Home office setup that increases productivity

home office setup pictureBy Rhonda Campbell

Home office setup designs could have a greater impact on your organization’s bottom line. This applies whether you work for an employer or work from home as an independent contractor or freelancer. Your home office setup directly impacts your (or your employees’) agility, mood, energy, focus, creativity and organization, all of which impact worker productivity.

Drab home office furniture does not inspire. It could leave you feeling flat and drab. Worn, old furniture that is unbalanced, squeaky or, better yet, that pokes your side when you lean or sit at a certain angle, could make you dread working in your home office. You could take your laptop and work in your living room or you could head to a local coffee shop that has Wi-Fi, but is that why you really wanted to work from home?

Home office setup ideas that inspire creativity and increase productivity

Try these home office setup ideas to increase productivity. Some of the ideas are long term changes, others work best when implemented on a short term basis.

Explosion of colors – Marketers know this. Psychologists know this. Colors influence mood. Choose home office furniture colors that inspires intelligence, balance, optimism, clarity and reliability. Mix colors when creating or buying items like posters, flyers and plaques. Pay attention to how you feel when you walk into different colored sections of home design stores. Your feelings could give you clues on which colors boost your energy most.

Treat yourself to privacy – If you’ve ever worked in an office cubicle, you know the value of office privacy. You know how uncomfortable it is to make an appointment with your gynecologist, discuss a personal matter with your partner or tell a lender that you’ll make a payment in a few days while you’re at work. You feel like colleagues are listening in, maybe even judging you based on what you say as you try to whisper into the telephone. Live with a roommate, children, a spouse or extended family? Use an extra bedroom, the basement, attic (make sure that there’s sufficient insulation) or another spare room at your apartment or house as your home office. Don’t have an extra room? Install sliding doors, portable room dividers or panel screens to section off your home office. Place the dividers far enough away from your home office desk to create more privacy.

Home office desk size – Choose a home office desk that is the right height, so you don’t have to lean over or stretch upward just to reach your computer keyboard . The smallest misalignment could create back, shoulder or neck pain, and sooner than you think. Want extra storage space, opt for a desk that has filing and storage cabinets built into it.

Home office chairs – Your home office chair should easily fit inside the front opening in your desk. It should also support your body’s structure. Adjustable, swivel chairs have lots of functionality. You could sit in swivel chairs and file papers in cabinets, eat a meal that’s placed on a serving tray, multi-task between watching a teleconference and typing memos, all with the turn of your chair. Material choices include mesh, leather, fabric, faux leather, wood, plastic, memory foam and vinyl.

Encourage fitness and good health – Ergonomic chairs and desks that make it easy for you to move from sitting to standing encourage activity. A sit/stand workstation could help you to avoid packing on pounds or developing high blood pressure or heart problems due to sitting for prolonged periods. Looking for more health risks associated with sitting too long? Check out this Mayo Clinic article.

Stay organized – Place filing cabinets and office supplies in your home office so that they don’t block the flow of natural light. Also make sure that cabinets don’t block the opening and closing of your home office door. Metal filing cabinets may last longer than wood filing cabinets, as some metal filing cabinets have stayed in good working condition for decades. Go for filing cabinets that have dividers and connectors that you can hang file folders on.

Lighting matters a lot – There may be no better source of vitamin D than sunlight. By placing your home office desk in front of a window, you’ll get to soak up some vitamin D and feel connected to your outdoor surroundings.

Spacing – Leave enough open space in your home office, so that you don’t start feeling cramped or confined. Place furniture against walls. Also, avoid adding furniture and accessories to your home office that you don’t need to get your work done.

Home office supplies – Most of your home office supplies should fit inside your desk drawers if you bought a multi-purpose desk. You could store extra supplies in the bottom or top drawer of a filing cabinet or on top of a filing cabinet. Add decorative book ends to each end of the supplies for a pick-me-up.

Entertainment – Brain enhancing music could have a long term positive impact on you. Rather than surfing the Internet during work breaks, consider listening to brain enhancing music.

Get decorative – Flowers are a short term basis home office setup item. Treat yourself to a bouquet of flowers during holidays and the week of your birthday. You could also pick up a bouquet of flowers to award yourself for closing a new client account or reaching a sales goal. To stay motivated, print and hang motivational quotes in a frame that you hang above your desk. Change the quote once a week, once a month or once a quarter.

