How To Find The Best Shipping Companies To Transport Your Goods Abroad

Are you looking for a shipping company to transport your goods or products? Typically, like most clients, you’re likely to refer to standard shipping companies or drop shipping companies. But do you understand what these companies really are? Here are some factors you need to analyze before doing business with a company that would handle the shipping of your items. Differentiate the following in your options of international shipping companies:

Rates and prices. The first factor taken into consideration is (usually) the price. However, this should be the last of your concerns. Primarily, what you should prioritize is the quality of service offered by the company afterwhich you take a good look at the cost. Mind the caveat that lower or cheaper prices often equates to inferior service. You ought to steer clear of that.

The goods to be shipped. This is the first consideration you have to account when looking for a shipping company. Most clients are initially inclined to refer to the prices without assessing the experience of the company in shipping goods and products. Think about it. Companies that transport cars won’t do as good in transporting motorcycles! At first glance, you might notice some similarities, but eventually you will notice the differences. Inquire to the company about the items you want to be transported and ask about the conditions of the shipping process. Ask about the security conditions of the transportation. How long has the company been shipping such items? Find interest in a shipping company that has the most years of experience in transporting the same items that you want to ship.

Insurance. Most clients tend to forget about it, but it is extremely important. Insurance is a prime consideration especially when you’re transporting your goods and products long distance. Be particular when signing the contract, see to it that the merchandise will be kept safe. Note the conditions in the event that something would happen during the transport. If your merchandise is not insured, you’ll end up losing it and it’ll put a big dent on your budget. Make sure that this doesn’t happen. Talk to the shipping company about insuring your goods and be familiar with the policies of the firm.

Employee experience. Ask about how long the crew that handles the items to be shipped have been around. A simple way to do this is to ask the employees what the requirements were in order to pass for the job that they’re doing now. You’ll want the people that handle your goods to know what they’re doing!

Refer to internet reviews of the shipping company. You don’t actually have to trust everything that you read in the internet about company reviews. But focus on reading as many sites as you can and focus at buyer reviews. Locate sites that give clients opportunities to leave reviews about the shipping companies they’ve worked with.

The Art of Using Tools

I am that kind of a person that would analyze everything I do and over-think everything that takes place around me looking for better ways to do daily tasks and evaluate the means to improve current processes. No matter what I am doing and regardless of the situation, I believe that everything we do can be done in a better way, either better in terms of better quality or better outcome, less time, or less waste. This can be very challenging, very rewarding and sometimes very exhausting, but the result is always worth the effort.

Lean Six Sigma may be the first thing to cross your mind when I say eliminating waste, and sure it is. Lean is a mindset, an attitude, a culture or even a business style ( or a life style), yet what I want to discuss is more simple and basic than discussing the concepts of Lean.

Have you ever asked yourself whether or not you are using the correct tool to do a specific task? Are you using the correct pencil to draw a new product idea? Are you using the proper software? Are you using the correct screwdriver to put together a new table you just bought? Are you using the correct set of needles to complete your knitting project? Or even are you using the correct measuring cup when you prepare your favorite cake recipe?

Have you ever paused for a minute and took a look at the “tools” on your desk to evaluate if you really need them or not? Or if they really serve you in doing your daily tasks?

We all have a set of tools that we may identify as: “favorite tools”, “best tools”, “tools one is used to”, “available Tools”, but how far are these tools “fit for use”.

Have you guessed how many tools one may be using during his day. I counted 14 different tools that I’ve used only during the past couple of hours, the absence of 10of these tools would have made me less productive while the absence of any of the other 4 tools would have prevented me from completing the tasks I should be doing. These tools include the coffee machine, a cup, the coffee scoop, a light stand, my desk & Chair, a book, my pencil, a block note, my phone, my headphones, my laptop, the MS WORD software, and an internet browser.

The Oxford Dictionary defined the word “Tool” as: “A device or implement, especially one held in the hand, used to carry out a particular function”, it is also defined as “A thing used in an occupation or pursuit”.

What could be considered a tool in your work setting? Laptop, printer, scanner, fax, stationary products, software, etc..

What about a template that would save your time, prevent error and give a consistent standard output each time you fill it out, what about means of communication that will provide on time clear & concise information, or may be using and understanding industry related symbols on a package or in a process sheet.

