5 Tips for Spring Cleaning Your Office

Does the spring in your step turn to a slow shuffle when you get to the office and see all the clutter?  If so, now's the perfect time to tackle the mess.  Not only will you find that a clean workspace improves your peace of mind, but you'll also love how it boosts your productivity.  Read on to learn our top tips for spring cleaning your office:

  1. Set Time Aside.  Rather than haphazardly tackling your office when you have a few minutes to spare, set aside time on your calendar for the task.  By doing so, you'll be less likely to leave the job half-finished.

  2. Create a Filing System.  Cluttered offices usually have mounds of papers everywhere.  If you have a filing system, take the time to sort through your paperwork and file things in the correct location.  If you don't have a filing system, use this time to create one.

  3. Shred When Possible.  Nowadays, virtually everything is available electronically.  If you discover paperwork you don't need a hard copy of, shred it.

  4. Stick to the Essentials.  Rather than keeping everything you may possibly need throughout the workday in arm's reach, limit items on your desk to just the essentials.  Typically, that includes your monitor, keyboard, pens, telephone, and a notebook.  You can display personal items if you want, but we recommend you limit them to just a couple of things—an excessive amount of personal items can still make a workspace appear cluttered.

  5. Grab the Cleaning Supplies.  If you're like most of us, your monitor could use a cleaning, and your keyboard probably has a few crumbs nestled between the keys.  After turning off your computer, take the time to wipe down your monitor with screen cleaning wipes.  Eliminate dust (and those cookie crumbs) by spraying compressed air between the keys.  For the gunk that's stuck to your keyboard, use a soft-bristled toothbrush or a slightly dampened swab to rub the area gently.

And there you have it--a clean office that will put the spring back into your step!

Spring Forward: 5 Tips to Prepare for Daylight Saving Time (DST)

While most of us appreciate the extra hour of sunlight we get after Daylight Saving Time begins, none of us enjoy the grogginess associated with a time change.  To help you handle your new sleep schedule like a pro, we've got 5 Daylight Saving Time tips:

  1. Change your Clocks.  Obviously, you need to change your clocks before you go to bed on Saturday the 11th, but we're recommending that you actually turn one clock back 15 minutes each day in the days leading up to the official time change.  By slowly getting your body adjusted to incrementally earlier sleeping and waking times, you'll minimize any disruption caused by Daylight Saving Time.

  2. Lay Off the Caffeine and Alcohol.  Both of these substances interfere with sleep patterns.  To prevent any sleeping problems, avoid drinking coffee, beer, or wine before bedtime.

  3. Hit the Gym.  People who exercise regularly throughout the week experience a 65% improvement in the quality of their sleep.  To prepare for Daylight Saving Time, go on a walk, get on the StairMaster, or pump some iron.  Not only will you sleep better, but you'll improve your physical health as well.  Just avoid exercising late at night—it can be overstimulating, having a detrimental effect to sleep.

  4. Don't Overdo Napping.  Napping on Sunday is fine if you want to make up for lost sleep.  However, be smart about it.  Rather than planning a long nap for late afternoon, keep your nap to just 20 minutes and aim to do it earlier in the day.

  5. Get Enough Sleep.  All too often, adults shortchange themselves on sleep.  Plan to get at least 7-9 hours a night, which is the National Sleep Foundation's recommendation for adults.  By doing so, you'll feel alert and refreshed, regardless of the time change.

How Do I Know My Business Idea Is A Good One? 4 Ways to Tell

Are you wondering if you could make a killing by launching your idea for a business?  If so, you probably want to know how good the idea really is but may not know where to begin.  We've got the answers right here.  Read on to learn 4 ways to tell if you should proceed with your idea.

  1. Is Your Idea Unique?  Chances are good you have a restaurant location in your neighborhood that's changed names and ownership many times over the years.  That's because the restaurant industry is historically a tough one to succeed in—with so many food service competitors, it's difficult to stand out.  Which brings us to your idea—is it unique?  Is it something that others can easily copy?  If it can be easily copied, can you get patents and trademarks to protect it?  Successful ideas bring copycat competitors so ideally, your idea is one that's unique and difficult to imitate.

