Fixing Project Management For Leaders of VFW Post 1

To many veterans across the US, the VFW deserves to stand as something more than a place to hangout; it should be a place of warmth and community engagement.

The truth is: Hundreds of VFW’s across the globe are experiencing a dwindling membership shortage. Younger veterans are not as incentivized by the simple offerings of liquor and camaraderie as they once were.

It’s a mindset that’s become of key importance to the operators of VFW Post 1. The post—which was created in 1899 and is located in Denver, Colorado—predates the official recognition of the VFW program that began in 1913, making it the oldest VFW post in existence. Home to over 1,000 veterans across the globe, the post has recently re-energized its focus on providing services to veterans in need, in hopes to revitalize the popularity of the VFW program.

Michael Mitchel, a retired Aviation Mechanic for the US Navy, serves as both the Commander and Board of Trustees member of VFW Post 1. Having been with the post as an elected officer since 2002 and stepping in as Executive Director in 2013, Michael—in addition to the nine other VFW leaders associated with Post 1— has overseen the event-centric culture transformation that has made the Colorado-based post one of the largest in the US. Continue reading Fixing Project Management For Leaders of VFW Post 1

How To Prevent Important Tasks From Being Forgotten

The Easton, Redding, and Region 9 school district is a tri-district located in Easton, Connecticut made up of five schools: Redding Elementary, Samuel Staples Elementary, Hellen Keller Middle, John Read Middle, and Joel Barlow High School—all of which fall directly under the supervision of Walter Czudak.

Working as the Director of Buildings and Grounds, Mr. Czudak is responsible for at least 250,000 square feet of educational facilities. With jobs ranging in difficulty from changing a few light bulbs, to overseeing the installation of a centralized air unit, the typical day for your average Director of Buildings and Grounds is anything but relaxed.

Earlier this year, the district came under hot water when two separate boilers located in the elementary and high school were installed and inspected, but local permits for the units were never acquired.

While the boiler issue was solved quickly, Mr. Czudak believes the issue could have been avoided if his team was better prepared to handle the multiple step process.

“The boilers came in, but our local inspection never came through. There are so many steps to the entire installation process and we let the permits slip through the cracks. When you’re dealing with two entirely different facilities, it’s easy to have actionable items fall off the radar in favor of one thing or another. ”

As a precautionary measure, Mr. Czudak recently contacted our team at Magnatag Visible Systems to help create a reliable means of tracking actionable data for his facility. Using the working concept of a Work-In-Progress board, the goal was to design a visual display board that would prevent a similar accident from occurring in the future.

With the help of one of Magnatag’s many Visual Systems Specialists (life-long Magnatag employees that specialize in creating visual systems that work), the school district was directed towards the company’s Do-Done StepTracker Whiteboard.WalterDDXT

The StepTracker whiteboard provides users with the ability to actively track projects in real time as they progress along a series of steps in a project. Using red/green double-sided magnets to mark when a step has been completed, the system enables users to accurately standardize project communication status.

“I wanted to create something that could keep everyone on the same page. With so many things going on across all five schools at any given time, the real challenge is keeping everyone up-to-date on the latest progressions. Ideally, a Principal or Superintendent should be able to walk into one of our facilities and know exactly what is going on.”

Prior to contacting Magnatag, Mr. Czudak did not have a visual system for tracking steps of internal projects. Project status was kept within multiple files spread across all five buildings making status updates a nightmare.

With an updated form of tracking—and customized headlines built to cover every step of the state and local government’s guidelines—Mr. Czudak’s newest addition to the district’s permitting process will provide his staff with an added measure of assurance.

Visit our website for more information on how you can design a StepTracker whiteboard for your own use.


Why Handwriting Matters For The Development of The Brain

It’s Tuesday, September 7th; it’s 3:00 PM and all across the nation, children have finally completed their first day of school. They get home and leave their shoes at the door; it’s time for you to ask roughly 50 questions regarding their new teacher and classmates—but not before you grab them a post-school snack—and in the meantime, they’ll unload their entire backpack all over your clean house. Amongst the many folders and crayons that now litter your kitchen table, there will undoubtedly be a lined notebook buried within the chaos.

