Productivity http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/8129/all en-US The 7 Stages of Procrastination (Read This Right Now!) http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-stages-of-procrastination-read-this-right-now <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-7-stages-of-procrastination-read-this-right-now" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/girl-procastinating-163388836-small.jpg" alt="procrastinating" title="procrastinating" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?</p> <p>If this is your mantra, or if it's how you live even though it's <em>not</em> your mantra, then you, my friend, are a procrastinator.</p> <p>While stories of epic procrastination are badges of honor in a few circles, most of us feel a lot of negative emotions about putting things off. We may feel guilty, ashamed, depressed, hopeless, and more. And what's more, we tend to feel like the procrastination monster is unbeatable. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-to-stop-procrastinating-now?ref=seealso">9 Ways to Stop Procrastination &mdash; Now!</a>)</p> <p>However, beating procrastination, while not simple, is a straightforward task that we can set our minds to. Once we know why we procrastinate and how procrastination works in our brains, we can come up with concrete steps to take that can help us overcome procrastination no matter how far along we are in the process when we realize what's going on.</p> <h2>1. Choose a Task</h2> <p>This is the first step towards getting anything done, and even the worst procrastinator usually knows what they are supposed to be doing. Sometimes our tasks are dictated by someone else (like a boss or a professor), and sometimes they are things that we choose. Either way, the very first step any procrastinator takes is to choose what they want to get done.</p> <h3>Overcoming the Problem</h3> <p>Make sure that <a href="http://waitbutwhy.com/2013/11/how-to-beat-procrastination.html">the tasks you choose are manageable</a> and well-defined. It can be easy to say, &quot;I want to write a book this year,&quot; but that's a huge job. Breaking it down into steps like, &quot;I will write at least 500 words every day until the book is done&quot; and &quot;I will research how to form an effective plot,&quot; are more likely to get done because they are doable and it's easy to tell when you're finished.</p> <h2>2. See a Distraction</h2> <p>In our busy age, it's almost always possible to find something to distract us, no matter how hard we work to make sure that doesn't happen. Both procrastinators and non-procrastinators are bombarded by distractions, and it's nearly always easier to see all of the things that you could be doing right after you've chosen to focus on some task in particular.</p> <h3>Overcoming the Problem</h3> <p>The computer and the online world are some of the biggest distractions out there. If you don't need them to complete your task, turn them off. All the way off. As in, hit the power switch and let the screen go dark. Same for your phone and your tablet and anything else that connects online. If you do need your computer, try installing an app like <a href="http://anti-social.cc/">Antisocial</a> that will help you use your computer more responsibly.</p> <h2>3. Choose Instant Gratification</h2> <p>This is where procrastinators and non-procrastinators part ways. While a non-procrastinator is often able to deftly avoid getting sucked in by distractions, procrastinators choose the instant gratification that comes from the distractions rather than prolonging gratification and getting on with the task at hand.</p> <h3>Overcoming the Problem</h3> <p>Focus on thinking about the future. Consider how you will feel in an hour, a day, a week, or a month if you give in to your distraction, then think about how you will feel if you don't give in. The <a href="http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-to-avoid-the-temptations-of-immediate-gratification/">ability to delay gratification</a> is tied to the ability to imagine the future, so practicing this will give you skills that you need to choose to focus on the task at hand, rather than on whichever distraction is the most enticing at the moment.</p> <h2>4. Feel Terrible</h2> <p>Most people who procrastinate feel terrible about it, either at the time of procrastination or later, when they realize how much time they've wasted or when they feel the pressure of encroaching deadlines. Guilt is one of the most common of these emotions, though sometimes you may experience anxiety, shame, and depression, too.</p> <h3>Overcoming the Problem</h3> <p>Let the <a href="http://lifehacker.com/5658620/the-now-habit-overcoming-procrastination-and-enjoying-guilt-free-play">guilt teach you</a>. Instead of wallowing in your feelings or letting them overrun you, use them to teach you how to procrastinate less. Use the feelings to remind you that you are in the process of learning skills focusing on self-regulation, which is what will help you overcome your procrastination. If anxiety is key to your procrastination problems, make sure that what you want to accomplish is actually feasible in the period of time you have.</p> <h2>5. Repeat</h2> <p>Procrastinators tend to repeat this cycle with increasingly negative emotions until their deadline looms over them. They begin to feel like there isn't any hope for establishing a new pattern, because they keep finding themselves going through the same patterns over and over and over again.</p> <h3>Overcoming the Problem</h3> <p>When you're feeling like the procrastination cycle might continue forever, remind yourself of past successes. Remember times when you have accomplished a difficult task, or just finished the thing that is before you. Replay these in your mind, rather than replaying your failures.</p> <p>Most procrastinators continue these steps until&hellip;</p> <h2>6. Panic</h2> <p>When you procrastinate long enough, eventually a deadline will loom over you and will press in so close that you panic. There comes a time when you must get something done or the consequences will be dire. You might fail a class, lose a job, or worse. This is when a lot of procrastinators suddenly become highly motivated, because they don't want bad things to happen.</p> <h3>Overcoming the Problem</h3> <p>While panic might make you act (it doesn't work for everyone), it probably won't help you produce your best work. Even if you have procrastinated for a long time, you will need to calm down before you can do the best that you can do in the time you have left. Give yourself a few minutes to breathe, and remember why you care about the project in the first place.</p> <h2>7. Complete the Task</h2> <p>For the most part, procrastinators respond to panic and begin to work in a flurry, eventually producing some sort of attempt at completing the task they originally chose. This may not be their best work, and they may see all of the things that they could have done if they hadn't procrastinated, but many times they will, eventually, finish.</p> <h3>Overcoming the Problem</h3> <p>If time is pressing in and you know you aren't doing the project the way you want to do it, consider other options. These won't always work, but they may help you produce something closer to your ideal result. You can ask for an extension on the project, and then set up accountability to make sure you work in the time that you have. Or, you can change the scope of the project so that you can do a better job in the time that you have left.</p> <p><em>Do you procrastinate? What steps do you take to overcome it?</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-7-stages-of-procrastination-read-this-right-now" class="sharethis-link" title="The 7 Stages of Procrastination (Read This Right Now!)" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sarah-winfrey">Sarah Winfrey</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> General Tips Productivity delay gratification guilt procrastination productivity shame Wed, 30 Jul 2014 15:00:04 +0000 Sarah Winfrey 1171184 at http://www.wisebread.com Best Money Tips: Things to Do on Your Lunch Break http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-things-to-do-on-your-lunch-break <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/best-money-tips-things-to-do-on-your-lunch-break" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/lunch-break-74226770-small.jpg" alt="lunch break" title="lunch break" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="146" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Welcome to Wise Bread's <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/best-money-tips">Best Money Tips</a> Roundup! Today we found some awesome articles on things to do on your lunch break, money tips for new grads, and turning a cheap vacation into a first-class getaway.</p> <h2>Top 5 Articles</h2> <p><a href="http://www.savvysugar.com/Things-Do-During-Your-Lunch-Hour-35087372">11 Things to Do on Your Lunch Break</a> &mdash; On your lunch break, consider mailing your packages or reading a book. [POPSUGAR Smart Living]</p> <p><a href="http://www.fivecentnickel.com/2014/06/30/essential-money-tips-for-new-college-grads/">Essential Money Tips for New Grads</a> &mdash; New grads should create a budget and borrow a book or two on finance. [Five Cent Nickel]</p> <p><a href="http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2014/06/24/10-ways-to-turn-a-cheap-vacation-into-a-first-class-getaway?int=aa6a09&amp;int=a86509">10 Ways to Turn a Cheap Vacation Into a First-Class Getaway</a> &mdash; To turn a cheap vacation into a first-class getaway, pack your own food and be choosy about souvenirs. [US News &amp; World Report]</p> <p><a href="http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2014/06/30/dissecting-retirement-savings/">Dissecting Retirement Savings</a> &mdash; Chances are even if you started saving at a young age, you still need to continue to save for retirement. [Get Rich Slowly]</p> <p><a href="http://www.mainstreet.com/article/moneyinvesting/savings/quarter-americans-dont-have-any-emergency-savings">A Quarter of Americans Don't Have Any Emergency Savings</a> &mdash; 26% of Americans don't have an emergency fund. Are you part of this statistic? [MainStreet]</p> <h2>Other Essential Reading</h2> <p><a href="http://www.thewisdomjournal.com/Blog/networking-opportunities/">12 Networking Opportunities You Cannot Afford to Miss</a> &mdash; Don't let the networking opportunity of social media and industry associations pass you by. [The Wisdom Journal]</p> <p><a href="http://moneysmartlife.com/against-early-retirement/">An Argument Against Early Retirement</a> &mdash; If you retire early, you have a higher chance of outliving your money. [Money Smart Life]</p> <p><a href="http://www.doughroller.net/smart-spending/5-best-cash-back-online-shopping-sites/">The 5 Best Cash Back Online Shopping Sites</a> &mdash; Big Crumbs and Ebates are just a couple of awesome cash back shopping sites. [Dough Roller]</p> <p><a href="http://www.learnvest.com/2014/06/affordable-family-vacations/">6 Fun (And Affordable) Summer Trips For Families</a> &mdash; Need an affordable summer vacation? Try camping in Coos Bay, OR. [LearnVest]</p> <p><a href="http://parentingsquad.com/enjoy-patriotic-foods-this-fourth-of-july">Enjoy Patriotic Foods This Fourth of July</a> &mdash; Celebrate the 4th of July with a Crunchy Fourth of July Cheeseburger or Red, White, and Blue Nachos. [Parenting Squad]</p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-money-tips-things-to-do-on-your-lunch-break" class="sharethis-link" title="Best Money Tips: Things to Do on Your Lunch Break" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-jacobs">Ashley Jacobs</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Productivity best money tips. lunch break productivity Fri, 04 Jul 2014 19:00:02 +0000 Ashley Jacobs 1152746 at http://www.wisebread.com These 5 Apps Can Fix Your Finances http://www.wisebread.com/these-5-apps-can-fix-your-finances <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/these-5-apps-can-fix-your-finances" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/finance-app-160888117-small.jpg" alt="finance app" title="finance app" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="137" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>They say money has wings and that it tends to fly away before we even realize it. That's a product of the time we're living in, unfortunately. The good news, however, is that some wasteful spending can be curtailed and prevented, and a great way to do that is to use something else that's a product of our time: Smartphone apps. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-i-knew-it-benefit-of-expense-tracking?ref=seealso">The &quot;I Knew It!&quot; Benefit of Expense Tracking</a>)</p> <p>Our phones do a lot of things that we don't really need on a regular basis, but one thing that they're capable of that we'd do well to take advantage of regularly is tracking our expenses. There are a lot of great apps (free and paid) that allow us to do this without having to sit down at a computer or write in a checkbook. These are the ones worth looking at.</p> <h2>1. Mint</h2> <p><a href="http://www.mint.com/how-it-works/"><img width="130" height="230" align="right" src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/Mint.jpeg" alt="" /></a>Mint is one of the most popular and widely used apps available for tracking spending, and it's completely free.</p> <p>The data itself is stored in a cloud account where it can be accessed by a number of different supported devices. Either your phone, Internet browsers, and even a Linux application can be used to access your data and track your spending.</p> <p><a href="https://www.mint.com/how-it-works/">It works</a> by keeping all your transactions and balances in one spot and can even pull data from your respective financial institutions.</p> <h2>2. Quicken</h2> <p><a href="http://quicken.intuit.com/personal-finance-software/quicken-mobile-app.jsp"><img width="130" height="230" align="right" src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/Quicken.jpeg" alt="" /></a>Originally one of the more popular desktop applications for tracking your spending, Intuit's Quicken provides a <a href="http://quicken.intuit.com/personal-finance-software/quicken-mobile-app.jsp">mobile version of their software</a> as well.</p> <p>Some of the more helpful features include the ability to snap and store receipts, syncing with the desktop application, graphical GUI with tablet versions, and secure password protection with encryption.