This Shipping Container Became The Perfect Backyard Office

This Shipping Container Became The Perfect Backyard Office

We are fans of thinking outside the box when it comes to creating an office space that inspires, motivates and fits your needs. Our founder and CEO even built her own backyard office shed to accommodate her work and entertaining needs. One Toronto couple had a similar idea when creating their perfect at-home office space. 

Read More

5 Ways to Make the Most of Your Small Space

If you live in a big, bustling city, it's likely you live or have lived in a small space. And trust me, I know just how difficult that can be. My one-room apartment serves as a bedroom, office, living room and kitchen. It doesn't do so as seamlessly as I would like, but it works well enough for me to not want to move to the suburbs for a bigger place immediately.

Read More

4 Ways to Spruce Up Your Home Office on a Budget

The space in which you work has a huge impact on the way you work, your productivity and even your creative process. Your home office should be a place that is just for you and your work. It should serve as space that gets your creative juices flowing and encourages your productivity. But after awhile, even the most beautifully decorated home offices can start to feel drab and in need of an update. If you're on a budget, here are some tips that will help you spruce up your home office without breaking the bank.

Read More

How to Optimize Your Space Using Colour Therapy

color therapy
color therapy

The color you use to decorate a room has to do with a lot more than just aesthetics. Color can change the entire mood of a room, can make you feel calm or anxious, can spur your creativity or even curb your appetite. Using color therapy, you can ensure that your physical environment is conducive to the purpose of the room -- whether that be work, sleep, or sociability.

Red

While the color red is often associated with danger, it can also spark feeling of passion, warmth, adventure, optimism and energy. It creates a sociable environment and can also help spur your appetite. However, the overpowering colour can also give you headaches. We suggest using red in a dining room or as a feature wall.

Orange

Orange is a bright color that, like red, can bring feelings of warmth. It can also make you feel stable, reassured, excited, enthusiastic and is said to help with digestion. However, the use of orange on walls can make the room look smaller, so it's best used in an area with lots of natural light. We suggest using orange in a living or dining room, or a social area of the office.

Green

Green is a calming color that is usually associated with nature, energy and tranquility. However, the calming effects of this colour can be too great -- people tend to become too laid back. We suggest using green in your bedroom or living room. This is definitely a colour you want to keep away from an office (unless balanced out with red or orange).

Blue

Blue is a calming colour that is associated with serenity, loyalty and helps encourage intellectual and contemplative thoughts, and is known as the color of productivity. It is believed that blue can curb your appetite and keep nightmares at bay. Lighter shades will be more calming, while jewelled tones will be more energetic. We suggest using blue in the office or living spaces.

Yellow

Yellow is another bright colour that is associated with energy and helps to encourage intellectual thought, conversation and feelings of optimism. Like orange, it is also a color that can speed up your metabolism. However, it is not very calming and can make feelings of emotional distress feel heightened. While yellow will work well in the kitchen, dining room or work area, it should not be used in bedrooms.

Lilac

Lilac is thought to be a spiritual color. It's best used in places that are considered sanctuaries -- bedrooms, bathrooms, or even a reading room.

Gray

Gray is similar to lilac in that it encourages serenity and calmness. It is also known for its sophistication and as a symbol of luxury. However, the color can make some feel dreary, so it is best used in combination with other tones. We suggest using gray in a bathroom, bedroom or living room.

Brown

Brown is a colour of nature that can help you relax. Because of its earthy tone, it makes a room feel inviting and will spur feelings of stability. However, the color is quite robust, so it is best paired with another earthy tone, like green. We suggest using brown in a living room.

Purple

As a mix of blue and red, purple is often seen as an exotic colour that spurs creativity. It is also a symbol of royalty. We suggest using this color in an office, kitchen or living room.

H/T BBC, Now Sourcing, HGTV

5 Ways to Optimize Your Bedroom to Sleep Better

anna-sullivan-635346-unsplash.jpg

If you don't get a good night's sleep, the rest of your day is going to be pretty terrible. When both your body and mind are tired, you'll be unable to perform at your highest level, every task will take much longer than usual, and your overall mood will be pretty terrible. Sometimes, all it takes to get a better night's sleep is to make a few minor changes to your space to optimize it for sleep. The five tips below will help to make your bedroom a sleep sanctuary.

