Productivity http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/8129/all en-US 15 Time-Saving Tools Everyone Should Own http://www.wisebread.com/15-time-saving-tools-everyone-should-own <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/15-time-saving-tools-everyone-should-own" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman-smartphone-462363713-small.jpg" alt="woman smartphone" title="woman smartphone" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Feel like there's just not enough time in the day? Join the club. It feels like I'm going nonstop from before sunup to waaaay past sundown every day. I haven't found a solution that will add any time to my daily routine, but I have found a few ways to cut back on the time I'm spending on tasks that otherwise could be more efficient. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-you-need-a-time-budget-and-how-to-create-it?ref=seealso">You Need a Time Budget</a>)</p> <p>Take a look at some of my time-saving solutions here, then let me know how you shave a few minutes off your day in the comments below.</p> <h2>1. Food Processor</h2> <p>I enjoy cooking, and I usually make time to eat a healthy meal at home, but I don't always have the time (or energy) to cut, chop, peel, grate, and slice my breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Rather, I use a food processor whenever it makes sense to quickly and effortlessly manipulate the ingredients I need so I can speed up the cooking process and feed my hungry tummy faster. <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00A6JHPK8/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00A6JHPK8&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=ZWCJVCQYHLUO3GZJ">KitchenAid makes a great processor</a> (the assortment of blades are beyond helpful), but <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003O47MKA/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B003O47MKA&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=ZR6ZGBIKSY3QGPL5">Ninja also makes a line of powerful food prep products</a> that I personally give my seal of approval.</p> <h2>2. Backup Gadget Batteries</h2> <p>iPhone users in particular know the daily struggle of seeing 1% at 11 a.m. even though they awoke four hours before with a fully charged device. Thus, we're forced to charge our phones multiple times a day to avoid being without power when we're not near a socket. In fact, I've personally spent 20 minutes or more on multiple occasions in an actual Apple store just to get a little juice. A rechargeable, on-the-go battery, however &mdash; <a href="http://www.amazon.com/s/?_encoding=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;field-keywords=mophie&amp;linkCode=ur2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;url=search-alias%3Daps&amp;linkId=4MOINVFV3IS6JINE">like the ones from Mophie</a> &mdash; drastically cuts back on the instances that I have to stop and recharge my phone when I'm out and about. I plug it in at night and take it with me to avert any low-battery crises.</p> <h2>3. Slow Cooker</h2> <p>There's not much better in this world than coming home after a long, hard day at work to a house that smells delicious because dinner is ready to eat. I don't use my slow cooker much in the summer, but I'm looking forward to stealing a little me-time this fall and winter thanks to my Crock-Pot. I'm also fond of this handy little attachment for slow cookers called the <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00ET9E7U2/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00ET9E7U2&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=WLEWWACF42T4LJW4">Lid Pocket</a>, which helps me reduce the potential of an OCD attack when I have to put the lid on the counter or sink when taking it off &mdash; and I know I'm not alone.</p> <h2>4. Smartphone and Apps</h2> <p>There's no denying that smartphones help us save time in innumerable ways, from eliminating the need to clip coupons and helping us make lists to managing the security on our homes and keeping in touch with friends. If I had to pick my favorite time-saving app though, I think it would be my mobile banking app. When my bank launched it, it was like trumpets from the heavens were playin' my jam. Now I deposit my checks online, transfer money easily, and even sign up for in-app deals that give me cash back on participating purchases.</p> <h2>5. BB Cream</h2> <p>Erin Konrad, a spokesperson for CouponPal.com, told me about BB Cream. I didn't know much about this facial cosmetic product before Erin chimed in, but Wiki describes it as an all-in-one replacement for serum, moisturizer, primer, foundation, and sunblock. &quot;I love using a BB cream in my beauty regimen; it has multiple uses, which can help save me time during my morning routine,&quot; Erin says. &quot;I love anything that allows me to sleep in a few more minutes.&quot;</p> <h2>6. Programmable Coffee Maker</h2> <p>I'm not a coffee drinker myself &mdash; to be honest, I don't get it at all &mdash; but I don't have to be a java head to know that a programmable coffee maker can shave a good five to 10 minutes off your morning routine if you set it to brew just before you get up or while you're doing your other daily routines. There's also another cool gadget that will help you save time in the morning, the <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00GKNOH8W/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00GKNOH8W&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=4GMUXPG5QLDH53QJ">Gamila Impress Coffee Brewer</a>, which gives you the fresh taste of a French Press while you're on the move. I had a chance to try it for another post and even I was impressed.</p> <h2>7. Dishwasher</h2> <p>Most homes have dishwashers nowadays, so let's consider this one an &quot;oldie but a goodie.&quot; In fact, it may even be the biggest time saver of them all. Remember when you had to wash and dry all those dishes by hand? How long did it take you &mdash; 20, 30 minutes? More? Who has time for that &mdash; or dishpan hands? Not me. I just load it and forget it. Until it's time to unload it, of course; you know nobody else in the house is gonna do it.</p> <h2>8. Exercise Equipment</h2> <p>You can save a lot of time and money by buying exercise equipment for your home. I'm not talking about expensive machines, but rather inexpensive pieces like dumbbells, resistance bands, and over-the-door pull-up bars that will help you stay in shape without wasting time going back and forth to the gym multiple times a week. You'll also save anywhere from $10 to $100 a month on gym membership after the initial investment on the equipment.</p> <h2>9. Coin Sorter</h2> <p>My dad used to keep a huge water jug full of coins in his bedroom when I was a kid. Every year or so he would empty it out and spend hours &mdash; like many hours! &mdash; counting and wrapping the coins so he could take them to the bank and cash them in. Of course, these days you also can take your coins to a public machine and have them sorted and counted for you, but that'll cost you upwards of 8% to 10% of your total take.