Stressed out?

Your alarm clock didn’t go off this morning, you spilled hot coffee on your work clothes, there’s a pile of projects waiting for you at work, and your next vacation is months away.

When everyday life is enough to frazzle your nerves, adding “Relax, already!” to your to-do list might just make things less bearable. The happy truth? There are simple ways to fight back when stress strikes at work-no matter how crazy your schedule. Try these tricks.


10 minutes: Say “om” at the office
Desk side poses can bring instant calm, says Sarah Trelease, senior yoga teacher at OM Yoga in New York City. Try this: Lift shoulders to ears and release while taking deep breaths. With feet on the floor, put right hand on left knee, keeping spine long; turn belly to the left to release the tension in your back. Switch sides and release; repeat-and feel the tension disappear.

Clean up your act
If you’re always running late, (this applies to me also! ) set your clocks and watches fast and give yourself extra time. If your desk is a mess, file and throw away the clutter; just knowing where everything is saves time and cuts stress. A quick tidy-up session will give you an energy boost. And if that cluttered office has got you frazzled, file (or toss) a few papers or just make some neat piles. Make to-do lists and cross off items as you accomplish them. Plan your day and stick to the schedule – you’ll feel less overwhelmed.


Lunch: 1 hour: Get a manicure or pedicure
Your hands and feet are loaded with more than 7,000 nerve endings, so having them massaged is a great tension tamer, Moore says. That’s all the excuse you need to sneak away from the office for some spa therapy. Skip the chatter with the nail technician, though, and grab a gossip magazine, listen to some music, or simply close your eyes and tune out, Moore suggests. Anything too involved will distract you from the moment.

Take short breaks after a particularly stressful event; Take a 5 minute walk around the block or a few minutes of quiet meditation to re-balance their energies. Several short breaks throughout the day can keep you working at peak performance

The workplace and stress seem to go hand and hand these days. Job insecurity, harsh lighting, lack of sunshine, computers, chemicals, job pressures and demands, and the list goes on and on it seems. Unfortunately, many of these factors seem beyond our control. We can not put windows in our work space cubicle, nor can we change our job description to lessen time on computers, telephones, and at the copier. Aromatherapy has been proven to be excellent for stress relief as well as increasing productivity and efficiency levels. The possibilities are only limited to your imagination. There are many ways to bring aromatherapy into the workplace. Diffusers heat essential oils and allow their molecules to be released into the atmosphere. Inhaling different essential oils can alter your mood, stimulate creativity, help concentration and rid an area of airborne viruses and bacteria. Scenting your office with Lavender essential oil is said to reduce computer errors at least 25%.

If you must work in an air conditioned or stuffy building, using essential oils in a diffuser or spritzing a spritzer can really clear the air. Geranium, Lavender, Lemon, Peppermint and Rosemary are all excellent for a quick pick me up. Try Chamomile, Lavender, Orange or Sandalwood oil. All are thought to help combat stress and tension.

The weekend: Unplug completely
Technology is supposed to make life easier, but constant exposure to cell phones, PDAs, computers, and TV can overwhelm your nervous system, says Alan Keck, PsyD, of the Center for Positive Psychology in Orlando, Florida. Restore inner peace by enjoying two tech-free days. Catch up on your reading, go out for walks, or just hang with your pooch. (Studies show that spending time with pets lowers blood pressure and anxiety.)

As a wise philosopher said, “Don’t take life so seriously, it’s only a hobby”.   Try to remember what was stressful in your life six months ago or a year ago. Chances are, you can’t. Know that this day will be just another day in history and whatever seems traumatic now will fade into oblivion as time passes.

Laughter is great medicine for humans, too!



Leave a comment

Filed under 1

Workplace Germs Are Plentiful

The average office has hundreds of times more bacteria than a toilet seat. The “enter” button on your office fax machine is probably a rank stew of vile bacteria. And here’s a controversial bit – women spread more germs in the workplace than men.
Those are some of the findings of America’s leading expert on work and home hygiene, Charles Gerba, a professor of microbiology at the University of Arizona.
Before women take offense, the higher germ concentration is proof that women have a healthier diet than men. Women, Gerba found, tend to store apples, bananas and other biodegradable, healthy food at their desk while men go for less nutritious and therefore less germ-ridden junk food, such as gum or potato chips.