Recognized as an essential item for any back-to-school checklist, the lined writing surface—and the entirety of the school supply industry in general— has remained unchanged in today’s rapidly evolving technological landscape. It’s no secret that lined writing surfaces serve a distinct purpose in providing structure to an otherwise blank slate, but after a bit of thinking about my own schooling experience, I couldn’t help but wonder what other benefits—if any—lined surfaces present underneath their face value.

After some Internet sleuthing, I stumbled upon a study that had been conducted by GA Lindsay, of the University of Sheffield’s Education Department, back in 1983. The study aimed to take a look at the effects lined and unlined paper has on the writing ability of young students. It was found that legibility increased among younger children using non-lined paper, but decreased when applied with older participants. In turn, when the same study was applied using lined paper, the exact opposite was found to be true: older children possessed legible handwriting, while younger children struggled to do so. Some researchers have since hypothesized that this correlation is due to the cognitive differences that can be found between a child in their early and later years (4-10 and 10-16 respectively).

Continue reading Why Handwriting Matters For The Development of The Brain

5S Outside The Factory: Learning To Organize Your Life

There’s the famous saying that goes a little something like: “If you want to have a happy life, you’re best to leave your work at work.” While that may remain true for most right-minded individuals, the reality of the situation at hand is that it’s not always possible. Some people work irregular hours, forcing them to conflict personal time with their hectic work life. Others may find themselves in a different situation entirely: working from home to best combat the harsh reality of two full-time working parents. Regardless of what the situation at hand may be, it helps to have access to a workplace that feels comfortable and inviting. By inserting yourself an environment that feels homey, you’re inherently easing the natural tension that comes with the territory of a typical workplace.

The idea of creating a “natural” workplace seems to be a rather vague goal; after all, what exactly goes into making a workplace feel “natural” anyways? A good place to start is by keeping your office tidy and organized. As a company that manufactures a variety of dry erase boards that can help you better organize your workplace, we like to think we have a pretty good idea as to what works when it comes to the ins and outs of organizing your office. That’s why we’ve put together a list of six tips for cleaning your workspace using the 6S methods our customers live by.

Seiri (Sorting)

The first step of any cleaning initiative should involve eliminating clutter from the designated area. The same can be said for the manufacturing industry as well; if your shop floor has a collection of unused machinery or unused shelf space, you’d want to get rid of it, wouldn’t you? So go ahead and pick up the stack of papers that have been sitting in the corner of your desk for the past six months, they are only adding to the problem.

Continue reading 5S Outside The Factory: Learning To Organize Your Life

Infographic: 3 Ways Whiteboards Foster Creativity

We love whiteboards here at Magnatag (we know, shocking!) and we believe that dry erase surfaces are at their best when encouraging others to collaborate. Commonly used as a tool to help revitalize the conference room of days past, whiteboards are built from the ground-up with creativity in mind. Don’t believe us? Check out the infographic below to see for yourself!


How Org-Charts Can Be a Powerful Leadership Tool in the Workplace.

On its surface, an org-chart is simply a mapping of a company’s corporate structure. However, with the proper knowledge, an org chart can influence a team’s behavior. It can communicate an organization’s priorities, while simultaneously highlighting core competencies and where to best utilize them. An org-chart can promote collaboration and accountability. Basically, in the right hands, an org chart can help a leader steer their organization down the right path.

Forbes recently published an article that detailed the industry demand for a flexible alternative to the stationary org chart. In the article, David Burkus looks to the likes of Broadway production teams to help uncover the value of operating with an org chart that is formed around products and problems as opposed to a fixed structure. The big takeaway here is this: the more willing you are to part with a predefined structure for your organization or business—in favor of something that allows for resources to be allocated where they are needed the most—the better you can perform in your competitive marketplace.

But Burkus’ article also hints at a dynamic shift in the way we visualize information to better suit the flexible nature of the 21st century. There has to be a degree of parity between structure and flexibility in everything we, as modern professionals, do; that’s why Burkus’ article is so poignant. It highlights that as times are changing, technology and familiarity need to meet somewhere in the middle—hence the familiarity of an easily manageable org chart that provides features to expedite a hectic production schedule.

So what benefits can an org chart provide your company? We’ve put together a list of three key takeaways that organizational charts can provide to the everyday business professional:

Continue reading How Org-Charts Can Be a Powerful Leadership Tool in the Workplace.