</p> <p>The mobile app is perfect if you're already familiar with Quicken's software and would like to use your smartphone to manage it.</p> <h2>3. iSpending</h2> <p><a href="http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ispending-expense-tracker/id484100875?mt=8"><img width="130" height="230" align="right" src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/iSpending.jpeg" alt="" /></a>Graphical reports and a sleek UI give this <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ispending-expense-tracker/id484100875?mt=8">free app</a> a lot of appeal for the more casual user.</p> <p>Though it lacks some of the features that you'll find with other apps like receipt snapping or a desktop counterpart, iSpending is ideal for someone who primarily keeps data on their phone with no need to sync with other devices.</p> <p>It handles all the basic spending and expense tracking the average person needs, including custom spending categories, summaries and adding income/expense transactions.</p> <h2>4. Visual Budget Expense Tracking and Management</h2> <p><a href="http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/visual-budget-expense-tracking/id458571562?mt=8"><img width="130" height="230" align="right" src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/Visual%20Budget.jpeg" alt="" /></a>Assigning budgets to individual categories, managing multiple accounts, accessing overview tools, and taking advantage of easy-to-read pie graphs can all be done with the free version of <a href="https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/visual-budget-expense-tracking/id458571562?mt=8">this awkwardly named app</a>, though it does limit you to 10 transactions per account.</p> <p>Purchasing the unlimited version is $5, which lifts the transaction limit and gives you full use of the app.</p> <p>It's also compatible with iTunes file sharing if you want to import spreadsheets.</p> <h2>5. Spending Tracker</h2> <p><a href="http://www.mhriley.com/spendingtracker/"><img width="130" height="230" align="right" src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/u5123/Spending%20Tracker.jpeg" alt="" />The interface</a> is pleasant, intuitive, and easy to use, offering all the essential features for tracking your spending.</p> <p>Budget mode, spending categories, and reports are all available to you without the pro upgrade, which is only $2.99 regardless.</p> <p>If you do upgrade, you'll have the app ad free and will be able to set up repeat transactions and export transactions. Otherwise, the app is completely functional without you having to pay any money.</p> <p>It's available for iOS, Android, and Windows phone.</p> <h2>Making It a Habit</h2> <p>Expense-tracking apps are valuable tools in your hand, but they'll only make a difference if you make a habit of using them. Work it into your daily routine to either download or manually input your income and expenses of the past 24 hours. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-sites-and-apps-to-help-you-track-your-spending-and-stick-to-your-budget?ref=seealso">10 Sites and Apps That Help You Track Spending</a>)</p> <p>If you keep it up, you'll eventually be able to use reports and graphs to get a clearer picture of how you're spending your money and where you need to cut back or where you could save. It's a time commitment, for sure, but it won't get much easier than being a few swipes away in your pocket. And, let's face it, it's still easier than writing everything down in your checkbook. All hail technology!</p> <p><em>Do you have an expense-tracking app that you like to use? Has it changed the way you handle your finances? Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/these-5-apps-can-fix-your-finances" class="sharethis-link" title="These 5 Apps Can Fix Your Finances" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mikey-rox">Mikey Rox</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Budgeting Productivity Technology apps budgets expense tracker expenses spending Tue, 01 Jul 2014 13:00:03 +0000 Mikey Rox 1150925 at http://www.wisebread.com Don't Buy Microsoft Office! And Other Free Alternatives to Pricey Computer Software http://www.wisebread.com/dont-buy-microsoft-office-and-other-free-alternatives-to-pricey-computer-software <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/dont-buy-microsoft-office-and-other-free-alternatives-to-pricey-computer-software" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/software-shopping-156946695-small.jpg" alt="software shopping" title="software shopping" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="131" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>So you just forked over a boatload of cash for a shiny new PC, but before you can really do anything other than watch YouTube videos and make crude Microsoft Paint drawings, you have to shell out even more to get the software. With today's leading applications costing hundreds of dollars, editing your photos or managing your finances can leave your wallet feeling substantially lighter. But fret not, for the Internet is your bank account's salvation from pricey PC programs! (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/excel-the-most-underrated-software-you-already-own?ref=seealso">The Most Underrated Software You May Already Own</a>)</p> <h2>A Quick Word on Free/Open Source Programs</h2> <p>Software that is developed as &quot;freeware&quot; will almost always have certain limitations compared to the paid apps that they seek to emulate. As such, one simply cannot expect these free programs to offer the same range of features and/or functionality present in their costlier counterparts. That being said, many free or open source alternatives can get the job done without you having to spend a fortune.</p> <h2>Microsoft Office vs. LibreOffice</h2> <p>The Office suite by Microsoft is hands down the number one application that people spend money on. Whether by accident or by design, Microsoft Office is the tool virtually every business, school, and casual user uses to compose their digital documents. As Microsoft continues their market domination of office software, they offer a <a href="http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/products/microsoft-office-365-for-home-or-for-business-office-online-FX101825692.aspx?CTT=97">dizzying number of products</a> and payment options, from subscription based services to one time license fees.</p> <p>If paying $100+ to write your Twilight fan fiction sounds unreasonable, you're not alone. A non-profit organization, The Document Foundation, developed <a href="http://www.libreoffice.org/">LibreOffice</a> in 2010, an office suite including (but not limited to) programs similar to Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Visio, and Access. The programs resemble the layouts of their Microsoft counterparts, and are generally compatible with Microsoft file types. Of course, <a href="http://lifehacker.com/battle-of-the-office-suites-microsoft-office-and-libre-1147940828">LibreOffice has its pros and cons</a>.</p> <h2>Adobe Photoshop vs. GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP)</h2> <p>Whether you are a professional photographer or an amateur shutterbug, you would be hard pressed to find someone who wasn't aware of Adobe's powerful photo editing software, <a href="http://www.photoshop.com/products/photoshop">Photoshop</a>. From photo retouching to image authoring, Photoshop leads the market as the software of choice for professional and home users alike.</p> <p>For those who don't necessarily need the wealth of tools that Photoshop has to offer, a popular alternative is <a href="http://www.gimp.org/">GIMP</a>. Although it may not be fair to <a href="http://designinstruct.com/opinion/photoshop-alternative-gimp/">compare the two programs</a> head to head, the attractive price of zero dollars coupled with impressive features make GIMP a solid option for photo manipulation.</p> <p>Interested in making a jump from Photoshop to GIMP? <a href="http://www.gimpshop.com/">GIMPShop</a> may be the best option for you.</p> <h2>Microsoft Outlook vs. Mozilla Thunderbird</h2> <p>Finding the right email client for you can be a long and arduous process. The go-to program to tackle a wide variety of email needs has been Microsoft's <a href="http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook/">Outlook</a>. A strong competitor has come in the form of <a href="http://www.mozilla.org/en-GB/thunderbird/">Thunderbird</a> by Mozilla, the same team that brought the world Firefox. While development of Thunderbird is community-based, meaning that Mozilla no longer has a hand in its growth, it is a <a href="http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2356349,00.asp">reliable and impressive Outlook doppelganger</a>.</p> <p>Although Thunderbird is not as feature rich as Outlook, there are a wide variety of add-ons that bring it pretty darn close to Outlook experience. If you don't need to link into the Microsoft Exchange servers, Thunderbird should garner more than just a passing curiosity.</p> <h2>Reckon vs. GnuCash</h2> <p>Whether you struggle to balance your checkbook, own a small business, or do all of the bookkeeping for your local bocce club, an accounting program would certainly make your life easier.</p> <p>Powerhouse accounting software from <a href="http://www.reckon.com/">Reckon</a> or Intuit will supply you with a wide variety of tools to get your finances on track, and the first thing you can do with them is deduct the cost of the program itself. If the steep price of Reckon products don't fit within your budget, the most feature rich alternative is <a href="http://www.gnucash.org/">GnuCash</a>. <a href="http://personal-finance-software.findthebest.com/saved_compare/GNUcash-vs-Quicken">Compared to popular software by Reckon</a>, GnuCash can handle most bookkeeping tasks thrown at it, and can be run on various operating systems, all for the bargain basement price of free.</p> <p>With a little bit of research and the willingness to try something a little less known, you may find yourself saving boatloads by adopting these free software alternatives. If you do find yourself perusing through the free/open source marketplace, just remember that there are many individuals and organisations which work tirelessly in order to design, develop and distribute these programs. If you appreciate their work, remember to donate (if you can) or simply say thanks!</p> <p><em>Do you any of these or other free alternatives to popular software packages? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-buy-microsoft-office-and-other-free-alternatives-to-pricey-computer-software" class="sharethis-link" title="Don&#039;t Buy Microsoft Office! And Other Free Alternatives to Pricey Computer Software" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ryan-lynch">Ryan Lynch</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Productivity Shopping Technology Free software office suite software Wed, 25 Jun 2014 13:00:07 +0000 Ryan Lynch 1148485 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Ways You Can Bend Time to Improve Your Life http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-you-can-bend-time-to-improve-your-life <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-ways-you-can-bend-time-to-improve-your-life" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/time-78717718-small.jpg" alt="time" title="time" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Fact: Every day, we all start with 24 hours. Subtract the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep, and we're left with a measly 15 to 17 waking hours per day. No wonder we're always rushing around, trying to cram in all our &quot;have-tos&quot; and &quot;want-tos!&quot; But sometimes slowwwwwing down to enjoy the good stuff &mdash; and speeding up to increase efficiencies in other areas &mdash; can add a whole lot of awesomeness to everyday life. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-tools-that-create-hours-of-free-time-a-week?ref=seealso">9 Tools That Create Hours of Free Time Every Week</a>)</p> <h2>1. Truly Enjoy Those Things Worth Savoring</h2> <p>Think of one or two things that you look forward to every day. Whether it's sitting outside watching the birds fly around the bird feeder, walking the dog, or enjoying an after-dinner cocktail, see if you can find an extra 10-15 minutes to really savor the experience.</p> <p>For me, there never seems to be enough time between the blaring of the alarm clock and the rush out the door in the morning. I used to blast through my morning routine on high-speed auto-pilot &mdash; so quickly that before I knew it, my coffee pot was empty, and I could hardly remember drinking it. But one weekend morning, when I was leisurely enjoying my morning java, I had a coffee epiphany: Wow&hellip; this tastes amazing! It was a life-changing moment. By waking up 15 minutes earlier, I now slow down and appreciate its deliciousness sip by sip &mdash; every day!</p> <h2>2. Do It Right the First Time</h2> <p>When you slow down, whether it's at work, in the kitchen, or during an argument with your partner, you reduce your chances of making mistakes. How awesome is the thought of not needing to cover a bank overdraft, run out for fast-food when you scorch the chicken, or find ways to tell your honey that you <em>really, really</em> did not mean those things that just slipped out of your mouth before thinking? One of my favorite <a href="http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/news/story?id=5249709">John Wooden quotes</a> sums it up best: &quot;If you don't have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?&quot; Mistakes happen, but more often than not, it's because we're rushing. Instead, slow down and do it right the first time.</p> <h2>3. Be Present</h2> <p>It's impossible to multitask and be 100% present at the same time. Sure, you can drive the car and listen to the radio &mdash; even sing along to your favorite song &mdash; but you can't really focus on your partner's detailed account of a problem at work while scrolling through your Twitter feed.</p> <p>Make an effort to decide what things will get your full and undivided attention. Sometimes full presence trumps efficiency.</p> <h2>4. Multitask Smartly</h2> <p>Many low-attention items on your to-do list can be grouped together to spend your time more efficiently. For example, why not fold a load of towels while catching up on the latest episode of Orange is the New Black? Catch up on Facebook while on hold with the cable company. Often, we find ourselves multitasking haphazardly, which can cause problems. But purposeful &mdash; scheduled &mdash; multitasking often makes sense. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-simple-way-to-make-multitasking-actually-work?ref=seealso">The Simple Way to Make Multitasking Actually Work</a>)</p> <h2>5. Delay Purchase, Increase Satisfaction</h2> <p>You just saw the cutest purse / coolest pair of sunglasses / latest and greatest iPhone&hellip; Sure, impulse gifts-to-self can be fun, but <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/06/why-wanting-expensive-things-makes-us-so-much-happier-than-buying-them/276717/">anticipated purchases can be far more gratifying</a>. Keep a little &quot;wish list&quot; going, and reward yourself with a special purchase when you reach a goal.</p> <p>When you make a decision to buy that certain something that you really want, schedule it for a later time (even later that same day), another day, or as a reward after you finish that daunting task that's been on your list for months.</p> <p>Anticipating the purchase will make it that much more enjoyable once it becomes yours.</p> <h2>6. Spend Less Time on Workouts for Better Results</h2> <p><a href="http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/fitness/in-depth/interval-training/art-20044588">Interval training</a>, combining short bursts of high-intensity activity with intervals of slower, lighter intensity activity can help burn more calories, improve your aerobic capacity, and keep your workouts from becoming boring. Add a few sprints to your bike ride, jog or walk &mdash; and notice results faster.</p> <p>When lifting weights, <a href="http://www.livestrong.com/article/467998-super-slow-motion-weight-training/">super slow reps</a> can improve your strength by creating greater tension and recruiting higher muscle fiber, according to Dr. Len Kravitz of the University of New Mexico. While not all experts agree that super slow weight lifting indeed creates stronger muscles, scripted group exercise classes like <a href="http://bodytrainingsystems.com/pages/bts_programs/GroupPower.htm">Group Power</a> and <a href="http://bodytrainingsystems.com/pages/bts_programs/GroupRide.htm">Group Ride</a> incorporate varying speeds and counts in all of their exercise routines.</p> <h2>7. Read for Speed and Boost Comprehension</h2> <p>Think about all the reading you do on an average day. Newspapers (online or in print), emails, reports, proposals, notes from school&hellip; On average, people read about <a href="http://www.mindtools.com/speedrd.html.">250 words per minute</a>, according to Mindtools. Did you know that &mdash; in addition to helping you read faster &mdash; speed reading can also improve your comprehension of the &quot;big picture&quot; message of the content? Sometimes getting the gist of a newspaper article is good enough, and wasting time on the impertinent details can get you backlogged.</p> <p>Other times, of course, reading slowly &mdash; paying close attention to every word &mdash; is necessary. Missing or misreading one word in a contract or proposal can have disastrous implications! When reading for pleasure, going slowly allows you to appreciate the details of the images the author has painted with words.</p> <h2>8. Shop Fast and Save Money</h2> <p>Wouldn't it be great to come home from the grocery store without buyer's remorse &mdash; or tempting diet sabotages? Schedule your grocery shopping as you would for other activities on your &quot;to-do&quot; list, allotting a reasonable time limit &mdash; and sticking to it. When you grocery shop with a list in hand and a predetermined time span, you can dash up and down the aisles, grabbing the items that you <em>need</em>, and avoiding the temptations that may lurk in the junk food section. Go quickly, stay focused and get it done! (But remember to smile at the cashier, the &quot;rush&quot; ends when you hit the check-out lane.)</p> <h2>9. Make Time for the Important Stuff</h2> <p>Sometimes we get too busy to meet a friend for lunch or a beer after work. Even finding time to chat on the phone often takes a back seat to appointments, work deadlines, carpools and other obligations. But as much as we sometimes tell ourselves we can't afford the time, the truth is, we can't afford <em>not</em> to take the time to connect with friends. Few things nourish the soul like a good, old-fashioned gab session with a friend.</p> <p>Making time to rest, finding &quot;me-time&quot; to recharge or even indulging in healthy routines like exercise are all things we know we should do for ourselves, yet they often take a backseat, thinking they can wait another week. They can't. Give the same priority to relationships and self-care as you do to checking your email and social media &mdash; the things that often <em>can</em> wait another week.</p> <p>Rather than feeling as if we don't &quot;have enough time,&quot; realize that the way we spend our time is up to us.</p> <h2>10. Make &quot;a Long Time&quot; More Manageable</h2> <p>No matter how you slice it, an hour is 60 minutes, a week is 7 days, and so on. But all time does not feel equal. Somehow, an hour in the dentist's chair simply doesn't pass as quickly as an hour of Zumba. Long periods of time can be toughest, whether it's undergoing treatment for a serious illness, recovering from a broken leg, or waiting for a family member to return from military duty in Afghanistan, time can feel often feel like a jail sentence. Even anticipating the good stuff &mdash; taking that well-deserved beachy vacation or remodeling your kitchen &mdash; can seem to last for an eternity.</p> <p>One strategy to conquer the &quot;mountain&quot; of time is to break it into manageable chunks, marked by smaller milestones. Choose an activity to help you mark time; for example, try one new recipe per week while awaiting your spouse's return from military duty; at the end of the wait, you'll have your partner back &mdash; and all kinds of new meals to put on the table!</p> <p>Instead of letting yourself become overwhelmed by what may feel like an abyss of time, manage what feels manageable &mdash; whether it's a day, a week, or a physical therapy session at a time.</p> <p><em>How do you manage your perception of time? Take a moment and share in comments!</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-you-can-bend-time-to-improve-your-life" class="sharethis-link" title="10 Ways You Can Bend Time to Improve Your Life" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mardee-handler">Mardee Handler</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Productivity anticipation boredom pastime time management Tue, 24 Jun 2014 13:00:04 +0000 Mardee Handler 1144287 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 "Good" Habits That May Actually Be Hurting You http://www.wisebread.com/6-good-habits-that-may-actually-be-hurting-you <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-good-habits-that-may-actually-be-hurting-you" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/studying-sb10069478bd-001-small_0.jpg" alt="studying" title="studying" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="142" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Even good habits take work. Whether you're consciously trying to incorporate something new into your routine, or mindlessly continuing an action or strategy you decided was right for you decades ago, these things require time and energy.</p> <p>So you better make sure they're actually working for you.</p> <p>Even habits generally deemed &quot;good&quot; may have consequences &mdash; be they secret health risks, opportunity costs of your effort, or self-defeating time-sucks. So check out the list, and take a moment to consider whether even your &quot;best&quot; habits are worth keeping.</p> <h2>1. Squatting To Avoid The Toilet Seat</h2> <p>Pride yourself a bum that never touches the seat? Well all that squatting may be lead to pain later on. According to a study from an organization representing over 45,000 physiotherapists, <a href="http://www.canada.com/story.html?id=20f0dd33-1e3a-46ab-9fd0-1452e9804ad4">women who squat over the toilet</a> instead of sit are more likely to develop painful urinary tract infections, as the body position doesn't encourage complete emptying of the bladder.</p> <h2>2. Using the &quot;Inbox Zero&quot; Method</h2> <p>Having an email organization system is important for prioritizing and making sure things don't slip the cracks. And if inbox zero works for you, great. But some proponents of this particular method &mdash; which involves clearing out one's inbox frequently and thoroughly &mdash; seem to be particularly prone to&hellip; <a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/scottybryan/why-your-obsession-with-inbox-zero-is-ruining-your-life">obsession</a>. At some point, the checking and sorting of messages stops become a means to an end (that is: organization) and starts becoming the end itself. That's when it may be time to reevaluate.</p> <h2>3. Washing Your Face Twice a Day</h2> <p>According to some dermatologists, washing your face twice a day can harm dry, aging skin. If you notice dryness and suspect over-washing is the culprit, try limiting yourself to only wash a day, and substituting rinsing with water and moisturizing in the morning.</p> <h2>4. Studying by the Book</h2> <p>Study hard kids! Spend long nights in the library! All that good stuff. But be wary of any study habits (at least, for college-level students and beyond) that emphasize &quot;finishing&quot; instead of &quot;learning.&quot; In other words, do the reading that's productive for you, don't finish everything in order to check a reading assignment off your list. Parallels hold true in the working world, too: put your effort into assignments that produce for you or the company &mdash; don't waste time on research you know won't add value.</p> <h2>5. Early Morning Exercise</h2> <p>Between kids and jobs and non-fitness activities (aka, &quot;lives&quot;), some people only have time to exercise in the morning. Some people feel it jumpstarts their day. Fine &mdash; if you're sure it's working, by all means, continue. But be aware that if you're trying to lose weight and skipping sleep in order to fit the workout in, your efforts may be for naught, as not getting enough sleep <a href="http://www.fitsugar.com/Bad-Exercise-First-Thing-Morning-3013632">can actually slow down your metabolism</a>, making it hard to shed those pounds.</p> <h2>6. Talking Everything Out</h2> <p>Open communication is vital to maintaining a relationship. But that doesn't mean that you need to hash out every little thing, nor that you have to hash out everything as soon as it pops into your mind. Researchers suggest that <a href="https://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/CFS/CFS-743-W.pdf">setting times to talk</a> is much more productive, and by doing so, you may be more inclined to just let the unimportant things go by the time your talk is scheduled.</p> <p><em>Any other &quot;good&quot; habits that may not work for everybody?</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-good-habits-that-may-actually-be-hurting-you" class="sharethis-link" title="6 &quot;Good&quot; Habits That May Actually Be Hurting You" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/joe-epstein">Joe Epstein</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> General Tips Organization Personal Development Productivity habits Improve productivity Thu, 19 Jun 2014 21:12:05 +0000 Joe Epstein 1142018 at http://www.wisebread.com This Is Why Your Projects Always Take Longer Than You Expect http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-why-your-projects-always-take-longer-than-you-expect <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/this-is-why-your-projects-always-take-longer-than-you-expect" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/time-467030095-small_0.jpg" alt="time" title="time" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="152" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>A contractor friend of mine once told me that no matter how well you plan, any home renovation project will always take longer than you think. In fact, he has come up with a formula for figuring out a more realistic time frame: Double the number and go to the next unit of time for your estimate. For instance, if you believe your kitchen renovation will take two weeks, according to my friend, it will actually take four months. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/is-diy-home-renovating-for-you?ref=seealso">Is DIY Home Renovating for You?</a>)</p> <p>This phenomenon is called the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planning_fallacy">planning fallacy</a>, and it happens to all of us when we plan any kind of project. (Full disclosure: I was supposed to have this piece written back in April.)</p> <p>Economists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky coined the term in 1979 in order to describe our tendency to underestimate the amount of time it takes to complete complex tasks &mdash; even when we have experience with similar tasks taking longer than our estimates.</p> <p>The interesting thing about the planning fallacy is that it is a nearly universal human quirk. There are very few people and organizations that are able to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-single-greatest-key-to-managing-your-time">overcome it</a>. Here's what you need to know about the planning fallacy and some strategies you can use to combat its costly influence.</p> <h2>Why We Underestimate</h2> <p>Behavioral economists and psychologists tend to agree on the reasons why we fall victim to the planning fallacy: We are just too optimistic.</p> <p>For instance, if you are planning a cross-country move, you might think about each of the necessary steps to take to go from one state to another. You'll think through each step, estimate the typical amount of time each will take, and add them all together. But, as Julia Galef points out on bigthink.com,</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;">&quot;The <a href="http://bigthink.com/in-their-own-words/why-you-cant-plan">more steps you have</a> in whatever project or task you're working on, the greater the chance that in one of those steps you're going to hit a snag and it's going to turn out to be atypical.&quot;</p> <p>People have enough trouble recognizing the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neglect_of_probability">probability of single events</a>. Add in <a href="http://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/compound-probability.asp">compound probabilities</a>, and we are generally going to plan for everything being exactly typical. This is why studies have shown that people who are asked for a best-case scenario estimate and a realistic estimate provide the <em><a href="http://lesswrong.com/lw/jg/planning_fallacy/">exact same time estimate</a></em>.