Over the past two years, Gerba and his team have seen an improvement in overall office hygiene as desk wipes and hand cleaners become more popular.
However, in these summer months, with air conditioning units and ventilation shafts a good breeding ground for bacteria, there are a number of points experts want you to be aware of before you high-five a colleague at the office meeting:



Washing you hands for 20 seconds under soap and running water is far better than a quick squirt of hand sanitizer at your desk, says Dean Cliver, a professor of food safety at the University of California.
While many hand sanitizers boast of anti-microbial properties, a scrub with ordinary soap is far better, Cliver said. Water penetrates much deeper, helping to remove food debris and other particles that hand sanitizer just doesn’t reach.


Office workers touch their hands to their faces an average of 18 times an hour, according to Elizabeth Scott, a professor at the Simmons Center for Hygiene and Health in Boston.
When we touch our faces, we bring all the collected gunk of our keyboard, desktop or BlackBerry right to their respiratory and digestive system every 3 1/2 minutes – bacteria and viruses couldn’t ask for a better transportation system.
Scott recommends washing hands regularly and, yes, using hand sanitizer, especially after shaking hands with a colleague suspected of having a cold or another illness. “As soon as I see someone come into my office that I think is sick, I immediately grab the sanitizer. You can shake hands at business meetings and still protect yourself,” she said.
Gerba, in contrast, politely declines a handshake if someone has a cold. “You could infect the whole office. Any reasonable person will understand that,” he said.


Is your cubicle a pristine display cabinet while your neighbor’s is a mounting pile of paper, uneaten food and sports socks? Those bacteria will multiply and crawl over that cubicle wall.
Gerba’s research found that two adjacent offices at one company had the biggest yeast contamination of dozens of offices sampled. The contamination simply spread from one to the other.
“It might be of interest to take note of your neighbor’s hygiene practices, so sharing of bacteria and yeast doesn’t occur,” he wrote in his report.


Shake an average office keyboard and you are likely to find what Gerba calls “the bagel shower” – bits of bread particles and other food bites lodged between the keys.
Most office cleaning companies do not touch computers or keyboards because they don’t want to risk causing any damage. Hygiene is left to the employee, and many don’t bother.
Gerba recommends an alcohol-based sanitizer for cleaning the keyboard. Simply blowing compressed air over it is not going to remove bacteria clinging to the surface, he warned.
Perhaps the best combination is that used by Brendan Cahalan, a risk manager with Standard Motor Products in Long Island City in New York. He uses an alcohol-based cleaner on his computer, as well as compressed air to clean out any debris between the keys.


Don’t let food accumulate in your desk drawer, where it will provide a giant breeding ground for bacteria. According to Gerba, women bring healthier food to their desktop, such and bananas and fruit, which provide a boon for nutrient-hungry bacteria.
Gerba recommends the rapid disposal of any unwanted food; hassled employees often forget about food lodged at the back of desk drawers.
“The office refrigerator is a total mess as well,” he said. “People do not keep to the disposal rules, and the refrigerator is taking in food from many, many different households.”
Scott comes to women’s defense on the food issue – women often have cleaner desks than men, so they will not allow the bacteria to build, she said.


Gerba’s study of offices in New York, San Francisco and Tucson, Ariz., found that teachers’ offices had by far the highest levels of germs per square inch, nearly three times as much as bankers, the next most contaminated professionals. Lawyers had the least infection.
While lawyers have the advantage of having little contact with children, they are also good at sticking to a regimen, Gerba said.
One example is Colleen Kerwick, an aviation litigation lawyer with the firm in Manhattan. She wraps up food remains and dumps them immediately. She was encouraged to do so after seeing a mouse’s head peer out of a waste basket at a previous employer’s office.
“I do not use hand sanitizers or antibiotics as I believe they weaken your immune system. However, I’m much more careful about office hygiene since my mouse sighting,” she said.


Gerba’s research in dozens of offices has found that the “enter” and “send” buttons on fax machines carry some of the highest concentrations of harmful microbes. In contrast, lesser used keys have significantly less contamination.
Other commonly used surfaces with high contamination levels include the “copy” button on the office copier, and the handles of rest room doors.

Leave a comment

Filed under 1

What is Sharktime?