</p> <p>A great solution to save time and money is to purchase a coin sorter for your home and get in the habit of throwing your change into it every day. When the coin wrappers are full, set them aside until you're ready to take them to the bank. I'd also advise buying a fairly decent sorter. I purchased a relatively cheap one in the past and it wasn't worth the plastic it cost to make it.</p> <h2>10. DVR</h2> <p>I don't watch much TV anymore, but back in the day I was a junkie, scheduling my activities around my favorite shows. But thanks to my DVR, I now can do more of what I want and need to do &mdash; like pump out these Wise Bread articles to help you live a more efficient and fiscally responsible life &mdash; because I know I can watch my programs later. Which is perfect for a lazy Sunday when there's nothing else on anyway.</p> <h2>11. Autonomous Cleaning Robots</h2> <p>When <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000UUBCNO/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B000UUBCNO&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=RRJ3CWOUE4UVFCJC">Roomba</a> was first invented the line only consisted of a round disc that would move around your carpeted floor and suck up all the junk that you used to have pick up by manually pushing a vacuum cleaner. That product still exists, though it's now a much more advanced version, but the line also include models that will scrub and mop floors and clean pools and gutters. I can't even begin to quantify how much time these little babies save, but it's not drop in the bucket.</p> <h2>12. All-in-One Washer Dryer</h2> <p>I'm not sure if it's okay for a grown man to look at shiny new appliances like a wild cat eyes a juicy piece of fresh meat, but my obsession is real and perhaps a tad frightening. Nonetheless, I'm totally into the high-efficiency, all-in-one washer-dryers. I know I'm not the only person who hates going back and forth to the washer and dryer putting clothes in and taking them out of one machine on another all day long, and this is the perfect solution.</p> <p>It's important to note, however, that while the machine's TurboWash will dramatically reduce wash time, the dryer (because it's non-vented) may take longer than you're used to. But who cares? When it's done, it's done, and you can get back to your DVR.</p> <h2>13. No-Iron Clothing</h2> <p>I would probably have to iron no-iron clothing &mdash; because I'm totally a freak about ironing my clothes &mdash; but for people who loathe it but have to do it if they want to look presentable and professional, I think this is a great compromise. If you're skeptical about how well no-iron clothing performs, Good Housekeeping put a few brands to the test, <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=127614">as reported by ABC News</a>.</p> <h2>14. George Foreman Grill</h2> <p>For those of us who live in urban areas and have no room for a real grill &mdash; or can't own one altogether &mdash; a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001NXC65K/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B001NXC65K&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=QJ5RAST22J6QQ6NM">George Foreman Grill</a> is a great compromise appliance. There's no charcoal to burn of course, so you're saving time there, but the other awesome time-saving aspect of these grills is that they cook both sides of the food at once, essentially cutting your time in the kitchen in half. Plus, reviews have always been on the positive side for the grills, so you know you're getting a good product.</p> <h2>15. Hybrid or Electric Car</h2> <p>I left this entry last because as a society we're still not quite ready to fully embrace hybrid and electric cars, but we are moving steadily in that direction. Alas, once these kind of cars become commonplace, positive results will abound. We won't pollute the environment as much, we won't have to rely on foreign oil so heavily, and we won't have to pop in and out of gas stations as much (or ever if your car is completely electric). You can get where you're going faster and cheaper, which will make your trip all the more relaxing. Aaaah.</p> <p><em>Do you have more time-saving items that everyone should own to suggest? Let me know in the comments below.</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-time-saving-tools-everyone-should-own" class="sharethis-link" title="15 Time-Saving Tools Everyone Should Own" 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> Family Productivity Shopping efficiency gadgets labor savers time time savers Thu, 25 Sep 2014 15:00:07 +0000 Mikey Rox 1220280 at http://www.wisebread.com 11 Time Saving Hacks From the World's Busiest People http://www.wisebread.com/11-time-saving-hacks-from-the-worlds-busiest-people <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/11-time-saving-hacks-from-the-worlds-busiest-people" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/business-meeting-471500577-small.jpg" alt="business meeting" title="business meeting" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>&quot;Being busy does not always mean real work,&quot; said Thomas Edison.</p> <p>Seeming to do a lot but not accomplishing anything is a complete waste of time. For example, <a href="http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/brain-trust/201202/is-your-brain-multitasking">only 2% of people can multitask successfully</a>. Instead of working harder, you need to work smarter.</p> <p>So check out these 11 time saving hacks from some of the world's busiest people.</p> <h2>1. Never Say Yes on a Call</h2> <p>This is a must for Dharmesh Shah, Hubspot CTO and Founder.</p> <p>He points to this <a href="http://theoatmeal.com/comics/phone%20">cartoon from The Oatmeal</a> as a great explanation why people have a hard time saying &quot;no.&quot; However, he insists that you need to enforce a strict policy to <a href="http://onstartups.com/tabid/3339/bid/92302/Sorry-No-Calls.aspx">never say yes to something on the call</a>. You need to give yourself time to think about the issue and follow-up via email. This reduces your remorse about commitment too fast, prevents you from getting involved with time-suckers, and avoids &quot;he-said-she-said&quot; arguments through documentation.</p> <h2>2. Check Email Only Twice Per Day</h2> <p>The <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/030746363X/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=030746363X&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=QZA2OBAP5HVKMEOU">4-Hour Workweek</a> was a #1 The New York Times bestseller because it was filled with great time saving hacks. Its author, Tim Ferriss, recommends that you <a href="http://fourhourworkweek.com/2007/03/22/how-to-check-e-mail-twice-a-day-or-once-every-10-days/">only check your email twice a day</a> and have everybody, including your boss, accept it. It is a fact that the average person spends <a href="http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/high_tech_telecoms_internet/the_social_economy">about 13 hours every week</a> sorting through email.</p> <p>A writer from Fast Company test drove checking out email only twice a day and was able to cut down her <a href="http://www.fastcompany.com/3030999/work-smart/what-i-learned-from-checking-email-only-twice-a-day">time spent on email from 14 to 5 hours per week</a>. Tim recommends using these <a href="http://fourhourworkweek.com/2014/07/14/autoresponse/">two tried-and true email autoresponders</a> to train others to follow your new email regime. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-ways-to-get-people-to-respond-to-your-email?ref=seealso">15 Ways to Get People to Respond to Your Email</a>)</p> <h2>3. Delegate, Delegate, Delegate</h2> <p>Now that you are spending less time on your email, you need to be more efficient at it.</p> <p>Like Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, you can burn through your email inbox by delegating tasks to the appropriate person. He famously manages his email inbox by forwarding every message with just &quot;?&quot; to the appropriate person. The lesson is that you don't need to do everything yourself and that you should trust others to do their jobs. They will be more efficient in solving the problem than you.</p> <h2>4. Outsource Non-Priorities</h2> <p>Matt DeCelles, Co-founder of William Painter, recommends that you need to <a href="http://www.quora.com/As-a-startup-CEO-what-is-your-favorite-productivity-hack/answer/Matt-DeCelles?srid=n2Fg&amp;share=1">prioritize the most important tasks</a>. Whatever is not important (e.g. transcribing a one-hour meeting recording or breaking down the data from six email lists into the fields of an email database) needs to be outsourced. He recommends using sites, such as <a href="http://www.elance.com/">Elance</a> and <a href="http://www.fiverr.com/">Fiverr</a>, to hire freelancers for a wide variety of tasks at reasonable rates.</p> <p>Also, he recommends the use of <a href="http://www.fancyhands.com">Fancy Hands</a> and <a href="http://www.zirtual.com">Zirtual</a> to hire virtual assistants for about $10 per hour. This way you can focus on the work that truly matters.</p> <h2>5. Have a &quot;No Meetings&quot; Day</h2> <p>Facebook Co-founder, Dustin Moskowitz's favorite time saving hack is &quot;<a href="http://www.quora.com/How-does-Asana-approach-No-Meeting-Wednesday">No Meeting Wednesdays</a>.&quot; The idea is is that most people should have have at least one day of the week completely clear of meetings so that they can focus on critical work.</p> <p>For example, on his &quot;No Meeting Wednesday&quot; Dustin focuses only on coding. After all, that's how he became one of the world's youngest self-made billionaires. Dustin recommends to use judgment and decide when to make exceptions (e.g. an outstanding candidate is only available to interview on Wednesdays). (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-6-youngest-entrepreneurs-to-make-it-big?ref=seealso">The 6 Youngest Entrepreneurs to Make It Big</a>)</p> <h2>6. Run Meetings Effectively</h2> <p>When you do need to meet, run meetings like Google's Larry Page. The company's VP of Business Operations <a href="http://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/articles/start-up-speed-kristen-gil.html">Kristen Gil broke down Larry's rules on meetings</a> into a clear list of key items.</p> <ul> <li>Every meeting must have a decision maker. If it doesn't, then no meeting is required.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Meetings should consist of no more than 10 people. No &quot;flies in the wall.&quot;<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Decisions should never wait for a meeting. If meeting cannot be held ASAP, then make a call.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Empower decision makers to kill projects and, more importantly, meetings.</li> </ul> <h2>7. Keep a List of Action Items</h2> <p>Even though Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg runs one of the highest valued companies in the world, she still leaves around 5:30 p.m. every day to have dinner with her husband and spend time with her kids. Mark Zuckerberg describes her as &quot;superhuman.&quot;</p> <p>Her trick is that she doesn't work eight hours a day &mdash; she completes a finite number of tasks per day. In a high tech company, she goes analog by keeping a <a href="http://www.fastcompany.com/3021002/bottom-line/the-5-secrets-to-sheryl-sandbergs-super-powers">spiral-bound notebook with discussion points and action items</a>. As she goes through her day, she crosses out the action items. If she can cover the action items from an hour long meeting in 10 minutes, she adjourns the meeting.</p> <h2>8. Use the Two-Minute Rule</h2> <p>Keep your list of action items, but be willing to <a href="http://gettingthingsdone.com/fivesteps/">accept a new task if it takes less than two minutes</a> to complete. If it takes more than that, then delegate it or include it in a future list of action items.</p> <p>This is the mantra of David Allen, author of <a href="https://gettingthingsdone.com/store/product.php?productid=16175&amp;cat=3&amp;page=">Getting Things Done</a>. David Allens' GTD management system and two-minute rule is used by some of the busiest people, including <a href="http://www.withbeans.com/2011/07/11/famous-people-who-use-gtd-getting-things-done/">Oprah Winfrey, Will Smith, and Tom Cruise</a>.</p> <h2>9. Make Time for One-on-Ones</h2> <p>If you go over the <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/ericjackson/2014/05/11/the-top-8-reasons-your-best-people-are-about-to-quit-and-how-you-can-keep-them/">top 8 reasons your best people are about to quit</a>, you quickly realize that people quit their bosses, not their jobs. There are plenty of <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/alanhall/2013/03/11/im-outta-here-why-2-million-americans-quit-every-month-and-5-steps-to-turn-the-epidemic-around/">employee surveys</a> to support this.</p> <p>That's why Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman makes times to meet one-on-one with one of his direct reports every week. He claims that this is the <a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1q6xqn/i_am_jeremy_stoppelman_ceo_and_cofounder_of_yelp/">single most important management tip</a> he has learned. By listening to the personal and professional problems of his employees, he shows that he truly cares about his employees and nips any issues in the bud.</p> <p>After all, one estimate puts the <a href="http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/83774">average cost of recruiting, hiring, and training a new employee at close to $4,000</a>.</p> <h2>10. Take a Nap</h2> <p>Job stress is estimated to cost America <a href="http://www.apa.org/practice/programs/workplace/phwp-fact-sheet.pdf">over $300 billion a year</a>.</p> <p>That's why Arianna Huffington provides her team with <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/arianna-huffington-sleep-nap-rooms-2013-10">two nap rooms at The Huffington Post</a>. By taking and letting others take one-hour naps, Arianna maintains a high energy operation at all times and puts a dent on job stress related costs. Additionally, chasing your cup of coffee with a nap is a great habit to maximize the effects of a caffeine fix. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-habits-you-must-start-right-now-and-be-a-better-person?ref=seealso">20 Habits You Must Start Right Now and Be a Better Person</a>)</p> <h2>11. Take a Serious Vacation</h2> <p>The busiest people are so busy with the day-to-day that they often cannot concentrate on the strategic, long term issues. By taking serious vacations, they invent the time to think about those issues.</p> <p>It may sound contradictory, but in countries where people take more vacation each year, <a href="http://www.bus.ucf.edu/faculty/rhofler/file.axd?file=2011%2F2%2FHouggy-Vacation+and+productivity.pdf">employees are more productive per hour worked</a>. Jim Moffat, chairman and chief executive of Deloitte Consulting LLP, takes serious notice of this fact and <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesleadershipforum/2013/06/04/take-a-serious-vacation-a-ceos-advice-to-all-ceos/">forces himself to take a summer break</a>.</p> <p>He believes this is time saving hack because during that time, he can:</p> <ul> <li>Focus on developing a strategy for the upcoming 9-to-24 month period;</li> <li>Evaluate whether or not hired employees are qualified for serious tasks; and</li> <li>Test his succession strategy.</li> </ul> <p>In a nutshell: If your company cannot survive without you for a few days, then there is a big problem.</p> <p><em>What is your favorite time saving hack?</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-time-saving-hacks-from-the-worlds-busiest-people" class="sharethis-link" title="11 Time Saving Hacks From the World&#039;s Busiest People" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</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 getting things done organization productivity time-savers Wed, 24 Sep 2014 17:00:08 +0000 Damian Davila 1219249 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Ways You're Wasting Time Without Realizing It http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-youre-wasting-time-without-realizing-it <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-ways-youre-wasting-time-without-realizing-it" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman-working-headphones-175219954-small.jpg" alt="woman working headphones" title="woman working headphones" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Time is one thing that we seem to have less of as life wears on. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-essential-life-hacks-that-will-save-you-time-in-the-morning?ref=seealso">15 Ways to Save Time in the Morning</a>)</p> <p>The days fly by and we're stressed to come up with any extra minutes. But what if we could free up our schedule and finish our to-do lists? Some people are just busy with little or no recourse, but others are wasting time without even knowing that it's happening. Here's a look at a few ways we can be more aware of our time and be better managers of it.</p> <h2>1. Leaving Email &quot;Up&quot;</h2> <p>You may work a job where you must have email up on a constant basis. But if you don't, there's no reason to run it when you aren't waiting on a particular message. If you're working on a project, just close your email and check them periodically throughout the day. Avoiding that catchy little &quot;(1)&quot; that often distracts your train of thought can save you a lot of time.</p> <h2>2. Listening to Music</h2> <p>In some cases, listening to music can help pass the time when engaging in mundane or mindless tasks. But when it comes to work that you need to think intentionally about, like crafting a sales pitch, writing a report, or even just reading something, <a href="http://tech.co/listening-to-music-at-work-2013-11">music can slow you down</a>, thereby increasing the time spent on the task and decreasing the resulting quality of your work.</p> <h2>3. Paying for Lunch</h2> <p>In some cases, you need to spend money to make money. But paying for lunch is often a double-figure investment and can cost you close to (or more than) an hour of work. <a href="http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/cheap-and-healthy-brown-bag-lunch-ideas-for-grownups">Pack a lunch instead</a> of eating out and you'll get back an hour's worth of pay, which<a href="http://money.howstuffworks.com/personal-finance/budgeting/how-much-cheaper-to-pack-lunch.htm"> can really add up</a>.</p> <h2>4. Not Taking a Break</h2> <p>It might seem counterproductive (or even impossible) to stop what you're doing at work or home to take a break. However, <a href="http://healthdecide.orcahealth.com/orcatheme_imagepost/take-a-break-it-may-increase-productivity/#.VBcv5vldWSo">numerous studies have shown</a> that taking a break, or even a short nap, can actually boost your productivity and increase the quality of your work output.</p> <h2>5. Not Making a To-Do List</h2> <p>Even if you can remember everything you need to do, making a to-do list can help you focus by streamlining your schedule and giving you a failsafe to avoid forgetting important tasks.</p> <h2>6. Using a Gadget When Pen and Paper Will Do</h2> <p>Tablets and smartphones can be excellent productivity tools. But when it comes to taking notes or <a href="http://bulletjournal.com/">quickly writing down ideas</a>, you may be better off with the much simpler pen and paper.</p> <h2>7. Going to Meetings</h2> <p>It's becoming increasingly common for meetings to be viewed as <a href="http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wired-success/201204/why-meetings-kill-productivity">productivity killers</a>. That's not to say they don't have their place, but a<a href="http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2012/09/20/why-business-meetings-are-often-a-waste-of-time-and-productivity/"> brutally objective view</a> of the typical workplace meeting shows us that we're wasting a lot of precious time.</p> <h2>8. Attending Technology-Related Classes</h2> <p>It's not to say that all work-related classes are a waste of time, but a lot of the information that used to only exist inside classrooms now exists for free on the Internet. Particularly when it comes to technology-related topics, you can learn almost everything there is to know in a free, online format.</p> <p>Places like <a href="https://www.khanacademy.org/">Khanacademy</a> and <a href="http://www.codecademy.com/">Code Academy</a> are great places to start.</p> <h2>9. Running Dual Monitors</h2> <p>A lot of people find dual monitors to be more productive because it allows them to avoid having to switch back and forth between different applications or documents. While that's true, it only applies in certain professions. For example, graphic designers and programmers will often have need for more than one screen. But if it's not an obvious necessity, more than one monitor often makes things more distracting because it tempts you to put something that's not work-related on the second screen. In most cases, it'll be more efficient to stick with one monitor.</p> <h2>10. Not Putting Your Clothes Out the Night Before</h2> <p>One incredibly simple thing you can do to save time before you go to bed is set your clothes out for the next day the night before. It makes early mornings a lot quicker as it gets you out of your bedroom without having to search through drawers, possibly in the dark out of fear that you'll wake someone up.