1. Paint your walls light blue.  A survey from Houzz.com conducted by Travelodge found that people get the best sleep when bedroom walls are painted light blue -- an average of seven hours and 52 minutes a night, compared to a little less than six hours of sleep for those with purple bedroom walls (the least conducive to rest).

2. Use white sheetsHuffington Post did a small case study amongst staff members to find out their "favourite hotel bed experiences" and, after a bit of digging, they found the one thing all those beds had in common was white sheets. "Visually, the idea of the white bed is important," said Erin Hoover, vice president of design for Westin and Sheraton hotels. "Something about an all-white bed connotes luxury and a good night's sleep."

3. Invest in a high-quality fan. Colder room temperatures make for a better night's sleep. According to the Center for Chronobiology in Switzerland, a drop in your core temperature tells your body that it's time for bed. Get a fan that will keep you cool throughout the night, but remains quiet so as not to interrupt your sleep.

4. Decorate with lavender candles. The calming effects of lavender can help you wind down after a long day, while helping you ease any stress and anxiety you might feel. Keep a lavender candle on your nightside table or hide pouches of dried lavender under your sheets or in your pillowcase.

5. Use blackout curtains. If you are sensitive to light or a light sleeper in general, early morning sunlight may be seeping in through your windows and disrupting your sleep. To keep the room dark and cool through those early morning hours, use blackout curtains to ensure your deep sleep is uninterrupted.

How Disorganization Can Hurt Your Small Business

© gemenacom - Fotolia.com This is a guest post by Kevin Flanagan.

If you own and operate a small business, getting organized is vital to the survival of your venture. Disorganization has many hidden costs to your business; Insightly reports that the average worker spends up to half an hour every day trying to locate a client's information or searching for a lost email, resulting in up to $6000 in annual costs to their employers. If you want to be productive, secure, and efficient, here are some ways disorganization can suck the life from your business and how you can beat it:

It Can Cost You Clients

Disorganization can directly impact your bottom line if you fail to connect with clients interested in your product. A common cause of lost sales is simply not following up with a prospective client; Follow Up Success reports that 48 percent of sales people never reach out to potential customers with a follow up communication. If you have a disorganized inbox or client database, it can be easy to overlook a potential consumer who is ready to be a paying client. Take the time to clean out unneeded emails and data so you can focus on what matters.

Your Time is Money

When time is spent searching for information or documents, it isn't spent generating revenue for your business. Visions Productivity Solutions reports professionals spends 25 to 35 percent of their time searching for the information or tools they need to perform a function of their job. That is time that could be spent marketing, contacting customers, or even creating a new product that is lost forever. If your disorganization has led to the actual disappearance of important resources, there is also the accumulating expenses of having to replace them. By organizing your workspace, you'll spend less time hunting and more time making money.

[Tweet "People spend 25-35% of their time searching for the information or tools they need."]

Security Concerns

A disorganized workplace or computer can make it hard to keep track of critical files such as invoices, receipts, bank statements and other information that cyber-criminals are always on the prowl for. Not securing your data puts your business at a higher risk to be targeted by identity thieves, but services like Lifelock can help you to secure and protect your data and help you in the event that your data is compromised. Protecting your crucial documents is the best defense, but having someone monitor your security can ensure identity thieves are thwarted or that the damage they can cause is minimized.

[Tweet "87% of workers say they are less productive in a cluttered environment."]

Morale and Stress

If your office is cluttered and messy, it can directly impact the productivity of your employees. In a recent survey conducted by Neat As A Pin Organizing Experts, 87 percent of workers surveyed expressed they are less productive in a cluttered environment. Disorganization makes you seem unprofessional, and directly impacts how employees feel. How can an employee feel motivated to do his/her best when he or she can't even find a stapler in a messy workspace? Getting the space that you share with your staff organized leads to better morale and shows your employees you care about appearances and respect them as workers. You set the bar for your organization and if you fail to provide a high standard your employees are not going to set it with you.

 

Kevin Flanagan is a freelance writer and performing artist from Phoenix, Arizona. When he isn't crafting quality articles, he spends his free time organizing late night comedy shows and writing for the stage. 