3 Ways You Can Use Gantt Charts To Enhance Project Management Output

Whether you work in sales, manufacturing, education, or healthcare, it’s likely that you’ve become familiar with Gantt charts. Designed in the early 1900s by Henry Gantt, Gantt charts have revolutionized the way we organize information in the workplace. At Magnatag, we know just how integral Gantt charts are to a successful operation, so we’ve created a list of ways you can use them to your advantage when dealing with project management.

  1. Gantt Charts Improve Employee Motivation

Setting goals is widely considered to be one of the best practices for maintaining a successful career, as goal setting gives you something to strive towards. You may notice that many companies will implement goals to streamline focus groups or individual team members. So it should come as no surprise that Gantt charts are commonly found at the center of the goal setting process. By creating a large-scale company planner or calendar within the workplace, you can give your employees a chance to look at the company’s big picture. Employees will be able to identify how their job impacts the rest of the group, thereby making them more conscientious of their importance to workflow progression. As a result, you’ll likely notice that employees will begin to take more initiative when it comes to projects or other deadline-driven assignments.

Continue reading 3 Ways You Can Use Gantt Charts To Enhance Project Management Output

3 Simple Things That Will Help Kickstart Your Day

Let’s face it; no one likes waking up in the morning.

Sleep is a precious element of life that some of us simply cannot seem to have enough of. Most health experts suggest that a healthy individual should receive between seven to nine hours of sleep per night—but I’m not so sold on that.

I’m no health expert—nor have I any expertise in examining the psychological influence sleep has on the human brain—but what I do know is that there are some mornings where that recommended amount of shuteye feels insufficient.


And since getting paid to sleep isn’t a reality for anyone, we’ve put together a list of a few routines that will make getting out of bed in the morning just a little bit easier!

  1. Get Your Exercise In Early

Working out first thing in the morning may not sound like music to your ears; after all, you do have to wake up even earlier than intended to make time for the gym. Yet research indicates that working out in the morning does have some considerable health benefits that can give you a much-needed boost in the morning. Consider the following:

Continue reading 3 Simple Things That Will Help Kickstart Your Day

Spring-Cleaning: The Best Ways To Clean Your Office

Picture this: You’re in a room surrounded by a few coffee mugs and scattered post-it notes, flooded with folders of printed memos and important documents that cover the desktop in front of you, while sitting in a chair that is covered with outerwear fit for any scenario mother nature throws your way.

If this place sounds a familiar to you, the good news is you’re not alone.

In an article conducted by Sheila McClear of the New York Post, McClear clarified something that many office workers have questioned for quite a while: That messy desk is likely to affect your perception in the workplace.

With the snow melting and spring just around the corner, there is no better time to get your office organized! So before you get started, here is a list of 5 tips to help you keep your workspace fresh:


  1. Start Scheduling

While this tip doesn’t require you to actually clean anything, it does play into the entire purpose of spring-cleaning: To get organized. I’ve already covered the immense amount of value planning can provide to your quality of life once before, so we can skip ahead to all the fun stuff.

You can start by allocating a centralized location for all your scheduling needs. Whether it is a giant whiteboard or something more personal like a pocket planner, you want to get into the habit of writing things down. Studies indicate that the act of writing increases brain activity, making it easier to remember important dates and times. In fact, this is something you can get started on right away; plan a day for your spring-cleaning and make an event out of it!

Continue reading Spring-Cleaning: The Best Ways To Clean Your Office

How To Discreetly Track Student Performance

How do you know when your students are falling behind on grades and struggling with a specific subject?

The answer to this question is always met with a variety of responses ranging from the sarcastic, “Of course, I’m the best educator in the world! How could I not know which students of mine are falling behind?” to the less enthusiastic, “I try to.”

The truth of the matter is that no educator can always know how every one of his or her students is performing. Sure, you may have an idea of perhaps a handful of students that may be falling behind, but in order to prove that theory you are forced to dig through a plethora of binders just to validate your belief.

Every teacher would love to be able to keep constant tabs on the effectiveness of their lesson plans and the status of their entire roster of students, but when there are papers to grade and lessons to be planned, you cannot possibly be on top of everything.

Or can you?

Continue reading How To Discreetly Track Student Performance