Author Archives: national pen

Big Plans, New Year – The Weekender Is Here to Help!

pens_jan_headerimage_1200x628People across the country work a 9-to-5 schedule, in a hurry, following the same routine day after day. Once the weekend rolls around, rather than relaxing, time is often spent running errands or doing chores around the house. It can feel just as hectic as the work week. Does this sound familiar?

If it does, just know it doesn’t have to be the norm. By making small changes to your lifestyle, you can free up more quality time to do more of the things you enjoy with the people you love. If that sounds good to you, check out our just- launched month-by-month calendar guide: The Weekender.

We’ve curated the ultimate, online calendar flipbook that will help you feel motivated once the weekend sets in, so you can make the most of your days. It provides small goals, helpful quotes, and words to live by to help you achieve the kind of work-life balance that promotes healthier,happier living. Who wouldn’t want that for the new year?

Set Your Sights High in 2017

A fresh start always feels good and new challenges can be invigorating. Don’t fear New Year’s resolutions; they don’t have to be daunting. No one says goals should come with time constraints or limitations. Instead, this year, make your resolutions matter for the rest of your life, not just the rest of the year. For starters, how can you introduce more joy into your life?

Is it by staying organized? Trying something new? Stepping outside of your comfort zone? The Weekender inspires making changes that reach for something a little higher than “more time at the gym,” one of the top resolutions tried and failed year after year.

The Weekender focuses on a different concept and fresh ideas every month that include the kind of small things that make a bigger difference for the year overall. For example, January invites you to “plan it out,” May asks you to “slow down,” and September entices everyone to “unplug and explore.” Maybe not every month will speak directly to you. Take what you need from the calendar and leave the rest.

Use the Weekender to Recharge

There’s no doubt about it – the week can get hectic. There are deadlines to meet, routines to follow, and goals to achieve. It seems counterintuitive to slow down, take more breaks, and do things that may have nothing to do with work. But, in many ways, approaching your day-to-day in this way actually helps with productivity, creativity, and your overall energy.

Take a chance starting in January to introduce some of these new habits into your life and see if you can tell a difference in how you work, act, and feel. Write down what you want to achieve for the month and review what’s worked for you. Share The Weekender with co-workers, family, and friends and set goals together to help keep each other accountable.

Enjoy these final days of 2016 and look forward to what 2017 will bring!

2016 White Elephant Gift Guide: Office Edition

If you’re looking for a perfect White Elephant office gift for your holiday office party, consider this your official gift guide!White Elephant Gift GuideThe memo went out on Friday – “Office party: Meet in the conference room at 3pm, bring a side dish and a White Elephant gift (valued at around $20).” This sounds fun enough, right? The office holiday party always ends up being an event worthy of water cooler talk for weeks to come. But what should you buy as your White Elephant gift? If you’re looking for something fun, safe-for-work, and memorable – as well as inexpensive, consider the following ideas.

White Elephant Gift Idea 1: A Box of Wine

Just because most White Elephant gift exchanges tend to applaud the inclusion of silly or outrageous gifts, why not combine something elegant – but then give it a twist? Wrap up some wine, but make sure to buy your favorite boxed varietal to elicit a few laughs, and most likely appreciation, from your co-workers. Step it up a notch with a funny wine glass – extra points if it fits an entire bottle of wine.

White Elephant Gift Idea 2: Silly Mugs

Mugs are universally popular, since most likely more than one person in your office gets their day going with coffee. But why not order a silly mug that can deliver a hilarious and personal message that only you and your colleagues will understand? Choose from an assortment of customizable mugs to help create your perfect White Elephant gift.

White Elephant Gift Idea 3: Outrageous Calendars

One gift that keeps on giving all year long is a desk or wall calendar, and you can find some truly goofy calendars to pair perfectly with an off-the-wall office party in no time. One of the most popular calendars this year is the “People of Walmart” calendar – itself a 365-day visual reminder of some of Walmart’s most…unique shoppers.

White Elephant Gift Idea 4: Desk Accessories with a Twist

Consider ordering a “high-heel” tape dispenser, or a “funny face” pencil/pen holder to add to your office partner’s desk accessories, then watch as they think, “Hmm… this is pretty silly, but I’ll actually use it!” Office-themed gifts are perfectly suited for White Elephant gift exchanges as they’ll likely get used quite frequently and they’re an easy reminder of your office friendships.

White Elephant Gift Idea 5: Fun Card & Board Games

Cards Against Humanity comes right to mind, but virtually any fun card or board game will work at your office gift exchange. Keep it safe for work, but don’t be afraid to push the boundaries a bit and purchase an irreverent game that will have everyone in stiches while playing.

