Spend more time with your students, not their paperwork

For virtually any educator in today’s busy world, there is never enough time in the school day. It can be challenging to balance teaching, paperwork and administrative duties while still ensuring every student is receiving the attention he or she needs. For educators who would like to focus more on enhancing the classroom experience for students versus administrative paperwork, workflow form software can offer an excellent solution.

Automate Administrative and Information Processes

Test scores, documents, curriculum schedules and more can be easily automated with the right workflow forms. For educators and administrators who find themselves spending more time crunching numbers than communicating with students, workflow software can provide the tools needed to keep things moving smoothly. Workflow software keeps large amounts of information organized, safely stored, and easily reachable, saving a lot of time and energy.

Reduce Paper Waste and Overhead Costs

For both educators and administrators, finding ways to reduce waste and save money is always a priority. You can greatly cut waste by handling a vast majority of information through digital formats as opposed to constantly printing out material that will likely be thrown away in the near future. Over time, even small reductions in overhead costs will translate to more money for the school. Teachers can use their savings to purchase new supplies for the classroom while administrators may invest in various repairs, renovations or new technology upgrades.

Improve Efficiency

By automating workflow and administrative processes, staff efficiency will inevitably be improved. After implementing workflow software, the time teachers or administrators spend on many daily tasks can be dramatically minimized, making students the top priority. This will allow educators to focus on creating new coursework, revising the curriculum, or spending more time with students one-on-one.

More Fulfilling Student Experience

Thanks to the organizational assistance workflow forms provide, educators will likely find more hours in the week to devote more time and attention to students’ individual needs versus their paperwork. When paperwork and data collection is no longer a priority, teachers can feel much more present in the classroom instead of being distracted by various other tasks that take up time. In response, students will be more inclined to give their full attention to educators who are completely engaged with the entire classroom. Education suffers when teachers spend their free time on administrative tasks versus innovative classroom planning. By creating custom workflow forms, teachers can free themselves from nagging clutter and focus on educating.

Create the education environment you’ve always wanted with the help of PerfectForms workflow software. Efficiently organize, customize, and automate a variety of tasks with new workflow forms so you can zero in on what is most important: Providing future generations with engaging, quality education will prepare them for the challenging world ahead.

 

How to add a homey feel to your office space without clutter

Creating a comfortable work space is one of the surest ways to boost employee loyalty and morale. People work better when their surroundings are pleasant and uplifting. A drab environment that has only rudimentary furnishings will produce a dismal workforce that puts out a minimal amount of effort at best. Thus, adding the right design elements to your office can improve your bottom line by boosting productivity and bringing everyone on board with your goals. Best of all, some of the most popular office enhancements can even provide an array of health benefits. The major challenge associated with these efforts is designing a space that looks and feels good while remaining functional and efficient.

Stock Up On Office Plants

Studies have shown that plants can reduce employee stress, improve indoor air quality and limit the occurrence of many common illnesses. This is because plants help to minimize indoor air pollution and can regulate humidity levels in closed spaces. Live plants in the workplace reduce the likelihood of dry skin, dry coughs, colds, and sore throats, among other health issues. They are a great way to add a homey touch without cluttering the office. This is especially true when vertical design strategies are used.

Far too many offices only use floor plants, and this limits the amount of available floor space, in terms of both movement and the storage of other office essentials. Try building your plant designs upward instead. Use decorative window planters to line the tops of cubicles, place potted plants on corner bookshelves and incorporate hanging plants wherever possible.

Increase Natural Lighting

It may also be time to rethink your window coverings. Some office spaces get very limited amounts of natural lighting, while others do all that they can to block this light out. However, regular exposure to the sun is essential for humans as this helps the body to synthesize Vitamin D. Given that employees are typically inside on the sunniest parts of the day, it is vital to ensure that they have access to natural light on a routine basis. Several studies have shown a clear link between natural light exposure and improved productivity. You can replace heavy blinds or drapes with sheer designs or invest in attractive vertical options that can be adjusted to allow more sunlight to flow in. This is a design strategy that will add no new clutter to the office at all.

