a wellness perk at work? Is it because you’re falling behind on important tasks due to your lack of energy and focus? Or, do you just want to instill more calm into your life? By answering the “why,” it’ll be easier to find a way to stick with a plan.

  2. Stick with a scheduled time.

    Maybe meditation at work is the best way for you to start your day. Maybe it’s the afternoon pick-me-up you need to finish strong. Choose a time that works well for you and stick with it. Mark the time off your calendar and don’t let it be easily pushed aside.

  3. Prep your space.

    There are a few options you have to create a meditation space in the workplace. Go to an unused conference space and play meditation music or soothing sounds. For special meditation breaks, use a singing bowl or light an aromatherapy candle. Turn the lights down low and get in the right physical space so it’s easier for your mind to fall in line.

  4. Keep with it.

    As mentioned before, it can be difficult when first starting out meditation in the workplace. Don’t take on too much too soon. It doesn’t matter if it’s five minutes or fifteen, as you long as you do it consistently.

Customize Your Workplace Habits

By creating daily habits that help make your workdays more pleasant, you might be surprised how much easier it is to breeze through your task list. Set time for yourself with mini treats throughout the day, whether that’s a piece of chocolate, time for meditation at work, a quick walk outdoors, or a coffee break with a co-worker. Drown out the noise and be attentive to your mind and body while at work, even if it’s only for a few moments at a time.