This is Why Every Company Should Allow Telecommuting

working from home If you've ever thought that telecommuting hinders companies more than it helps, I'm here to change your mind. Telecommuting has been a topic of debate for a while now, especially with high-profile companies like Yahoo dismissing the very idea. However, it is hard to deny that more and more workers are looking for positions that offer flexible work, and it is slowly becoming the norm for employers to offer such perks. Aside from benefits such as improved work-life balance, telecommuting can also save employers a lot of money. Here's how:

1. Low Overhead

If each business allowed employees to work from home only half the time, they would save an average of $11,000 a year. Reduced costs come from savings in leases/mortgages, utilities, office supplies, and even from coffee and water expenses.

[Tweet "Letting employees work from home half the time can save companies $11,000/year."]

2. High Retention

Employees who want to work from home and are able to do so report higher job satisfaction levels and company loyalty than those who work on-site. In one study from Staples Advantage, telecommuters reported having 25% lower stress levels, and 73% reported eating healthier. A report from Global Workplace Analytics cited that 36% of employees would choose the option to telecommute over a raise, and 37% would take a pay cut for the chance to work from home.

[Tweet "More than a third of employees would prefer the option of telecommuting over a raise."]

3. Less Sick Days

Telecommuters are less likely to take sick days than those who work in an office. Unschedule absences account for an average of $1,800 in losses per employee every year. Many absences are due to personal appointments during the workday, or are related to stress and other personal issues. Since telecommuters have a better work-life balance and have more flexibility in their schedules, this is no longer an issue.

[Tweet "Sick days costs companies $1,800 per employee every year."]

Visit Entrepreneur to learn more ways telecommuting can save employers big bucks.

Small Businesses Turn to Outsourcing to Increase Workplace Productivity

© Alex Millos - Fotolia.com Small businesses especially are beginning to see the benefits of outsourcing and hiring freelancers rather than hiring new full-time employees. This tend is becoming more popular and, thanks to technology, it's become so easy to turn to independent contractors. Michael Alter, the president of SurePayroll, recently shared his thoughts on business trends with Inc..

"I think you're going to see a continued use of technology by small business owners. You're going to see greater penetration of mobile devices and tablets. You're going to see greater use of sass tools and cloud based technology," Alter said. "And the reason you're seeing all of this is it allows small business owners to be more productive, therefore not need to add as many employees as they're growing revenues."

Alter adds that this use of this technology is allowing small business owners to outsource work to independent contractors who are highly skilled in one area.

Check out the video below to hear more of Alter's thoughts on business trends.

How to Hire the Right Candidates

hiring process Life at a startup doesn't allow for much leg room when it comes to hiring a new employee. If you are looking to hire someone, it's likely because you need a talented person to get right to work, without a long training process. If this is the case, it's time to reevaluate your hiring practices and find a process that helps to eliminate the wrong candidates right off the bat.

Make the interview process count. 

You will know pretty quickly if a job candidate looks promising. However, it's important that others in your company feel the same way, especially those the candidate would be working closely with.

"I think to hire somebody on one interview is crazy," says Tom Gimble, the founder and CEO of staffing company LaSalle Network. "You need to vet people out and gauge their interest. I also think it shows the professionalism of your company that you give them the courtesy of coming back to meet other people. You get a lot of growing companies that say 'We need you. Here's an offer right now.' And it really it throws some people off."

Don't hesitate to fire.

At a startup, hiring is not something that happens too often. So, having to fire someone is especially painful. However, if someone just isn't good fit, you need to fire them and you need to do so quickly.

"Especially in smaller, growing companies, the wrong hire is a cancer and you have to get rid of it," Gimbel says. "Especially an attitude [problem]. If you have a high-performing group that's working a ton of hours and you put in a poor performer, all you're doing is weakening the entire machine. You have to be ready to get rid of those people fast and show your other staff members that you're a leader of strength."

Like your new hires.

It is even more so important at a small and growing company that you get along well with your hires. You might come across some candidates that look perfect on paper, but you just can't mesh well with.

