10 Easy Stretches You Can Do At The Office

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Stretching-at-WorkEven if you’re working in a home office or co-working space environment, you’re still working with your physical body, and that can cause tension. When working in an office, it’s important to stay active and get up from the desk now and then. Here are ten great stretches you can do to work out the knots and get the blood circulating! Remember to breathe throughout all of these stretches for maximum benefit and to prevent injury.

Suits You to a T

Stand with your feet slightly apart and without locking your knees. Raise your arms straight out from your sides, level with your shoulders, like a letter T. Imagine your arms being pulled out to their full length, in opposite directions. For a great nerve stretch, flex your fingers gently upward while keeping your palms facing down. Let your whole body be relaxed but stay stretched and tall throughout this exercise.

Reach for the Floor

Stand with feet slightly apart and without locking your knees. Inhale, and on the exhale, bend forward and reach for the floor. Don’t worry if you can’t touch the floor — this is about feeling good, not criticizing yourself. Let yourself “hang” in that position for a few seconds while breathing normally. Come up slowly and repeat if desired.

Go Ahead — Pull a Face

First, make sure no one is around, because you’re about to make some weird faces and you don’t want to scare anyone! Now, stretch out as many facial muscles as you can, at random. Open your eyes wide, then close and squint hard. Open your mouth as wide as you can. For the rest of the day, be aware of any tension you may be holding in your face, and let your expression be relaxed and peaceful.

Legs Up, Up — and Over!

We usually think of leg lifts as an intense exercise, but they can also be used for deep relaxation. Lie on your back and spend a few seconds breathing and releasing any tension you feel in your body. Lift your legs as far over your head as you can, with your feet flexed (not pointed). If you can, touch the floor with your toes. Stay in that position, breathing and feeling the stretch. Try a very slow descent for a great ab crunch.

Wall of Fame

There are so many ways you can use a wall for stretching and exercise. One is to stand facing the wall, place your palms on the wall and move your feet out about 12 inches or so. Do some gentle pushups against the wall, changing your hand placement to target different muscle groups. For more intensity, simply move the feet further out from the wall. To work on strengthening your fingers and wrists, push up on your fingertips or fists instead of palms.

Be Kind to Your Neck

Lie on the floor, completely relaxed and breathing. Lace your fingers behind your head and gently pull your head up from the floor. With your head still in your hands, gently rotate your head from side to side. Try not to hold any tension in your neck during this exercise — you should be limp like a rag doll.

Do the Twist

For this one, you can stay in your chair. Keep your lower torso facing forward, and twist your upper torso around as far as you can, to one side and then the other. Hold yourself in the twisted position and breathe deeply before returning to neutral.

Help For Hardworking Hands

Give yourself little hand massages throughout the day, especially if you do a lot of typing. Push into all the muscles of your hand with your opposite thumb. Squeeze each hand all over. Lace your fingers together and squeeze them firmly against each other. Repeatedly splay and contract your fingers and rotate your wrists.

Happy Hamstring Time

To release tension in the lower leg and foot arch, stand facing the wall. Place the pad of your foot on the wall. Gently move yourself closer to the wall until the foot is as flexed as possible and the hamstring is stretched out. Repeat (while breathing!) with the other foot and leg.

Rolling — It’s Not Just For Babies

The benefit to your entire body of simply rolling around cannot be overstated. Begin on your back in the “happy baby” position (holding your feet). Stretch your legs out, then let your go of your feet and simply roll, end over end or log-style. There are no “wrong” rolls as long as you protect your neck. As you roll, be aware of spots that feel good in a particular position, and hold that for a few seconds. It sounds crazy, but you will be amazed at how awake, happy and relaxed you feel after rolling!

In Russian martial arts, there is a saying: “The floor is an honest partner.” You can use your floor, desk and walls combined with only your body weight to create dozens of stretches and exercises right in your own office. Don’t worry what your neighbors think — when they see how good you feel, they’ll want to try it too!

Why Proper Office Lighting Is Key to Productivity

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Why Proper Office Lighting Is Key to ProductivityThe human body is not designed to sit indoors in front of a computer screen for hours on end. A body is meant to enjoy the benefits of outdoor light from the sun. Proper lighting is essential to productivity in the workplace, although proper lighting doesn’t just mean using brighter light bulbs or flicking on more light switches. Office lighting is prehistoric in a lot of ways, and this article discusses how the kind of office lighting can play an integral role in the productivity levels of people working in an office setting.

Clear Vision and the Successful Completion of Projects

According to naturaleyecare.com, “over 100 million people in the United States today use computers” with 50 percent of those people experiencing some eyestrain, headache or other eye condition. With that many people in the office having troubled vision, it would only make sense that there are more errors and omissions in the work that’s being done.

