Yearly Archives: 2015

Remember to Breathe

10 Tips to Find Zen and Productivity in Your Writing

Writing can be stressful.

With deadlines, length requirements, messaging constraints, and the dreaded writer’s block, even a simple sentence can provoke anxiety. But, there’s hope for writers everywhere. Follow these 10 easy tips and you’ll be well on your way to finding your Zen, and becoming more productive with your writing.

  1. Use aromatherapy

Lemon and Lavender

We often get so caught up in our task that we don’t ever stop to smell the roses, or in this case, the lavender or the lemon. The next time you’re in a rut, try taking a deep breath of one of these two relaxing agents. They’re known to have stress-reducing effects (as long as you don’t mind lavender or lemon, of course!). Dab some oil on a napkin, light a candle, or plug in a scent, and smell your way to a more relaxed state of mind.

  1. Take breaks

Take Breaks

Sometimes the best way to get work done is to step away from it. Take a quick walk around your house or office to get the blood flowing. Stretch to release the tension in your body and in your brain. Close your eyes to keep them from straining if you’re staring at a computer screen. And dare we say, check Facebook, or watch a silly video? Do whatever you need to tackle your task feeling refreshed and restored.

  1. Reduce technology use

Reduce Technology Use

Don’t let your computer turn you into a hunchback. Hunching over a bright screen can lead to dry eyes and a knot in your back. Unless you really need a computer, try using your pen and paper. It’s portable, lighter, and doesn’t strain your body as much as its technical counterpart. Oh, and it will help you retain information better than just typing.

  1. Remember to breathe

Remember to Breathe

When stress gives you a bad case of groggy brain syndrome, the reason for the lack of concentration could be that your body literally needs to breathe. Stress is a weird thing; it can force you to hold your breath. So if you’re not aware of it now, how can you prevent it from happening in the future? A simple solution is to set an alarm on your phone. If you’re into technology, you can download an app that will automatically send you notifications reminding you to take a deep breath or just set an alarm on your phone. Either way, get some air, and get those great ideas flowing.

  1. Set a routine

Set a Routine

It’s said that creative geniuses are not organized. It’s also said that a disorganized process and environment leaves you feeling disorganized when writing. Sticking with the latter, you should try to schedule strict work and break times so you don’t keep taking breaks to procrastinate. Clean your workplace before starting so the mess doesn’t distract you. Being organized will organize your thoughts.

  1. Don’t fear mistakes

Don't Fear Mistakes

Many people have trouble writing because they’re afraid of it not being good. But, as the old adage goes, “nothing ventured, nothing gained.” Rather than wasting time worrying about how it will turn out, spend time writing it. If you’re not throwing away pages left and right, you’re not getting anywhere.

  1. Invite feedback

Invite Feedback

As painful as it sounds, it never hurts to ask for input from a trusted friend or family member. You’ll find that you’re either right on track with where you should be, or that there are some gaps to fill. Positive feedback can give you a confidence boost to keep going, and constructive criticism can give you a new perspective or offer some changes you can make to make it even better. Just don’t forget to take everything with a grain of salt.

  1. Write every idea, good AND bad

Write Every Idea

If you are your harshest critic, then tell your inner-editor to have a little fun. Every idea has value, even if it has nothing to do with your subject at hand. Don’t stop yourself from writing down an idea. Just because you think it might not be relevant now doesn’t mean it might not be helpful further in to your project. Write everything down so you can come back to it, or get a new idea by re-reading it.

  1. Get comfortable

Get Comfortable

An uncomfortable chair that hurts your back will almost certainly hurt your writing. Likewise, a pen that hurts your hand will hurt your writing. If you’re concentrating on pain and discomfort, then you’re not concentrating on the task at hand. With a comfortable chair and a quality pen with a good grip (like Z-Grip!), you’ll be able to write, distraction free!

  1. Focus and just do it

Focus and do it

After all is said and done, let’s not forget about the worst of our bad habits – procrastination. Despite the signals of stress, disorganization and discomfort, it’s not above any of us to just put stuff off until the last minute! How often have you been in that position? If you’re dealing with procrastination, the simplest thing to do is to stop everything you’re doing, and just focus on what needs to be done. Eliminate all distractions, and just do it! Go under the bed for all we care. Finish reading this blog, and face your challenge head-on.