White Elephant Gift Idea 6: Noise-Isolating Headphones

This gift might be looked at as your way to subtly block out the office chatterboxes, but good quality headphones are also a sought-after gift for audiophiles and gamers. Search online and you can easily find a pair of headphones or earbuds for about $20, then wrap it up and watch as the lucky recipient opens your thoughtful and office-appropriate White Elephant gift!

If you’re on the planning end of the office’s White Elephant festivities, keep the following ideas in mind:

  1. 1. Understand the history of the holiday tradition with our fun White Elephant infographic
  2. 2. Lay out the rules early on so the invitees understand the process
  3. 3. Provide some examples of appropriate gifts to make shopping easier
  4. 4. Create pre-numbered slips of paper to establish the gift order
  5. 5. Provide food and drinks – possibly “white foods” like ice cream or white chocolate
  6. 6. Have fun and create memories with your office buddies!

White Elephant gift exchanges are a big part of most office holiday party traditions, so keep your guests on their toes, laughing and engaged in the gift-exchange process this year!

 

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How to Reduce Work Stress with a Desk Sanctuary

A stress ball can only go so far. What sights, smells, sounds and small comforts can help turn your desk into a mental and physical place of relaxation?
Reduce Work Stress with a Desk SanctuaryThe statistics are quite revealing – more than 40% of adults report that work stress is “very or extremely stressful.” A professional may have 50-100 unique tasks or projects in play at any given time, and today’s litany of distracting mobile devices and social media streams can inhibit productivity and incite additional stress. Office stress is real, but there is something you can do about it – convert your desk area into a work sanctuary!

Here are the 4 S’s on how to reduce work stress:

Work Stress Tip 1: Sights

One of the easiest ways to minimize stress at work is to create pleasing sightlines for the eyes. Consider spending an hour or two de-cluttering your workspace. You’ll feel lighter, less affected by the “noise” of the office, and you’ll minimize distractions that can quickly derail even the most productive of employees. Make sure to tidy up each night before you go home so you return to a fresh and organized workspace the next morning.

You can also create visual harmony by adding some personal touches from home. Bring your favorite accent pillow and use it as a back support for your desk chair. It’ll remind you of your happy home and can add some life to the office’s décor. Clean up, minimize clutter, and add a few personal touches to enhance the overall look and feel of your work desk.

Work Stress Tip 2: Smells

Instead of relying on an aerosol can of room air freshener to brighten up the smell of your office, consider a natural remedy. Bring in living plants that can naturally freshen the air, while adding a sense of organic beauty to the office. If you’re near a window, consider using natural light to keep your plants or flowers healthy – they’ll thrive and you’ll feel great seeing something alive and green right in front of you each day.

Other stress reducing products include natural air fresheners like teakwood wick sticks that can be soaked in a specially-fragranced oil, or any of a variety of scent diffusers on the market today. Scents that have proven over time to deliver a sense of calm are: lemon, rosemary, cinnamon, lavender, and pine. Just be sure your coworkers aren’t sensitive to any scents before you bring them into the office.

Work Stress Tip 5: Sounds

Isn’t it outrageous to think that office productivity generally increases when some background noise is allowed in the workspace? Background noise generators can help to relax the mind, aid in concentration, and minimize anxiety for some individuals. Something as seemingly basic as streaming music through your phone while working can help hone your focus during the day – just make sure to keep your device properly charged and cradled so it’s always ready to go.

Work Stress Tip 4: Small Comforts

There is a reason why stress balls and other desk gadgets are such popular stress reducing products – they really work to minimize anxiety and enhance productivity. Take a three-minute break each hour to de-stress with a favorite stress reliever or other anxiety-management desk product, then watch as you work more efficiently and concentrate more effectively throughout the day.

Creating a small sanctuary in the workplace isn’t as hard as it sounds. Focus on the aesthetics of your work area, the smells and sounds of your workspace, and the stress-relieving items you choose to keep at arm’s reach. Do so, and you’ll start to feel better almost immediately and kick work stress to the curb!

4 Ways to Relieve Holiday Stress for Marketers

The holidays aren’t always necessarily about limitless joy. If you’re feeling anxious this season, consider some of the stress-killing tactics below.

Best Ways to Relieve Holiday Stress

People often refer to this time of year as the Season of Joy, or a time to be merry, but for some of us, especially marketers, the holiday season is a stressful time of year that isn’t quite as fun as all those holiday commercials indicate. There are deadlines to be met, clients to satisfy, and next quarter planning to be done. This all must be done before everyone goes on holiday vacation, so there is typically an even bigger crunch for time.