Time clocks are coming soon to a location near you….There will be no more timesheets, instead there will be a timeclock–& employees will be expected to punch in & out!

  Shark Time will be Nova Southeastern University’s electronic timekeeping system that gathers information about non-exempt employees’ work hours through a combination of time clocks and desktop PCs.

Via either the time clock or the desktop PC, employees will time their time in and time out. They will approve their time card at the end of each pay period. They will be able to view available leave balances, request time off, and view time from prior pay periods.

  Some time clock facts: Did you know…

The first time clock was invented in November 20, 1888, by Willard Bundy, a jeweler in Auburn, New York.



 A year later his brother, Harlow Bundy, organized the Bundy Manufacturing Company, and began mass producing time clocks. Bundy Manufacturing, along with two other time equipment businesses, was consolidated into the International Time Recording Company (ITR). In 1911 ITR and two other companies were merged, forming Computing Tabulating Recording Corporation (CTR), which would later change its name to IBM. In 1958 IBM’s Time Equipment Division was sold to the Simplex Time Recorder Company. The time cards usually had the workdays and time in and time out areas marked on them so that employees could “punch in” or “punch out” in the correct place. The employee was responsible to line up the correct area of the card to be punched with an indicator on the time card.


A time clock, sometimes known as a clock card machine or punch clock or time recorder, is a mechanical (or electronic) timepiece used to assist in tracking the hours an employee of a company worked. In regards to mechanical time clocks this was accomplished by inserting a heavy paper card, called a time card, into a slot on the time clock. When the time card hit a contact at the rear of the slot, the machine would print day and time information on the card. This allowed a timekeeper to have an official record of the hours an employee worked to calculate and pay an employee.

The first punch-card system to be linked to a Z80 microprocessor was developed by Kronos Incorporated (which is who Nova Southeastern University will be using)  in the late 1970s and introduced as a product in 1979. In the 1990s, time clocks started to move away from the mechanical version to computer based, electronic time tracking systems. On these systems, the employee enters an employee number, swipes a magnetic stripe card, or brings an RFID tag into proximity with a reader, or uses some other device to identify the employee to the system. Based on the system being used, the employee then enters what should be recorded.

This is also known as “punching in”, “punching out”.  Lunch breaks, reason for leaving early, or any other type of information the employer requires is noted on the system.

So when will this all be implemented?

Nova expects to have them up & running by Saturday, March 21st 2009, which is the beginning of a new pay period.

Training is being offered to employees which will show us how to correctly navigate the system &, “punch in” & “punch out”.


For tutorials and how to guides, please access Kronos Knowledge Pass.

You will need to register at the above site. Please enter your user name and password and use the company code, 6085670, when prompted. NSU’s product version is 6.0.

Once you have registered at the site, you will have 24/7 access to find helps and tutorials to guide you through each task in SharkTime.



Leave a comment

Filed under 1

Obama could restore ergonomics work rules

New ergonomic law may go forward …

“Barely a month into his presidency, Barack Obama has made it clear that the labor movement is back in vogue in Washington.

“I do not view the labor movement as part of the problem; to me, it’s part of the solution,” the president said at a recent White House event.

Seeing the writing on the wall, business groups fear that Obama and the Democratic-led Congress want to bring back costly new ergonomics rules. They would force companies to take steps to protect their workers from injuries caused by such things as heavy lifting and repetitive stress.

Those fears may be well-founded.

While the White House has yet to announce such a plan, Obama’s choice for the nation’s next workplace sheriff is Hilda Solis, a Los Angeles Democrat who joined the House in 2001 and who wasted no time in making ergonomics a priority.

“In my district,” Solis said in one of her first speeches on the House floor, “we have many constituents who work in a hard and unsafe manner, many of them working in sweat shops, many of them work for big garment factories; they work 10 and 12 hours sewing materials, barely being able to lift up their heads. The least that we can do is provide them with better protections in the workplace.”

Solis, the daughter of immigrants and union workers, was angry that Republicans wanted to make ergonomic rules voluntary, leaving it to individual businesses to decide what to do – if anything – to protect their workers. Ultimately, Republicans were successful in overturning the Clinton-era rules, and at the time she offered her thoughts: “It is shameful.”