"You need to want to spend time with the people who are on your team, especially in a fast-paced, high-growth company," Gimbel says. "If you think sitting on an airplane for four hours with this person would drive you crazy, then don't hire them."

Have core values.

Before you begin the hiring process, you should know what you are looking for, including the attitudes and characteristics of potential employees. Are they a bit rough around the edges but are respectful? Do they have great technical skills but are lacking in the social?

"If [a candidate] is in a conference room, I'll have somebody go in there 'accidentally,' shake their hand, and see how the person interacts with someone who's not part of the interview," Gimbel advises.

Stop Feeling So Overwhelmed!

stressed worker In a recent article on Fast Company, Crystal Paine revealed some of the ways she deals with the stress and the ever-encroaching dilemma of saying "yes." As the founder of MoneySavingMom.com, Paine knows what it is like to slave through the initial steps of a startup. From working all night to spreading herself too thin, Paine has seen it all and shares some valuable advice to maintaining your livelihood and sanity through the course of a startup.

Say 'no' for a while. One reason that most of us have dangerously high stress levels is the fact that we never say no. Taking on too many tasks can be a major issue in the startup arena, and to avoid it, Paine just stopped saying yes. Although it took her a bit of practice to create this habit, Paine was able to say no over a 6-month period, which created what she likes to call "breathing room." During this period, it becomes easier to identify viable options for the future and to dismiss ventures that have no worth for your enterprise.

Take a day off. When working the long and tiresome hours of a startup, having a day off in your future can offer the motivation to charge through endeavors that may otherwise cause you to give up. Paine likes to set Sunday aside for family and leisure time. Knowing that Sunday is a free day gives Paine motivation midweek, when she is up to her nose in work and struggling to make sense of it all. Try establishing a day during which you will do the things you love and set aside work related issues for a full 24 hours.

Say 'yes' strategically. As you begin to experience your breathing room, consider opportunities to say yes to. Focus on these opportunities and actively pursue those which you believe can grow and expand your business. Weed out the offers that will not further your cause. This way, you can dedicate time and effort to the opportunities that will build your business, and you wont waste effort and stress on those tasks that inevitably hinder growth.

By employing Crystal Paine's advice in your everyday work life, you can experience a less stressful, more relaxed work-life balance.

Marissa Brassfield

Marissa Brassfield is a productivity expert, branding consultant and communication efficiency specialist who helps entrepreneurs and high-performance teams become ridiculously efficient.

Marissa has worked with some of the most visionary entrepreneurs on the planet. She’s dialed in to the frustrations these results-oriented, interrupt-driven individuals have with bureaucracy and suboptimal team performance. Her coaching helps entrepreneurs counteract growth-killing practices and unlock unparalleled performance from their support staff.

How to Create a Thriving Company Culture

© opolja -- Fotolia Every business needs a something to value. More than a bottom line or mission statement, a thriving company culture can lead employees through the ups and downs of a startup while allowing staff to be part of a community. If your organization is struggling with building a distinct culture, here are a few tips to help you along the way.

Encourage Employees to Lead

Leadership is a large part of every organization and you should encourage your employees to become leaders. Sometimes this might involve putting people into positions that are risky. But, that's all part of a thriving culture. People should be encouraged to lead and take risks while doing so. Sometimes it will work out, and other times it won't. Be supportive either way.

Inspire

Creativity should remain at the core of every venture. That's where you'll find innovation and the ability to adapt in a changing marketplace. Create a culture in which new ideas are welcome and employees are encouraged to think outside the box. Try creating a space within your office that is built to inspire and boost creativity.

Build Relationships

Right from the start, relationships within the company should be regarded high on the priority list. At digital agency Sapient, new hires are given a list of contacts instead of a company handbook. This helps the new hires assimilate and  encourages them to build relationships with coworkers.

Set Micro-Goals to Map Your Ambitions

© Rob - Fotolia Ambitions aren't goals, not really anyway. Most people have these ambitions in mind, these destinations of where we want to end up. However, we lack in our ability to map our way to these goals, ambitions and destinations. Productivity expert Ari Meisel suggests setting micro-goals to help you map your way to the end destination.

