10 Simple Productivity Tips for Organizing Your Work Life By: DAVID LAVENDA

Productivity is all about efficiency — doing more, faster and with less. And with increasing demands from today’s anytime, anywhere workplace, it is has never been more important. To get the most out of your day, you need to focus on these three segments of your life:

Humans are notoriously poor multitaskers, so managing your time is critical to improving productivity. The biggest time suck is unexpected (and usually unimportant) tasks. We all know that urge to read the email that just came in or to peek at the latest notification to pop up — an inclination psychologist Daniel Levitan, author of The Organized Mind, calls the novelty bias. This unintentional task-switching eats up more time than you might think. University of California information scientist Gloria Mark found that it takes an average of 26 minutes to recover from trivial interruptions. To avoid this, plan out your day and compartmentalize unexpected interruptions:

1. Start the day with structured ‘me time’: Go through email and social media updates that have piled up overnight and triage the backlog. Knock out quick responses and referrals, so other people can start working on tasks. Schedule the bigger tasks. And delete the stuff that is informational or not important.

2. Use commute time to complete coordination tasks: It’s crazy not to use commute time to winnow out time-intensive tasks. During my morning commute, I do a roundup of my external consultants — getting an update on open projects and finding out if they need assistance. By the time I arrive at the office, I have an accurate picture of my projects’ status.

3. Reduce all meeting times by 25 percent: You will get the same amount of work done, because so much time is wasted dealing with conference call setup and useless banter. (See this humorous video for a demonstration.) If you cut one five-person meeting per day from one hour down to 45 minutes, you will gain back 25 hours a month of work time. That’s roughly 300 hours a year — almost two months of work!

4. Schedule regular breaks during the day: Running from back-to-back meetings is not productive, because you get tired and lose focus. Block off time in your calendar and take breaks. Making these breaks a routine increases predictability, creating a regular schedule to keep your mind organized. If you can afford it, take a 10- to 20-minute power nap after lunch, too.

“Space” refers to your environment — your office locale as well as to your virtual space. Workspace may not be the final frontier, but it is an important element for increasing work productivity. Here are a few space-related tips:

5. Work ‘offsite’ when it makes sense: When you need to write a document or research a topic, the absence of office interruptions will improve concentration. Some companies are finding that letting employees work from home has other advantages including reduced commute time, shorter lunch times and fewer sick days. See how you can apply documented strategies from Chinese travel site Ctrip, the AIIM and WordPress to your own work environment.

6. Consolidate the number of places you need to go for information: There are too many apps to navigate — email, microblogging tools like Yammer, chat tools like Lync, social media utilities like Twitter and LinkedIn and operational systems like SAP, Oracle and Salesforce. Make notifications from each application appear in one place.

7. Switch off popup notifications on mobile devices and on desktop: Don’t let applications interrupt your concentration with annoying popup messages. Shut them off. Now. And limit checking your email to set times during the day. You won’t regret it.

Put yourself in a position where you can focus on doing the right task for the moment:

8. Converse, don’t email: Pick up the phone or walk down the hall and talk directly to colleagues. For geographically remote folks, use chat. You can give precise direction and clear up misunderstandings quickly. The amount of time wasted perpetuating endless email threads is mindboggling — and the pointless mistakes generated.

9. Chop up big problems into smaller chunks: This will reduce the feeling of overload and the procrastination associated with taking on big jobs. One practical way to do this is to adopt Agile techniques for managing your work tasks. Born in the software development world, Agile’s big contribution to task management is breaking big jobs down into short sprints. Having a solution in hand throughout the process reduces the anxiety of tackling big jobs.

10. Use checklists for repetitive tasks to reduce errors: Particularly when you are overworked or are operating under time constraints, checklists keep you on track. For an excellent guide for using checklists, take a look at Atul Gawande’s The Checklist Manifesto.

Article found at: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/242359

When should you buy new office furniture? By Business.com Editorial Staff

There comes a time in the life of every business owner when she must ask the question, “When should I buy new office furniture?” Let us…

There comes a time in the life of every business owner when she must ask the question, “When should I buy new office furniture?”

Maybe the business is moving to a new building, or maybe you’d like to encourage more collaboration with an open office plan, or maybe your old furniture is on its last legs (literally) and it’s time to move on.

Luckily, there are options. Old furniture can be refurbished and re-purposed and new and used furniture can be added to the mix. To help out with your decision making, we weighed in on the benefits of buying new furniture vs. the benefits of repurposing your old furniture:
Benefits of Buying New Office Furniture