California is the only state that forces employers to take action, and there’s already talk of using the state’s ergonomics rules as a national model.

But in its official list of policy priorities for 2009, the Washington-based U.S. Chamber of Commerce says it will oppose any attempt to revive the ergonomics rules. Chamber officials regard an ergonomics rule as “the mother of all regulations,” one that would easily cost businesses millions of dollars.

Before Obama and his new labor chief can move on the issue, Solis must be confirmed by the Senate. That vote could come as soon as today, and both of California’s Democratic senators are backing the nomination.

Solis, who has long ties to labor groups, is among the last Cabinet nominees awaiting a vote, but the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee has recommended her approval. Her nomination hit a bump in the committee, which temporarily delayed a vote after reports surfaced that her husband had been late in resolving a business tax lien.

Democratic Rep. Doris Matsui of Sacramento called Solis a leader for labor rights and said it’s important for Congress to move quickly on ergonomics rules, especially with health care costs on the rise and workplace hazards continuing “to take a serious toll on a stable work force.”

“The first act of the Bush administration in 2001 was to revoke (the) ergonomic standard, which led to a record of neglect,” Matsui said.

No one cheered louder that year than the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The group had urged Congress to overturn the rules, arguing that they were too expensive and that it would be impossible to determine whether employees sustained their injuries at work.

Businesses still fear they’d be legally liable for employee injuries not of their making.

“Let’s face it: We all go through things in our lives as simple as bad sleeping habits or exercise or recreational activities that would cause our bodies to feel discomfort,” said Marc Freedman, director of labor law policy for the chamber.

The rules that were overturned in 2001 would have forced companies to redesign workplaces and employee tasks to avoid such things as musculoskeletal injuries and carpal-tunnel syndrome.

Freedman said that most employers recognize that it’s a good business practice to provide a safe and healthy workplace. He said that since 2001 most employers have moved voluntarily to find ways to increase the comfort of employees.

“And that’s really the key word here,” Freedman said. “It’s all about comfort.”

He said a new rule is not needed because workplace injuries have declined, adding: “It’s no longer talked about like some type of epidemic.”

Obama left little doubt where he stands on the issue during the presidential campaign.

In a written response to questions from the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer last year, Obama said that workers, including poultry workers, “are particularly susceptible to debilitating musculoskeletal injuries.”

He said the Occupational Safety and Health Administration “must attack this problem with all of the tools at its disposal – regulations, enforcement, training and compliance assistance.”

And in the first week of his presidency, without specifically mentioning ergonomics rules, Obama said he wanted to reverse “many of the policies toward organized labor that we’ve seen these last eight years, policies with which I’ve sharply disagreed.”

Solis said nothing about the issue during her confirmation hearings, but in 2001 she said it was clear the nation needed ergonomics rules. “We studied this thing to death,” she said.

With the exception of California, states have largely shied away from the idea of imposing their own rules. Labor officials are trying to make Michigan the second state with ergonomics rules, but business groups are urging its defeat, arguing the economy is too weak to impose new regulations on companies.”


Leave a comment

Filed under 1

The workplace is chilly….

Employees are getting steamed up about a common workplace problem: office temperature.

Research shows productivity falls as offices get colder.

And chilly offices can also lead to workplace tiffs about the thermostat, with unhappy workers toting space heaters, shawls and fuzzy slippers to the office even in summer.


How some cope:

• Amanda Carmichael, 24, at Waterhouse Public Relations in Chattanooga, Tenn., keeps a blanket and two extra sweaters at work. She has also worn long johns under her pants.

“When I wear skirts, I even bring a pair of flannel pajama bottoms and socks to slip on when I’m at my desk,” Carmichael said in an e-mail.

• At Kelley Blue Book in Irvine, Calif., Robyn Eckard, 31, keeps a space heater running in her office even though it’s 90 degrees outside.

“Two girls here have blankets, and you walk by, and they look like little Eskimos wrapped up in there,” Eckard says.

• At New York-based business communications firm CooperKatz, Andrea Martone, a vice president, has used a seat-warming cushion her husband takes on hunting trips to keep warm. She’s also used mitten warmers in her shoes.

“You look like a dork, of course, but you shut your door,” says Martone, 50.