Productivity is boosted by decreasing the amount of errors in work. In addition, by decreasing the likelihood that workers will end up with eyestrain, productivity will naturally flourish. In order to avoid eyestrain in the office, try taking breaks from the computer and finding other important tasks to do. Also, try exercising the eyes by looking back and forth, and by looking further than the computer screen. Another good idea is to trade traditional lighting with full-spectrum lighting, or use full-spectrum lamps by computers.

The Health Benefits of Full-Spectrum Lighting

Full-spectrum lighting offers some of the same benefits that the sunshine offers. A good full spectrum light is designed to replicate the same wavelengths of light that the sun emits, without containing the potentially harmful UVA and UVB of the actual sunshine. The initial expense from trading traditional office lighting for full spectrum lighting can be outweighed by the benefits of greater productivity over the long term.

Studies done by leading scientists in the full spectrum light industry have shown that people can actually experience health benefits beyond that of less eyestrain. Full spectrum light has been shown to reduce stress and fatigue, improve vision, counteract the health concerns of computer monitors, discourage SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), and regulate sleep cycles.

Less Necessity for Break-Time

When people do not have eyestrain, headaches, and fatigue from sitting under poor lighting all day, people feel less of a need to take a break from work. If their health is improved, workers will require less time off work for sick-leave as well.

Poor office lighting leads to reduced productivity, and less productivity is something that every business owner understands well. If workers can be put into an environment that complements their bodies’ natural rhythms, then workers are more likely to be healthy and happy in the workplace, and less likely to feel the need to take excessive breaks and sick-time away from the office. Investigating full spectrum lighting and how it can affect productivity at the office can be a worthwhile use of time for any business owner

How to Bring in New Customers Using Your Company Blog

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How to Bring in New Customers Using Your Company BlogA blog can be an exceptional marketing tool, if used correctly. It can bring readers in from all over the globe, and in the business world a blog is often considered to be the most important part of an online marketing plan. If the blog is the hub of the wheel, for example, then the other web pages are the spokes. Doing things right can be a challenge for a lot of business people. To help out, below are four tips that will simplify the process of blogging for business.

Offer A Freebie

People love deals. They love being treated and they love when they have been given something for free. Many times, businesses can give things away for free which have a lot of value to a customer, but which cost the business only pennies to give away. In addition to the benefit of having a happy future customer, after someone receives something for free, they are much more likely to be a paying customer down the road.

Think of something that can be given away, and trade it online for the customer’s email address. Collecting an email address from a potential customer is like receiving a golden ticket – a ticket to contact them in the future, to build a relationship, and to make a sale. Collect the email address quickly, but then be methodical about contacting prospects. No one likes to give their email address away and then be bombarded with daily emails and sales offers.

Share on Social Media

Getting the word out is vital to a blog’s success. The more people come to the blog, the better the blog will rank in search engines like Google and Yahoo. Every time a new blog post is written, someone should be updating Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest. The updates can say something like, “New blog post! Find out the best way to plant an indoor garden during the winter.” Be sure to add the link to where the blog post can be found. The key is to make the blog simple for people to find on their own, with one tap of their finger.

Be Thoughtful and Original

There is a saying online that “content is king.” Original writing can make or break a blog in terms of search engine ranking. A business should never copy and paste information from other websites into their own website or blog. Simply put, original writing will help build an audience that is more likely to return in the form of paying customers.

Talk about What’s Important

Talk about the things that current customers are interest in. Oftentimes, business people answer the same questions over and over again from different customers. Think about these questions; when a business owner is thinking in terms of what the customer wants to understand, blogging becomes easy. Answer the questions that people are frequently asking. Do some Internet research, link out from the blog post to other relevant articles, and share the things about which the target market is curious.

There are numerous ways for a business to build their presence online, but blogging is vital. Having a blog is like rebuilding a website with every post, and it can play a massive role in product sales and marketing. Doing it right means writing original content, building a respectable brand, driving people from social networks to the blog, collecting email addresses, and interacting with prospects in a respectful manner.Clicky

Nine Signs Entrepreneur Life Is Right For You

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Nine Signs Entrepreneur Life Is Right For YouThe life of an entrepreneur isn’t for everyone. It requires a lot of passion, dedication, and independence. Simply put, it is not for the faint of heart. However, it can be incredibly rewarding when a business idea takes off.

If you are thinking about starting your own business, consider these nine signs that the entrepreneur life is right for you:

  1. You’re a thinker.

Entrepreneurs are always thinking, whether it’s about an exciting idea for a new product or service, or how to innovate in a competitive industry. If you daydream about starting your own business, you would find comfort in finding ways to implement all of your great ideas as an entrepreneur.

