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Communication Key to a Better Work Environment Everyone knows the story of A Christmas Carole. On Christmas Eve, poor Bob Cratchit, who is working late again, spends his day working up the courage to ask his boss, Mr. Scrooge, if he can have Christmas Day off from work to spend with his family. When he finally does get up the nerve to ask, Mr. Scrooge lets forth a tirade over lazy people using Christmas as an excuse to have a day a off from work. This fictional story unfortunately rings true for a lot of people who have to work up the courage to ask for things from their employers. An employee who has to feel about their employer the way Bob Cratchit felt about Mr. Scrooge is not a very happy and productive employee. To get the most of out of your workers, you have to create a much more hospitable working environment. To create a better working environment, keeping the lines of communication open is absolutely crucial. How does communication work in your office? Do you get the impression that everyone is walking around on eggshells around you? While this kind of fear from your employees may be good for your ego in some senses, it is really bad for your business. When your employees don?t feel like they can talk to you, you will lose control over what is going on with your business. You may be the boss, but your employees are the ones who are actually on the front lines. To know what is really going on out there, you need your employees to communicate honestly with you. If they feel that you are unapproachable, they will hide problems and concerns from you, and you won?t be able to act to fix them. You can?t expect to run your business with half of the information about what is actually going on, and so your business will suffer for your ?mean boss? routine. There are still other problems with creating an office environment in which your employees feel like you are unapproachable. In general, there will be a dark cloud over the office when you are around. The stress will keep employee morale low, and employees with low morale are employees with low productivity. Besides, who wants to work hard for someone they cannot approach or who doesn?t show they any respect? Shutting down those lines of communication will definitely affect your bottom line as employees ?phone it in? because they don?t feel invested in making your business a success. If you want a better working environment, you have to improve the lines of communication. If there has been a communication breakdown in the past, take the time to address it with your staff. If you staff is small, talk to them each one on one, letting them know that your door is always open and that you want more regular communication with them. If you have a larger staff, schedule a meeting to address the issue. Weekly office meetings are a great way to keep communication channels open and swap ideas in the office environment. If weekly meetings are not feasible, find some way of touching base with your staff on a regular basis, either through weekly emails or a weekly newsletter. Also, you should encourage your staff to communicate with each other. Sharing information among the staff is a great way to generate fresh ideas and fresh approaches to problems. If your office is suffering from a communication problem, make nipping it in the bud a priority. The pay off will be more productive workers and a whole lot less stress. Who knew work could actually be a pleasant place to be?

Highlights for Free Stuff for Educators Everybody knows that teachers work hard for little monetary compensation. Fortunately, there are many fine resources available that allow educators access to free stuff. Who deserves free stuff more than our teachers? If you are a teacher searching for the best of what the web's freebies, here are some places that offer freebies just for educators. Teaching Education Aid Available for Free There are many websites on the World Wide Web that offer totally free educational and teaching aids. If you teach younger students, you can find great coloring pages. You can also find several teaching aids, including alphabetical pages. Why spend money on expensive preprinted alphabets? You can gain easy access to your own free alphabet pages. Print them out, color them and seal them to make them last. This is an easy way to put together very elemental packets and gain access to fun activity pages. There are many fine teacher resources available for free on the World Wide Web. Here are even more resources for finding great and free resources for educators of all stripes. Getting Access to Free DVDS for Educators Did you know that you could get access to free educational DVDs? Izzit.org offers you a free DVD on your birthday (or another day of your choosing). This offer is limited to teachers of grades 6-12. This website also offers educators discounts on educational DVDs as well as coupons for free ice cream. Gaining Free Nutrition Educational Materials If you are an educator seeking out free nutritional materials, you are in luck. The Dole Corporation is currently offering free educational materials to teachers. Their 5 a Day program offers free downloadable teaching materials. You can also request professional teaching materials by using mail and fax. Simply request your free nutritional materials on your school's official letterhead. Free Computer Tools for Educators If you need access to free teacher tools, Microsoft Office has got you covered. Microsoft is currently offering free learning essentials that can help you create handouts, compose tests, and make presentations and other educational content. You will need a registered copy of Microsoft Office 2002 or 2003 that runs on Windows XP and Windows 2000. Need Teaching Aids for Your Classroom? If you are looking for free teaching visual aids, there are many nonprofits that can provide you with such aids. The Human Genome Project offers educators free posters. Although this promotion is directed specifically to educators, anyone can take advantage of this great offer. The National Institute of Drug Abuse also offers free visual teaching aids. These are great to hang in the classroom. You can order multiple copies directly form the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The USEPA is another organization that offers educators a variety of free posters, as well as other teaching materials, including activity books, CD-ROMs, lesson plans and more. Keep Your Classroom Safe With Free Cleaning Aids Keeping the classroom clean is one of the biggest challenges of any educator. The Clorox Company is trying to make it easier on teachers by offering them a free "Clean Up the Classroom" multimedia kit aimed specifically at classroom educators. The free kit comes loaded with a poster, a cleaning guide and DVD. You will also get a free canister of handy Clorox Disinfecting Wipes. Get Free Magazine Subscription Offers Educators have access to many free magazine subscription offers. Yes Magazine is offering educators a free one-year subscription. This is a magazine published by the Positive Futures Network. This is non-profit organization that helps promote social change to a more compassionate and sustainable world. Take advantage by contacting the magazine for your free educator subscription.