I can list endless examples of what can be considered a tool, things that we have and use without even identifying them as tools, or tools that may be wasting our time, or giving us an 80% acceptable output but we never question if there could be a better tool out there which can give a better output or one that could be easier to use.

In the pursuit to mastering ” The Art of Using Tools” the first step is to understand what needs to be done. This can be achieved by

1. Identifying the required output, for example shape, size, time frame to complete it, quantity, quality, complexity of the output

2. Determining the steps needed to obtain the output, in other words the tasks that you have to complete to obtain the output. Is it a one task, a set of independent tasks or interrelated tasks that have to be performed in a specific order.

3. Evaluating the current/ existing way(s) to perform this task, this will help you identify the currently used tools.

4. If needed, you can search for new, advanced or different tools that are used to carry out same tasks. You do not have to re-invent the wheel, search the internet, there are plenty of virtual communities in almost every industry or specialization where members share their experiences, give advice or discuss the new trends pertaining to this specific specialization. This includes LinkedIn groups, Local Chapters, Professional Blogs, online professional and educational institutions, subscribing to newsletters, and following manufacturers or products online.

“Technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have a faith in people, that they’re basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they’ll do wonderful things with them. ® Steve Jobs

For example, since I like my coffee to be strong, I got myself a new coffee scoop that will help me get the same taste of coffee each time, it saved me a couple of seconds because now I use only one big scoop instead of adding two and half small scoops, I can never get confused in counting how many scoops I’ve added in the coffee machine and finally it makes it easy for me to give instructions to anyone to prepare a cup of coffee for me ( just use one scoop instead of please use two and a half scoops of coffee).

Another example is the use of a new software to convert Word documents to PDF ( of course that was long ago before MS Word is updated with the feature of saving any document in PDF format). One of the tasks that I used to carry out long ago was to prepare price quotes for our customers. Usually price quotes were submitted as hardcopy to our customers by the sales person, as the business grew we had to submit our price quotes electronically. It was essential then to send the quotes in a format that cannot be override. For the first couple of weeks, we used to print the document then scan it as a PDF files or use the print screen feature to save the file in a JPEG format. Not only was it a time consuming process, it was also a disrupting multi-step process as it required moving from one work station to another, where one had to come across plenty of side conversations and chats. For me this didn’t seem to be right, I was sure there was a better way, and the solution was to invest some money to purchase software that can directly convert from Word documents to PDF file format. Not only did we save time, but also we increased the productivity of the employees by preventing the never ending disruption, and we obtained a standard professional output.

It could be even more simple than that, think of the free resources on the internet where you can attend a free webinar to learn about a new software, a new tool that is used in your industry, to see some live examples showing special features of a product, or even a template that you can use..

The second step in your pursuit to master the “Art of using tools” is to create your own “Tool Pool”, where you can list, store or save the tools that you have evaluated and identified as “Fit for use”, those tools that you can use to carry out your tasks. Regardless of the nature of these tools whether it is a physical tool or an e-tool, it is recommended that you do the following

Tag the tool with a Name, a function and list the task(s) which you can use it for. For example save the template you use to create your monthly report in your Template Folders with a name “Monthly Report Template”. Use name cards, or sticky labels on physical tools.

If it is a consumable tool you must determine your stock limit, so you have to identify how many of this particular tool you should have at hand and when you should buy more, you may even need to write down the name of the supplier and the cost. If it is an electronic template, make sure you take a copy of the template each time you use it.

Store the tool where it can be accessible whenever you need it.

The third step in your pursuit to master the “Art of using tools” is to practice the use of the tool as often as you can. For example if the tool was nothing but an additional feature of a software that you just learnt, you must practice the use of this feature often enough to ensure you remember how it works and how to use it, think of how one would feel if he has the tool and he knows that it can help in doing the task but he had forgot completely how to use it.

How to Handle Your Big Construction Project

The demand of commercial construction is increasing day by day. It includes the construction of big commercial and institutional buildings. There are several ways to deal with a commercial construction project. If you are a starter looking for some effective tips to handle your commercial projects, you can go through this article. There are some useful tips to help you most significantly. Given below are the important commercial construction tips:

Schedule a time for regular visit: You should visit the construction site regularly to check the progress of the project. Check the quality of work and materials used for the construction. Meet the workers regularly to know about the next day’s work. You can make a plan of work and construction materials required for each step. Making several steps is always useful. This will help you meet your target exactly.