  1. You’re organized.

If you’ve always had a penchant for organization, you’re in luck. Being the owner of a business involves tracking and organizing a lot of information, which becomes challenging as you are generally always multitasking. Having a solid foundation of disciplined organizational skills will benefit you greatly, but when it becomes overwhelming, many entrepreneurs find they need a little extra help from other employees, accountants, and receptionists.

  1. You’re a problem solver.

Being an entrepreneur absolutely requires the ability to solve problems. Handling a crisis under pressure with grace and coming up with brilliant solutions is a sure sign that the entrepreneur life is right for you. This demonstrates natural leadership and shows that you won’t just start a business for the sake of starting a business—you’ll create a product or service designed to solve a problem.

  1. You’re self-motivated.

When you start a business, there is no one there to keep you on track, so it is pertinent that you are self-motivated to handle extra responsibilities while managing your own time. With self-motivation, you show a desire to succeed, even when many other people might give up. The ups and downs of owning a startup business are inevitable, but entrepreneurs that are self-motivated have the strength to withstand the rollercoaster and learn to grow from it.

  1. You think you can build a better company.

If you think you could build a better company than what you see in today’s market, you might be right. Confidence is a very important trait in many of today’s most successful entrepreneurs, so don’t be afraid to embrace it. It’s hard to create a successful business if you don’t strongly believe in its purpose. If you have a great idea, back it up with unwavering tenacity.

  1. You like to take risks.

If you are a thrill-seeker that likes to take risks, and you can afford to take those risks, you should seriously consider starting a business. Entrepreneurs are constantly taking a gamble when they start businesses, but with proper planning, you can make success more of a certainty. Besides, you’ll never know how successful your idea can truly be until you put it motion.

  1. You want to take control.

Most entrepreneurs start businesses simply because they want to be their own boss. If you don’t like taking orders from others or simply think that you would make a better leader, you would not be first person to feel liberated by freedom that comes with being an entrepreneur.

  1. You feel like you’ve hit a wall.

Nothing is more frustrating than feeling like you’ve hit a wall with your career. However, if you dream of becoming an entrepreneur, there is always an exit strategy. If you have strong business plan and want to explore your full potential, it may be time to quit your day job and build your own company.

  1. You have an eye for the future.

Successful entrepreneurs that always think of the big picture have a clear vision of the future. Not only is this a sign of strong leadership, it’s also an early indicator of a business’s future success. An eye for the future helps foresee any roadblocks and allows time for smart decision making and strategy.

So, tell us. How did you know the entrepreneur life was right for you?

How To Boost Your Creativity At The Office

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How To Boost Your Creativity At The OfficeMuch research has been conducted to understand how brands can boost creativity at the office. According to researcher Yuri Martens, the performance of today’s brands is becoming increasingly dependant on its ability to be creative; thus, stimulating employee creativity is one of the major focuses of any company. And while no single method is guaranteed to work all the time, there are still actions a business can take to transform its culture into one of free thinking and innovation. Here are 5 tips on how to boost your creativity at the office:

Surround Yourself With Happy Colors & Images

An abundance of charts and grids can lead to restricted thinking as they create the appearance and feeling of structure and rules, leading to closed minds. To encourage thinking freely, put up visually appealing images that inspire mental clarity and happy thoughts, for example, images of nature. Color also plays a significant role in creativity. Light blue boosts mental clarity and stimulates the mind; in contrast, red can spark agression and anxiety and exacerbate negative feelings among workers, says a research report by InformeDesign. Red can also make employees pay more attention to minute details rather than the “bigger picture” — studies show that a balance of both is conducive to higher levels of creativity.

Brainstorm The Right Way

While brainstorming has long been deemed an essential part of idea generation, many companies conduct brainstorming sessions in a way that actually decreases creative output. Brainstorming meetings often suppress original thinking and can actually make each individual less creative in the process. Why? Popular belief holds that being non-critical of group members’ ideas allows ideas to flow more freely; however, as author Jonah Lehrer points out, brainstorming in this way fails precisely because criticism and debate are necessary to generate new ideas. Without a candid discussion of mistakes — why a particular idea just won’t work — employees are less likely to come up with innovative alternatives because every single idea is considered a good one. Pyschologist Charlan Nemeth explains that proper criticism encourages more creativity as members feel the desire to want to improve upon someone else’s idea. In the absence of criticism, everyone is “right” and there is thus no need to push your own creativity to consider unexplored possibilities.

Encourage Interaction & Conversation

As Trend Hunter previously discussed, augmenting interaction and conversation at the office can lead to increased innovation. This is because the free sharing of knowledge, often through unstructured and unfocused conversations, can lead you to come up with more creative ideas and solutions. Change your office’s physical setup so that there are less private workspaces and more central meeting locations where people can relax and chat freely with one another. Install a coffee bar or lounge within your office space so that workers have a “third place” — an interactive area that is neither the home nor the work desk — where diverse employees can talk freely and enjoy their conversations. Such an environment has worked for Pixar, where the casual conversations and random encounters at the company’s lounges and bars often lead to new and creative ideas.