 

When it comes to writing, sometimes all you need is a bit of Zen. With these 10 easy tips, you’ll be well on your way to a relaxing and successful writing experience. Need to find the perfect companion to your writing experience? Find Zen on the path to enlightened writing!

Moms Find Zen During Back to School Shopping

Moms Find ZenWhether you have one kid, or a small herd, the back to school shopping timeframe can be both exciting and exhausting at the same time. It’s time for the kids to get back to school, which means more free time, but back to school shopping is a hurdle to overcome on its own. There’s a lot to consider…new clothes, uniforms, backpacks, supplies, books; the list goes on and on. It’s important to find ways to keep calm during the shopping season, and find a little Zen while you’re at it. So how can you find a little Zen during the days and weeks of flashy offers, super savings discounts, thick ad circulars and any other blaring voices?

Here are a few tips to get you started:

Tip 1: Know yourself: Are you better at doing all of your shopping all at once, or would you rather make separate trips throughout a couple weeks to ease the stress? It’s amazing what you can accomplish by planning your shopping in one day, but it’s a lot of work, and it’s a looong day. If you do better in short spurts, ­keep track of where you’re going to get the supplies so you don’t end up making extra trips to the store.

Tip 2: Tantrum protection: Did Timmy get upset because you got him a brown folder instead of a blue one? You wouldn’t dare! Instead of running out and getting all of the supplies that you think your kids need, turn it into a fun experience for everyone to enjoy. Ask what your kids want, what colors and patterns (if they like patterns, check out Cadoozles!) they like. You’ll increase your success rate by a lot!

Tip 3: Save time with a list: Don’t rush into back to school shopping battle without being prepared! Make a list with your child, and make sure everything is on that list, so that once the list is done, it’s DONE! Create colorful lists with Sarasa pens.

Tip 4: Make your kiddos extra happy: Want your kids to have a little extra swagger for school? Kids will love the look and feel of Steel pens – not to mention that they’re nearly indestructible in the hands of those who are oh-so destructible.

Tip 5: Buy good-value pens in bulk: Ever know the feeling of writing with a pen, and 2 seconds later it’s skipping or dies altogether? If you can feel the frustration, imagine how your kids feel when they’re trying to do homework, or more realistically, doodling. Z-Grip pens are affordable, quality pens that allow children to focus on writing, not on the pen. Sure, you can buy a ton of cheap pens that skip, or simply stop working. Or you can buy a pack of Z-Grips for your kids, and watch as they enjoy writing.

Need a little more Zen? Meet Zen, and find the path to enlightened writing.

See how some other Zebra Pen products can help kick-off your back to school shopping.

Kids Always Losing Their Pens?

zgrip01The back-to-school shopping season seems to never end for parents whose children always lose their pens and pencils. A pack of pens can disappear in a week, with no explanation other than “I don’t know where I put them.” Can the never-ending pen and pencil purchasing cycle be broken? Here are 4 tips to help your child keep a hold of their writing utensils.

Buy affordable, high quality writing instruments

zgrip02It may be tempting to purchase a bulk pack of cheap pens or pencils so that when your child loses one it isn’t that costly to give them another. However, the low quality of the product might be making matters worse. A pen with ink that skips or stops could be left rather than lost. The Z-Grip offers a smooth flowing ink pen and reliable mechanical pencil with good erasers at an affordable price that means it won’t be the end of the world if one gets lost.

Have your child pick the supplies

zgrip03By allowing your child to pick pens or pencils with the colors or patterns they like, they are more likely to keep up with them. Also, utensils in bright colors or patterns are more likely to be spotted if left on a desk or on the floor.

Work with your child to establish a system

Many frustrated teachers and parents attempting to find ways to battle the lost pen and pencil epidemic have noted that establishing reward and punishment systems don’t often work. Instead of mandating a punishment or reward, try letting children come up with their own system of consequences. If the child creates the reward or the punishment himself or herself, they will be more likely to remember it the next time they almost leave something behind.