Go Paperless

Excess clutter can be disheartening. More importantly, both profits and productivity will start to decline as disorganization spreads. Getting rid of outdated and archaic filing systems is a great way to boost morale and improve employee speed and efficiency. Virtual document storage systems and the form software that PerfectForms provides can make this transition both seamless and easy. In fact, these things can enhance your workflow processes, limit human error and reduce costs. Best of all, the elimination of large, cumbersome filing systems will free up more floor space and allow skilled professionals to focus on other duties outside of organizing, auditing and updating physical files.

There are a number of ways to create a homey and appealing office environment without adding clutter. Live plants, natural light and transitioning to digital filing systems are a good start. These efforts will make employees feel better and, in turn, significantly increase productivity, efficiency and overall team loyalty.

 

Tips to help you organize that ever-growing to-do list

Keeping yourself organized is the key to productivity and making sure that you meet all your urgent deadlines. One of the simplest ways to keep track of what needs to be done is to start a to-do list of tasks that need to be accomplished on a daily, weekly or even monthly basis. But simply writing a list at the beginning of the week isn’t enough. What happens if you suddenly get a large project dropped in your lap on Wednesday? What if something you’ve been assigned to do has been completed by somebody else on your team? Professional to-do lists need to be kept organized as well, and we’ve got a couple of tips to help you keep yours in check.

Keep all your tasks in one to-do list

Many people start disparate to-do lists and then forget to compile them all in one place. Instead, you’ll have some notes on your phone, a draft in your email, some text files on your computer and most likely a Post-It or two on your monitor. Establishing a single place for all your workplace-related tasks is necessary, as it gives you an overview of what needs to be done at a glance, without you having to waste precious time looking for that single email.

Your to-do list can be in any format you want, whether it be a Word document, a handy notebook or an app on your phone. The main considerations need to be that your list is easy to update and accessible at all times. Technology is very useful in keeping a to-do list, and using a dedicated program like PerfectForms can be ideal, since the software can access data anywhere and it’s great at helping you keep your tasks organized by using a simple drag-and-drop interface.

The 1-3-5 rule

Once you’ve got your list in one place, you can assign tasks on a daily basis. To keep things manageable, assume that each day, you can finish one major task, three medium tasks and five small tasks – and do them well. Try to figure out what tasks take priority and then take a couple of minutes as you sip your pre-work coffee and decide what you’ll be doing that day. If your responsibilities change often, keep one or two of the medium and small task spaces blank so that you can fill them in during the day. Forcing yourself to choose only one major task allows you to prioritize and ensures that the most important and urgent assignments are completed on schedule.

Try and complete one of the medium or major tasks before lunch, preferably first thing in the morning. This gets the major hurdle out of the way quickly and leaves the rest of the day free to focus on the smaller and less intimidating undertakings. It also means that if an emergency arises in the afternoon, you don’t need to reschedule an important (and likely urgent) task – instead you’ll have the time free to handle whatever life throws at you.

Creating a well-run and up to date to-do list is a feat of organization in itself, and accomplishing this will help your productivity and reduce stress in the workplace. How you put together your to-do list is up to you. You can use a workflow application or a simple pen and paper – whatever works best for your needs, as long as you keep it organized.

 

 

7 Tips to Help you Better Manage Your Time

We often feel like there are just not enough hours in the day to get things done, and when you are faced with incomplete tasks or unresolved issues at quitting time, it can leave you frustrated. You may think you cannot get all of your tasks accomplished because you are just too overwhelmed with work. However, with a few time management strategies in place to help you stay focused and organized, you will be amazed at how much you can accomplish on a daily basis, not to mention how much time you’ve freed up in your schedule.

