How to Work from Home Like a Pro

Work from Home. Like a Pro. Given the chance, most employees would jump at the opportunity to work from the comfort of home.

More flexibility?

No rush hour traffic?

Trading in heels for yoga pants?


In addition, many studies show that home-based employees are happier and more productive. However, some companies are understandably still hesitant to offer this benefit because the arrangement isn’t without challenges.

Distractions pop up and it can be easy to get side-tracked when we’re in our own environment. It’s just human nature. Who can resist the siren call of a dishwasher that needs to be emptied?

If you’ve convinced your employer to allow you to work remotely, there are a few tips and tricks that can ensure that this arrangement is a win-win for both of you.

1. Get dressed (and shower!) every morning

Yes, the temptation to roll out of bed and sit down at your computer in sweatpants or pajamas can be almost irresistible. But try to stick with your old morning routine as much as possible.

Hit the gym, take a shower and then put on some real clothes before clocking in. It will make you feel more professional and put you in the right mindset to tackle the day ahead. Plus, chances are, your family will appreciate it, too.

2. Create a dedicated office space

Even though you no longer have a commute, you should still make a point of “going to the office,” even if it’s just down the hall.

Do this by setting up an area in your home that’s for work alone. It could be a whole room or just a corner in the guest room. Whatever space you decide on, equip it with a desk, file cabinet, office supplies and a comfortable, ergonomic chair. It’ll also make it easier to close the door and leave work behind when it’s quitting time.

3. Designate regular office hours

clock We’ve all heard the term “work-life balance,” and this is especially important when working from home. With your office right down the hall, it can be all too easy to check office email or finish up that proposal at all hours of the day and night. In your mind, establish set working hours — 9 to 5, 7 to 4, whatever makes most sense — and then do your best to stick with them.

4. Change up your routine occasionally

Up until now, we’ve talked about the importance of keeping a routine in place and sticking with it. However, being in your house 24/7 can make even the most dedicated hermit a little stir-crazy.

One of the advantages of most work-from-home arrangements is that you don’t have to actually be in your house if you don’t want to. Scope out your neighborhood coffee shop. Look into a co-working arrangement a day or two a week.

Even just sitting on the patio instead of at a desk can clear your head and make you more productive.

5. Dampen distractions

paper-clipDistractions aren’t always bad.

Occasionally, we all need to take a break and clear our heads, especially if we’re working on a challenging project. However, it can be all too easy to get drawn into “time sucks” like social media and online games.

If you suddenly find that you’ve lost a few minutes — or hours! — on the web, you may need to set up some safeguards to get you back on track. A simple kitchen timer may be all you need. Set it for 5 or 10 minutes and when it goes off, get back to work. If you need a little more motivation, online applications like Anti-Social, StayFocused or FocusBooster can help keep you focused.

Setting up a home office? With a full line of business stationery, presentation materials and promotional items, PaperDirect is your one-stop source for your work-from-home needs.


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What to Say When Presenting an Award [Script]

Shooting Star Certificate Jacket by PaperDirectOne of the most effective ways to make employees and volunteers feel appreciated is by presenting them with an elegant award in recognition of their service.

Awards in and of themselves are always welcomed by recipients. But why not go the extra mile and present the award in front of others along with a short, heartfelt speech about their contributions?

Don’t know where to begin? Here are a few tips, along with a sample script, that should help get you started.


open with a funny or touching anecdote about the person if possible. This sets up the framework for what makes the recipient special. However, make sure it’s not too personal or potentially embarrassing.


describe some of the recipient’s accomplishments and relate it to why they’re receiving the award. Although they may have a long list of achievements, try to keep it relatively brief and play up the ones that are most significant.

After that,

give a quick, general description of the recipient as a person outside of their accomplishments. Are they funny or warm? Do they have other significant interests or hobbies? Are there particular quirks they’re known for?


wrap it up with the presentation itself and lead the applause.

As promised, here’s a sample script.

Feel free to use this as a template for your own presentation.

The first day Joan Henry volunteered at the Southview SPCA, she performed a miracle. In one dog run was a little scared poodle named Gigi. Gigi had cowered from everyone who tried to approach her and refused to eat, and the staff was getting concerned. Joan asked if she could try. The staff agreed but told her not to get her hopes up. Joan entered the run, sat down and remained perfectly still for the longest time. Finally, Gigi crept out of the corner, sniffed Joan and then, to our amazement, curled up in Joan’s lap and fell asleep. It was one of the most remarkable things any of us had ever seen.