Avoid taking the lowest bid: If it is a bidding project, you must not be the lowest bidder. Always calculate the budget required for making a plan successful. There are many people who take projects at the lowest possible price and fail to ensure the quality. This is really very bad for a contractor. It can mar the reputation of your company. This is why you should bid with an amount that gives you a scope to ensure a quality work.

Check construction materials: You should check construction materials properly. Quality construction materials help you ensure a strong and long lasting building. Using of low-quality materials can bring about a disastrous result.

Hire a good commercial contractor or a subcontractor: If you don’t have sufficient time at your disposal, you can hire a good commercial contractor or a subcontractor. He can do the job on behalf of you. This is really good as you don’t need to brainstorm much on the project. Your contractor will take care of all matters.

Qualify your general contractors: You should choose a general contractor specializing in commercial construction. Ensure that you have chosen the right person. To do so, you can ask him information about the projects that he have handled before. You must check the experience and expertise of your general contractor. He must have years of experience in handling various types of commercial projects.

Hire a contractor as soon as possible: Hire the contractor as soon as your project and budget are fixed. Don’t delay to hire your contractor. You can do every project closely with your contractor. You can take his suggestion at every step of planning, organizing, staffing, controlling, and delivering.

Your Identity and Your Career

Many of us tend to think of ourselves in terms of what we do. When asked, “Who are you?”, we give answers such as, “I am a dental hygienist,” or “I’m a firefighter,” or “I do banking.” The work we do, which takes large amounts of our time and energy and that we are particularly proud of doing, can serve as the springboard for our identity or how we come to think of ourselves.

There is nothing inherently wrong in linking our self-concept to our work and careers. When we apply labels to ourselves we feel a kind of stability and having an identifiable place in society. However there can be a degree to which we perceive ourselves too closely to our career pursuits, such that we risk isolation and identity confusion should our work routines and conditions change in a way that is beyond our control.

The phenomenon I am trying to describe became glaringly obvious during the many years of recession layoffs. Millions of professional workers whose self-identification had for years been bound to their careers suddenly found themselves not only out of work, but feeling severed from a specialist status they had long enjoyed due their inability to any longer find suitable work in their fields.

To compound this disruption, especially for those who held employment with the same firm or institution for years if not decades, came the loss of the day to day affinity with co-workers, many of whom became close friends. Often times we find spending as much or more time with colleagues than with members of our own families not at all unusual. The undoing of these compatriot relationships was quite jarring.

So how do you know if you are dedicating too much of your identity with your career? If you’re fearful of a resulting void should your career dramatically change or dissolve from under you that is an indication you’re investing too much of your identity in what you do for work. If those closest to you frequently remark that you are a workaholic, then it’s possible you are too hitched to your career. If your social network amounts primarily to those with whom you work on the job, then you’re truncating what could be a more expansive community.

But, you might ask, if we strip ourselves of our career identity what is left? Our careers are certainly major players in our lives. They deliver more than just a livelihood, they consume so much time and energy that it can become natural to think we are what we do. The challenge is to expand the vision of ourselves so that it comprises a 360 degree perspective, of which career is a part, albeit a big part. When we think of ourselves as primarily a teacher or an accountant or whatever we give short shrift to those other valuable elements, which together compose a full personality or identity. Our emotional, behavioral, intellectual, and spiritual attributes expressed during, but also beyond the workplace, contribute to making each of us a unique collage not easily summarized.

Perhaps now is a good time to begin thinking of our legacies. Now I am not trying to rush anyone into an early grave, but by imagining how we will be remembered allows us to get a clearer view of who we are. We are made up of a vast number of qualities that hopefully make us interesting, trusted, and pleasant to be around. Basically we want to be thought of as exemplifying positive traits and contributing to making the world a better place. Reliance on just career accomplishments, as important as they are, can actually limit our notoriety and identity.