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Movies Out Now vs. Old Movies

By Angela Benson

movies on netflix carlitos wayWhich are better, old movies or new movies? Movies out now are loaded with high speed chase scenes, explosions and violence to the point where it’s as if the violence and the speed are replacing great dialogue, deep plots and complicated characters.

Old Movies Had Great Characters

Over the last eight to ten years, it’s rare that I’ve caught a flick that didn’t use violence or car chase scenes to carry the script forward. Even old gangster movies like The Godfather, Once Upon A Time In America and Carlito’s Way were built upon great characters. believable conflict and tension and realistic dialogue.

Years ago, you walked out of a movie theater wondering if the script might have been based on real life experiences. I can still hear Penelope Ann Miller’s character, Gail, begging Carlito (played by the great Al Pacino) not to go on the boat trip. Was she ever onto something. Kleinfeld (played  by Sean Penn) couldn’t have been more of a bottom feeder if he tried.

12 Angry Men, The Color Purple, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Claudine, Shawshank Redemption, Cooley High and the Women of Brewster Place are great old movies. Watch any of these movies on Netflix or on a classic movie channel and see if the characters aren’t multi-faceted, complex, fully developed.

Their motives, personalities and inner torment are what you remember. The best of them are troubled, yet resilient. Even when faced with seemingly insurmountable odds, the star players in old movies don’t give up. But, not only that. Their resolve is realistic. It’s believable, not trite and unconnected to anything else in the movie.

Movies Out Now Push for Money

movies out now on netflix the color purpleHow many movies out now or movies coming soon can you say that about? Sure. There are modern movies like Castaway, Traffic, The Pianist, Seabiscuit and Amelie. But, even these movies came out over a decade ago.

Could it be free movie downloads, cheaper movies on Netflix and broader entertainment options that are pushing studios to put out try to appeal to the baser parts of us? Makes sense, especially when you consider that the average cost to make a major motion film today is about a whopping $100 million. Figuring out how to cover expenses may take precedent over quality.

That same push has filtered into the literary world. Produce-produce-produce quicker and faster. Appeal to human triggers. Forget developing a great story. Funny how this push for fast money could be costing us the very thing that we go to the theater for — great entertainment.

So, what do you think? Are old movies better than movies out now? When’s the last time that you saw a movie that you just knew would become a classic, the type of movie that stands the test of time the way flicks like The Wizard of Oz, Sounder, Boyz In The Hood and It’s A Wonderful Life have.

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Easy YouTube Tricks

By Avery Baxter

youtube tricks for online marketing



These simple, easy YouTube tricks can help you reach more prospects. The tricks can also help you to deepen connections with existing clients. Even if you only apply these steps once a week, you should see results. Consistency is key.

Video, Audio and Editing Equipment

There’s no promise that you will attract thousands of viewers at your YouTube Channel. But, the more work you put into these easy YouTube tricks, the more you could deepen your impact.

If you’re new to the world of online videos, to save costs, consider using your laptop or computer camera. If you’re computer has a webcam, you should be set.

Ready to upgrade your taping equipment? Think about investing in a quality video and audio recorder. Video editing equipment tends to be pricier. A complete video recording and editing station can run from $1,000 to over $6,000. As an alternative, you could pay for editing software. you can get video editing software for as little as $20. But, again, if you’re just starting out and watching expenses, your computer camera can do the job.

Show Viewer’s Your YouTube Channel Is Worth Their Time

Create a video recording, editing and publishing schedule. Identify and research keywords to use in your video descriptions. This may be one of the most overlooked of the easy YouTube tricks.

Search engines love keywords. It’s no mystery. People plug in keywords and phrases to find online content. Try to think of keywords and phrases that your content’s audience searches on to find the type of content that you provide.

You can get a clue about this by researching top keywords that pull up competitor’s YouTube videos. As a tip, take one or more courses at the Google Analytics Academy to identify actions needed to measure the results of your marketing efforts.

To finish developing a description for your YouTube video, write a three to four paragraph description for each YouTube video that you publish. Save yourself time and write enough descriptions to align with several weeks of videos.