If you are feeling anxious about the holidays, consider the following holiday stress tips to minimize any negative feelings you may be having. Then, get into the holiday spirit so you can better enjoy time with your friends, family, and all the social activities on your calendar!

Holiday Stress Tip 1: Exercise

One of the most effective ways to skip the holiday blues and enjoy this joyful time of year is to get your body moving. Take a 10- or 15-minute break every day for a brisk walk, hit the treadmill before work, or even go for an indoor swim to raise your spirits and elevate your mood. Even if you can’t get away from your desk while at work, you can work out your arm (and any of your frustrations) with a soft stress ball. Anything to get your body moving will help minimize sensations of anger, frustration, and fatigue.

Holiday Stress Tip 2: Watch your food intake

It is so tempting to grab snack foods and sugary treats during the holidays (the breakroom is usually full of them) but try to resist! Yes, many of us tend to use the winter season as an excuse for poor eating, but empty-calorie foods and sugary sweets can cause energy crashes and don’t contribute to a sense of well-being. Instead, try to consume more vegetables and fruit than you normally do. Then, incorporate lean proteins and healthy fats to round out your diet and cut down on the holiday stress (or guilt). It is amazing what a healthy meal can do for your sense of wellness.

Holiday Stress Tip 3: Plan ahead

The holiday season is often characterized as an idyllic time in which to spend with family around the fire, swapping stories, exchanging presents, and eating delicious home-cooked meals. In reality, the holidays can be a logistics nightmare – requiring you to plan for extra busy times at work, balance visiting family members, elaborate food preparation duties, crazy shopping malls and expensive gift lists, and more. To help minimize stress this holiday season, consider ordering a desk calendar to more easily plan and execute your holiday strategy. Writing out lists and reminders is often helpful to feel organized and in control during the hectic holidays.

Holiday Stress Tip 4: Be generous

You can send customized gifts to your business relationships to solidify your commitment to them. It’s the season of giving, and the smallest kind gesture can automatically make you feel happier and calmer. Also, instead of fighting to create the perfect holiday experience for everyone on your list, simply approach each day by asking, “How can I be more generous to those in my life?” This doesn’t mean spending a ton of money on gifts or overdoing the holiday experience. Instead, create something personalized or creative that can show those around you how much they mean to you.

This festive season, don’t let holiday stress and anxiety take all the fun out of what is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. Get moving, eat right, plan ahead, and act generously, and you’ll bring a sense of levity and fun to the months ahead!

One Week Until Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday

 

If you’re a small business owner and haven’t yet prepared for the upcoming Small Business Saturday (SBS) event on November 26th, you shouldn’t count yourself out. Sure, it pays to begin the planning process a few months ahead of time, but you’ll effectively pull this SBS off by considering some of these last-minute marketing tactics that have proven effective over the past several years. Consumers spend an average of $15 billion on this important day of the year for small businesses – will you get a piece of the action?

Below are 5 tips to prepare for next week’s Small Business Saturday!

Create an Offer and Push It

Use your social media pages to connect with your existing fan base and valuable prospects, then deliver a Small Business Saturday offer they can’t refuse. Becuase social media topics and messages tend to spread like wildfire, this medium can help you overcome a lack of time. Make the offer unique or truly advantageous for the shopper, then get it promoted immediately.

Ensure You’re Staffed with the Best

While this may seem obvious, you absolutely must staff your business (whether it’s e-commerce or a physical location) with individuals who are customer experience focused and will help you earn repeat business. Small Business Saturday isn’t about a one-day sales extravaganza. Rather, it’s all about creating new connections with clients who will hopefully become repeat customers. Arm shoppers with customized tote bags to use while in the store and/or to take with them as they go.

Get on the SBS Map

Maximize your business’ visibility during this important event. Go to the American Express website and add yourself to their map of businesses participating in Small Business Saturday. Then, head on over to Google My Business and register your company right away. You’ll start to appear on computers and mobile devices as potential clients search for relevant companies in the area.

Create a Blog Post

Provided you’ve already invested some time creating an online/social media profile, you’ll want to get a blog post out to promote the event. Link to the American Express Small Business Saturday page to add some weight to the event. Then, post about the history of the day and how important small businesses are to the national economy. You can even include the promise of a gift within the blog post – have the reader bring you a screenshot of the post and then offer them a $10 gift card back on any $100 purchase, or $25 on a $250 buy. They’ll likely spend the gift card with you, anyway.