</p> <p>Additionally, there can be a self-serving aspect to the planning fallacy. Not only might you <a href="http://scholar.princeton.edu/markus/files/planning_fallacy.pdf">purposefully</a> underestimate the time of a project in order to snag a waffling customer, but you might also unconsciously take credit for previous tasks that went well <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindsight_bias#Motivated_Forgetting">while blaming delays on outside influences</a>, which will make you discount the time evidence of past projects. Even if you are absolutely correct that you are a superstar and the last delay was the distributor's fault, that does not change the fact that distribution might be a problem with the next project, too.</p> <h2>Hofstadter's Law</h2> <p>Pulitzer Prize-winning author Douglas Hofstadter (for whom &quot;The Big Bang Theory's&quot; Leonard Hofstadter was named) coined the following law:</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;"><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hofstadter's_law">It always takes longer than you expect</a>, even when you take into account Hofstadter's Law.</p> <p>This crystallizes the big problem with the planning fallacy. Even when you recognize that we all have a tendency to underestimate how long something will take, it's not enough to simply <a href="http://www.43folders.com/2008/08/13/estimating-time">add an additional 20% or 40% to your estimate</a>. It will <em>still</em> take longer than you expect.</p> <h2>Overcoming the Planning Fallacy</h2> <p>Unfortunately, even if we have the information necessary to take an outside view of our project, we're still likely to fall victim to the planning fallacy. However, there are a couple of strategies you can use to reduce the effect of the planning fallacy on your projects. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-panic-how-to-meet-a-deadline?ref=seealso">Don't Panic! How to Meet a Deadline</a>)</p> <h3>Take the Outside View</h3> <p>We fall victim to Hofstadter's Law due to what Daniel Kahneman describes as the &quot;<a href="http://www.inc.com/daniel-kahneman/idea-lab-daniel-kahneman-the-planning-fallacy.html">inside view</a>&quot; to look at our projects. From the inside, we see our own project as something over which we have a unique level of control. However, if we take an &quot;outside view&quot; and look at our project as one of a group of similar projects, we can much more accurately predict how long the project will take based upon the evidence of others like it.</p> <h3>Systematically Increase Your Estimate</h3> <p>This is basically the advice that my contractor friend gave to me. When planning a project, increase the amount of time that you estimate it will take by doubling the number and going up to the next time unit. This is safer than simply adding additional days (or weeks, or months) to the estimate you come up with because it leaves time for seriously disruptive delays.</p> <p>The benefit of this strategy is that it doesn't require a great deal of additional thought. However, it is still possible to fall victim to Hofstadter's Law with this strategy. And having used it myself when dealing with various renovation projects around my house, I have found myself coming up with the revised estimate, and refusing to believe it will take that long. (It will.)</p> <h3>Ask an Expert</h3> <p>One of the reasons it can be so difficult to take the outside view of a time estimate is because you are intimately acquainted with all of the specific details of a project, which will lead you to believe that <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-ways-your-brain-screws-up-your-money-and-your-love-life">this one is different</a>. Even if you have personal knowledge of other, similar projects, you're likely to underestimate the length of time yours will take.</p> <p>So, one of the easiest ways to get an unbiased time estimate is to ask an outside expert how long similar projects have taken. That said, it might be difficult to believe the estimate they give. As the Less Wrong blog puts it,</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px;">&quot;You'll get back an answer that sounds hideously long, and clearly reflects no understanding of the special reasons why this particular task will take less time. <a href="http://lesswrong.com/lw/jg/planning_fallacy/">This answer is true. Deal with it</a>.&quot;</p> <h3>Time Yourself</h3> <p>In her book <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0805075909/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=0805075909&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20">Time Management From the Inside Out</a>, organization guru Julie Morgenstern outlines a simple but difficult plan for improving your ability to estimate the time it takes to complete tasks: Estimate how long it takes you to complete various tasks, and then time yourself when you do them. This strategy will force you to take an outside view of your tasks and projects, rather than rely on your optimistic inside view.</p> <p>For long-term projects, Morgenstern recommends breaking down the project into each of its component parts and estimating the amount of time each step will take. If you also record the actual time each step takes during these longer projects, you'll be giving yourself valuable evidence for planning your next project.</p> <h3>Write a Pre-Mortem</h3> <p>Research psychologist Gary Klein created the <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-10-24/bias-blindness-and-how-we-truly-think-part-1-daniel-kahneman.html">pre-mortem strategy</a> for dealing with the planning fallacy. In this strategy, just prior to committing to a project, you imagine that you have committed to it, and it is a year later and the project was a disaster. You then spend about fifteen minutes writing out the history of what went wrong. This will allow you to pinpoint ahead of time where problems may arise in your plan.</p> <p>Klein originally proposed this strategy for organizations, where doubts about a proposed plan of action can often be suppressed. The pre-mortem legitimizes those doubts.</p> <p>However, a pre-mortem is also a great exercise for an individual making a plan. It allows you to think through ways your plan could be derailed, which will allow you to decide ahead of time how to handle those derailments. You cannot do that kind of pre-planning if you haven't thought through the likely obstacles you might be facing.</p> <h2>Stop Overpromising</h2> <p>The real problem with the planning fallacy is that it leads to overpromising and under delivering. Not only does that cause you stress, but it can strain both work and personal relationships. These strategies can help you to combat the effects of the planning fallacy, and give you the gift of unstressed productivity.</p> <p><em>Have you ever had a project go disastrously, miraculously way beyond schedule? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-is-why-your-projects-always-take-longer-than-you-expect" class="sharethis-link" title="This Is Why Your Projects Always Take Longer Than You Expect" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emily-guy-birken">Emily Guy Birken</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> General Tips Productivity planning productivity projects Mon, 16 Jun 2014 17:00:03 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 1142658 at http://www.wisebread.com 5 Reasons Why Science Says It's Okay to Be Lazy http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-why-science-says-its-okay-to-be-lazy <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/5-reasons-why-science-says-its-okay-to-be-lazy" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/lazy-guy-462324311-small.jpg" alt="lazy guy" title="lazy guy" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="150" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>How many of your Facebook statuses read, &quot;Should be [insert productive activity], but instead I'm lying here watching the 'Storage Wars' marathon&quot;? Some blame human laziness on modern technology &mdash; conveniences like cars and pre-cooked bacon strip us of the need to be active, while inventions such as television tempt us into immobility. But laziness has been with us much longer than such inventions; after all, Catholic tradition lists &quot;sloth&quot; as one of the seven deadly sins, Buddhism warns against lying around, and <a href="http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/2002/08/The-Spiritual-Side-Of-Sloth.aspx?p=3">many other ancient religious texts</a> deride indolence. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/easy-personal-finance-for-lazy-people?ref=seealso">Easy Personal Finance for Lazy People</a>)</p> <p>So maybe we were born to laze? The next time you're feeling bad about being lazy, consider these five scientific excuses for sloth, arranged in an easy-to-read list.</p> <h2>1. You Come From a Lazy Family</h2> <p>University of Missouri-Columbia researchers successfully <a href="http://biomed.missouri.edu/couch-potatoes-may-be-genetically-predisposed-to-being-lazy-mu-study-finds/">bred lazy rats that took it easy all day</a> and annoying rats that went to the gym every morning before showing up at the lab, demonstrating that our genes predispose us to high or low activity levels. So if you lie on the couch a lot, chances are, your forefathers put in a lot of time on the divans in their parlors, too.</p> <p>Rather than kick yourself for wasting another afternoon, recognize that it's hard to overcome laziness, and practice <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/habits-arent-boring-theyre-the-secret-to-happiness-heres-why">developing some new habits</a>.</p> <h2>2. You Are a Teenager</h2> <p>When teens hit puberty, their <a href="http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/tween-and-teen-health/in-depth/teens-health/art-20046157">body chemistry pushes them to stay alert</a> until late at night, like 11 p.m. or midnight. But they still need about the same amount of shut-eye they needed as children &mdash; nine-plus hours. To get the sleep they need, teens need to sleep the morning away, a behavior that earns them the reputation of being lazy on weekends and vacations, and leaves them exhausted during the school week when early starts are the norm.</p> <p>Some schools have reacted to this news by <a href="http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/03/13/to-keep-teenagers-alert-schools-let-them-sleep-in/?_php=true&amp;_type=blogs&amp;_r=0">rescheduling the mornings</a> to accommodate drowsy students.</p> <h2>3. You Are Human</h2> <p>We human beings naturally conserve our energy unless we have a reason to expend it &mdash; even though we tend to be happier when we are busy. This might seem like common sense, but it's also science: In 2009, a team from the University of Chicago and Shanghai Jiaotong University proved that unless given a reason, most <a href="http://faculty.chicagobooth.edu/christopher.hsee/vita/Papers/IdlenessAversion.pdf">people prefer to sit idle</a> rather than to perform a task or take a walk, even though sitting idle drives us bonkers. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-surprisingly-simple-ways-to-motivate-yourself?ref=seealso">6 Surprisingly Effective Ways to Motivate Yourself</a>)</p> <p>The paper's authors posit that this paradox is rooted in evolution, writing, &quot;human ancestors had to conserve energy to compete for scarce resources; expending energy without purpose could have jeopardized survival.&quot; Indeed, our primate relatives, orangutans, <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/news/orangutans-burn-fewer-calories-than-lazy-humans/">avoid expending calories</a> whenever possible, coming in second for slothfulness to only one mammal: the actual sloth.</p> <h2>4. Your Ancestors Grew Easy Crops?</h2> <p>In his book &quot;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001ANYDAO/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B001ANYDAO&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20">Outliers</a>,&quot; Malcolm Gladwell asserts that students of East Asian heritage outscore students of European heritage in math because the former's ancestors worked hard all year cultivating rice paddies, while the European ancestors only farmed <a href="http://www.1reads.com/outliers-gladwell-malcolm?page=0,93">206 days a year</a> and spent winters sitting around the fireplace.</p> <p>In a world where other ethnic groups have more often been unfairly called lazy, it's sort of refreshing to hear white people targeted for once. But that doesn't make it true. Gladwell's hypothesis has come under heavy criticism. One reviewer pointed out that if the rice paddy theory were true, then students from southern China's <a href="http://www.openlettersmonthly.com/book-review-outliers-malcolm-gladwell/">rice-producing areas should outperform</a> northern China's wheat-growing areas, but Gladwell offers no data to support such a conclusion.</p> <p>It's also worth noting that another East Asian, rice-growing culture, Japan, was once <a href="http://www.anthonyworlando.com/2012/08/02/the-myth-of-the-lazy-poor/">maligned as lazy</a> before its economic revolution. Apparent differences between cultures in activity levels probably have more to do with economic conditions than genetics, bringing us handily to the next excuse.</p> <h2>5. You Are Following the Laws of Economics</h2> <p>According to economists, people do what they do because they are rationally responding to incentives. People work hard when presented with incentive to do so and work less when such incentive is absent.</p> <p>&quot;For instance, people are motivated to work hard <a href="http://www.nybooks.com/contributors/jared-diamond/">if they have opportunities to invest</a> their earnings profitably, but not if they have few such opportunities or if their earnings or profits are likely to be confiscated,&quot; writes Jared Diamond in his New York Review of Books piece on the book &quot;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0307719219/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=0307719219&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20">Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty</a>.&quot; (Diamond himself spilled plenty of ink on why some nations become wealthy while others languish in his book &quot;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000VDUWMC/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B000VDUWMC&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20">Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fate of Human Societies</a>.