If you have keyword SEO tools on your blog, plug keywords into the tool and use relevant results in your video descriptions. Publish videos on different days of the week and at different times of the day. Measure the results to see which publishing schedule works best for you. The more frequently you publish content rich videos, the more traction you may gain from these easy YouTube tricks.

Add YouTube Annotations

Enhance YouTube videos with annotations. You’ll find annotations under “YouTube Video Manager”. Click the “Edit” button for the video that you want to add annotations to. Then, click “Annotations”.

Identify where you want to place annotations. For example, you could create “Subscribe to this YouTube Channel” annotations at the start and end of each of your videos. Other annotation examples include the name of the video presenter, your website URL or where viewers can sign up for a training program that you offering.

Market Every Single YouTube Video

Market every YouTube video that you make. Post the videos with a teaser message, question or humorous tidbit at your social media channels. Other easy YouTube tricks are to add new videos to your blog, direct emails and online newsletters.

That means adding your new videos to LinkedIn, Facebook, ScoopIt, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Google Plus, Tumbler and more. At the beginning and end of your videos, ask viewers to subscribe to your channel. Also, consider asking viewers to like and share videos that you create.

Comment on popular videos that other people create, especially people who focus on content that is similar to yours. As a note, the more videos that you create, the more of your videos can go into YouTube’s rotation. If you’ve spent an hour watching different YouTube videos, you know that videos will continue to pull up and rotate for you to view until you log out of YouTube. You want as many of your videos to get into rotation as possible.

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Volunteer work that leads to a new career

By Avery Baxter

volunteer work sign picture

Volunteer work could open the door to a new paying job. There is no shortage of volunteer opportunities that you could step into. In fact, the National Center for Charitable Statistics reports that there are more than 1.5 million registered non-profit organizations in the United States.

Volunteer work that leads to full-time jobs

Forget getting bored. Jobs that you could perform while volunteering range from English teacher, counselor, grant writer and youth ambassador to marketing manager, fund raiser, tutor, consultant, legal advisor, tax agent or web developer. These jobs rely on your existing work experience.

But, there could be a chance to stretch the jobs and grow your skill set. As an example, volunteering as a counselor could lead to a paying job as a learning and development trainer at a corporation. You could also volunteer as a counselor, deepen your development and coaching skills and use the experience to start your own consulting firm.

Similar to how it’s important to be assertive during an internship, to get the most out of volunteer work, take on projects. If you see needs at the organization where you perform volunteer work, ask how you could help to fill the need. Be prepared to discuss in what specific ways you could use your skills to fill the needs.

Exposure counts with volunteer work

By attending networking, team building and other social events that are sponsored by the organization where you perform volunteer work, you could gain exposure. Other ways to gain exposure include asking questions at the end of webinars and conference calls. You could also lead group discussions. You may be surprised at how open managers are to having someone lead a meeting or a project discussion.

Great organizations are not intimidated by people who want to continue to develop and grow their career. They welcome vision and assertiveness. You may even find a mentor where you volunteer work, someone who could advise and support you, telling you about opportunities that you may not otherwise have become aware of.

Places to find volunteer work

If you want to get started with volunteer work, connecting with large organizations like Volunteer.gov and Volunteer Match may be a good start. Local volunteer directories also list opportunities that you could take advantage of. Your current employer may also have a list of volunteer or non-profit organizations that you could learn more about.

Make sure that you add your volunteer work to your professional resume. Doing so, could lead to a paying job. But, you could also get hired by the nonprofit organization that you perform volunteer work for. Don’t overlook that opportunity if you love the work that you do at a non-profit.

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eBusiness ideas that work

By Rhonda Campbell

ebusiness ideas work



















If you’re a serial entrepreneur, eBusiness ideas that you could turn into full-time jobs probably pop into your head regularly. But, ideas alone are not enough. If you don’t know this now, you’ll discover this fact soon enough.

Lackluster eBusiness ideas simply won’t work

To succeed as an industrialist, you have to pursue the right ebusiness ideas before you can step away from traditional jobs. When cash flows aren’t positive, when it’s tough to attract and retain the talents of skilled contractors and freelancers and you get tired of working 12 to 14 hour days, passion and purpose (not to mention an iron will) can keep you going.