</p> <h2>Time to Be Saved</h2> <p>There's no question that it's easy to crowd our lives with obligations and tight schedules. But there is time to be saved if we're willing to be objective about our own scheduling and work habits. If we remove the unnecessary time wasters and get specific about where we can get be more efficient, most of us can get back more than 60 minutes a day. For many, that can make a huge difference by allowing them to be more focused, relaxed and allow them to feel less rushed every day.</p> <p><em>How do you conserve and avoid wasting time? Are the tactics you employ at home and work much different? Let me know in the comments section.</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-youre-wasting-time-without-realizing-it" class="sharethis-link" title="10 Ways You&#039;re Wasting Time Without Realizing It" 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> Organization Productivity efficiency saving time shortcuts time time savers time sucks Tue, 23 Sep 2014 21:00:04 +0000 Mikey Rox 1218888 at http://www.wisebread.com The 5 Best Ways to Spend the First 10 Minutes of Your Workday http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-ways-to-spend-the-first-10-minutes-of-your-workday <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-5-best-ways-to-spend-the-first-10-minutes-of-your-workday" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/businessman-morning-494373053-small.jpg" alt="businessman morning" title="businessman morning" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>As Plato wrote in 380 B.C., &quot;The beginning is the most important part of the work.&quot; It's a truth that still stands today: How you begin your work day sets the tone for the rest of it. If you do your morning right, you're apt to have an overall day where you accomplish more, stress less, and earn more recognition for your productivity. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-things-successful-people-do-every-morning?ref=seealso">13 Things Successful People Do Every Morning</a>)</p> <p>Read on for our roundup of the top tips and tricks on starting the work day off right.</p> <h2>1. Don't Check Your Email</h2> <p>Julie Morganstern's <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0743250885/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=0743250885&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=B5W2ELQZKCNTSVID">Never Check E-Mail In the Morning: And Other Unexpected Strategies for Making Your Work Life Work</a> preaches the near-unfathomable: Don't start the day by checking your inbox.</p> <p>Email is often a black hole and our number one time suck. Checking it never feels like much of an accomplishment because while you're reading, deleting, and responding, more and more messages are piling up. Instead, Morganstern suggests we begin the work day by crossing off a task with a single focus &mdash; something we can truly feel accomplished about.</p> <p>If you fear a vitally important email might slip through the cracks if you delay checking your inbox, we recommend <a href="http://www.awayfind.com/">AwayFind</a>, a program that cuts through the clutter, notifying you on your cell phone about only the most urgent messages.</p> <h2>2. Clear Your Desk of Clutter</h2> <p>Throw out yesterday's empty disposable coffee cup and that stack of memos from last week. Studies show that a cluttered workspace actually hinders our ability to process information and concentrate. We aren't aware of it, but <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21228167">clutter competes for our attention</a> in much the same way as a whining child or a barking dog does.</p> <h2>3. Organize Your Day</h2> <p>Just like school children who attend a homeroom period at the start of the day, adults in the workplace should carve out a few minutes in the morning to review schedules, assess priorities, and set goals. A little organization can go along way to getting your day on track.</p> <h2>4. Make Big Decisions</h2> <p>Research shows that morning time is when we're best equipped to <a href="http://pss.sagepub.com/content/25/1/95">make clear-headed decisions</a> relating to ethics and tough situations. So it's best to pull the trigger on any hiring, firing, financial, or otherwise important quandaries at the very start of the day, before your mind gets strained or overwhelmed.</p> <h2>5. Take Advantage of a Clear Mind</h2> <p>Decision-making isn't the only task a clear mind is good for. A focused mind helps us complete tasks of all sorts more quickly and accurately. &quot;In considering the <a href="http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/01/05/the-benefits-of-focused-attention/">limitations of attention</a> imagine the following scenario,&quot; writes Jamie Hale for PsychCentral. &quot;You find a parking spot that is tight and requires parallel parking. One of the first things you will probably do is turn the radio down. You turn the radio down so you can focus on getting the car in the parking space.&quot; So while when your brain is at its sharpest, begin working on the most important assignments of your day.</p> <p><em>How do you start your day for maximum productivity? Please share in comments!</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-ways-to-spend-the-first-10-minutes-of-your-workday" class="sharethis-link" title="The 5 Best Ways to Spend the First 10 Minutes of Your Workday" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/brittany-lyte">Brittany Lyte</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> Organization Productivity getting things done mornings to-do work Wed, 17 Sep 2014 11:00:05 +0000 Brittany Lyte 1211249 at http://www.wisebread.com Multitasking Sucks Even More Than You Thought http://www.wisebread.com/multitasking-sucks-even-more-than-you-thought <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/multitasking-sucks-even-more-than-you-thought" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/mother-multitasking-78780790-small.jpg" alt="mother multitasking" title="mother multitasking" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>College students, corporate executives, and busy moms rely on multitasking to complete their long list of things to do each day. There are papers to read, emails to send, places to be, and much to be accomplished. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-simple-way-to-make-multitasking-actually-work?ref=seealso">The Simple Way Multitasking Can Actually Work</a>)</p> <p>However, a recent study has found that <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2010-08-10/opinion/ct-oped-0811-multitask-20100810_1_iqs-study-information-overload">multitasking actually lowers your IQ</a>, decreases your productivity, and reduces your ability to make decisions.</p> <p>Imagine for a moment that you are at home, you have kids at the table working on homework, occasionally asking questions about places they are confused, dinner is cooking on the stove, the laundry is going and needs to be pulled out of the dinner before it wrinkles, the baby is getting dangerously close to doing something he's never done before and the phone rings.</p> <p>Your brain is in a few different places.</p> <p>You are multitasking.</p> <p>You are getting things done.