&quot;)</p> <p>In the United States, people are more likely to work long hours if doing so <a href="http://www.nber.org/digest/jul06/w11895.html">can garner them bonuses and promotions</a>, according to The National Bureau of Economic Research. Those who have no such opportunities will rationally work less and might be perceived as lazy.</p> <p>In other words, when there's nothing in it for you, why bother? And if you want to overcome a lack of motivation, look for some other <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-to-maintain-motivation-when-the-going-gets-tough?ref=seealso">motivations to get you started</a>.</p> <p><em>Any other good reasons to explain away sloth. Please get up off the couch and share in comments!</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-reasons-why-science-says-its-okay-to-be-lazy" class="sharethis-link" title="5 Reasons Why Science Says It&#039;s Okay to Be Lazy" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Development Productivity indolence laziness lazy science sloth Wed, 11 Jun 2014 15:00:16 +0000 Carrie Kirby 1142401 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Ways Doing Nothing Will Make You More Productive http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-doing-nothing-will-make-you-more-productive <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/7-ways-doing-nothing-will-make-you-more-productive" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/relaxing-178033247-small.jpg" alt="relaxing" title="relaxing" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We take classes, read self-help articles and drink energy drinks just to push ourselves to the next level of performance. Time is money, and we only have to much of it in a day, so we take calls on the bus and bring our laptops on vacation. We assume not working is the opposite of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/topic/life-hacks/productivity">productivity</a>, but that's not always true. Sometimes, doing absolutely nothing is the best way to achieve your goals. Here are a few reasons why.</p> <h2>1. It Gives You a Choice</h2> <p>The executive gets up and goes to work because he <em>has</em> to. The freelancer sits down at her laptop because she <em>has</em> to. The stay-at-home parent does the dishes and laundry because they <em>have</em> to. We rarely think about work as a choice, but that's exactly what it is. When we entertain the <a href="http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/ulterior-motives/201404/having-the-option-do-nothing-increases-commitment">option of doing nothing</a> instead, it has a positive effect. A recent study showed that &quot;simply having the choice to sit back and do nothing during your day-to-day grind actually increases your commitment to a certain goal, and may even boost your likeliness to achieve that goal.&quot;</p> <h2>2. It Allows You to Rest</h2> <p>So what about going beyond just the option? What happens when we actually step away from the grindstone and <a href="http://www.jessainscough.com/2014/03/nothing-productive-thing-can/">do nothing</a>? We may become quiet. We may daydream or (gasp!) take an actual nap. We might pick up a book or play with the cat or Netflix that sit-com everyone's talking about. All of these things reduce stress and allow the mind and body to relax &mdash; something that's becoming increasingly difficult in our always-on world. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-do-less-and-why-you-should?ref=seealso">How to Do Less &mdash; And Why You Should</a>)</p> <h2>3. It Gets You Outside</h2> <p>If you're feeling really adventurous, you just might choose to do nothing outside. You might even <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-reasons-why-you-should-take-a-walk">take a walk</a>. Taking 10,000 steps a day (preferably outside) unleashes an abundance of health benefits, from weight loss and a better sex life to decreased risk of dementia and cancer. Spending just 30 minutes in nature also delivers <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-surprising-benefits-of-a-10-minute-walk">brain-enhancing benefits</a> like positive mood and better memory &mdash; all things that boost productivity.</p> <h2>4. It Opens the Door for Creativity</h2> <p>Feeling stuck in a rut? Having trouble coming up with new ideas? &quot;[B]eyond a certain point, doing more or working harder is actually counter-productive. Your energy and concentration levels dip, your frustration increases, and if you're not careful you could be on the slippery slope to <a href="http://lateralaction.com/articles/getting-nothing-done/">creative burnout</a>.&quot; Giving yourself permission to walk away is an opportunity for the mind to get its mojo back.</p> <h2>5. It Reveals Priorities</h2> <p>When you have the option of doing nothing, it allows you to zero in on what really matters. When you're resting, what do you find yourself thinking about? What ideas surface? What issues tug at your heart? Those are probably the things that should be at the top of your to-do list when the break is over. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/simple-living-determining-your-priorities?ref=seealso">Simple Living: Determining Your Priorities</a>)</p> <h2>6. It Reinforces Your Goals</h2> <p>Researchers say that &quot;by selecting to choose a goal or task over doing nothing, you're giving it value and you reinforce that it must be a good goal or task for you to take on &mdash; so you put in more work.&quot; Then, when you see progress, it's motivating and your productivity goes up.</p> <h2>7. It Diffuses Fear</h2> <p>One of the reasons we procrastinate is because we're afraid. Really important tasks or big projects are fraught with uncertainty. We hate failure: Even the prospect of it can paralyze us. So instead of backing yourself against a mental wall, acknowledge that you always have the option to do nothing. While doing nothing, take the time to examine your fear (and the task that caused it) from all angles. Look at the pros and cons. It's likely you have very little to lose from trying. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-techniques-that-can-help-you-conquer-any-fear?ref=seealso">9 Techniques That Can Help You Conquer Any Fear</a>)</p> <p><em>How has doing nothing helped you? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-doing-nothing-will-make-you-more-productive" class="sharethis-link" title="7 Ways Doing Nothing Will Make You More Productive" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beth-buczynski">Beth Buczynski</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Productivity breaks doing nothing idleness resting taking a break Wed, 11 Jun 2014 11:00:38 +0000 Beth Buczynski 1142402 at http://www.wisebread.com The Best Time of the Day to Do Everything http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-time-of-the-day-to-do-everything <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-best-time-of-the-day-to-do-everything" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/morning-couple-dv1978016-small.jpg" alt="morning couple" title="morning couple" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="159" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Our bodies run on a circadian rhythm that affects our mood and energy throughout the day. It follows that certain tasks are better suited for certain times of the day, when our body is in sync with those tasks. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/finding-your-best-work-hours?ref=seealso">Finding Your Best Work Hours</a>)</p> <p>That said, there are many tasks for which it is difficult to find a consensus for the best time. Many famous authors, Hemingway to name one, preferred writing in the morning, while others, like James Agee, where nocturnal writers.</p> <p>One item for which there is little dispute is when to eat a live frog. That would be the first thing in the morning, said Mark Twain, because after that, &quot;nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.&quot;</p> <p>Let's take a look at what else we know for sure we should be doing at certain times of the day.</p> <h2>Best Tasks for Mornings</h2> <p>Get a jump on the day by doing these tasks when mind and body are still reveling in the possibility of a new day.</p> <h3>6:00: Send Email</h3> <p><a href="http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10000872396390444180004578018294057070544">6 a.m. messages are most likely to be read</a>. If you can't wake up that early, use an email scheduler like <a href="http://www.boomeranggmail.com/">Google's Boomerang</a> app.</p> <h3>8:00: Read Twitter</h3> <p>Want to get your Twitter fix for the day? Reading twitter between 8-9 a.m. will start your day off with more upbeat, enthusiastic messages. (But save the actual tweeting for 3 p.m., the time your tweet is most likely to be retweeted.)</p> <h3>8:00: Memorize</h3> <p>8 a.m. is also ideal for quick memorizing. It's when your <a href="http://www.realsimple.com/work-life/life-strategies/time-management/best-time-day-just-about-anything-10000001053802/page2.html">immediate recall is highest</a>. For longer retention, however, study at 10 p.m.</p> <h3>9:00: Make a Business Call</h3> <p>Make business calls just when you get to work. There's always the hit-or-miss aspect of the person you're calling not being available, so an early start allows you to go to Plan B if you can't reach someone.</p> <h3>9:30: Drink Coffee</h3> <p>Studies show that the cortisol level for most people peaks between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m., making that a particularly <em>unnecessary</em> time to load up on caffeine, which constricts blood vessels, which gets the heart pumping faster and, in turns, sends more oxygen to the brain. The <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/anthonykosner/2014/01/05/why-the-best-time-to-drink-coffee-is-not-first-thing-in-the-morning/">best time to drink coffee</a> is when cortisol levels are dropping.</p> <h3>10:00: Thinking Work</h3> <p>Get your cup of joe and hit the hard stuff. When it comes to doing cognitive work most adults perform best in the late morning. As body temperature starts to rise just before awakening in the morning and continues to increase through midday, working memory, alertness, and concentration gradually improve. The ability to focus and concentrate typically starts to slide soon thereafter.</p> <h2>Best Tasks for Afternoons</h2> <p>You know there'll be a nap involved in this. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-surprising-benefits-of-naps-including-the-best-time-to-take-them?ref=seealso">5 Surprising Benefits of Naps</a>)</p> <h3>Noon: Learn</h3> <p>Studies show that the best time to learn is right before taking a nap, which allows the brain to sort through the new information and file it away for easy retrieval when it is needed. So, take in new information from noon to 1 p.m., and follow that up with&hellip;</p> <h3>1:00: Nap</h3> <p>The best time for &quot;The Ultimate Nap&quot; nap is between 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., which is when your rapid eye movement and slow-wave sleep cycles cross, described in scholar Sara Mednick's book <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0761142908/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=0761142908&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=TJJTOKMFTQPJDEB2">Take a Nap!</a>. Using the &quot;<a href="http://saramednick.com/htmls/book/napwheel.htm">Nap Wheel</a>,&quot; you can spin the dial to find the optimal time for a snooze.</p> <h3>4:00: Exercise</h3> <p>From 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., <a href="http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/anatomyandphysiology/a/WhenToExercise.htm">your strength and endurance are at their peak</a>, and when the risk of injury is low (because we tend to be alert and our body temperatures are high, making muscles more supple). Your lungs are also at the day's peak performance level at this time.</p> <h2>Best Tasks for Evenings</h2> <p>Wind the day down gracefully &mdash; and productively.</p> <h3>7:30: Grocery Shopping</h3> <p>The time you can have the store to yourself is from 7:30 p.m. until closing. No need to fight the crowds just to restock your pantry.</p> <h3>8:00: Walk the Dog</h3> <p>It is said that dogs like company, so the best time to walk them is in the evening after dark, which is popular time for dog walks and gives them (and you) the best chance for bumping into others (and socializing) on the canine walking circuit.</p> <h3>8:00: Post on Facebook</h3> <p>While you're waiting for Spot to do his business, go ahead and make your Facebook posts. Posts during this time tend to get the most likes.</p> <p><em>Does this list of optimal timing match your daily schedule? When do you take your nap?</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-time-of-the-day-to-do-everything" class="sharethis-link" title="The Best Time of the Day to Do Everything" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/anthony-hall">Anthony Hall</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> General Tips Productivity circadian rhythm rhythm routine time of day Wed, 04 Jun 2014 13:00:20 +0000 Anthony Hall 1141595 at http://www.wisebread.com Science Shows You Need to Work Less — Here's Why http://www.wisebread.com/science-shows-you-need-to-work-less-heres-why <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/science-shows-you-need-to-work-less-heres-why" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/stress-work-5013379-small_0.jpg" alt="stress" title="stress" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Have you heard about the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/12/world/europe/in-france-a-move-to-limit-off-the-clock-work-emails.html?_r=0">new labor laws in France</a>? They've limited when employees can receive and respond to work-related emails, hoping to give most workers more true leisure time. And then there's the <a href="http://www.thelocal.se/20140408/swedish-workers-to-test-six-hour-work-days">six-hour work days in Sweden</a>. To anyone who doesn't have those job perks, they sound like a dream. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/america-is-the-no-vacation-nation?ref=seealso">America Is the No Vacation Nation</a>)</p> <p>As it turns out, we might dream about working less because it would be good for us, and even good for our work and the planet. Wondering how to pitch a shorter work week to your boss? Read on for three killer arguments.