Since that day 10 years ago, Joan has become an invaluable and beloved member of the Southview family. During that time, by some estimates, she has walked 10,000 dogs and scooped 25,000 litter boxes. She has helped organize fundraising events, assisted at vaccination clinics and got Southview set up on social media. And she’s done all this without ever being paid a dime.

Joan is passionate and compassionate, determined and soft-hearted. She has boundless energy, is quick to laugh and, as all of us here know, is completely obsessed with pistachio ice cream. Countless animals owe her their thanks and we here at Southview owe her even more.

Ladies and gentleman, the Southview SPCA’s volunteer of the year — Joan Henry!

We wish you luck in creating your own speeches for recognition!


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8 Things Every Business Should Know about the Online Marketing World

Marketing is invaluable in reaching a target audience and generating positive word of mouth. In addition to traditional offline paper marketing materials like business cards and flyers, businesses should be covered in the virtual world as well. Here are eight key things every business should know about online marketing:

1. Websites are wonderful

Foundational to your online marketing campaign is your website. Make sure it has a clean, organized, modern and appealing design.

2. SEO considerations

You can have the best website on the planet but if you aren’t getting traffic, no one will see it. SEO refers to “search engine optimization” so that you come up high in the search engines. Identify the top keywords your customers use to search for your product or service and use them naturally throughout your website text.

3. Blog it out

Another SEO tip to give your site a higher ranking with the search engines is to regularly add or update content. One of the best ways to do this is with a blog. Provide useful tips, articles and news items to draw readers to your site and keep them coming back.

4. An e-newsletter 

Make it a habit to collect the email addresses of your customers so that you can send out a regular newsletter one or twice per month.

5. Be social



Social media is another great way to connect with your ideal customer base. Sign up for a business Facebook and/or Twitter account and post daily updates.

6. Get LinkedIn

linkedinA LinkedIn account is the top B2B social media interface, and you should take the time to make a profile here as well. It’s a great way to connect with vendors and new employees as well as see what your peers and competitors are up to.

7. Multimedia marketing 

pinterestyoutube_logoThe internet isn’t just about text and links; it’s easier than ever to share photos, audios and videos around the web. Consider branching out to Pinterest and YouTube accounts to help promote your business.

8. Go mobile

Many internet users have broken away from the desktop and laptop, primarily using their smartphones and tablets to browse the ‘net. Make sure all of your content has appeal on smaller screens as well.

The internet offers more marketing opportunities than ever before, so be sure you’re making the most of it. Make use of these eight things every business should know, and rely on PaperDirect for all of your printed marketing material needs.

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10 Simple Ways to Cheer up Your Staff

Stacked Stars Certificates by PaperDirectAccording to BusinessWeek, the happier the worker, the more productive they become. Therefore, as an employer, you will likely appreciate the 10 ways to cheer up staff listed below:

Acknowledge Accomplishments

Sometimes, all it takes to lift someone’s spirits is a simply thank you, or acknowledgment of the hard work that they do. You can accomplish this by saying it person-to-person, or you can write a thank you note.

Create a certificate or award

Have a mini award ceremony and award an employee who has worked overtime or went above and beyond with a certificate. Choose one of the many options on Paper Direct.

Give bonuses

Awards and thank you notes are great, but if your company can afford it, offering dedicated employees bonuses is an even more effective way to increase morale.

Consider a raise

Today, the cost of virtually everything is increasing. Therefore, if you can, raising an employee’s income is a great way to increase their happiness.

Offer extra vacation days

If your budget does not allow for an increase in income, offer more vacation days as a way to show your employees you appreciate all their hard work.

Fix up your office

Make the office a place that is positive for employees. For example, add some comfy couches, a TV to the break room, or offering free drinks and snacks are all great ways to improve employee morale.


Many times, your employees will have a good idea for how to accomplish any given task, sometimes, even better than your idea. Therefore, listen to your employee and recognize a good idea when you hear it, and be sure to give them the credit.