</p> <p>However, that multitasking has decreased your brain function slightly and reduced your ability to make a clear decision. So when the nice lady from your child's school calls and asks you to chair a fundraising committee, you commit without being able to give it thorough thought. Later in the evening, when your mind is clearer, you realize what you've committed to and how difficult it is going to be for you to accomplish.</p> <p>Multitasking may feel like the way to accomplish your mile long to-do list but it is actually diminishing the core of your productivity &mdash; your decision making abilities and your brain function.</p> <p>So, what can you do instead?</p> <p>To increase your productivity, focus on your tasks completely, and clear out your to-do list, you need to create an action plan.</p> <h2>Making and Executing an Action Plan</h2> <h3>1. Make a List</h3> <p>Put the most important items on your list at the top. These should be items that must be completed today, followed by items that can be put off, all the way down to items that you'll probably put off until tomorrow but would feel amazing if you completed them today.</p> <h3>2. Highlight Quick Tasks</h3> <p>Those items that only take a quick minute or two to complete, like replying to your mom's email or rescheduling your dentist appointment get highlighted. If you aren't sure how long it will take, for example there is a good possibility you'll be on hold with your credit card company, don't highlight. Just those items you know won't take very long.</p> <h3>3. Turn Off All Distractions</h3> <p>That means your phone gets silenced and placed somewhere so you don't see notifications pop up on the screen, your email gets turned off, Facebook is closed out, turn off the television and get the kids set up with something that will keep them occupied for awhile if needed.</p> <h3>4. Set the Timer</h3> <p>A timer is your best friend when you want to be productive. It gives you a boundary for when you should be working. Set the timer for 20 minutes. During that time, focus all of your mind on one task. Do not allow yourself to become distracted during those 20 minutes.</p> <p>If the timer is still ticking after you've finished a task, move on to the next one on your list. If you only have three or four minutes left on the timer, do one of the items that has been highlighted.</p> <p>Don't forget to cross things off as you complete them. It may seem silly but the simple act of drawing a line through something can be very rewarding.</p> <h3>5. Take Frequent Breaks</h3> <p>After 20 minutes has passed, stop working and reset the timer for five minutes. During this time do not focus on work. Get up and walk around. Fill your water glass. Check on the kids. Do a little jig in the living room to get your blood pumping. Breathe deeply a few times before refocusing on another 20 minutes of work.</p> <p>After three cycles of work, take a longer break of 15 to 20 minutes. This is the time when you can check Facebook, check your phone, or gossip with a friend in the next cubicle. Don't forget to have your timer set and do not go over your break time.</p> <h3>6. Assess Your Progress</h3> <p>After your work day (or hour) is complete, assess your to-do list. Determine if there are items that need to be rearranged or crossed off. If it is the end of the day, write a new list for tomorrow before you leave for home.</p> <h2>Productivity Hints</h2> <p>There are a few things you can further do to increase your productivity.</p> <h3>1. Keep It Simple</h3> <p>This is especially true for tasks like organization. Break up larger tasks into smaller, simple ones that will get you moving faster through the project. If you are working on organizing a space, don't get up and relocate every item you touch. Instead, put them into categories (like donate, toss, recycle or living room, kitchen, bedroom) that can they be put away later.</p> <h3>2. Group Like Things Together</h3> <p>If you have a number of similar tasks that need to be done, do them at the same time or one after the other. For example, if you have three phone calls to make, make them in the same 20 minute time frame, or if you have files that need to be delivered throughout the office, deliver them in the same trip.</p> <p>This also works for errands you are running. Combine them so you aren't running across town multiple times wasting your time and energy.</p> <h3>3. Set Yourself Up for Success</h3> <p>Whether it is putting a sign on your door that says &quot;do not disturb,&quot; putting your phone in another room, or hiring a babysitter to occupy your children for two hours, find ways to decrease distractions. This will ensure that you are successful with completing your tasks.</p> <p>If the only danger in trying to do too many things is that you're not able to do any of them terribly well, then it might not be enough to stop multitasking and start focusing on each task individually. Now that we know that it can also make you dumb, it may be time to start slowing down and truly live in the moment.</p> <p><em>Are you still multitasking? Why? If you aren't, what are you doing instead to get things done?</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/multitasking-sucks-even-more-than-you-thought" class="sharethis-link" title="Multitasking Sucks Even More Than You Thought" 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> General Tips Productivity multitasking organization productivity tasks to-do lists Thu, 11 Sep 2014 11:00:03 +0000 Linsey Knerl 1207211 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Have More Eureka! Shower Moments http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-have-more-eureka-shower-moments <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-have-more-eureka-shower-moments" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/post-it-notes-504684489-small.jpg" alt="post it notes" title="post it notes" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It is often quipped that the best ideas happen to someone, somewhere, while they are in the shower. And while many people do get inspired while scrubbing up (just take these <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003W09LTQ/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B003W09LTQ&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;tag=wisbre03-20&amp;linkId=6GKSDYHWISRELD3I">waterproof notepads</a> as evidence), the perfect &quot;ah-ha&quot; experience can happen most anywhere. So the question arises: Why? And, how can we encourage it to happen more often?</p> <h2>Happiness Is Brilliance</h2> <p>What exactly causes that moment of brilliance? A number of factors can contribute, but <a href="https://blog.bufferapp.com/why-we-have-our-best-ideas-in-the-shower-the-science-of-creativity">science suggests</a> it usually can't be done without that amazing brain chemical called dopamine. Responsible for the feelings of pleasure, this hormone-turned-neurotransmitter can also bring out some of those amazing moments that make us shout &quot;Eureka!&quot; So this likely explains why great ideas happen in the shower, while listening to our favorite tunes in the car, or when relaxing with a tasty treat. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/boost-your-creativity-9-surprising-ways-to-generate-new-ideas?ref=seealso">9 Surprising Ways to Generate New Ideas</a>)</p> <p>As it turns out, however, there is much that happens before the pleasurable event that goes into the brewing of a great idea. Here's how to make the moment ripe for inspiration.</p> <h2>1. Create a Bigger World</h2> <p>It's hard to have new ideas if your vision is narrow. To expand how you see the world &mdash; and potentially create new concepts &mdash; is to approach everything with openness. Nessa Victoria Bryce of Scientific American suggests that this first step is by done by <a href="http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/recall-your-favorite-aha-moment-and-share-it-with-us/">challenging yourself to explore something new</a> to you.</p> <p>Have you always wanted to try watercolors? Do you shy away from certain cooking trends? Is there a different route home that you've avoided taking for no particular reason?</p> <p>When you find the time and energy to stretch yourself, do it! By keeping your options open in your everyday life, you are training your mind to anticipate and acknowledge new &quot;ah-ha's!&quot;</p> <h2>2. Dig In Deep</h2> <p>Once you've found something that you really connect to (those watercolors, for example), Bryce claims that you you now need to get into the trenches of that subject and learn everything you can about it. Learning the answers to your questions only prepares you mentally to solve even more problems, possibly with unique ideas that haven't been implemented before. It also helps to make you a &quot;subject expert&quot; for a particular topic. Future bright ideas can come together more quickly if you have all the puzzle pieces stored away in your brain.</p> <h2>3. Relax</h2> <p>You can't &mdash; and shouldn't &mdash; work all the time. Once you've discovered the ins and outs of your chosen subject, walk away for some &quot;off&quot; time. Drop the brush and head outside for a jog; enjoy the breeze or listen to the birds. When your mind is allowed to just &quot;coast,&quot; you'll be surprised to find that your brain may pop with a new, brilliant idea! (And if your &quot;off&quot; time creates extra dopamine, you're set for success!)</p> <p>In a recent study of 90 Harvard students, those who were forced to step away from their problem-solving and given the opportunity to work on a different task, <a href="http://blogs.hbr.org/2014/03/how-to-have-a-eureka-moment/">came back to the table with more ideas</a> and solutions than the group who stayed focused on the problem continuously. Further proof that taking a break is essential to having a truly &quot;ah-ha&quot; moment.</p> <p>What if you have tried all of these things and aren't impressed with the results? It's possible that the timing just isn't right. Like most great ideas, we can't always set the perfect stage for their appearance. I find that most of my best ideas happen when it is terribly inconvenient to write them down (driving in traffic). Again, this is related to the science that my brain is likely on &quot;auto-pilot&quot; or coasting, plus I enjoy driving. The combination of the dopamine I get from listening to my favorite tunes in the car, plus the relaxation that seeing the wide-open plains gives me is the perfect storm for some brilliant ideas.</p> <p>What can you do to capture the ideas you do get so that you don't lose them for later? Here are a few of my favorite tools for gathering up all the goodness:</p> <ul> <li>Use the memo recorder on my cell phone.</li> <li>Jot it on a sticky note. (Although most of my ideas end up on the backs of envelopes.)</li> <li>Scribble it on your hand. (Writing on your hand won't kill you.)</li> <li>Bounce it off a significant other.</li> <li>Call your voicemail.</li> <li>Send an email.</li> <li>Post it on your Facebook wall.</li> <li>Find a similar idea on Pinterest and pin it!</li> </ul> <p>And there are always those waterproof sticky notes mentioned above.</p> <p><em>When do you usually get your best ideas? How do you ensure that you keep them for when you need them?</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-have-more-eureka-shower-moments" class="sharethis-link" title="How to Have More Eureka! Shower Moments" 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> Personal Development Productivity creativity good ideas inspiration muse Fri, 05 Sep 2014 17:00:05 +0000 Linsey Knerl 1203752 at http://www.wisebread.com 15 Ways to Get People to Respond to Your Email http://www.wisebread.com/15-ways-to-get-people-to-respond-to-your-email <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/15-ways-to-get-people-to-respond-to-your-email" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://www.wisebread.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/compose-email-screen-466310347-small.jpg" alt="compose email" title="compose email" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>The average person spends <a href="http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/high_tech_telecoms_internet/the_social_economy">about 13 hours every week</a> sorting through email.</p> <p>With the number of worldwide email accounts expected to hit nearly <a href="http://www.radicati.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Email-Statistics-Report-2011-2015-Executive-Summary.pdf">4.1 billion by 2015</a>, it seems that those hours are likely to keep on growing and growing. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/this-thing-you-use-every-day-is-ruining-your-productivity-and-its-not-facebook">This Thing You Use Every Day Is Ruining Your Productivity</a>)</p> <p>If you want to cut through the noise (78% of us receive <a href="http://hub.varonis.com/digital-work-habits-report">up to 100 emails per day</a>) and make your emails stand out from the crowd, start using these 15 techniques.</p> <h2>1. Update Subject Lines</h2> <p>Some people have a lot of email sitting in their inboxes. For example, the senior director of Yahoo! email claims to have held <a href="http://www.esquire.com/features/how-to-send-better-emails-0513#ixzz2UiMKb7vQ">36,815 emails in his inbox</a> at one point. If your subject line looks like &quot;Re:Re:Re:Fw:Fw:Re:Re&hellip;,&quot; it is very likely to be ignored.</p> <p>On the other hand, if your email is actionable, it has a better chance of catching the attention of the recipient.</p> <ul> <li>Don't write &quot;Steve,&quot; write &quot;Call Steve at 555-987-1234 this Friday.&quot;</li> <li>Instead of &quot;Resume,&quot; write &quot;Davila Resume for Freelance Writer Position.&quot;</li> </ul> <p>Remember to keep it short and sweet. From a study of 200 million emails, researchers at Mailchimp found that subject lines should be kept to <a href="http://kb.mailchimp.com/article/best-practices-in-writing-email-subject-lines">50 characters or less</a>. That's about ⅓ of the length of a tweet.</p> <h2>2. Use Prefixes on Subject Lines</h2> <p>An email that can be fully read without opening is the best kind of email. That's why you need to make smart use of <a href="http://www.asianefficiency.com/email-management/productive-email-subject-lines/">email subject prefixes</a>. Here is a useful list:</p> <ul> <li>FYI &mdash; &quot;For Your Information&quot; lets the reader know that the email holds general info and is not urgent.