</p> <h2>Working Less Keeps Your Brain in Top Shape</h2> <p>As it turns out, human beings can't sustain high levels of focus and energy and, when they try to do so, <a href="http://www.kshb.com/lifestyle/why-working-less-may-make-us-all-more-productive-balanced">they sacrifice creativity and innovation</a>. In today's marketplace, creativity and innovation are of particularly high value. Thus, if you want to succeed in your chosen career path, it's probably worthwhile to think about the different ways you can work less.</p> <h3>Get Flexible</h3> <p>Working fewer hours is the most obvious way to get your brain a break. If you can't move to Sweden and your job doesn't offer any sort of flex time, you might consider looking into a company that offers <a href="http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/2011/0708/Ultraflex-jobs-You-choose-hours-venue">ultraflex jobs</a>. These companies allow employees, at least those in certain positions, to choose their own hours and, sometimes, even the location where their work gets done. Workers still have to fulfill their roles, but they can figure out how to do that on their own.</p> <h3>Take More Breaks</h3> <p>Consider taking more breaks at your job. Choose a longer period of time, usually 30-90 minutes, to focus on work, and then take a 5-15 minute break. Set an alarm to get started, work until it is done, and then set it again for your break. Keep following this pattern until your workday is complete.</p> <p>Some companies don't encourage employees to take extra breaks. If this is the case for you, try taking shorter breaks and either going to the bathroom (stretching your legs will do you good) or finding <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-ways-to-exercise-in-under-5-minutes">some quick exercises</a> you can do. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-things-you-can-do-on-your-lunch-break-to-change-your-life">11 Things You Can Do During Your Lunch Break to Change Your Life</a>)</p> <h2>Working Less Increases Productivity</h2> <p>Working less not only helps improve your creativity, but it also <a href="http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2013/09/working-hours">makes you more productive</a>. Even if your current job doesn't involve putting old ideas together in new ways, you will benefit from figuring out how to work less, because it will help you get more done and to do your tasks more efficiently. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-ways-to-work-smarter-not-harder?ref=seealso">The 5 Best Ways to Work Smarter, Not Harder</a>)</p> <h3>Working Shorter Means Working Smarter</h3> <p><a href="http://www.newrepublic.com/article/117334/frances-labor-laws-why-we-should-all-be-working-less">No one is quite sure</a> how working less helps make you more productive, but the link seems to persist throughout the studies. It is likely connected to the tie between working less and creativity. In fact, it seems that, while the human brain does focus well, it doesn't function best when it focuses on the same types of tasks for long periods of time.</p> <h3>Break Up Tasks</h3> <p>If you can't actually work less, try breaking your tasks up by type. For instance, you may have several tasks that involve focused computer work, several that involve meeting with others, and a few that require you to evaluate other employees. Instead of attacking these as they come up, try planning to spend sections of your day on each type of task. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-weird-ways-to-get-things-done-that-might-work-for-you?ref=seealso">10&nbsp;Weird Ways to Get Things Done That Might Work For You</a>)</p> <p>Scheduling your day like this allows your brain to do different things, even if it's all considered &quot;work.&quot; This can help you be more productive, because each set of tasks gives your brain a break from the other types.</p> <h2>Working Less Is Better for the Earth</h2> <p>If becoming more creative and more productive aren't enough motivation for you to consider working less, think about this: People who work less <a href="http://eartheasy.com/article_working_less_better_globe.htm">rely less on disposable, consumable products</a>.</p> <p><span style="font-size: 13px; line-height: 1.7em;">It makes sense. Do you grab fast food on the way home because you worked late and you don't want to have to think about dinner when you get home? Do you use disposable diapers or drink bottled water because you simply don't have the time or the head space to use anything else, because your days and your mind are filled with work?</span></p> <p>You can also think about this a different way. Would you make more stuff for yourself (and your friends and family) if you weren't working so much? I went to a baby shower recently where a friend of mine was lamenting her gift. &quot;I started knitting a blanket,&quot; she said, &quot;but it's tax season and I didn't have time to finish.&quot; Instead of the blanket, she gave a gift that included disposable bottles of baby shampoo, lotion, and so on. If only she'd had more time!</p> <p>Other people might not make blankets, but they'd love to make dinner instead of picking it up. Still others would take the time to grow their own vegetables, so they wouldn't have to buy them. And some would make their own hand soap, shampoo, detergent, and more, thus choosing to spend their time on these things, rather than their money. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dryer-sheets-shampoo-and-15-other-everyday-things-you-can-make-at-home?ref=seealso">16 Everyday Things You Can Make at Home</a>)</p> <p>It's easy to feel like these are small things that don't matter very much. But if everyone had even a few extra hours a week and spent even a fraction of that time making their own things rather than buying them, the world would be a healthier place. We can't make those changes, though, if we don't have the time, and we won't have the time if we keep working the way we are now.</p> <p>So think about it. Working less is good for you. It's good for the world. It's even good for your employer. If at all possible, think up ways you can work less today. If it's not possible at your current job, think about finding one where it is.</p> <p><em>Have you cut your working hours? What benefits did you reap? Please take a moment out of your busy schedule and share in comments!</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/science-shows-you-need-to-work-less-heres-why" class="sharethis-link" title="Science Shows You Need to Work Less — Here&#039;s Why" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sarah-winfrey">Sarah Winfrey</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Career Building Productivity 8 hour day flexible work work hours working less Mon, 02 Jun 2014 20:00:36 +0000 Sarah Winfrey 1141209 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Smart Things to Do During Your Commute (Even If You Drive!) http://www.wisebread.com/10-smart-things-to-do-during-your-commute-even-if-you-drive <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-smart-things-to-do-during-your-commute-even-if-you-drive" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/commuters-466716637-small.jpg" alt="commuters" title="commuters" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you take public transportation (or carpool and ride as a passenger) to work, you may feel that this is time wasted. So why not do something that can also improve your life? Even if you drive to work, there are ways to make your boring commute a smart commute. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-make-your-commute-profitable?ref=seealso">How to Make Your Commute Profitable</a>)</p> <h2>1. Listen to a Podcast</h2> <p>I used to ride the bus to work before I got a car, and my commute was an hour and a half&nbsp;&mdash; one way! I used that time to listen to my favorite comedy podcasts, some of which were as long as three hours, which was perfect for the entire commute. But there are hundreds of podcasts out there about any topic you can think of &mdash; <a href="http://gettingsmart.com/2013/02/50-educational-podcasts-you-should-check-out/">educational podcasts</a>, <a href="http://www.missedinhistory.com/">history</a>, <a href="http://radiolingua.com/shows/french/coffee-break-french/">language learning</a>. If you can think of it, there's a podcast for it. You can check iTunes, or go to sites like <a href="http://podbay.fm/">podbay.fm</a> for the top ranking podcasts. <a href="http://mashable.com/">Mashable</a> also has some excellent podcast suggestions. The <a href="http://www.nerdist.com/">Nerdist</a> is one of my favorites from that list.</p> <h2>2. Read (or Listen to) Something Challenging</h2> <p>Reading is a classic commuting activity, but if you are filling your time and brain with nothing but romance novels or mysteries, try elevating your reading list a bit. Join a reading group that will help you stay committed to reading and for a nice mix of reading options. Unless you have an eBook reader, don't forget about the library if you don't want to buy the book. And if you're driving? <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-Books-Nonfiction/zgbs/books/2402185011/?_encoding=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=ZFOZZX76VUKWDYXD">Audiobooks</a>! (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-easy-ways-to-improve-your-brain?ref=seealso">13 Easy Ways to Improve Your Brain</a>)</p> <h2>3. Pay Your Bills</h2> <p>If you are like me and forget to pay your bills sometimes because you have so many other things going on, this is a perfect time to do that. While many bills can be paid automatically online, there may be a few that still require a paper check. Phone apps can also make it a little easier to pay bills on your smartphone during your commute. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-monthly-bills-you-can-slash?ref=seealso">10 Monthly&nbsp;Bills You Can Slash</a>)</p> <h2>4. Start a New Hobby</h2> <p>Because I'm a writer, people are always telling me that they really want to start writing but don't have the time. Commuting via public transportation provides the time and the perfect setting. &quot;People watching&quot; is one of the best ways to get inspiration for a story or even for a humor blog. As a writer, I'm also an eavesdropper, and I've heard some of the funniest and most interesting comments on the bus. Knitting is another hobby that is easy to do on your commute, and homemade scarves, hats, mittens, sweaters, etc. make excellent gifts. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-awesome-money-making-hobbies?ref=seealso">10 Awesome Money Making Hobbies</a>)</p> <h2>5. Get Some Work Done</h2> <p>Whenever I was under a strict deadline at my last job, I would bring my laptop home and work, and the next morning, I'd get a head start to the day by working on the bus. This helped ensure that I didn't miss my deadline. Or you can use your commute to do some of your own writing if you don't have time or the energy after work. I'm also a stand-up comedian, so I would sometimes write notes or my set list for a show while riding the bus.</p> <h2>6. Listen to Public Radio</h2> <p>For car drivers, listening to NPR is one of the best ways to keep up with the news while you are on your way to work. It also makes it less tempting to talk on the phone or text while you drive.</p> <p>If you're more of a printed word person than a radio person, <a href="http://umanoapp.com/">Umano</a> will select the top news stories and articles from the press, as read by other app users, and play them back for you so that you aren't fiddling with the radio dial while you are driving. And it's free!</p> <h2>7. Organize Your Day</h2> <p>Planning your day is one of the most productive things to do on your morning commute. Write your to-do list, prioritize your tasks, or update your calendar. There are plenty of apps that can help you get organized. Or, keep it simple with a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/8883704894/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=8883704894&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=MRUYX6XGQAIUOLTV">plain little notebook</a> and a pen. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-10-best-productivity-apps-for-really-busy-people-like-you">10 Productivity Apps for Really Busy People Like You</a>)</p> <h2>8. Exercise</h2> <p>Biking to work has become popular in recent years, especially in places that are truly bike friendly. Some offices have even installed showers for bike commuters. A couple of my coworkers who live nearby keep an extra set of clothes in the office and run to work. If you are biking, be sure to choose a safe route that includes roads with wide shoulders. And of course, familiarize yourself with how to change a tube and keep your bike maintained. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-guide-to-becoming-a-part-time-bicycle-commuter?ref=seealso">A Guide to Becoming a Part Time Bicycle Commuter</a>)</p> <h2>9. Practice Mindfulness</h2> <p>While the bus or metro may not be the best place to meditate, there are mindfulness practices you can do that are easy and can be done anywhere. <a href="http://www.pocketmindfulness.com/6-mindfulness-exercises-you-can-try-today/">Pocket Mindfulness</a> has some excellent suggestions, such as observing a natural object as carefully as you can, or thinking about the significance five usually unnoticed things. Journaling is another positive activity. Even if you don't think you have anything to say, you might be surprised what comes out when you just start writing down your thoughts.</p> <h2>10. Carpool</h2> <p>Be smart about your finances and the environment, and ask co-workers to carpool. Even though people find all kinds of excuses to avoid carpooling, there's really no excuse if you and your co-workers have similar schedules. If you don't live close to one another, look for a nearby Park and Ride or another central location with a large parking lot, such as a shopping mall, where you can meet and leave one car for the day. You would be surprised how much you will save on gas and the wear and tear of your car. And when it's your turn to be the passenger, you can break out your smartphone or your book and make the ride productive, just like commuters who take public transport.</p> <p><em>How do you make your commute more productive? Pull off to the shoulder and share in comments!</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-smart-things-to-do-during-your-commute-even-if-you-drive" class="sharethis-link" title="10 Smart Things to Do During Your Commute (Even If You Drive!)" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ashley-watson">Ashley Watson</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Career and Income Cars and Transportation Productivity commute time management Fri, 30 May 2014 09:00:28 +0000 Ashley Watson 1141015 at http://www.wisebread.com Kill Boredom With These 34 Fun and Productive Projects http://www.wisebread.com/kill-boredom-with-these-34-fun-and-productive-projects <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/kill-boredom-with-these-34-fun-and-productive-projects" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/volunteer-168794646.jpg" alt="volunteer" title="volunteer" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>With so many outlets for entertainment, you'd think that we'd never, ever get bored. Yet, there are still times that I find myself wandering around the house, simply looking for something to do and my usual go-to activities just aren't doing it for me. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/50-fun-things-to-do-when-youre-stuck-inside-during-winter?ref=seealso">50 Fun Things to do When You're Stuck Inside</a>)</p> <p>If you suffer from the same lack of enthusiasm, then this post is for you. Here are 34 tried and true ways to kill your boredom&hellip; or at least occupy your time until something better comes along.</p> <h2>1. Tackle Your To-Do List</h2> <p>You know you've got one&nbsp;<span style="font-size: 13px;">&mdash;</span><span style="font-size: 13px; line-height: 1.7em;">&nbsp;that mental list of little things that you plan to get around to someday. Well, today's that day. Call your Aunt Martha, take the comforter to the dry cleaners, and check the oil in your car and the air in your bicycle tires.</span></p> <h2>2. Clean Out the Garage</h2> <p>Okay, yes, I realize this is probably more than a one-day project, but imagine how great you'll feel when it's all done. Use plastic tubs to store your things and mark each tub or box prominently for easy identification. Then next time you need to dig out holiday decorations or find your old school yearbooks, you'll know exactly where to look.</p> <h2>3. Take a Nap</h2> <p>If you're already napping quite a bit, then skip this suggestion&hellip; it's time to do something else. But otherwise, feel free to snooze for a bit. The world would be a much better place if we all had a mid-afternoon nap and snack every day.</p> <h2>4. Cook Something New</h2> <p>No, I don't mean a different kind of Hamburger Helper. I mean find a recipe that requires some effort, preferably something that's authentically <em>not</em> in your wheelhouse and could be called &quot;art&quot; with the right garnish. Stretch your taste buds. You might find you like it.</p> <h2>5. Write a Letter to Your Congressperson</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/u784/writing-158433328.jpg" /></p> <p>According to all the political pundits, Congress bases its actions on what they hear from the People. I don't know if that's true, but if the statistics are to be believed, some 92% of us are unhappy with their performance. That's a lot of feedback that Congress apparently hasn't heard yet. So, maybe it's time to speak your mind.</p> <h2>6. Take Up a Cause</h2> <p>Back in the 80's, before Internet and cell phones and emails, I had the privilege of working with a wonderful non-profit group devoted to fighting pound seizure. We passed out flyers, we marched at City Hall&hellip; it was liberating. If you're suffering from boredom, maybe you just need something to feel passionate about.</p> <h2>7. Volunteer</h2> <p>I've mentioned this one before, but if you find that you're frequently bored, you may need a solution that's more long-term, and volunteering is a great way to spend your free time. Check out <a href="http://www.volunteermatch.org/">VolunteerMatch.org</a> to find an opportunity that's right for you.</p> <h2>8. Educate Yourself</h2> <p>Go back to school or try one of the many online or self-study options. Many are even free, so there's no excuse for not broadening your horizons. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/learning-without-the-high-cost-of-higher-education?ref=seealso">Learning Without the High cost of Higher Ed</a>)</p> <h2>9. Paint a Room</h2> <p>Forget the neutral colors, and think blues and greens with splashes of yellow or go bold with black, white, and red. Or, if you're feeling really adventurous, try some of these fun painting ideas from <a href="http://www.remodelaholic.com/2013/07/25-interior-painting-ideas/">Remodelaholic</a>.</p> <h2>10. Change Your Hair Color</h2> <p>This may be more of a girl thing, but when I was in highschool, I sported every hair color that Revlon sold at least twice. And while I'm not quite as quick to do those drastic changes now, it's still fun to try something new every now and then. And it's amazing how different you feel when you change the shade of your mane.</p> <h2>11. Replace Your Shelf Paper</h2> <p>Shelf paper is one of those things that no one thinks about until they open the cabinet door and see the shabby remnants of what was installed 10 years ago. So, rip out that old stuff and get something new. It's relatively cheap, and it will definitely get you focused on something other than being bored.</p> <h2>12. Clean Out Your Closet</h2> <p>When I was a kid, my go-to move for cleaning my room was to shove anything that didn't have a designated &quot;place&quot; into the closet or under the bed. And I'm sad to say, not much has changed over the years. My closet is a catch-all for a variety of things, including linens, mementos from the kids, my cheerleading megaphone, and my Barbie collection. Yes, there are clothes and shoes in there as well. On the bright side however, cleaning it out almost always results in finding things I had forgotten about, so if your closet resembles mine, you might find a few forgotten treasures too!</p> <h2>13. Organize Your Junk Drawer</h2> <p>Speaking of catch-all's, we all have at least one drawer in the house that doesn't have a purpose other than to store all the little &quot;stuff&quot; we don't know what to do with. You don't have to get rid of the junk drawer altogether, but organizing it will at least make it easier to find the thumbtacks and the nail file the next time you need them.</p> <h2>14. Rearrange Your Furniture</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/u784/home-462880981.jpg" /></p> <p>Want a change in your decor, but can't really afford the expense right now? Switch it up. Move your couch there, the recliner over here and viola! It's like a whole new room.</p> <h2>15. Connect With Someone From Your Past</h2> <p>I'm one of those people who has all my old friends on Facebook, but beyond the friendly &quot;Like&quot; now and then, we rarely ever connect. And that's a shame. So, let's not be &quot;those people.&quot; Make an effort to reconnect with old friends from the past and see if that friendship can be rekindled. Worst case scenario, you'll find you have nothing in common. But who knows? You might find someone new to help you kill your boredom.</p> <h2>16. Research Your Family Tree</h2> <p>I've mentioned before about my love affair with genealogy, but I'm going to mention it again here because it's a fantastic way to kill time. You know how you start surfing the web with one topic in mind and end up &mdash; some 20 sites later &mdash; on something completely different? Genealogy is just like that, only instead of websites, you're finding your ancestors.</p> <h2>17. Clean Out Your Inbox</h2> <p>I've had the same email address for more than 10 years now, and I'm not exaggerating when I say I get at least 100 emails a day, most of which are junk. Needless to say, it's easy for my inbox to get out of hand. If you can say the same, maybe now is a good time to regain control. Weed out the junk, and then move the rest &mdash; either into folders or the trash &mdash; until your inbox is empty. You'll be amazed at how freeing an empty inbox can be.</p> <h2>18. Host Your Own Movie Marathon</h2> <p>Pick some of your favs &mdash; the &quot;Stars Wars&quot; and &quot;Star Trek&quot; sagas are obvious choices, but you could also choose a theme, as in all chick-flicks, all sci-fi films, or all Tom Hanks movies (&quot;<a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00005Y71F/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00005Y71F&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=UN4KU5UIRV2VMJWV">Joe Versus the Volcano</a>&quot; anyone?). Invite your friends, buy some snacks (popcorn is a must!), and settle in.</p> <p><span style="color: rgb(17, 17, 17); font-family: georgia; font-size: 1.5em; line-height: 1.4em;">19. Get a Massage</span></p> <p>If you've had one, then this needs no explanation. If you haven't, then get one and you'll understand why.</p> <h2>20. Meditate</h2> <p>I know, I know. You're just not sold on the whole &quot;Mind-Body-Spirit&quot; thing. But it's not like you're doing anything right now anyway, so what have you got to lose?</p> <h2>21. Exercise</h2> <p>For the past two weeks, I've been doing yoga faithfully every morning and I have to say, I can seriously feel a difference. But if yoga isn't your thing and you're not jumping up and down at the thought of lifting weights, then try something else. Go for a walk, learn how to tango, or wash your car. As long as you're moving and your heart rate is up, it counts.</p> <h2>22. Have Sex</h2> <p>Well, we were talking about moving and elevated heart rate, so it seems only fitting that we include this suggestion here. And really, can you think of a better way to occupy your free time?</p> <h2>23. Plant a Garden</h2> <p><img width="605" height="340" alt="" src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/u784/food-178373458.jpg" /></p> <p>You'd be amazed at how much better your food tastes when it's fresh. And it's good for your wallet, too.</p> <h2>24. Start Your Own Blog</h2> <p>Are you an expert on something? Do you know how to sew or paint or fish? Maybe you're an avid reader or you homeschool your kids or you're just the #1 Fan of insert-your-favorite-celebrity-or-TV-show here. Whatever your passion, whatever your hobby, you can blog about it &mdash; and connect with like-minded others in the process.</p> <h2>25. Research a New Career</h2> <p>Have you always dreamed of being a doctor? Going to law school or becoming a master chef? Or maybe you'd just like to work in retail instead of insurance, or start your own business for that matter. Boredom means you have time to spare and you can use that time to chart a path to a rewarding new career.</p> <h2>26. Update Your Resume</h2> <p>If it's been a while since you've dusted off your resume, use this opportunity of &quot;nothing to do&quot; to get it updated. You'll be one step closer to applying for that great new job you're researching.</p> <h2>27. Revamp Your Budget</h2> <p>Ever wonder where all your money goes? Now's a good time to find out.</p> <h2>28. Update Your Financial Profile</h2> <p>Are you on track for retirement? Will you have enough to pay for your children's college or that vacation you want to take next year? Do you know your net worth? Getting answers to these questions makes it much easier to plan for your future.</p> <h2>29. Organize Your Important Papers</h2> <p>If something were to happen to you, would your family know how to handle everything that needs handling? Getting all your important documents organized &mdash; life insurance policies, pensions, passwords, etc &mdash; is one of the first steps to building a solid estate plan. Use this down time to start building yours.</p> <h2>30. Scan All Your Photos</h2> <p>One of the great things about the &quot;cloud&quot; is that you can access it anywhere. And that means you can use it to store more than documents. Scan all your pictures and back them up to the cloud for safe keeping.</p> <h2>31. Create a Life Plan</h2> <p>Businesses have a plan, why not you? Think about where you want to go, how you want to get there, and then formulate a plan for making it happen. Once you have a clear path, maybe you won't have time to feel bored.</p> <h2>32. Scrub Your Baseboards</h2> <p>Your closets are cleaned out, your garage is organized, and your cabinets have spiffy new shelf paper. But don't forget those baseboards. They can make even the cleanest house look not-so-clean. And trust me when I tell you, you'll be too tired to care about being bored when you're done.</p> <h2>33. Try a New Hobby</h2> <p>You've always wanted to sign up for co-ed softball or try your hand at painting or learn how to play tennis. There's no time like the present, especially since you have plenty of free time.</p> <h2>34. Bake</h2> <p>There's something therapeutic about baking something from scratch. Learn how to use fondant or make the perfect pie crust.</p> <p><em>Now, it's your turn&hellip; how do you cure boredom?</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kill-boredom-with-these-34-fun-and-productive-projects" class="sharethis-link" title="Kill Boredom With These 34 Fun and Productive Projects" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kate-luther">Kate Luther</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Personal Development Productivity entertainment pastimes productivity self improvement Wed, 28 May 2014 08:48:26 +0000 Kate Luther 1140741 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Things That Improve Your Health in Your Home Office http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-that-improve-your-health-in-your-home-office <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-things-that-improve-your-health-in-your-home-office" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/office-86544982.jpg" alt="home office" title="home office" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>If you work from home, you spend a great deal of time inside your home office. It is the place where all your brilliant thoughts, amazing connections, and money-making ideas are nurtured.</p> <p>That same home office could be making you sick. At the very least, it could be inhibiting your health. From back tension to eye strain to lethargy, your home office could be causing some of the ailments you suffer from. However, simple changes to the layout, accessories, and decor of your office could improve your health. Here are 10 ways you can do just that. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-rules-of-creating-a-powerfully-productive-workspace?ref=seealso">6 Rules of Creating a Powerfully Productive Workspace</a>)</p> <h2>Let There Be Light</h2> <p>Poor lighting induces eye-strain and can put a damper on your mood. Be sure to brighten up &mdash; with the right light.