So, a first step to picking the right eBusiness ideas is to consider your passions, your beliefs and your purpose for taking on your physical expression. Align the business that you pursue with what you believe in most. It’s these beliefs that you’ll need during hard times.

Other things to consider are:

• Your specific job experience as well as your industry and market experience
• Professional and job connections that you have and the areas that these connects specialize in
• Resources to manifest your ideas, bringing them outside your mind into the physical realm
• Legal knowledge that you have as it relates to the eBusiness ideas
• You’re ability to market eBusiness ideas

eBusiness ideas that work

These eBusiness ideas have helped make entrepreneurs thousands, some millions while working jobs they absolutely love. Operating the businesses online and offline could increase your brand exposure, putting you in contact with more consumers.

• Consultancy firm – Establish competitive rates and advise business leaders on practical ways to push up their profits, retain top talent and gain an edge on the competition.
• Marketing agency – Use your strong writing and marketing skills to create an agency that develops the very copy that strengthens other brands. If you’re good, you’ll need to hire other writers to take on client growth.
• Editorial agency – Add proofreading services to your company offerings to gain more customers.
• Web designing firm – Graphic arts and web design certifications add validity to your business. Showcase web designs (i.e. mobile websites, social media pages, brochures, catalogs) that you have created to gain clients.
• Wedding planning – You’ll need relationships with photographers, DJs, caterers and designers to implement this idea.
• Virtual psychology – Offering therapy to clients virtually has grown. Regardless of the state you live in, you’ll need to a degree and licensing to start this business. A deep care for people is also needed. People absolutely need to be able to trust you for this job to pay off.
• eCampus training – If you have a teaching degree, you could teach online college courses. You could also offer customized training (i.e. sales strategies) independently.
• Personal coaching – Firsthand experience equips you with the knowledge and the abilities to pass what you have learned to others. Succeed at a job (the bigger your success, the better) and you could coach others, offering them practical steps to achieve their short and long range goals.
• Financial advising – Series 7, Series 66 and other approved licenses are needed to offer professional financial advice. Earn your chops working as a financial advisor for an established firm. This is one of the ebusiness ideas that you need credentials for before you get started.
• Career counseling – Similar to personal coaching, career counseling gives you opportunities to give practical/actionable steps to adults, including college students, that will shorten the time it takes them to find jobs that they love, jobs that pays well.
• Online retail store – Ebay is just the beginning when it comes to the type of online retail store that you could profit from. Bookstores, jewelry shops, shoe stores, fashion boutiques and print companies are other online retail stores that you could earn a full-time income operating.
• Dietician / nutritionist services – A nursing degree and/or weight loss experience are backgrounds that could enable you to help people avoid diseases like diabetes, hypertension and other food related illnesses.
• Virtual assistant company – Administrative, data entry, time management, organizational and communication (both written and oral) skills are a must to run a successful virtual assistant company. Offer jobs to the best assistants, people who have worked for demanding start-ups and/or C-suite level executives.
• Call center – Start a call center and you could respond to customer inquiries, technical issues, etc. Adults who you hire into call center jobs need strong customer service experience, not to mention loads of patience.
• Bookkeeping / accounting firm – Software makes it possible for you to manage small business payrolls, taxes and other bookkeeping and accounting deliverables for individuals and companies.
• Employment verification firm – Many businesses conduct background investigations on new hires. This involves reviewing credit, employment and criminal reports on each new hire. Contracts with a few large firms could keep your verification company in the black for several years.

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Build an innovation team

By Avery Baxter

innovation teamInnovation, as a term, appears to be new. There’s hardly a business that doesn’t plug the word into its messaging, particularly messaging that comes from leadership. Yet, innovation is not new. Seeing an innovation team identify the right idea, then effectively take that idea to implementation, measurement and advancing implementation is not so common.

Why build an innovation team?

Which idea is best?

Every idea is not worth acting on. Every idea isn’t even worth devoting an hour to vet. An innovation team should bring incredibly strong organization, decision making, smart risks taking appetites, visionary, communication and technological skills to the table.

Each member of the team doesn’t need to be strong in each of these areas. For example, one innovation team member may be organized and a talented writer, but not be as strong when it comes to making decisions and taking risks.