Have fun, and encourage them to have fun

Ever so often, have a goof-off day. Allow your employees to wear shorts and sandals, and encourage them to play some games for a few hours, such as darts or even go disc golfing as a group.

Fire a problem-maker

It is your job as the boss to cut the dead-weight and fire an employee who is not doing their job adequately, or at the very least give them a warning. Cutting out the unproductive person and replacing them with someone who will pull their weight will help those employees who work hard each and every day.

Be aware

Contempo Modern Certificates by PaperDirect

Finally, be aware of the moral levels in your office. After all, if you never gauge youremployees moral levels, you can never seek to improve working conditions and overall employee happiness.

Follow the 10 tips listed above to raise your employees’ moral and in turn make your workplace more productive.

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5 Ways to Boost your Productivity before the Holidays

Christmas The excitement and stress that surrounds the holidays, combined with the shorter days, can become problematic for you as a business owner when it comes to productivity.

It is a challenge–but not impossible–to keep your employees motivated, while in the midst of family visits and numerous functions and while they are dealing with the stress that comes from providing gifts for numerous people.

Read below for five tips to help you create a more productive work environment, even during the holiday season:

Set Manageable Goals:

During the holidays, you need to reduce your overall expectations in regards to production. After all, with all the distractions, stress and events surrounding the holidays, your employees just aren’t going to be as productive. However, you can still expect–and encourage–productivity, just not at the levels that you can demand during other times of the year. Remember, setting a realistic goal in regards to productivity will make your life and your employees’ lives less stressful.


businessmenAfter you determine what you are productivity goals are for your business during the holidays, you need to share these goals and communicate what you expect to your employees. Often times, employers neglect to communicate with their employees, and this rift reduces the amount of production that would have been possible if they would have simply communicated what they expected beforehand.

Offer Rewards as Motivation:

rewardAbove, you read about how hard it is for employees and employers alike to be as productive during the holidays. However, you can still create a way to motivate your employees to do their very best during this time through rewards. This could include awarding a top seller, or recognizing those that miss the least amount of work. You can reward them financially, which will really grab their attention during the holidays, and you can also give them a personalized certificate to go along with their compensation, which will be something they can keep for years to come.

Have a Good Attitude Yourself:

open160Don’t be a scrooge and act like the holidays don’t exist, just because you want to continue to be productive. Instead, create holiday celebrations at work and encourage the holiday spirit in your office throughout this time of year. This will have a positive effect on your employees’ attitude and encourage them to work harder in between celebrations.

Offer Time Off, be Flexible:

man76When it’s possible, give your employees time off to be with their families and to enjoy the holiday celebrations. When you work with them in regards to time off during this crazy time of year, they will be more likely to work hard for you and produce more in the process.

For all your office communication and motivational needs, visit PaperDirect.

[photo via] [Images via]

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Cute & Lighthearted Songs for your Wedding

Cute & Lighthearted Songs for your Wedding

While romantic, heartfelt love songs certainly have their time and place, some couples want to take a more lighthearted approach to their weddings songs and first dance.

If that’s you, browse this playlist and find a simple wedding song that can become a romantic favorite over the next years together. 


Nothin about Love Makes Sense – LeAnn Rimes

Just the Way You Are – Bruno Mars

Home – Edward Sharpe & Magnetic Zeros

You and I – Ingrid Michaelson

1,2,3,4 – Plain White T’s

I’m Yours – Jason Mraz

Lucky – Jason Mraz & Colbie Cailat

Would You go with Me – Josh Turner

Ours – Taylor Swift

I Do – Colbie Caillet

Everything – Michael Buble

Wildfire – John Mayer

Your Song – Ellie Goulding

Marry you – Bruno Mars

Do you have an amazing wedding song you’d like to share? Comment below! 

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The Do’s and Don’ts of an Unforgettable Office Party

17It’s almost that time of year again. You know the one. Office party time!

Office parties can be a great way to show employees appreciation and give them a chance to relax and socialize. And it’s not just fun for employees; it has real workplace benefits like idea sharing, morale building and turnover reduction.

However, it’s important to structure office parties so that they’re fun but still retain a professional atmosphere. Here are a few do’s and don’ts when planning your next office party.


Put pressure on employees to attend

Let’s face it. Some people just don’t enjoy parties. Others may feel strongly that they want to keep their work and private lives separate. Respect their choices and feelings, and emphasize that party attendance is entirely voluntary.