</p> <h3>1. Sit Near the Window</h3> <p>Placing your desk near a window allows you to be exposed to as much natural light as possible. The vitamin D your body receives from the sun is also a benefit, especially if you spend a great deal of time indoors. Sitting near a window will help your body maintain a positive work attitude throughout the day.</p> <p>If your home office must be in a room without a window, it is easy to create natural lighting with the addition of compact fluorescent (CF) light bulbs. These light bulbs mimic light from the sun and can give you the same benefits.(See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-your-lights-making-you-tired?ref=seealso">Are Your Lights Making You Tired?</a>)</p> <h3>2. Use Task Lighting</h3> <p>Incorrect lighting in a room can cause increased strain on your eyes. This can lead to fatigue, headaches, and poor vision. Add task lighting to your work areas to decrease the amount of strain on your eyes.</p> <h2>Breathe Easy</h2> <p>Many of us find space for a home office anywhere we can. This can mean a basement, a small room without windows, or even a large closet. Often, these spaces have poor air circulation.</p> <h3>3. Install an Air Purifier</h3> <p>Improve the quality of the air you breathe by adding an <a href="http://www.amazon.com/s/?_encoding=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;field-keywords=home%20office%20air%20purifier&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;url=search-alias%3Daps&amp;linkId=LQTXOPK6LKMQNC2P">air purifier</a> to the space. Breathing in cleaner air will improve your overall health, reduce fatigue, and decrease your chances of illness &mdash; such as the common cold or flu.</p> <h3>4. Add Houseplants</h3> <p>If adding in an air purifier isn't possible (and even if it is), a houseplant or two can improve the quality of the air you are breathing as well. There are many plants you can buy that will <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-cheap-plants-for-improving-indoor-air-quality">filter out pollutants</a> and clean the air of smells.</p> <h2>Sit Comfortably</h2> <p>You spend a great deal of time sitting in your home office; the chair you use should be providing you with adequate support, enhancing your posture and comfort</p> <h3>5. Check Chair Position</h3> <p>Check for the proper placement of your chair and work space. If not placed properly, you could be causing excessive strain on your back. The chair you use should put you level with the top of your workspace so that your arms create a 90 degree angle when working.</p> <h3>6. Rest Your Feet</h3> <p>Place a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/s/?_encoding=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;field-keywords=foot%20rest%20under%20desk&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;url=search-alias%3Daps&amp;linkId=K3I47JDCKEE52NRU">foot rest</a> beneath your desk. Adding in a small place for your feet to rest while you are sitting reduces the strain on your lower back and encourages proper blood circulation.</p> <h3>7. Stand in the Place Where You Are</h3> <p>Consider a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-standing-desks">standing desk</a>. When you are sitting, your body is more prone to going into a relaxed state. Your heart rate decreases, your body slumps, and as you become more tired, you are more likely to lay back (or forward) and take a little nap. A standing desk prohibits your body from doing that. Your body will remain alert longer as you are more likely to move around slightly. This keeps the blood flowing through all parts of your body and your productivity may be less stagnant as the day wears on. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-attractive-standing-desks-you-can-actually-afford?ref=seealso">11 Attractive Standing Desks You Can Actually Afford</a>)</p> <h2>Improve Your Mood</h2> <p>Boost your spirits &mdash; and your productivity &mdash; with some simple decor decisions.</p> <h3>8. Choose Cheerful Colors</h3> <p>Create a pleasant workspace with cheerful decor and warm colors. These decorating choices that you make from the paint on the walls, to the nick-knacks on the shelves will keep your mood stable and your health optimal. There is some research that suggests colors can enhance your mental health and productivity. Red, for example is a color that energizes; blue has a calming effect. The colors you place in your home office should be colors you feel good around, those that will best benefit your health.</p> <h3>9. Consider Aromatherapy</h3> <p>Consider adding in aromatherapy. Using essential oils to change the scents in your room can help to increase focus, decrease fatigue, and promote general good health. Infusing oils such as orange after a stressful conference call can help you to relax and refocus your mind. While lemon oil is said to calm anxiety, rosemary can stimulate your brain and improve memory. The use of essential oils may improve your health as well as your productivity while working.</p> <h3>10. Get Out!</h3> <p>Although this isn't a change to your home office, it is important to plan breaks throughout the day. Your body needs a few minutes of rest from being in the same position. Your eyes need a break from the constant focus on a screen, and your mood will benefit from the break you take outside in the sun. Whether it's a few minutes walking around your neighborhood or an hour laying outside to read, plan a few breaks throughout the day to keep you healthy while working in your home office.</p> <p><em>How do you keep your home office from making you sick? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-that-improve-your-health-in-your-home-office" class="sharethis-link" title="10 Things That Improve Your Health in Your Home Office" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/linsey-knerl">Linsey Knerl</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Entrepreneurship Productivity home office Office Tue, 27 May 2014 08:00:28 +0000 Linsey Knerl 1140445 at http://www.wisebread.com Why You Need a Time Budget — and How to Create It http://www.wisebread.com/why-you-need-a-time-budget-and-how-to-create-it <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/why-you-need-a-time-budget-and-how-to-create-it" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/clock-483264955.jpg" alt="clock" title="clock" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="147" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Stretched for time? Nowadays, who isn't?! Successful time management isn't as elusive as it might seem. Creating a &quot;time budget&quot; can help.</p> <p>Why a time budget? Just like a regular budget helps us track and manage a limited resource &mdash; our money &mdash; a time budget can help us track an even more precious resource &mdash; our time. If we go over one of our spending categories in our money budget, we borrow from another account, such as entertainment or food (or from a credit card). And if we go over a time budget account &mdash; such as spending too much time at work, we have to borrow some time from elsewhere, like family time, or sleep time. (Fortunately, so far, there's no credit card for time.)</p> <p>A time budget can help us plan how we use our time, so we are sure to spend it as wisely as possible. Let's spend a few moments creating one. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-single-greatest-key-to-managing-your-time">The Single Greatest Key to Managing Your Time</a>)</p> <h2>1. Take Stock of Your Time</h2> <p>The first step of any budgeting process is to take inventory. For one week, try to keep a detailed time log, noting &mdash; as precisely as possible &mdash; how you spend your hours. You can use a plain old spiral notebook, a calendar, or download a free time tracking app for your smartphone, like the <a href="http://www.wonderapps.se/atracker/">ATracker</a> (the full version is available for a fee). It doesn't matter which tool you choose, just that you faithfully use it.</p> <p>At the end of the week, step back and analyze your time inventory. Take a look at how your activities fit into categories relevant to your life &mdash; work, family, school, fitness, religious practice, community, leisure, or other areas.</p> <h3>Fixed versus Discretionary Time</h3> <p>In addition to categories, look at &quot;fixed&quot; versus &quot;discretionary&quot; time expenses. Time is no different than money when it comes to the dividing line between the &quot;musts&quot; (fixed) and the &quot;wants&quot; (discretionary). Whether you are the parent of a young toddler, or a high level corporate executive &mdash; or both &mdash; there are certain things that you likely <em>must</em> do, sometimes as part of a daily routine, but often on an ad hoc basis (a visit to the dentist, a meeting with the sales team, or attending a teacher conference).</p> <p>You might be surprised to find that you spend way more time than you think on tasks that are relatively low on your priority list, and vice-versa.</p> <h2>2. Create Your Budget</h2> <p>Once you have a better understanding of how you currently use your time, you're ready to move on to creating a time budget designed to maximize the hours of your day. There are a few different ways to go.</p> <h3>1. Use the Mayo Jar and Two Beers Method</h3> <p>The <a href="http://www.biz.colostate.edu/mti/tips/pages/MayonnaiseJarandTwo-Beers.aspx">Mayonnaise Jar &amp; Two Beers</a> method illustrates the importance of filling your days in line with your priorities. Standing in front of a lecture hall, a professor shows his students that you can fill a jar with golf balls &mdash; it's as full as it can get, right? But then he squeezes some pebbles into the jar, and then sand. The point is that as busy as you think you are, you can always make more room for the things that matter most in your life, including taking time to enjoy your relationships (hence the two beers).</p> <p>What are your &quot;golf balls?&quot; For some, the most significant priorities revolve around work, while for others, it may be family, fitness, or religion. Prioritize the things you value most in your life, and allocate the hours in your day accordingly.</p> <p>If building your career is most important to you right now, then the biggest (or most productive) time slots in your day should be allotted to work.</p> <h3>2. Use the Envelope System</h3> <p>Replicate the &quot;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-comprehensive-guide-to-the-envelope-system">Envelope System</a>&quot; of budgeting, substituting time for money.</p> <p>The envelope budget system involves literally dividing cash into envelopes for each spending category (household expenses, food, transportation, clothes, etc.). This system works for time, too. You do not need envelopes (seven columns on a sheet of paper might do the trick), but it might be a fun exercise to help you visualize your time commitments per category:</p> <ul> <li>Lay out seven envelopes on a desk or table, one for each day of the week.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Using colored index cards (each color corresponding to a time expenditure category &mdash; family, work, exercise, etc &mdash; write an activity and the time it takes to complete.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Now fill each envelope with what you think will fit into each day of the week.</li> </ul> <p>If the amount of time represented on your cards in any of your envelopes adds up to more than the number of your waking hours you have in that day, you may need to do some shuffling.</p> <h3>3. Use the 50/30/20 Budget Rule</h3> <p>The <a href="http://money.msn.com/how-to-budget/how-much-should-you-spend-on-weston.aspx">50/30/20 budget rule</a> &mdash; which allocates percentages of your income to fixed expenses (50%), discretionary spending (30%), and saving (20%) &mdash; can also be adapted to create your time budget.</p> <p><strong>Fixed Time</strong></p> <p>Let's say it takes you an hour to walk the dog, shower, eat breakfast, and pack the kids' lunches. The hour you spend attending to your typical morning routine is one example of a fixed time expense. Other fixed time expenses include obligations, or &quot;musts.&quot; (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-essential-life-hacks-that-will-save-you-time-in-the-morning">15 Essential Life Hacks That Will Save You Time in the Morning</a>)</p> <p><strong>Discretionary Time</strong></p> <p>Discretionary time expenses might include lunch with a friend, getting a massage, or perusing Facebook. These times are the hardest to measure (who times a phone call with Mom?), but they can gobble up more time than you realize if not kept in check. One idea that works for some people is to bundle all social interactions &mdash; chatting with co-workers, Skyping with friends, using social media &mdash; into an hour at various intervals of the day. This way, it becomes a more predictable element of your time budget.</p> <p><strong>Saved Time (or &quot;Wasted&quot; Time)</strong></p> <p>Because time can't be banked and used at a later date, the savings part of the 50/30/20 equation is not as clear cut. But perhaps a good substitute might be unpredictable time wasters. Let's face it: It's not uncommon to get stuck in traffic &mdash; or stuck in a conversation with an overly chatty neighbor who is oblivious to the nonverbal clues that you are done listening to stories. These kinds of non-intentional time gobblers are fairly unavoidable; you may as well build them into your time budget. If you don't need all that allotted time, move it into the discretionary column!</p> <h2>3. Live it, Love it, or Revise it</h2> <p>A time budget is a guide. It only works if you stick to it. But it is not set in stone &mdash; and you're the boss!</p> <p>Time expenses &mdash; fixed and discretionary alike &mdash; need to be handled at time intervals that make sense in your life. For some people, it may be monthly, and for others, weekly, or even daily.</p> <p>Accept the fact that life changes &mdash; by season and by circumstance. Adjust your time budget accordingly.</p> <p><em>How do you manage your time? Take a moment and share in comments!</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-you-need-a-time-budget-and-how-to-create-it" class="sharethis-link" title="Why You Need a Time Budget — and How to Create It" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/mardee-handler">Mardee Handler</a> and published on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/">Wise Bread</a>. Read more <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/"> articles from Wise Bread</a>.</div></div> Productivity budgets productivity time management Tue, 20 May 2014 08:36:26 +0000 Mardee Handler 1139919 at http://www.wisebread.com