Use a Pencil Pouch

zgrip04And oldie, but a goodie. Providing your child with a designated place to put their pen or pencil after they’ve finished using it might be the key to preventing them from leaving it somewhere else. Make sure the pouch itself is a bright color or has the ability to connect to a notebook, binder, or backpack, so that your child doesn’t also lose the pouch.

It might seem like you’ll never be able to fill the black hole that is eating all of your child’s writing instruments. But, with a pack of pens that they actually like, like our Z-Grips, and the right approach, you might be able to actually go back-to-school shopping once a year.zgripFeature

Use These Color Tricks to Organize Schoolwork

sarasa03We all have that one friend who seems to have it all together and somehow manages to stay organized during the most chaotic times. Their secret weapon? The color-coded day planner, or one of many other color-coded organizing techniques. Chances are, that person learned to organize and use colors from an early age. So if your child gets in the habit of being organized early, this tendency will continue through to adulthood.

sarasaFeatureDid you know most organization gurus claim that using color is the most effective way of learning prioritization and organization? Check out some of these great tips to learn how a pack of colored Sarasa pens can help your child organize and prioritize.

Use colors to take notes

Writing notes by hand helps your brain remember it better. But your brain doesn’t think in black in white. Using color to emphasize important notes will help your child remember the information better. But don’t overdo it! If the notes look like a rainbow, it may not be as effective, even if you have a future Picasso on your hands.

sarasa02Use different colors for each class

Your child can keep track of what’s due for which class if each class has its own color. This way your child can see all the assignments due for a particular class, even if they were assigned on different days.

Use different colors for priorities

Here’s an alternative to the different colors per class method. Using different colors based on priorities can help your child with time management. Items written in the high priority color need to be completed before lower priority colored items.

Use colors strategically

sarasa01Things that need to stand out the most should be written in the brightest color. Your child will notice the brighter items first, which means these items will be first in their minds.

Use favorite color for fun things

Other than the brightest color, your child will notice their favorite color first. By using their favorite color to write down fun things, the reward that comes from getting all their assignments done will be at the front of their mind, providing an incentive to get their work done faster.

And finally, pick a strategy, and stick to it.

Keeping everything organized can seem like a daunting task, but all you really need is a good strategy and a little bit of color.

Which Patterns Would Your Kids or Students Choose?

cadoozle01For children in Elementary School, the beginning of the year can be hectic. They’re still adjusting to the concept of being in school all day, and each grade brings new teachers, classrooms and classmates. As an Elementary School teacher, it’s not always easy to find writing instruments that kids really enjoy.

Elementary school children want to fit in and make friends, while still exploring their individual identities. But how can they express this identity? cadoozleFeatureBy their age, many children pick out their own clothes on shopping trips, and dress themselves. Clothes are a great way to show off your personality, but with many schools cracking down and enforcing dress codes, self-expression suffers.

Enter Cadoozles, the fun school supply with tons of patterns! Gone are the days when every child was perfectly content with cadoozle02bringing a pack of yellow wooden pencils, a composition book and a mono-colored backpack to school. An interesting pattern, like Cadoozles Woodland Critters, can help children express themselves and might even serve as an icebreaker to create new friendships.

Adjusting to all of the changes of Elementary school can also be stressful. They can’t control who their teacher is or which of their friends end up in their class. cadoozle03But, they can pick out their school supplies. Entering a new grade equipped with school supplies that they’re excited about can help your child also be excited about school.

But it isn’t just the neat patterns that make Cadoozles an essential classroom supply. Cadoozles are mechanical pencils, and that means no sharpening and no sharp tips. They’re strong enough to stand the test of time with the little ones, cadoozle04and they also make great rewards for a job well done, or simply as a fun (and super cute!) gift.

So whether you’re a parent of 1, or a teacher of 21, a pack of Cadoozles will brighten any room! And with so many patterns at a low price, the real question becomes, which ones are you going to choose?

5 reasons kids need steel for school

Let’s not kid around, high school’s a jungle – and kids are on the loose. The high school chapter is crucial for preparing your child for college and the real world. Students face harder classes and tests, and they have more to do than ever before. Motivation is a key factor in success, but it also helps to have the right look – that’s where a sleek steel pen steps up to the challenge.