Meisel says people tend to set unrealistic goals for themselves -- they have a destination in mind but they haven't plotted out their journey to get there. This requires resources like a map and a budget to accomplish. Furthermore, this map should include smaller micro-goals that lead you to achieving your long-term ambitions.

“I’m very big about setting micro-goals, or very, very small goals,” Meisel said. “So for that person who needs to write a book, for me a goal would be write a hundred words. Progress is hitting those micro-goals.”

He adds that these micro-goals should be actionable items that you can work on immediately. These are the prerequisites that get your closer to your destination, while giving you a bit of momentum along the way.

Tim Ferriss Shares 3 Tips for Small Business

tim ferriss tips for small businesses Yesterday we told you about Tim Ferriss's new reality show on HLN, where he uses productivity techniques to learn new skills in short periods of time. Ferriss, who is the author of The 4-Hour Workweek, has also shared a few simple yet effective productivity tips for small businesses.

Create a New Category

“From a positioning standpoint, if you’re undifferentiated in a crowded market, it’s going to be a race to the bottom, in terms of lowering prices and increasing hours per week,” Ferriss suggests. “From the outset, positioning yourself intelligently can save you a ton of work and make it a game that’s easier to win.”

Do a Monthly 80/20 Analysis

The 80/20 theory says that 80% of the results come from 20% of the efforts. Determine what this 20% is and how you can maximize on it. “As a business owner, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of being busy, and being busy is not necessarily productive,” Ferriss said. Use this theory to focus your efforts on the right tasks.

Get Hold of Your Email

"Email eats so much time,” Ferriss said. “First, because it’s everyone else’s agenda for your time, often including manufactured emergencies. Second, email allows you to fool yourself into thinking you’re being productive.” Try checking your email just twice a day and using an app like Boomerang or emailga.me to schedule reminders and emails that can be sent later on.

How to Create a Motivating Company Culture

© opolja -- Fotolia Leaders of companies both small and large are tasked with creating a company culture that is both encouraging and motivating to employees. According to a recent article from Inc., there are three important factors that lead to a motivational culture.

The first is learning. Employees need to feel that they are constantly expanding their skills and knowledge. Create policies in which the company encourages extended learning, such as an agreement to pay for a portion of a certificate course. Hold workshops and ensure employees aren't sticking to tasks that are repetitive. Get them to test their own skills by participating in projects outside of their comfort zones.

The second factor is affiliation. People need to feel they are part of something, something more than the tasks they complete. We need to feel as though we are part of a community. Create a culture in which community plays a large role, in both activities and projects.

Lastly, a motivational company culture needs reaffirmation. Humans need recognition and social reassurance to continue to feel motivated. The last thing you want is for your employees to feel that they have been taken for granted or that their hard work is not being noticed. Recognize people for what they have accomplished and show them that they are a detrimental part of the team.

You can also try these 5 Team Motivation Techniques.

5 Strategies for Office Spaces That Motivate Employees

office space

It's no surprise that employees' work environment plays a huge role in their overall productivity and motivation. Today's must-reads will help you improve your existing workspace and promote engagement. Should you transform cubicles into open space, or introduce a fun, positive atmosphere with personality?

  • This article shares some helpful tips for companies and startups that are looking to create or redesign office space. [The Huffington Post]
  • A colorful office environment can be just as invigorating as one that offers free lunches and game rooms. See for yourself. [Office Snapshots]
  • Do you subscribe to the theory that cubicles are a death sentence for employee moral? This article might change your mind. [Voice of America]
  • Much has been said recently about the Silicon Valley offices of key companies such as Facebook and Google. They do seem to have a recruiting advantage when it comes to young professionals. Find out why. [Fox Business]
  • Employees who are tired of working in a cubicle but don't want to leave the company they're working with can take matters into their own hands. [Squidoo]

Marissa Brassfield

Marissa Brassfield is a productivity expert, branding consultant and communication efficiency specialist who helps entrepreneurs and high-performance teams become ridiculously efficient.

Marissa has worked with some of the most visionary entrepreneurs on the planet. She’s dialed in to the frustrations these results-oriented, interrupt-driven individuals have with bureaucracy and suboptimal team performance. Her coaching helps entrepreneurs counteract growth-killing practices and unlock unparalleled performance from their support staff.