  2. Does It Solve a Problem?  Some of the most successful business ideas solve unique problems.  If you've identified a problem—and developed an innovative solution—consider that an indication your business idea may be worth pursuing.

  3. What Do People You Trust Think?  Have you shared your idea with people you respect and asked for their honest feedback?  What do they think about it?  Is it a product or service they'd be interested in?  Why or why not?  By gauging people's reactions to your idea, you'll be better able to assess its likelihood of success.

  4. Will People Pay What It Takes to Bring Your Product to Market?  You don't want to develop a $20 product to fix a $1 problem.  Try to determine roughly what it would cost to make your product and what you'd have to charge to make a profit.  Use this information to determine whether the projected price would be too high for the average consumer.  

3 Tips to Help You Worry Less

Does your mind frequently drift to catastrophic scenarios?  Do you often find yourself ruminating over what could go wrong?  Do you have trouble relaxing and trusting that things will work themselves out for the best?  If so, read on to learn our tips to minimize worrying:

  1. Put Things Into Perspective.  Oftentimes, our worries represent exaggerated fears.  For instance, a headache means we must have brain cancer or a challenging assignment at work means the boss is looking for an excuse to fire us.  Rather than allowing yourself to dwell on worst case scenarios, remind yourself that nothing is happening now and that 9 times out of 10, the worst things we imagine never actually happen.  If it's difficult to see things from this perspective, enlist a positive friend to help.

  2. Procrastinate.  Sometimes it can be difficult to let a particularly worrisome thought go i.e. “If I don't worry about this, I won't be prepared if it happens.”  However, continuous worrying is not only unpleasant, it's also been shown to have a detrimental impact on our health.  If you find it hard to stop worrying, schedule a time for it.  For instance, you might say to yourself, “I'll only worry about my job when I'm in the shower.”  While it may seem silly, setting aside a time to worry means that rather than ruminating all throughout the day, you've limited yourself to just 10 minutes.  Not only will less time spent worrying improve your outlook, but you'll also find that once you jump in the shower, the temptation to worry has often passed.

  3. Acknowledge Your Strengths.  We often worry, because we don't trust our ability to cope with difficult experiences.  Rather than dwell on worrisome outcomes that you have little control over, remind yourself often of the challenges you've successfully overcome in your life.  Whether you've navigated your way through a difficult divorce or learned to play the piano, you have skills and abilities that have steered you through challenges before.  By focusing on these—rather than potential problems—you'll begin to feel capable of handling whatever the future holds.

Fun Facts about Presidents

Happy President’s Day!  In honor of the national holiday, we wanted to share with you some fun facts about our past presidents:

  • Ironically, Independence Day has not fared well for our former presidents.  James Monroe—the nation’s 5th president—was the 3rd president to die on July 4th.

  • Today, it would be unthinkable to imagine a President sneaking in a nude swim—imagine how quickly that video would go viral.  Yet one of our former presidents was a regular skinny dipper.  John Quincy Adams liked to spend his mornings skinny dipping in the Potomac River.

  • The White House wasn’t always called the White House.  Until Roosevelt officially named it the White House in 1901, it was commonly referred to as the President’s Palace, President’s House, and Executive Mansion.

  • James A. Garfield had a very unusual talent.  Reportedly, he could write with both hands at the same time in different languages!

  • Benjamin Harrison was president when electricity was first installed in the White House.  However, he feared being electrocuted and refused to touch the light switches.

  • Rutherford B. Hayes struggled with lyssophobia as a young man.  Haven’t heard of it?  It’s a fear of going insane.

  • Charles Guiteau shot President Garfield with a .44-caliber pistol called a British Bulldog.  He said that he chose that gun because he believed that one day, it would look good on display in a museum.  Ironically, the whereabouts of the gun today are unknown.

  • JFK’s father gave him a pretty underwhelming recommendation when he applied to Harvard.  His dad characterized his son by saying that JFK Jr. was “careless and lacks application.”

  • Andrew Jackson was said to have fought in nearly 100 duels, most of them involving the honor of his wife, Rachel.  Surprisingly, although he was shot multiple times, his dueling was not the cause of his death.  He died from a combination of tuberculosis, dropsy, and heart failure.