Allow Yourself To Play

While giving yourself time to ‘play’ seems counter-productive, studies have revealed that reduced stress as a result of playing can lead to more ideas, enhanced creativity and increased innovation. Companies like Google, Facebook, LEGO, Zynga and more are infusing their office environments with things like slides, interior gardens, writeable walls, pool tables and other game-like elements. Playtime might simply mean giving employees private time and a quiet space to doodle on a blank notepad — anything that helps them relax and clear their minds. In addition to lightening the mood at the office, giving yourself time to play also encourages you to interact with your co-workers — which, as we discussed above, can enhance creative thinking and problem-solving.

Increase Diversity

The importance of diversity at the office cannot be understated; an environment filled with people from different cultures, experience levels and specialties enhances creativity because the more diverse a group’s knowledge and beliefs are, the more diverse ideas and creative solutions will arise. When a company puts similar people of the same background, culture and function together, these people ultimately generate the same ideas because they think the same. Although people naturally want to work with their friends, such a situation means a hampering of creativity because friends, who have similar preferences and perspectives, are likely to come up with the same solutions to the same problems.

Recruiting a Co-Founder for Your New Business: The Ultimate Guide

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Recruiting a Co-Founder for Your New BusinessThe term “solopreneur” is a new buzzword in business-speak, gaining usage to near Miriam-Webster recognition levels as the new year kicks off. But any business venture can be a time-consuming, and emotionally and physically draining challenge, and that difficulty is only amplified when flying solo. Having a solid, trustworthy business partner can mean more than duplicating your capacity for work, or doubling the speed of business development. Working with another entrepreneur can open up new doors by arming your outfit with a new portfolio, networking rolodex and expertise, a unique perspective, and a sober second thought on critical business decisions. The potential benefits of teaming up on a new business venture are invaluable, but only if you can find the right collaborator. A few simple tips will keep you on the right track as you hunt down the perfect business partner.

Don’t Delay: Network Today!

The sooner you start networking, the more options you’ll discover and the longer you’ll have to get to know potential candidates. Don’t introduce the fact up-front that you’re looking to work with other entrepreneurs in equal partnership, but hint at your receptiveness to mutually beneficial collaborations. By using careful discretion and keeping your field of discussion to general shared interests, you’ll avoid bad apples who prey on other business founders to turn a quick buck with little or no interest in long-term commitments.

Gauge Interest in Your Business Idea

While networking, find out what potential candidates have done in the past and what areas of business and industry they’re naturally drawn towards. Business is as diverse and specialized as medicine; you wouldn’t get a veterinarian to perform laser eye surgery for you, and neither should you get an aspiring photographer to help you start your pizza franchise…at least not in a management capacity. At the end of the day, though, remember that commitment, dedication, interest, and personality will always be more valuable than education or experience. Anyone can learn, but enthusiasm for a particular objective cannot be taught. By gauging the interest people express in your business ideas, you should be able to tell how genuinely passionate they are about the field, and how much they’d be willing to put into it as a business partner.

Be Honest About Your Ambitions

One of the most common reasons many business partnerships never succeed beyond a few months is simply that one or both parties don’t want them to. Do you want your business to last a lifetime, or would you prefer to build it up and sell it for a quick profit? Would you want to sell your stake to your partner or buy their shares if it ever reached its full potential? Make sure your aims are the same as any potential partner by being upfront and honest about your long-term ambitions and encouraging them to be equally frank.

Think About Your Weaknesses, Not Your Strengths

You might get along great with someone with an identical skill-set to you, but your business will probably be better served by someone who can do things you can’t. Make a list of all the things you think would be critical for the enterprise of your ambitions and consider which leadership tasks could be better served by someone else. Ask your friends and other entrepreneurs for honest feedback on your weaknesses and keep an eye out for potential partners whose strengths could fill those voids.

Make It Official: Hire Legal Council

No matter how well you think you get along with your new business partner to-be, don’t skip the critical step of getting the full agreement in writing. Even if both parties are comfortable with an existing contract, make sure a lawyer is present to certify the agreement. More than a safety net for worst-case scenarios, this process will catch any miscommunications that might have occurred in verbal discussions, and build a mutual confidence in the professional nature of your new business.

Whether you’re running an Internet startup from your parents’ basement, a service provider from a shiny new virtual office, or a traditional brick-and-mortar retailer, finding the right business partner will open up a whole new world of opportunities for your entrepreneurial career.