It’s actually a bottom-line issue. When the office temperature was turned up, from 68 degrees to 77 degrees Fahrenheit, typing errors fell by 44% and overall typing output increased by 150% – gaining companies an extra $2 per worker in productivity, according to the 2004 study by Cornell University professor Alan Hedge.

Complaints about office temperature top the 10 most common office complaints in a survey by the International Facility Management Association (IFMA).

“There are temperature comfort ranges. It’s kind of a science and an art,” says Don Young at IFMA. “It’s an issue for keeping people productive. Some workers wear sweaters, and the people next to them are hot.”

Young says some companies even install dummy thermostats, so workers think they can control the temperature.

“It’s the placebo effect,” he says.

Some companies are getting creative. At New York-based Women For Hire, a provider of career fairs for women, cold employees barter for air-conditioning-free time. Last week, one employee bought everyone Diet Coke and Coke in return for 15 minutes of turning off the air conditioner.

Others take matters into their own hands. Jenny Corsey, 25, a senior account executive at Atlanta-based Spizman Agency, brings blue L.L. Bean slippers with snowflakes on them for days when summer weather calls for sandals but indoor temperatures do not.

And when Diane Danielson, 37, was practicing as a lawyer, she coped with frigid air conditioning by plugging in a space heater and wearing long johns under her skirts. “I would hike them up so no one can see,” says Danielson, now CEO of in Boston, a women’s business networking organization. “I still had to be fashionable.”


Leave a comment

Filed under 1

Tips for Bringing Your Lunch to Work

The tips are all fairly obvious, but seeing a collection of tips like this all in one place sometimes helps to force the issue and actually make a change. In this case, that would be to break out of the habit of going out to lunch everyday –(especially when we all are trying to save an extra dollar) spending more money than you should and eating more than you should — and start brown-bagging it, thereby saving some money and eating healthier. Here are the tips — please leave a comment with your bring your lunch to work ideas!

  • Pack it up the night before. The biggest downfall in terms of actually bringing a lunch to work is that you don’t have enough time in the morning to pack one up.

  • When you make your meals, plan extra portions so that you can bring them in for lunch the next day(s).

  • When you go shopping, make sure your shopping list includes items that you’d like to bring for lunch — sandwich meats, fruit, crackers, dried fruits, nuts, etc.

  • Not so great soup from the deli can cost $5 or more. A semi-decent can of soup from the store that cost $2 to $3 can be easily placed in a plastic container and brought to work. A quick zap in the microwave and you are good to go.

  • When all else fails, readymade frozen meals brought to work and heated up in the microwave will be cheaper than going out to lunch. They’re easy to pack, easy to prepare, and some can be quite tasty.

  • When you go out to eat, make sure you have the food left on your plate packed up — that’s right — leftovers, leftovers, leftovers. The food often tastes better the next day (or maybe it’s just because you’re having a not-uncommon bad day at work, and the taste of the leftovers triggers that happy feeling you had the night before when you were out on the town with friends, family or your significant other eating a meal at a nice restaurant).

  • Invest in good, easy to clean, compact containers that can be used over and over again.

  • Not just big containers, but little ones that you can put things like mustard or dressings in. That way, you can add these extras on at the right time, instead of doing it earlier and soggifying your lunch.

  • Use the tops of your containers as plates, instead of using wasteful paper plates.

  • Get a spork — a spoon, fork and knife in one handy, reusable eating utensil, so that you don’t need to bring in multiple utensils or use wasteful plastic forks, knives and spoons.

  • If you have a sweet tooth, make sure to pack some healthy sweets (like raisons or dried apricots, things like that), so that you are not tempted to run out and get a donut or candy from the vending machines.

  • Give up soda completely — commit to drinking water. Not drinking soda really cuts down on the calories AND the cost of lunch. Plus, a can(s) of soda is a heavy item to lug all the way to work.

  • Don’t ONLY bring your lunch — treat yourself to a nice lunch at your favorite lunch place, or somewhere that you’ve been wanting to try, at least one day a week. Just like you can get tired of eating out all the time, you can also get tired of brown-bagging it day after day.

  • Wednesday is the optimal day to go out to lunch — breaks up the monotony of bringing your lunch right smack in the middle of the work week.