Skimp on the refreshments

Make sure you have plenty of food and beverages on hand for the number of guests expected.


Nothing will kill a party faster than an empty hors d’oeuvre tray. If you don’t have a budget for a big spread, there’s nothing wrong with a potluck. But make sure you provide the basics so that employees aren’t doing all the work.


Talk shop all night

Because of the relaxed setting, office parties can generate great ideas and innovations, and that certainly shouldn’t be discouraged. But try to remind employees to have fun and keep the festivities as un-worklike as possible.


Let things get out of hand

There’s a fine line between encouraging employees to have fun and letting things go too far. Keep an eye on the festivities and immediately address any behavior that is disruptive or making others uncomfortable.

If this becomes necessary, handle the situation in a calm, professional, respectful manner.


Distribute a formal invitation

Although email invitations are nice, there’s nothing like receiving an actual printed invite. A formal invitation lends an immediate air of class to the event and shows employees how much they are valued.

Allow employees to bring guests

Guests help employees feel more comfortable and make the function seem less work-like.

Plus, guests let co-workers see what each other’s lives are like outside of the office setting. Feel free to put a limit on the number of guests they can bring, but definitely encourage them.

Pick a theme

Christmas TreeSure, holidays parties may seem to have their own built-in theme. But what about going the extra step and hosting a “Ugly Christmas Sweater” party or “Zombie Halloween Party”?

Themes add a little extra levity and creativity, and they’re great ice breakers and conversation starters.

Specify a dress code

If you decide against the theme idea, make sure that a dress code is specified in the invitation. This sets the tone for the party and takes pressure off employees by letting them know what to expect.

With a little thought and planning, your office party will be an event employees with appreciate and talk about for years to come!

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5 Fun and Effective Ways to Promote Your Pumpkin Patch

Pumpkin Parade by PaperDirectAutumn is just around the corner and with it comes crisp days, falling leaves and of course, Halloween!

As a pumpkin patch owner, your marketing window is short. Start advertising too soon and customers might forget by the time they’re ready to buy. Too late and they may visit a competitor.

Plus, like most small business owners, your hands are already full. So effective, cost-efficient and low-stress advertising is a must.

Luckily, with a little planning and a few simple and fun marketing strategies, your patch will be the one everyone flocks to!

1. Reach out to moms’ groups, schools and daycares.

Contacting groups that cater to kids is a smart use of your marketing dollars. Create impactful but inexpensive flyers using festive seasonal papers with matching envelopes. Or opt for colorful postcards in oranges and yellows.

Be sure to handwrite the addresses and use a real stamp; these methods have been shown to increase both open and response rates.

2. Host family-friendly weekend events.

What mom or dad isn’t looking for a low-cost, wholesome activity to keep the kiddos entertained? In addition to increasing sales, these events will garner you the everlasting gratitude of frazzled parents everywhere.

Depending on your budget, make it as large or small as you like. Sack races, bobbing for apples, a bounce house and face painting are always big crowd pleasers. And don’t forget the hot cider!

3. Partner with a nonprofit.

Most nonprofits are eager to team up with local businesses to raise much-needed funds. Consider hosting a “Pumpkins for Charity” day and donate a portion of the proceeds to your favorite nonprofit.

Organizations that assist children and/or families are logical choices. With their help, you’ll reach more people than you would alone, and at the same time, create buzz and goodwill within your community.

4. Sponsor a pumpkin carving or painting contest.

Again, partnering with another organization will help cut costs and expand your reach.

Approach a local grocery store or keep an eye out for fall festivals in your area. Provide supplies and allow individuals to enter for the cost of a pumpkin. And bystanders will appreciate coupons and flyers.

5. Promote with big, colorful vinyl banners.

Whether you’re advertising an event or just driving passers-by to your patch, fall banners are the way to go. Scout out a few choice spots around town to display your banners. For added impact, come up with creative ways to hang them.

For example, hay bales or scarecrows are a sure-fire way to attract even more attention.

PaperDirect has a bounty of seasonal papers and banners that can help you carve out a tidy profit this fall! Come see them all at


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How to Create Your Guest List for Your Wedding

Before a bride can send out her beautiful invitations that provide meticulous details about her wedding day, she needs to narrow down her guest list.