 

steelFeature

  1. For high schoolers, image and self-expression are everything, whether they like to admit it or not. And with the high writing demands, they are always seen with a pen or pencil in hand. Let them use this opportunity to carry an awesome accessory and get cool looks and attention. Steel’s stylish body makes this pen the perfect option for turning a necessary tool into a trend worthy object.
  1. steel02Writing is an inevitable and never-ending. In high school, class notes fill more pages, the essays are longer and you can say goodbye to most multiple choice exams (who said life was fair?). The problem with all of this writing is that most pens and pencils aren’t up to the destructive nature of a teenager, and they aren’t exactly something that students are careful with. A stainless steel barrel will stand up to any level of destructive use, including honors, AP classes and the occasional bending and snapping pens.steel03
  1. Ever thought about what your child’s future employees may think of your precious baby? If they can talk the talk, they should walk the walk and come prepared with a sleek steel pen. Sometimes even the smallest of details can leave a lasting impression on employers or interviewers. Don’t let them miss an opportunity to make their first impressions in steel.steel04
  1. Have you ever kept better track of something because you knew it was more valuable? The same applies with the steel pen. Sure, it’s a little more than a conventional pen or pencil, but you can be sure they’ll consider it more valuable, and they’ll remember it more, instead of forgetting it everywhere.
  1. What does a plastic pen look like after being run over by a teen on their way to something they’re already late for? Completely destroyed. Now, apply that same scenario to an F-701, and voila! Just pick it up, and use it! That wasn’t too bad, now was it?

High school can be a jungle, but if equipped with the right tools and tips, your child can stand out from the crowd, just like a zebra! Which steel pen is right for your child? Check out the selection here!

 

Celebrate the Class of 2015 with Graduation Gift Ideas from Zebra Pen

Congratulations to the Class of 2015! Friends and family, this is a giant milestone in your graduate’s life, and you must be so proud. Their years of hard work and dedication have finally paid off, and they deserve the perfect gift to commemorate their efforts.

Celebrate the graduate in your life with these Top 5 Graduation Gift Ideas from Zebra Pen:

  1. Many graduates opt to travel after graduation. Couple a travel journal with the Stainless Steel F-301 Retractable Ballpoint Pen to capture memories that will last a lifetime.
  2. The note-taking doesn’t end in school. Prepare your graduate for the long meetings ahead with the Stainless Steel F-402 Retractable Ballpoint Pen. The rubber grip provides enhanced comfort to help avoid writer’s cramp.
  3. For those looking to enter the job market after graduation, the Stainless Steel F-701 Retractable Ballpoint Pen can complement a leather bound folio. This premium writing instrument evokes an air of confidence when interviewing with potential employers.
  4. If your graduate has already secured a job, they’ll look like a professional with the Stainless Steel M-701 Mechanical Pencil, while being able to quickly jot down and erase ever-changing ideas.
  5. Encourage your graduate to keep in touch with friends and family while practicing perfect penmanship with the gift of the Stainless Steel G-301 Gel Retractable Pen and monogrammed stationary.

Pride in Penmanship & Baseball

Photo courtesy of Texas A&M Athletics

Do you take pride in your penmanship? Some may argue that as technology continues to increasingly infiltrate our lives, the art of penmanship is dying. However, we at Zebra Pen understand the value of writing. (For more on this check out our blog posts on 4 Benefits of Handwriting Notes and What You’re Giving Up By Writing Less.)

We’re not the only ones who believe in the power of penmanship. Texas A&M baseball Coach Rob Childress recently gave an interview to The Bryan-College Station Eagle on why handwriting is so important to him.

“Probably about second grade, I felt like I stood out,” Childress said. “It’s just always been a pride thing with my penmanship. Given that my mom was a schoolteacher, it was always important that I had good penmanship. I don’t know, something stuck with me.”

His pen of choice? Zebra, of course! Childress is partial to the maroon 301A Retractable Ballpoint pen, and he has been known to hand write the lineup card. “It’s so hard to get in our lineup,” Childress said. “The least I can do is take my time and write each young man’s name as best I can that earns the right to be in our lineup.”

See the full story on Childress’ love of handwriting.