It’s a great chance to freshen up a dated office: If your business opened its doors in the 1970s when avocado green and burnt sienna were all the rage and your employees are complaining their desks are giving them splinters, it’s definitely time for an update. New office furniture is easier to install and reconfigure as your office changes or grows, and it’s more technology friendly, with built-in cabling and charging stations. New and contemporary furniture shows customers and clients that you are forward thinking.
It shows customers that you’re sticking around: To be sure, buying new furniture is a big investment. But nothing reassures a new client more about your plans for future growth and your confidence in your business quite like a big investment.
It’s more ergonomically friendly: The lowly office chair has come a long way over the years — from a squeaky-wheeled, back breaker to a lumbar-supporting, perfect-arm-resting seat of productivity. Show your employees you care about their long-term health by investing in seating that won’t leave them with a sore neck come 5 o’clock.
It has a warranty: Chances are if a leg falls off of a table or an armrest breaks on a chair, you’re the one who has to fix it. Purchasing new office furniture means you can take advantage of a warranty that allows you to call on the manufacturer to repair any broken parts and pieces, leaving you more time for other problems — like all those complaints about how the office is colder than the Arctic tundra.
It’s tax deductible: For small businesses, the cost of your office supplies (including furniture) is tax deductible. These expenses can either be deducted in the first year (up to a certain amount) or depreciated.
The Benefits of Repurposing Old Office Furniture

It saves money: The most obvious reason to stick with your old furniture is the cost savings. New workstations without a lot of frills can cost between $1,000-$5,000 per station — and can run more than $10,000 per station the more space and storage you need. A company with just 100 employees can easily spend more than $100,000 on new furniture alone.
It’s good for the environment: These days, the word “sustainable” is like the nectar of the gods for businesses (not to mention the Earth). The EPA estimates that 3 million tons of office furniture ends up in landfills each year. Repurposing your office furniture shows that your company is committed to reducing waste and decreasing its carbon footprint because you won’t need the raw materials or energy required to produce new furniture.
It’s better for your health: Most furniture is manufactured using Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), which are released in the air in the form of gas throughout the lifetime of the furniture — the newer the furniture, the higher the VOC levels. According to the EPA, exposure to VOCs can lead to eye, nose, and throat irritation; loss of coordination; nausea; and damage to the liver, kidney and central nervous system.
It can get you LEED points: If you’re working toward LEED certification, repurposing furniture will give you points in the categories of waste management, materials and resource reuse, and recycled content. In addition, you can get credit toward improved environmental quality for using pieces that have lowered VOC emissions.
It can be freshened up: If your old office furniture is, how shall we say, tired, there’s no reason to give up on it completely. Chairs and couches can be reupholstered, wooden pieces can be sanded and refinished and everything from squeaky chairs to tilting tables can be repaired. Office furniture was built to last — so make sure you get all the miles you can out of it and more.

Original post: https://www.business.com/articles/when-should-you-buy-new-office-furniture/

Office Chair Buying Guide – By: Saundra Latham

The best office chair has:
Several adjustable features. If you’ll be in your office chair for much of the day, you should be able to control your seat height, backrest tilt and armrest height; for other tips on minimizing pain, see Spine-Health.com’s handy checklist.
Appropriate weight capacity and seat size. Most chairs are adjustable enough to accommodate a variety of shapes and sizes, but workers with smaller or larger frames should see whether there are special versions that will better suit them.
Comfortable, durable upholstery. Regardless of upholstery type, a chair should allow for at least some airflow and resist stains. Stitching should hold up to wear and tear, and seams should be placed where they won’t irritate skin.
A solid warranty. Office chairs have to stand up to daily abuse, and companies should stand behind the product with a fair, straightforward warranty — the longer and more inclusive the better, particularly for high-end models. Some warranties may not cover standard wear and tear, while others are more generous.
Know before you go
Try before you buy. Choosing the best chair will take more than a few minutes on a showroom floor. Check the retailer’s return policy; you may be able to test the chair for a couple of weeks and send it back if it’s not the right pick.

How often will you use the chair? If you’re going to spend hours in your office chair without a break, it makes more sense to splurge on a chair with as many ergonomic adjustments as possible. If you’re buying for a home office that you may only use an hour or two every day, other factors such as budget and style might influence your decision as much (or more) than adjustability.

What kind of work will you be doing? If you’ll be moving around a lot, or you work in a highly collaborative space, you may want a smooth-rolling, scuff-resistant task chair with a smaller footprint. Arms might not be necessary, and you may not need very plush padding if you won’t be sitting for long periods. However, if you’ll be sitting in front of a computer without many breaks, you’ll want a deeper seat with a higher back and lumbar support to ward off aches and pains.

How do you prefer to sit? If you tend to lean forward, certain task chairs that allow a more forward tilt might be a wise pick. On the other hand, if you like to recline while working, you’ll want to check your chair’s tilt limiter to make sure it allows for your preferred range of motion. If you prefer an unconventional position, such as cross-legged with a keyboard in your lap, you’ll want a chair with width- and depth-adjustable armrests that won’t get in your way.

Do you have existing aches and pains? If your lower back gets sore, make sure your chair has adjustable lumbar support. If you’re prone to aching legs, make sure the seat has a sloped front (sometimes called a “waterfall edge”) to allow adequate blood circulation — and be sure your feet can comfortably rest flat on the floor. However, keep in mind that while a good chair can keep pain to a minimum, no chair can cure chronic pain — and experts agree that it’s best to alternate long periods of sitting with standing or walking around. You may even benefit from a standing or walking desk, both of which we cover in our separate report on standing desks.

Does your workspace have solid floors or carpet? Most casters will roll smoothly on hard surfaces, but that might not be the case with carpet. You may want to consider a chair mat in that case — it will also save your carpet.