Being able to manage your time effectively does not require some mystical knowledge or tapping into arcane secrets. In fact, you can easily figure out how to become better at time management if you take the time to learn a variety of ways to slow down, prioritize, organize your schedule, and get things done. Here are some excellent tips:

  1. Before you begin your work-related tasks each day, spend some time going through your schedule and deciding what you want to accomplish with each item on your daily “to-do” list. When you approach a task with a goal in mind, it can make it easier to reach the desired conclusion in a more productive and timely way.
  2. Manage tasks and projects with process mapping software like PerfectForms. PerfectForms allows you to create tailor-made forms and workflow applications that will streamline and simplify processes and tasks. It also allows for easy deployment without a great deal of technical know-how, and offers plenty of options for monitoring progress and results through a variety of reporting features.
  3. When you have your “to-do” list prepared for each day, prioritize that list and make a plan to complete the most important tasks first. When you are able to focus on the urgent matters first, you can better manage the time you’ll need to accomplish those tasks and get them finished before deadlines become critical.
  4. Understand that you will not get everything done in one day, so don’t try. When you allow yourself to become overwhelmed with all the things you need to do, it gets incredibly easy to become so frustrated or distracted that you don’t get anything done at all.
  5. Allow time in your schedule for small breaks. If you keep your nose to the grindstone constantly throughout your day, you can get burned out and lose sight of your goals. Make time for a short walk, a social telephone call, checking your personal email, or simply enjoying a light lunch at an outdoor cafe.
  6. Try to eliminate elements of your day that do not produce results. Activities like water cooler chit-chat are not productive, so reduce the amount of time you spend doing nothing during your day.
  7. Start tracking your time throughout the day and record what you do and how long it takes to do it. You might be surprised to see how long you actually spend on activities that are not furthering your goals or moving you toward the completion of your tasks and projects.

When you follow these and other tips for managing your time, you will be able to get your schedule and your life organized and on track almost effortlessly. Most important, however, is that you stay consistent with your time management efforts and don’t give up when you get frustrated or bogged down in the minutiae of your day. When you stick with it, it will work!

 

How To Run More Efficient Meetings in the Workplace

Conducting meetings is an essential part of the decision-making process, whether you are a school administrator or an entrepreneur managing a startup. However, just holding a meeting is not enough – the gathering needs to be well-planned and conducted accordingly.

Many people often say they hate having to go to meetings because they believe little, if anything, is ever accomplished. However, you can avoid all the headaches of an unsatisfactory meeting through proper planning. A basic essential is to ask yourself the following question: “Is the information forming the basis of this meeting something that can be conveyed without having a meeting?” Simply put, don’t schedule a meeting to disseminate information if this can be done through standard communication methods such as email.

Planning Stage

This is the stage at which the difference between an inefficient meeting and a productive meeting emerges. As part of the planning process, an agenda with well-articulated goals is created. Clearly state the purpose of the meeting and distribute the agenda to the meeting participants ahead of time so those attending may adequately prepare. Ensure that all logistics are calculated ahead of time, and make sure that the materials needed are provided. Ask for a volunteer or appoint someone to take minutes.

Conducting the Meeting

One of the essential elements of an efficient meeting is to make sure that the facilitator is clearly delineated. This individual is responsible for ensuring that all members stay on task and focused on the goals of the meeting. One thing you can do to help people participate in a meaningful way is to allow time to socialize before and after the meeting. This allows participants to be more relaxed and receptive.

Start the meeting with an icebreaker activity to get participants involved early. Stick to the agenda and the allotted time for each agenda item, as time is an important element if you do not want people to drift away. Keeping attendees engaged and feeling like their participation is essential will help move things in the right direction. Try to keep the meeting time to less than one hour, as making it any longer puts it at risk of becoming a bore fest.

Create ground rules for everyone to follow and stick to them. Allow for multiple voices to be heard and do not let any one person dominate the discussion, asthis will only discourage others from participating. Determine what process will be used to make final determinations, whether it be consensus or majority vote. Although harder to attain, consensus among the group means that all stakeholders are on board with the decision.

When concluding the meeting, summarize the results and conclusions. Determine which participants are responsible for completing any assignments, and follow up with them on pre-determined timelines.

Follow-Up

Once the meeting is concluded, the facilitator should, within a reasonable time frame, follow up with the other attendees. Gather feedback on how the meeting went and what could be done better in the future. Correspond regularly with those responsible for follow-up actions. Collect the minutes of the meeting and distribute them to the participants.

One way to help promote efficiency is to have the right business process automation software available. PerfectForms offers solutions for the office to facilitate the proper flow of information in a web-based environment. Automation of workplace information allows for better duo-direction communication, and powerful visuals reinforce meeting agenda items.