Host a Holiday Open House

Plan a small event in your store or business with holiday sales, treats, and drinks for guests to enjoy while they shop. Put together simple gift bags filled with homemade cookies, bite-size candies, or a mason jar filled with ingredients for hot cocoa for the first 50 shoppers.

There are just a few days left until Small Business Saturday, so get your business ready, your inventory stocked, your employees prepped, and your marketing out there – and make it a great holiday season!

The Benefits of Handwriting vs. Typing [Infographic]

Handwriting Vs Typing

With our smartphones and laptops, we’re typing on keyboards more frequently than writing by hand. Typing has become our go-to method of writing for everything, from work emails to personal to-do lists. While typing may be faster and more convenient, research shows handwriting has its own unique advantages.

So, if you’re an avid typist, do yourself a favor and take a look at these key benefits of handwriting vs. typing. Pick up a pad of paper and pen to take some handwritten notes!

Read More…

Effective Memory Recall

Though a little more time consuming, there are many benefits of handwriting your notes. Longhand notes allow for better short- and long-term memory recall because they contain your own words and handwriting. These can serve as effective memory cues by recreating the context and content from the original lecture or meeting.

When you write things out, you create spatial relations between each bit of information you’re recording. Handwriting activates parts of your brain involved in thinking and working memory, and allows you to store and manage information. The movement associated with the pen and your hand can help you encode and retain information long-term.

Sharpened Critical Thinking

Comparing handwriting vs. typing, you’re more exposed to critical thinking when you write by hand than when you type. Handwriting allows you to think more thoroughly about the information you’re recording. It encourages you to expand upon your thoughts and form connections between them. This can be further enhanced by using different colored pen types as a color-coding system to organize thoughts and form more connections.

Strong writers can identify relationships between abstract ideas and also develop unconventional solutions to complex problems. If you do not write regularly, it may be more difficult to extract meaning from text and interpret the context of words and phrases.

Stronger Conceptual Understanding

When you write your notes by hand, you develop a stronger conceptual understanding than by typing. Since handwriting is slower and more tedious, it makes it harder to take notes verbatim. Therefore you have to actually process the information and summarize it in a way that makes sense for you.

This illustrates one of the other benefits of handwriting vs. typing. Handwriting forces your brain to mentally engage with the information, improving both literacy and reading comprehension. On the other hand, typing encourages verbatim notes without giving much thought to the information. This mindless transcription can lead to a lack of meaningful understanding and application of the information, although you may be able to type more words quickly.

Finding Your Pen Types for Handwriting

Handwriting is a neurosensory exercise, so it’s important to choose the pen types that fit your writing style and needs. Stylizing your handwritten notes gives you a chance to further analyze and organize thoughts and ideas to make note taking more efficient and personalized.

Five of the most popular pen types include:

Ballpoint Pens – the perfect solution for those looking for a no-frills pen that’s both easy and accessible to use.
Rollerball Pens – offer consistent ink flow with a variety of styles and point-sizes. Rollerball pens are great for those who want variation but still expect dependability.
Marker Pens – ideal for people who want a versatile pen for more than just writing. Typically marker pens are available in multiple pen tip sizes.
Gel Pens – designed for the bold and the creative, gel pens provide a smooth writing experience with eye-catching colors and effects.
Stylus Pens – combine tech with traditional writing. Stylus pens are an all-in-one solution for people who like writing by hand, but want the digital convenience associated with typing.

The benefits of handwriting don’t stop at more efficient and effective note taking – handwriting also allows you to take a deeper look at your personality. Now that you know more about handwriting vs. typing, see what your handwriting says about you! View our What Does Your Handwriting Say About You? infographic.

Benefits of handwriting vs typing

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National Handwriting Day is “Write” Around the Corner!

As keyboards and touchscreens continue to dominate our daily lives, the handwritten word has become something of an artform

handwriting penFor almost forty years now, National Handwriting Day has been observed on the 23rd of every January – and it was originally created to firmly emphasize the importance of the handwritten word.

Imagine how the world changed in the 1970s, as the introduction of the microprocessor led to the adoption of early compact business computers in the workplace. Computers became a viable office tool in 1977, when the first purpose-built microcomputers came to market. Interestingly enough, this was the first year that we celebrated National Handwriting Day. Every year since 1977, individuals from around the nation have recognized this day as a celebration of all things handwritten.

Why January 23rd?