But, the innovation team as a whole needs to come with all of the skills. A desire to help your organization and/or to further develop product, services or project skills should also be a key motive that each team member has for examining new ideas, fully vetting the ideas and designing a written implementation strategy.

Measuring idea sustainabiltiy

Stay away from developing budgets and setting deliverable timelines until after ideas have been fully vetted and organized into workable action steps. Parts of the plan that are to be measured should also be identified.

The latter is a must. The last thing that you want is to have a new product or service be measured by the public when the product or service falls flat and doesn’t receive the sales (public support) that it needs to be sustainable.

For example, your innovation team should measure current market saturation for the idea that you are considering turning into a product or service. To you, the product or service may be new. But, conduct market search and you may find out that there are at least three dozens of similar products or services already on the market.

This alone wouldn’t mean that you should abandon the idea. Your innovation team may find ways to build unique advantages and unique benefits into the idea that they are exploring.

Innovation team needs what it needs

Give the innovation team time to examine different levels of a new idea. During the idea vetting stage, money is generally not a needed resource. It is good if innovation team members get together in person to thoroughly vet an idea.

As tempting as it may be, avoid pushing the team to green light an idea that you like. Again, this could blow up later, costing you thousands or millions of dollars, after you take your organization through the other stages of the development process and take the product or service to market.

Also, identify all resources needed to bring the new product or service to market. Vet out these resources (i.e. time involvement, money amounts, people skills). Do any of the people who will work on bringing the idea to fruition need training? What type of training do they need and how much? What is the best way to deliver the training — a classroom setting, via webinar or virtual training session?

Which types of training should be delivered online versus in a face-to-face setting. How long should each training be? Will certifications and exams be required to complete the training, which ones?

This is just one example of the vetting that’s needed before a new idea is green lighted. In fact, a huge advantage to building an innovation team and encouraging the team to thoroughly vet an idea, process and each stage of product or service implementation (in advance of investing a single cent into the idea) is clarity. Vet an idea thoroughly enough and you could save your organization millions of dollars. You could also save employees frustration, anger and long work hours.

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How to get more links

By Avery get more linksBaxter

Great content is the best way to get more links. Think data rich content like academic papers, high definition images, static free videos, powerful quotes, statistic rich infographics, slideshows and comedic write-ups.

Images Explode Links and Traffic

Written, audio, video and image (graphics and pictures) content apply. Social Media Today shares that written content with images grabs 94% more attention than content missing images, whether you are trying to get more links or simply want to share a picturesque story. HubSpot says that color goes a long way when it comes to images. In fact, color images increase a person’s interest in reading content by a whopping 80%.

Original pictures get the best traction. Getting your  hands on original pictures is as easy as capturing images using your cell phone. If you have basic photography skills, you could capture the emotion, style and texture of trees, animals, sporting events, festivals and people. If your budget permits, you can also get pictures from companies like iStock Photo and ThinkStock Photos.

Other photo libraries require acknowledgement in a byline. Some of these places are Free Digital Photos and Flickr. Wikimedia Commons is another place where you can get free photos. However, I think Wikimedia Commons is limited in the range of high quality photos.

Tell a Story to Get More Links

To use the images at Wikimedia Commons, all you generally need is to acknowledge the name of the photographer, which you can do by simply adding the photographer’s name in the image caption box of the content management system that you use to publish content. Speaking of images, to get more links, add a story to images.

A little girl and her mother weren’t out to get more links when they posted a picture of the girl wearing glasses to social media. it was the story that attracted millions of viewers, readers and supporters. At the heart of the story was bullying. Huffington Post wrote a story about the girl and how her photo got more than four million shares. Last I heard, more than six million people have gotten behind the story.

It’s these types of stories that capture people’s hearts and interest, that help you to get more links. In this case, a personal, emotional appeal went a long way, continues to go a long way.

Data rich written content  could also help you to get more links. Remember when you were in school? How many times did you add information from scientific, well researched and stat driven documents into your school papers? The more footnotes, firsthand interviews and statistics there were in the documents, the more reliable you may have believed that the documents were.

“If I add this content to my school paper, my school paper will be better,” you likely thought. Add relevant facts, stats images and firsthand interviews to your content and other people could think that adding your content to their websites, blogs and direct email will make their content better. Outcome – you get more links.

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