Consider your upholstery choices. Mesh promotes airflow and helps keep you cool — potentially a good pick if you sit for hours at a time. Leather can offer a plush, luxurious feel, but it can also retain body heat. Vinyl is easier to clean than leather, but has the same breathability problem. Fabric is comfy for most, but is also most prone to stains. Higher-end fabrics will likely be more breathable and stain-repellent, however.

Buying tactics and strategies
While a large employer might view costly office chairs as a necessary investment, it’s harder for individuals to stomach higher price tags. One way to snag a quality chair for less? Buy used. While sites like Craigslist might be worth a look, also check office furniture outlets or liquidators. These resellers buy retailers’ excess stock and used chairs from defunct businesses, and they’re likely to have a better variety than you’ll find using person-to-person classifieds. Just be sure to check out any used chair thoroughly, testing all functions and examining parts and upholstery for excess wear. Sticking to well-known models will also make it easier to order a spare part if the need arises.


Sit to Stand Benefits

I’ve been itching to get a standing desk. After all, America’s sitting itself into an early grave. Sitting is the new smoking. Clearly, a standing desk would stop me from sitting, and standing is just so much better for you than sitting, right?

Contrary to popular belief, science does not say so.

Too much sitting increases heart failure risk and disability risk, and shortens life expectancy, studies have found. But according to an analysis published Wednesday of 20 of the best studies done so far, there’s little evidence that workplace interventions like the sit-stand desk or even the flashier pedaling or treadmill desks will help you burn lots more calories, or prevent or reverse the harm of sitting for hours on end.

“What we actually found is that most of it is, very much, just fashionable and not proven good for your health,” says Dr. Jos Verbeek, a health researcher at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.

Verbeek says that the studies he and his co-authors analyzed came to conflicting conclusions about whether sit-stand desks reduce sitting time. Even the best research available wasn’t great, the researchers write in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. The studies were either too small to be significant, the scientists say, or were poorly designed. For example, most were not randomized controlled trials, and the longest study followed participants for only six months.

In fact, there isn’t really any evidence that standing is better than sitting, Verbeek adds. The extra calories you burn from standing over sitting for a day are barely enough to cover a couple of banana chips.

“The idea you should be standing four hours a day? There’s no real evidence for that,” he says. “I would say that there’s evidence that standing can be bad for your health.” A 2005 study in Denmark showed prolonged standing at work led to a higher hospitalization risk for enlarged veins.

But standing doesn’t have to be harmful, says Lucas Carr, a behavioral medicine professor at the University of Iowa who was not involved in the meta-analysis. He thinks as long as you stand in moderation, you can still reap some benefits.

“The health benefits of standing are not well-known,” Carr agrees. “But you’re going to burn more calories standing than sitting. I know it’s not a tremendous amount.” Still, he says, “those calories every day over many years will add up.”

Carr says the finding of the Cochrane review doesn’t mean that standing desks and variations are useless. It just means there hasn’t been enough study of the desks to say either way. “The state of the science is definitely early,” he says. “There needs to be longer studies with more people to get a good sense these desks actually cause people to stand.”

Carr thinks there is the the potential for sit-stand desks to prove useful in preventing healthy office workers from becoming unhealthy. Verbeek is less optimistic. Just because the standing desk or the pedaling desk is in the cubicle doesn’t mean people will get out of the chair and use it.

“Changing behavior is very difficult,” Verbeek says.

He thinks redesigning work environments might be a better way to go. “For example, organize a printer in the corridor that’s further away from your desk,” he says. Or — and architects can have this one for free — make the one bathroom five flights of stairs up, and restrict use of elevators to people with accessibility needs.

Original posting: http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/03/17/470713717/stand-to-work-if-you-like-but-dont-brag-about-its-benefits

Steelcase bets on the connected office with Microsoft partnership

GRAND RAPIDS — Steelcase Inc. has partnered with a global tech firm to capitalize on the growing market for connected devices in the office.

After years of increasing the technological content in the modern office, Grand Rapids-based Steelcase (NYSE: SCS) has created five office layouts — dubbed “Creative Spaces” — that integrate Microsoft Corp.’s Surface devices.

“As a company, we see the future is going to involve more smart and connected things that can augment the way that people go about their daily lives,” said Sara Armbruster, vice president of strategy, research and new business innovation. “We’ve been thinking really hard about how a smart and connected office can support people in accomplishing their goals in a number of ways, at work, in health care environments, in educational settings. I would say that Steelcase was already on the path of thinking about this exciting new feature of the workplace, even before we began discussing the opportunity with Microsoft. But obviously, there is a lot there that we found we had in common to dig into.”

Read full article, by John Wiegand, at MiBiz.com.

Partners in Green

At Total Office Online, we care about the environment. We partner with suppliers, such as Friant, who feel the same.

At Friant, they look for ways to be greener by being smarter. For example, they wrap pallets to minimize packing space and fuel costs for deliveries. The LED-sensory lights in their warehouse and factories save energy by working only when needed. They’ve even found a way to use 40% more fabric from each roll, resulting in less landfill waste. All these things don’t just make Friant greener, they make them smarter.