 

5 Tips to Help You Stay Focused At Work

The ability to focus and remain focused is the most valuable skill that an employee can have. Unfortunately, most professionals are battling constant distractions at work. Moreover, these individuals often lack a clear set of measurable objectives that keep them moving forward, rather than feeling as though they are simply plodding through a series of routine and mundane tasks. Following are five tips for staying focused at work that are guaranteed to increase both productivity and overall work quality.

1.  All Employees Should Be Taking Regular Breaks

Plugging away at a single activity for too long is never a good idea. People often start to feel mentally and physically restless after several hours of being captive at their desks. All team members should be encouraged to get up, walk around and stretch every few hours. More importantly, each person in the office should be taking regular lunch breaks for both nourishment and a change of scene. By using simple and straightforward time tracking solutions such as those that are provided by PerfectForms, ensuring that all employees have adequate opportunities throughout the day to refresh their minds and bodies will be easy.

2.  Prioritize Tasks

Many professionals make the mistake of putting off complex tasks until the end of the day or the last possible minute. All workers tend to function more efficiently at the start of the day, long before the typical afternoon crash hits. Thus, team members should be encouraged to tackle their most demanding undertakings during the first portion of the day and to report their progress before lunch. As quitting time grows near, people will still have enough energy and clarity of thought to tackle minor tasks that are less involved.

3.  Encourage To-Do Lists

Having employees create daily to-do lists will make it easier for these individuals to prioritize their tasks and manage their time. Lists can be kept private or made public, but should be reflective of both duties that must be regularly reported on as part of a project and responsibilities that are specific to the individual position. Knowing exactly what must be done helps people to stay on track and pushing ahead, even when they’d rather be somewhere else, doing other things. This also gives employees the sense that they are working toward an assured finish.

4.  Establish The Importance Of Each Role

People tend to be happier in their jobs and more committed to their employers when they know that even the most mundane tasks are making a major difference. Companies can increase team loyalty and individual employee focus through regular reviews and recognition. Each person should recognize why his or her work is valued. It is much easier to stay focused on a specific position when there are clear reasons for and benefits from the related job duties.

5.  Empower Management

Those who are in charge of guiding teams to a desired end must have the ability to ensure that each person is taking care of his or her own duties. Knowledge is empowering, and this means that managers are most effective when all team members are logging their accomplishments as different projects or project phases are completed. The workflow application from PerfectForms provides an optimal amount of visibility for ongoing projects from start to finish. Reports can be customized to the needs of the company and the resulting data can be used by managers to streamline operations so everyone is working efficiently and focused on the same goals.

Make the Most of Your Day With These 8 Project Management Tips

Project management may sound like a daunting task – and it can be if you aren’t adequately prepared to meet the challenges of managing a team. At its core, successful project management involves ensuring that a group of individuals work together to complete a project within a pre-defined set of guidelines. Those guidelines may vary in detail and complexity, from nothing more than the expected end result to assorted time-sensitive milestones and goals to help make sure your day goes off without a hitch. When you’re in the role of project manager, keep these eight tips in mind:

  1. While you may have the end goal in mind, it is important that you also define project milestones. These waypoints let you know if your project is progressing as it should be in terms of a variety of benchmarks relating to deadlines, budget, completion expectations, and more. Milestones are also beneficial because they grant you small measures of success as you move along the path toward completion.
  2. In any industry, it is never a good thing if your left hand doesn’t know what your right hand is doing, so it’s essential to keep communication lines open. You should establish a plan for communication among all members of your team and, as the project manager, monitor those communication lines regularly to ensure that they remain clear, open, honest, and consistent.
  3. When you are laying the groundwork for goals you wish to achieve for the project, it’s vital that you set priorities and separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. You don’t want critical team members working on minor tasks with loose deadlines when a major undertaking remains untouched on a shelf as its deadline approaches.
  4. Facilitate project tracking with workflow forms software like PerfectForms, which can make the process easier and more automated. By automating a portion of your project tracking and analytics, you can take some of the workload off your own shoulders and free yourself up for other project management duties.
  5. Give team members clearly defined roles and make sure they are fully cognizant of what your expectations are for their performance. The last thing you want is for your project to meet with failure or delays because someone didn’t completely understand his or her role.
  6. Regardless of whether you’re defining milestones, setting priorities, preparing a budget, or performing other project-related planning and management functions, you always want to be realistic in terms of what you expect to accomplish and how you plan to achieve your goals. It’s perfectly fine to reach for the stars, but make sure you’ve got your feet firmly on the ground, too.
  7. While you’d prefer to avoid it, the unexpected can and does occur, so make sure you have a contingency plan (a “Plan B”) to fall back on if your primary objectives fall through. You can always hope for the best, but by preparing for the worst you know you’ll be ready to quickly and easily overcome challenges that appear on the horizon.
  8. Throughout the “life” of your project, you should hold regular meetings with your project team to discuss progress, issues and solutions, and to analyze where you are with regard to completing priority lists and reaching project milestones. These meetings also provide an excellent way to keep the lines of communication open.