 

Top 10 Tips to be Environmentally Friendly

On April 22nd, people across the globe will come together to demonstrate their support of preserving the planet Earth. We at Zebra Pen are proud to do our part by offering writing supplies made of recycled materials.  Check out our full-line of Eco-friendly products, including the Eco Zebrite Highlighter and the Jimnie Clip Eco Ball Point Retractable Pen. This Earth Day, think about how your own actions affect the planet, and try to implement a few of these tips into your daily routine.

  1. Shorten showers by setting a mobile device alarm.

    By shortening showers to 5 minutes a day, you can save over 70 gallons of water a week. Set an alarm on your mobile device to remind you when it’s time to get out.

  2. Call your utility providers about switching to renewable energy sources.

    Solar, wind, or nuclear power may already be the energy sources for your home’s electricity, but if they aren’t, call you electricity provider, and ask if your house can be powered by renewable energy sources.

  3. Use reusable water bottles, coffee tumblers, and grocery bags.

    Opt for “reusable” rather “disposable” options to help cut down on the amount of waste that ends up in landfills.

  4. Wash your clothes in cold water.

    Using warm water requires extra energy to heat up the water. Help the environment while cutting back on your utility cost by washing on full loads in cold water.

  5. Unplug devices and appliances not in use.

    Although your electronics are turned off, if they are plugged in, they can still be using energy. Combat this by plugging your electronics into a surge protector then switching it off when not in use.

  6. Walk, bike, or take public transportation to work.

    Now that spring has sprung, get your daily exercise while commuting! Walking and biking are two great ways to get around without gas. If that’s not an option, try taking the bus or carpooling with a colleague to cut back on gas usage.

  7. Change your lightbulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs.

    Fluorescent bulbs last longer and are brighter than incandescent bulbs, meaning you have to buy and throw away significantly less bulbs.

  8. Choose cloth diapers over conventional diapers.

    “Disposable” diapers can take 500 years to decompose. Washing and reusing cloth diapers is cheaper more environmentally friendly than using conventional diapers.

  9.  Reuse newspapers or scrap papers for giftwrapping.

    Instead of wasting money on new wrapping paper, get creative and use old papers lying around your house that you probably would have thrown out anyway.

  10. Get your bills sent electronically.

    Receiving and paying your bills online cuts down on the amount of paper wasted. Electronic bills also have the added benefit of being more convenient to access and pay.

Top 10 Tips to Stay Organized at Tax Time from Zebra Pen

Zebra Pen suggests using pens and highlighters to work more efficiently during the Tax Time Crunch.

Benjamin Franklin once said:

“In this world nothing can be said to be certain in life except death and taxes.”

With April 15th just a few weeks away, its crunch time for consumers who have yet to file their tax returns. According to the Internal Revenue Service, 20% – 25% of all Americans wait until two weeks before the deadline, adding anxiety to what is already an intimidating task. Always looking to help, we at Zebra Pen have compiled a list to make things easier for those who procrastinate.

    Here are Zebra Pen’s Top 10 Tips to Get Organized for Tax Time:

  1. Mark tax related milestone goals for yourself on your calendar to ensure that you will hit the April 15th deadline. Don’t let time pass you by.
  2. If you are completing your tax form the old fashion way, by filling in the form manually, it must be done in black ink. Use a comfortable and reliable pen such as the F-301.
  3. Keep a copy of last year’s tax return handy to help you manage your records.
  4. Create a checklist! This will not only provide a sense of structure, but it will give you a sense of accomplishment as you mark each task as done!
  5. Take note life’s milestones. Having a child, getting married or going back to school in the last year are just a few of the life changes that could affect how you file.
  6. Itemize your deductions, and to help you keep track of them, use pens in different colors, like SARASA pens, to help you stay organized.
  7. Be sure to annotate your expense receipts. Take a pen and make a note of the expense purpose right on the receipt, so there are no questions later. This is especially helpful for business expenses like dining and entertainment.
  8. Double check everything. Highlight important tax information, so that you can double check for errors. Oversights can result in refund delays or being audited.
  9. Lastly, if you’re feeling rushed, file for an extension. It’s a better option than filing a form full of mistakes and oversights.
  10. Still need help? Check out this handy infographic guide below:
  11. Procrastinators-Guide-To-Filing-Taxes-Small
    Infographic Source: H&R Block and oBizMedia