Ask someone for their “John Hancock” and they’ll likely know that you’re asking for their signature. Hancock is remembered for many achievements, but his stylish and oversized signature on the Declaration of Independence is probably his most famous mark on history. Since his signature is such a memorable mark on this historical document, the founders of National Handwriting Day decided that January 23rd – Hancock’s birthday, would be the ideal day to celebrate all things handwritten.

What’s so important about handwriting?

Though electronic means of communication have improved the speed and accuracy with which we communicate, there is no replacement for the written word when it comes to conveying emotion. You’d never see a husband typing up a Valentine’s card for his lovely spouse, as the care taken in crafting the words on the card is a part of the emotional message. And, there’s a reason why emoticons and other graphic icons have become so popular in electronic communications today – there is a real need to delineate emotion that cannot be extracted from an electronic message. Simply put, handwriting conveys emotion and character in ways that a typed message never could.

What does your handwriting say about you?

On National Handwriting Day, take a moment to analyze your own handwriting. After all, there is a lot that you can learn about yourself by investigating the way you swoop your “e’s,” how large you write your “I’s,” and whether you leave much space between words.

For an in-depth and intriguing look at some of the psychological factors that correlate to an individual’s handwriting sample, view this infographic from National Pen, entitled What Does Your Handwriting Say About You?

Support the handwritten word – and your business!

To effectively promote your business and drive greater awareness of your brand, consider promotional marketing gifts that combine real world utility with an affordable price point. Writing pens make incredibly effective gifts, as they will see frequent use, can be used by virtually anyone, and cost pennies on the dollar for each unit.

On National Handwriting Day, add a batch of customizable writing pens to your marketing toolkit and you’ll shine a spotlight on your brand and drive sales to your organization. To make it even easier, take advantage of National Pen’s promotional offer – 15% on all pens when you use coupon code 15OFFPENS. This National Handwriting Day, take your business to the next level by delivering high quality writing pens at discounted prices – only from National Pen.

Top Marketing Fails [SlideShare]

Many companies find that their marketing message gets “lost in translation” during international ad campaigns

It can happen to anyone. You’re having a conversation with someone from another part of the country – or maybe even from another nation entirely, and you say something that really makes him or her gasp. What an odd reaction, you say; until you realize that what you were trying to say didn’t translate with the intended meaning. Major corporations around the world have also encountered these types of communication failures – the kind that cause marketing managers to shake their heads in disbelief and customers to question the motives of those in charge of the ads.

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Sometimes, marketing issues arise due to an incorrect translation between an English-speaking company and their international audience. Just ask Pepsi. Their international campaign targeted at the Republic of China touted that “Pepsi brings you back to life!” In China, this translated to “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the dead!” It is curious that a company as large and savvy as Pepsi wouldn’t ask for a consultation from a Chinese language or culture expert before launching a major ad campaign that promised to resurrect the dead.

Other companies have suffered similar marketing failures, especially those who have tried to jump all over the popularity of newsworthy world events. Kenneth Cole, the great, Brooklyn-based purveyor of trendy clothes and fashion accessories, decided to piggyback on the tumultuous events of the Arab Spring uprising in 2011 by tweeting “Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online — KC.” With people dying in the streets and a nation facing severe political unrest, it was obviously considered in bad taste to make light of such a serious situation.

Several other companies, from Chevrolet to Gerber Baby Food, have committed catastrophic faux pas through a variety of marketing campaigns. Many marketing fails have resulted in absolutely hilarious situations – some of them providing lessons and insights into international customs and traditions that don’t end up aligning with Western marketing ploys. Others have emerged as truly insensitive or narrow-minded marketing activities that have tarnished the reputation of several well-known companies.

Whatever the result, there is a seemingly endless list of companies who have committed serious marketing fails over the past few decades. Here is a SlideShare of eight of the top marketing failures that demonstrate just how easy it is for an honest marketing message to get lost in translation – or for a company to offend millions via a simple Tweet.

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<iframe src=”http://www.slideshare.net/slideshow/embed_code/30588013″ width=”427″ height=”356″ frameborder=”0″ marginwidth=”0″ marginheight=”0″ scrolling=”no” style=”border:1px solid #CCC; border-width:1px 1px 0; margin-bottom:5px; max-width: 100%;” allowfullscreen></iframe><div style=”margin-bottom:5px”><strong><a href=”http://198.73.32.151/top-marketing-fails-slideshare/?utm_source=contentmarketing&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=marketingfailsslideshare” target=”_blank”>Top Marketing Fails [Slide Share]</a> </strong> from <strong><a href=”http://www.pens.com/” target=”_blank”>National Pen</a></strong></div>