Don’t be intimidated by the responsibilities of project management! Use these tips and other available resources to support your role as project manager and you’ll be ready to meet and conquer any obstacles that come your way.

10 Tips to Make You More Organized Today!

Staying organized can sometimes be a challenge, and if you aren’t on top of your to-do list, this can often leave you feeling like you’ve accomplished little at the end of the day. Here are ten tips to make you more organized:

  1. While some people can function at a highly efficient level with a desk space that looks like a paper truck exploded on it, you may need a more tidy area in which to work. Keep your desk surface clean and organized, with a place for everything (and everything in its place!). This will give you a feeling of organization throughout the day, and it will also make finding things much easier when you need something quickly.
  2. Your workspace needs a thorough “spring cleaning” on a periodic basis, so you can get rid of paperwork, files, and office supplies that have been gathering dust. Anything that is outdated, no longer needed, or has been unused for a period of time should be stored elsewhere or discarded.
  3. Keep a calendar handy that has all your important dates noted. Whether you have a big meeting later in the week or the end of the month marks the deadline for a critical project, knowing (and seeing) what’s on your plate will allow you to complete related tasks in a timely manner and keep you on the ball when it comes to being prepared and punctual.
  4. Instead of trying to multitask and get a dozen things done at once, become better at managing your time effectively. When you dedicate small blocks of time to completing different tasks throughout the day, you’ll have more finished at quitting time and less to worry about completing later.
  5. Update your contacts at least once every six months, whether you store them in a Rolodex or you’ve got piles of business cards stashed away in a desk drawer.
  6. As you get things completed at work, or on a periodic basis throughout the week, review what you have accomplished so you can decide if you’re on track and whether you need to juggle some tasks around.  If necessary, delegate items to others who can get them done for you.
  7. Use workflow software to help you automate tasks, projects, and other duties. PerfectForms offers a great workflow system that can help you stay organized.
  8. Don’t let yourself get bogged down by the mundane surroundings in which you find yourself.  Whether you’re in a cubicle farm or you have a corner office with a fabulous view, you’ll want to add some personal touches to make your environment more comfortable. Add family photos, scenic vacation shots, or appealing abstract art to the walls. Just make your space your own!
  9. Keep a list on hand that has your daily and weekly “to-do” items on it. We often get tied up with handling little details and sometimes let bigger things slip our minds until the last minute, so keeping lists of what you need to get done is a great way to stay organized.
  10. When you write down your daily and weekly goals, you also need to prioritize those items. Figure out what’s most important or what needs to be done first so you can complete your required tasks on time and in a way that doesn’t leave you feeling like you didn’t contribute your best effort.

If you put these organizational tips to use, you’ll soon be sailing along with few pending worries on your plate as you tackle each challenge as it arises and keep your work life neat and orderly.

 

Should a stated company culture be the norm or the exception?

One of the hardest tasks for any manager is creating an office culture that brings out the best in employees. But is developing a strong corporate culture always necessary?

The pros of having a stated company culture

Good managers are capable of seeing the bigger picture when it comes to their company, their co-workers, and themselves. They can use this viewpoint to create an organic company culture that not only inspires employees, but also lends a story to the company at large. This takes a flexible manager who is able to keep a stated culture in mind while working with team members. The trick lies in the osmotic way that companies work – when an employee leaves or a team member switches roles, the manager needs to keep hold of the umbrella of company culture while fitting different personalities under it. A talented manager with lots of personnel experience and flexibility can be a huge boost when it comes to creating a robust company culture.