To-Do Lists an Important Part of Being a Better Employee What makes a good employee? Take a look at how the star employee in your office operates. Chances are that they don?t run around in a constant fog of stress and pressure. Good employees are usually calm and conscientious; they seem to always get the job done with a minimum of hair pulling and frantic rushing around. Is it just genes that these people have that allow them to work like this, or are some people just better at managing stress than others? The answer is probably not. If you take a closer look at the star employee in your office, you will are likely to see that they are so stress free and productive because they are good at managing their time. And chances are they manage that time with the help of a to-do list. The to-do list is an often-overlooked part of working life. While they are the kind of thing people expect housewives to carry around with them in their purse while they run errands, many people think they can do without them in the work place. This is a big mistake. Being productive at work is all about being able to carry out your tasks in a timely manner, and being productive at work is also about managing your stress. If you are too stressed out, your work will suffer for it. You will fall behind because you won?t be able to concentrate, and you will make mistakes you might not have made if you were able to take your time with your work. So, how can a to-do list help? To-do lists can do many things for you in your busy working life. For starters, to-do lists remove the problem of having that all important phone call or meetings slip your mind. When you have a to-do list, everything that needs to be accomplished is set out there for you, so there is no more explaining to your boss why you stood up your company?s most important client. With a to-do list, you can also see the bigger picture of everything that needs to be done, so you can plan your time wisely. Working on tasks one after another as they come up is not a smart way to accomplish things at the office. Some jobs are on a tight deadline, while other jobs can stand to wait a little while. When you set everything out for yourself in a to-do list, you will be able to prioritize your tasks in order of importance, so you get the crucial work out of the way first thing, and only move on to less important jobs when you have the time to devote to them. All of this organization will make your working life less stressful. Imagine a typical day without a to-do list. You come in to the office in the morning, you work through all of the email sitting in your inbox, you make a few phone calls, chat with some co-workers in the break room, answer a few more emails, and then bam! All of the sudden, you remember that the presentation your boss needs for the big meeting is due at 2 p.m., and you haven?t even started it. Now you resort to hair pulling and frantic working. Then, you give your boss the presentation over an hour late, and it is filled with mistakes and sloppy work. Now imagine the same day with a to-do list. You get the presentation out of the way first thing, and you have time to check it. Then you can move on to less important tasks without the dark cloud of stress hanging over you. To-do list writing is time well spent if you want to succeed at work.

Taking Advantage of a Free Service to Find Great Grocery Deals Are you interested in saving money on your groceries? Are your grocery bills getting you down? With the rising cost of food staples, it is becoming more important than ever before to choose carefully and shop smart. Fortunately, if you are willing to do the research and homework, you can find many great deals that can save you hundreds on your monthly grocery bill. Here is a free service that can help you find great grocery deals. This new grocery service is known as mygrocerydeals.com. Here is a brief run-down of what this new system can do for you. What Can MyGroceryDeals.com Do For You? There are many web-based services, and while many offer fine free services, very few can help you save actual money on your grocery deals. It is a good thing that mygrocerydeals.com came along, then. What can this web-based service do for you (and your grocery food bill?). Mygrocerydeals.com is directed at those savvy food shoppers that rifle through the weekly circular ads on a regular basis, and those that spend their long Sunday mornings clipping coupons with a cup of coffee in hand. If you are tired of this dull ritual, fear not?mygrocerdeals.com is here to save you from this routine. Discovering the Scope of MyGroceryDeals.com Basically, this fine web-based service saves you the trouble of having to rifle through all that newsprint and coupon circulars. This web-based service is basically a giant database of local grocery store offers and specials. By using this easy web-based service, you can build your very own grocery list and even build shopping lists for the store that you prefer to shop at. You can also choose to browse the various deals and steals at your local grocery stores. Furthermore, you can even get information about the products you are shopping for. With this easy to use web-based service, you can even check out the nutrition database, food allergy alerts and other pertinent information. You can create your own virtual shopping list and then print it out for when you are ready to hit the store. Even better, you can download special deals and coupons for foods on your shopping list. How You Can Use MyGroceryDeals.com If you are ready to use this free web-based service, you can begin by registering a new account. You will need to enable pop-ups in order to get the full scope of the website. Most links will show up in a pop-up, so be sure that you check your Internet preferences before you begin. The website allows you to compile grocery lists and even save lists for future reference. You can try the 'try us now' link in order to browse your local store and select your closest location. You can even browse the stores in your surrounding areas. Before you submit your registration, note that there is a small check box asking you whether you would like to receive a free copy of Taste of Home Magazine. Make sure that the box is checked or unchecked accordingly. Get a Taste of the Printable Coupons One of the best things about using the mygrocerdeals.com web-based service is that you can gain easy access to a large collection of printable coupons. Make certain that your printer is ready to go before you log on. Also, be forewarned that in order to print out many of these coupons, you will need to install a browser plug-in from Coupon.com if you don't already have this driver installed on your computer. If you have already printed coupons from the World Wide Web before, chances are that you already have this plug-in installed. You can test this by attempting to print out new coupons.