  • Make a point of not just eating your packed lunch sitting at your desk. On nice weather days, find a nice place outside to eat, and invite co-workers to join you. On bad weather days, eat in the community dining area, or order a coffee at a nice cafe and eat your lunch there. Donut shops are also a nice option, that is, if you can hold your order to just coffee and avoid feasting on all those glorious, delicious donuts treats.

  • Fruit is all-purpose lunch magic — easy to pack, no container necessary, and affordable. Plus, the sweetness of the various fruits — and there are so many to choose from — can serve as a desert, keeping you from giving in to your sweet tooth cravings or need for a soda. And one more thing: fruit works as an excellent, healthy, fulfilling snack — it can be eaten before lunch if your stomach is growling, or after lunch, during that long stretch between the lunch break and quitting time that is usually marred by a trip down to the vending machine or to the corner store for a candy bar or a (stale) cookie or something really awful like cardboard with frosting and sprinkles on top, otherwise known as Pop Tarts (yes, I admit it, I love those things — even when they’re untoasted

  • Use the community fridge in your office to store items that can help zest up your lunches — things like good mustard or salad dressing or salsa/hot sauce or even pita bread and hummus.

  • Keep a jar of peanut butter in your desk drawer for those days when you forget your lunch or just didn’t have time to pack up a good one. You can easily pick up some bread at any deli for not much money at all. The peanut butter can also come in handy if you need an (almost the) end of the day snack.

  • Have a cool bag to bring your lunch in — an extra non-essential (but not really) fashion incentive to bring your lunch to work.


Leave a comment

Filed under 1

All in a day’s work: Ramblings of a Reference Librarian…

Some days I love working the reference desk, (public library) some days I hate it, and it’s often the same day.”


In the Afternoon:

Request: Salesmanship books.
Crying baby.
Book request: “From rage to reason,” by Janet Langhart Cohen.

Patron: (Over the phone. “I … just … can’t … find … my … card … anywhere …”)
Computers are over there, sir.
A patron calls back with her barcode, but I’ve already found it.
“Yes, or no,” by Spencer Johnson.
Some year’s best horror anthology series.
I can’t notarize that, sir.
Coworker: “My husband started making fun of me because I hit like a girl. So I kicked him in the *#@%.”
Patron has a lot of bees in her backyard, and she wants to read up on how to “contain” them.
His computer froze.
“We are not forgotten,” by Joel Martin.

In the Evening:

Request: Deaf sentence, by David Lodge.
Information on Ranma #13.
Another request: The verbally abusive relationship, by Patricia Evans.
Patron: Do you have guest passes?
Man & woman arguing: “Shut up!” the guy says to the girl…
Can you recomend  websites to help kids move up to their grade level, in Spanish.
Librarian: At least it’s quiet tonight, apart from three kids I repeatedly tell to be quiet.
Printer advice.
Quit horsing around (the kids from before).
Do we participate in NetLibrary?
She lost her library card.
Patron: can you give me any information on Kama Sutra?
How we do faxes.
Community service.
Dog breeding.
I replace printer toner.
patron  gets upset & curses at me because I won’t let her jump in the Internet queue.
Bathroom’s over there, sir.
And another one gets upset because her reservation expired.
A third one wants a specific machine.
A fourth one begs for more time so she can finish filling out a form, but her machine crashes anyway.
Copier’s over there, ma’am.
A child screaming in the stone stairwell resonates and sounds like a bad horror movie.
The first Chronicles of Narnia movie.
The Bluford High series.
Printer jam.
Get off that machine, kid.
Book Request: “Exit here,” by Jason Myers.
Sure you can use the computer, . Just get a library card.
Chicken soup for some kind of soul or another.
Click, don’t double-click, kid.
I clear up a half-dozen computer problems.
Our computer class schedule doesn’t fit his, and it’s our fault.
And a half-dozen more.
“I STILL can’t log in.”
Requests: Purple Loosestrife, killer bees, European black currents and some species of moth that hung out with Mennonites.
Sorry, I don’t know how to download music to your MP3 player.
That’s a library catalog, kid, not a place to visit Myspace.
Magnifying glass.
“Chocolate chip cookie murder,” by Joanne Fluke.
The kid is BACK on the catalog trying to get to Myspace.
I let a guy use my machine to get his school notes off email.

Leave a comment

Filed under 1