The cons of having a stated company culture

People are not always flexible, teams and divisions of a company do not always function as they should, and trying to make everything fit under a stated company culture can be like herding cats. If the statement is not adaptable or flexible, then it will be harder to find people to work under it. Employees are not always keen to change the way they have been working in order to fit under what they may see as little more than an attempt to get them to work harder for no pay increase.

The organic company statement

More and more businesses are becoming employee-centric, and that can play a huge role in developing a stated company culture. Employee-centrism in and of itself is a kind of stated culture. The difference between having a stated culture and allowing a culture to develop organically is that everyone in the company already feels part of the culture before there is an actual statement made about it. In fact, in some situations, this statement never needs to be made at all. In many ways, letting a culture grow and form on its own is the best approach, but the right mix of personnel must be present in order to get it right.

What to do?

In the end, it all depends on the employees and the manager. Some managers are capable of creating a stated culture and then getting everyone excited about it and functioning under the culture’s umbrella. Others prefer to sit back and simply allow the culture to develop on its own while playing more of a crowd-control role.

PerfectForms can help managers create stated company cultures with software that makes anything from workflow forms to surveys. Using the tools provided by PerfectForms, managers can find out what their employees and co-workers desire in a company culture by asking them directly. Essentially, PerfectForms presents a hybrid solution by allowing employees to offer input and managers to use this as a foundation.

Why having a mission statement is important to company culture

Not all companies have mission statements, but those that do have discovered these short, concise sentences can have a distinctly positive impact on their employees, shareholders, and customers or clients. Good mission statements are brief and to-the-point; they succinctly express a firm’s philosophy, goals, and reason for being, as well as what impels it to become the best it can be for everyone involved. In terms of workers, mission statements remind new and old employees alike why they do what they do, and should be kept front and center in staff members’ minds during their tenure with the company.

What a Mission Statement Is and Isn’t

Mission statements aren’t logos, jingles or catchy slogans used in advertising or to “brand” products or services. For example, Harley Davidson’s “American by birth. Rebel by choice.” is a tag line that somewhat describes the company’s philosophy, while Ford’s “Go further” is more of a brand message than anything else. To get a better idea of what a mission statement is, take a look at the wording of these two particular companies’ mission statements:

  • Harley Davidson“We fulfill dreams through the experience of motorcycling, by providing to motorcyclists and to the general public an expanding line of motorcycles and branded products and services in selected market segments.”
  • Ford Motor Company – “We are a global family with a proud heritage passionately committed to providing personal mobility for people around the world.”

These two mission statements have a clear employee focus and are most likely part of employee-related recruitment material, included in guidelines or handbooks for newly onboarded workers, and displayed on plaques or in frames at dealerships, offices and headquarters, as well as being listed on the firms’ websites. A good mission statement pulls employees together and gives them an ever-present goal-oriented focus, a sense of purpose and a feeling of being an integral part of the company’s future.

As an enterprise evolves, expands or changes direction over the years, it needs to review and quite possibly rewrite its mission statement in order to accurately represent corporate goals, philosophies and strategies for achieving its aims.

What a Good Mission Statement Should Include

When the time comes to write a mission statement, executives don’t need to flounder and over-complicate the issue. Include the ideas of management, key employees or any other team members who can best help answer these questions:

  • What is the company’s purpose?
  • Why does the company exist?
  • How does the company do what it does?
  • For whom does the company provide products or services?
  • What are the company’s substantive goals?

After brainstorming sessions, sum up the answers to the questions above in a concise sentence or two, bearing in mind that the mission statement will be read by anyone involved in the company and, ultimately, by the customers or clients who keep the organization in business. Test out the mission statement on select employees and ask for feedback in order to tweak and adjust it until it becomes worthy of inclusion in employee manuals, compendiums, and the “About Us” section of the firm’s website, or proudly displayed behind glass in a hallway at the business’ headquarters.