Why Managing Your Energy Is Critical for High Productivity

Work pressure is rising. Never before in history have we been more overloaded by impulses like email, text-messages, social media and marketing. Demands pile up: the more we get done, the more responsibilities we get. Stress is increasing. And even then, we push on and try to get more stuff done. What’s our answer? We focus on how to get more done in less time, machine-like and efficient. We steal from our sleep, family time, spare time and health. But managing time is not the only key to success. You can manage your time perfectly, but without having the energy to perform, how effective are you truly?

Time is not the only thing you should be managing, when you want to be productive. Instead, a much more critical resource is energy. Without energy, no matter how well you manage your time, you’re not being effective in getting things done.

Energy is like fuel in a car or the battery in your mobile phone. Without it, you won’t operate as effective as you’d like to. So the first step in becoming more productive is to charge your energy. Unlike machines that can go on 24/7, we humans need to recharge our energy supplies. Failing to do so can lead to symptoms like burnouts. Which is the ultimate sign of the body trying to get the message across that you should take some rest.

Energy is the capacity for being productive. Without it, you can’t perform. Everything you do requires energy. When you walk, you need energy. When you talk, you need energy. When you think, you need energy. Everything requires energy. If you want to be more productive or want to perform at your best, you need to be at your best. A professional athlete needs to be physically in his/her best shape of fitness and vitality in order to perform at his/her peak. A flight controller needs to be mentally well-rested to guide all the airplanes to land safely. A therapist must be emotionally balanced to truly help a client. Whatever it is that you do: to perform at your best, you need to have the energy to do so.

You have 3 sources of energy. You have physical energy, mental energy and emotional energy. Physical energy is the energy you need in order to do physical work and comes from being both fit and healthy. Mental energy is the ability to do focused work and is optimized by regularly taking a break. Challenges and learning also stimulate your brain and allow you to stay focused. Emotional energy is the energy you get from your emotions. Positive emotions give you energy, and negative emotions robs you of energy.

If you want to increase your productivity and performance, the first step is to gain insight in your own energy level. When you have the insight in your own energy level, you’ll also discover what areas improved upon will make the biggest impact on your energy.

Use a Business Plant Service to Improve Your Office This New Year

In the New Year, why not let a business plant service help improve your office – and your bottom line?

Did you know that plants are a great way to elevate employee productivity and happiness? Well, it’s true! A splash of greenery in an office environment has been found to improve performance in a way that expensive desks and chairs cannot compete with, all at a fraction of the cost.

Adding lush, healthy plants to the office actually can increase your profits in the coming year.

How Plants Help

Aside from looking festive and breaking up the monotony of a sterile office environment, plants have practical uses too. They naturally purify indoor air without the use of chemicals or an increase in energy consumption. They help provide employees a connection to nature, giving them positive feelings and increased motivation.

Plants also help to soften the environment and make both staff and customers feel more comfortable.

They offer mental benefits too. Studies have shown that green spaces in the workplace help people to recover faster from stress, increase their patience and give their overall job satisfaction a lift. This, quite simply, provides for a happier and healthier environment. That ultimately leads to higher productivity and financial gain for the company.

The Environment

Urbanization has created an effect known as the urban heat island effect. Plants help to fight this effect and improve the climate resilience of the cities where people live and work.

What Kind of Plants?

Many types of plants don’t require abundant sunlight or much upkeep. Some popular species for use in the office environment include:

African violet
Peace lily
Chinese evergreen
English ivy
Parlor palm
Snake plant
Gerbera daisy
Warneck dracaena
Spider plant
Weeping fig
And many more!

Plants typically located in offices grow well indoors because they are adapted for tropical environments. They flourish in low natural light and consistent temperatures.

Minimal Investment

While it may be true that buying plants and maintaining them yourself can be a drain on financial and employee resources, an interior plant service takes care of everything for you. For a reasonable monthly fee, the company will design your office interiorscape and bring in the plants for you.

A plant expert will visit your office periodically to water and care for the plants, and even replace them if necessary. Neither you nor your staff will need to give their care a moment’s thought.

The Bottom Line

Office spaces can be difficult for people to work in day in and day out. Employees often have little access to fresh air, windows or natural light. Adding plants to the office environment is simple way to improve employee morale, health and productivity.

Working with a business plant service is an easy way to coordinate this change and improve the environment for everyone. This year, make a resolution to improve your working environment by contacting a business plant service.