It can be difficult to choose the most important family members and friends that have shared a role in the lives of both the bride and groom, and the task can quickly become overwhelming.

These tips for how to create a guest list will help any couple while planning their wedding.

How to Create Your Guest List for Your Wedding

Master List

Create a master list of all the people you would potentially like to invite to your ceremony and reception.

This will give you an idea of how many people you may want to invite, but also help you begin to narrow down if your list is too long.

It’s important to be fair about inviting guests — not only do you and your future spouse have people to invite, but both sets of in-laws also will have guests that they want to include as well.

Break into Groups

Separate the guest list into various groups including immediate family, extended family, friends and co-workers. Begin to filter through each list in order to determine who should make the final cut. Again, it is important to be fair and to set a consistent number that each person has to stick to when it comes to inviting guests.


Create a “B-List” in order to send out additional invites as you receive declines from the original guest list. You may want to place extra friends and co-workers on this B-list in the event that some relatives and close friends cannot attend the wedding.

Be Consistent

Set a standard for who will be cut from the list, and be consistent between all parties who are hoping to invite people to the wedding. For instance, some couples set a rule that all guests must be at least 18 years old in order to be invited.

Creating the guest list can be one of the most chaotic parts of wedding planning, and it honestly should be one of the first tasks that the couple checks off of their to-do list. When a guest list is determined and set well in advance of the wedding, the bride and groom will be able to easily and accurately plan for every other part of the big day. For more information on wedding guest lists and to see options for stunning invitations, check out PaperDirect today.

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Team Building: Thinking Outside the Box

Teamwork Poster by PaperDirectThese days, the words “team building” is more likely to elicit groans than excitement from employees.

Many times what spring to mind are silly games or trust exercises. Plus, it can mean rearranging deadlines and interrupting already packed work schedules.

However, when done right, team building can be a powerful tool to improve morale, create camaraderie and increase productivity.

When developing a team-building program, ask yourself what the ultimate goal is. Is it to strengthen the bond between coworkers? To encourage creativity or spark new ideas? To work on a company problem or issue? Focusing on the goal will help determine which exercises or activities will best accomplish it.

Next, ensure that you provide a safe environment. It’s okay to ask participants to step a bit outside their comfort zone. But if an employee is terrified of heights, for instance, group bungee jumping can be hugely counterproductive.

Finally, try to think outside the box and escape from the predictable, worn out team-building exercises of years past. Pleasantly surprising participants with a non-traditional activity will set the tone and get the ball rolling in the right direction.

Here are a few fun and quirky ideas to inspire you:

Scavenger Hunt

As a kid, you probably participated in scavenger hunts at birthday or Halloween parties. Little did you know you were learning how to work together and problem-solve.

Turns out, grown-up kids like scavenger hunts, too! The hunt can take place in your office building, a nearby park or your entire city.

Break the group up into teams and give them a list of items to find. Include word clues, pictures, brain teasers, etc. Each “find” is worth a certain number of points and the team with the most points wins!

Team-Building for Good

Great-Job-CertificateWhat could be better for employee morale than giving back to a worthy cause? Choose a local charity for your company to support. Then ask employees to bring in donations that will benefit the charity. For instance, non-perishable food items for a food bank or clothing for a women’s shelter.

Teams will use these items to build or make something (without destroying the items, of course). It may help to come up with a central theme like “Great Buildings of the World” or “Paris Fashion Show.” Award points for ingenuity, design and overall creativity. Afterwards, disassemble the “building blocks” and deliver the donations together.

All in the Family

Micro Prize Wheel from PaperDirectWork-life balance is crucial to employee morale and productivity. Overwhelmingly, employees crave flexibility and time with their families, even more than money or benefits. So why not include their families in team-building activities?

Organize a Family Fun Day complete with face painting, a bounce house, sack races, food and drink. Have a smaller budget? Opt for a good old-fashioned ice cream social. Hold a charity raffle or give away door prizes from other local businesses. And be sure to host the event during work hours.

That way, employees get extra time with their families, instead of having to come to work with their families during the hours they should be off.

Swirly Stars Casual Certificates by PaperDirect

No matter which team-building activity you decide on, remember to recognize your employees’ accomplishments. PaperDirect has a full selection of awards and certificates that say, “Job well done!”

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