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>EOM &mdash; &quot;End of Message&quot; informs the reader that all the required info is in the subject line and that the email body is empty.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>NRN &mdash; &quot;No Reply Needed&quot; tells the receiver that no response is required.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>URGENT &mdash; Not necessarily a prefix, but if something is <em>truly</em> urgent, then it should be at the beginning of the subject line. Use very sparingly or risk all of your &quot;urgent&quot; emails being ignored.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>NFA &mdash; &quot;No Further Action&quot; is a combo of FYI and NRN.</li> </ul> <h2>3. Use If-Then Statements</h2> <p>Nobody likes to be caught in a neverending email duel. So, the next time that you need to set up a meeting or call time, include the statement &quot;If not, let me know what times work for you.&quot; Get in the habit of including &quot;if&hellip; then&quot; statements every time that you ask a question to prevent replies that are just &quot;no&quot; and force you to send another email.</p> <h2>4. Provide Choices and Number Them</h2> <p>Take a cue from master email negotiator, Steve Jobs (yes, that Steve Jobs!), and include a list of numbered choices, when applicable.</p> <p>During a hard-nosed negotiation via email between <a href="http://qz.com/87184/the-steve-jobs-emails-that-show-how-to-win-a-hard-nosed-negotiation/%20">Apple and News Corp</a>, he clearly stated to his counterpart that he &quot;has the following choices&quot; and that &quot;Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't see any other alternatives. Do you?&quot; This email habit allows you to negotiate within a range of pre-approved terms and forces the other party to choose one.</p> <h2>5. Think About Small Screens</h2> <p>If you are an HTML whiz and love to tweak your emails, remember that 43% of email is opened on a mobile device. Email company Constant Contact recommends using a San Serif font with a point size from 11 to 14.</p> <h2>6. Don't Use Images for a Signature</h2> <p>Several email providers and platforms automatically block images or force images to be attachments. This means that your fancy signature image goes unnoticed or, even worse, screws up the format of your email.</p> <h2>7. Skip the Emoticons</h2> <p>Not all emoticons, especially the very obscure, render the same way across platforms. Even the <a href="http://pc.net/helpcenter/answers/letter_j_in_email_messages">smiley symbol often appears as a J</a> in several email platforms. Skip the emoticons altogether, so that you don't confuse your recipient or make her think that you are including typos in your emails. Plenty of people, including <a href="http://the.techy.dstro.com/node/19">Microsoft employees</a>, are annoyed by this.</p> <h2>8. Pay Attention to Your Grammar</h2> <p>Just because it is the Internet, it doesn't mean it all should be all LOL and TWSS. Studies show that only <a href="http://www.nngroup.com/articles/how-users-read-on-the-web/">16% of us read things word by word on the web</a>. This means that if &quot;you is not doing it good, the grammar,&quot; you're adding unneeded difficulty and your readers may skip your email altogether.</p> <h2>9. Don't Ask to Be on a Call Today or Tomorrow</h2> <p>If it is urgent, the onus is on you to pick up the phone, not the other way around. A Wharton professor of management and psychology indicates that this may make you look rude. He recommends to <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140515114346-69244073-if-you-do-this-your-emails-might-be-rude">let the other person suggest some time</a>s. If you need to reach the other person immediately, then move away from the computer and pick up the phone.</p> <h2>10. Pay Attention to Time Zones</h2> <p>As a Hawaii resident (that's -3 hours PST and -6 hours EST during daylight saving time), I cannot stress how important this point is. If you need a same-day reply by 10 a.m. EST, it would be a good idea to have sent your email at least the day before. Unless you're writing me a tax-free check for $1 million, it is highly unlikely that I will wake up at 4 a.m. just to reply to your email. Use a <a href="http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html">time zone converter</a> or Google to calculate time zone differences.</p> <h2>11. Update Your Vacation Auto Responders</h2> <p>Skip any of these <a href="http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2013/08/worst-kinds-of-e-mail-vacation-auto-responders.html">awful email vacation auto responders</a> and keep it as simple as possible. Include the start and end dates of your vacation, and the name and phone number/email of an emergency contact.</p> <h2>12. Exclamation Points Are Not Periods</h2> <p>Self explanatory! This bad habit gets annoying very fast! Or indicates an obsession with factorials! You be the judge of that!</p> <h2>13. Never Embed Large Images</h2> <p>Images do speak louder than a thousand words. Unless they are 2MB and require you to go &quot;up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right&quot; to view them. Also, large image files <a href="http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/30594/A-Marketer-s-Guide-to-Getting-Past-Email-Spam-Filters.aspx">increase the chance of your email being caught by a spam filter</a>.</p> <h2>14. Address One Person at a Time and By Name</h2> <p>If your email open with &quot;Hey&quot; or &quot;Hi&quot; and without a name, it is most likely to be flagged as spam or upset somebody that you don't remember their name. You need to address an email recipient by his or her name and on a one-on-one basis.</p> <p>If you send an email to a long list of people and request &quot;somebody&quot; to help you with your project, the only person answering is going to be &quot;nobody.&quot; If you truly need to send the same message to several people, opt for individuals emails with a personalized message. You will increase the chances of people responding to you, which is what you need.</p> <p>Additionally, it prevents the number one sin in email writing: The abuse of the Reply All button.</p> <h2>15. Follow Up</h2> <p>Busy, successful people pride themselves in achieving <a href="http://mashable.com/2013/10/10/inbox-zero/">Inbox Zero</a>. For example, author and entrepreneur Guy Kawasaki, <a href="http://lifehacker.com/5971940/im-guy-kawasaki-and-this-is-how-i-work">deletes emails after 21 days</a> because he assumes that if it's truly important, the other person would follow up. So, follow up!</p> <p><em>What is your top piece of advice to use email more efficiently at work?</em></p> <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-ways-to-get-people-to-respond-to-your-email" class="sharethis-link" title="15 Ways to Get People to Respond to Your Email" rel="nofollow">ShareThis</a><br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">Written by <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/damian-davila">Damian Davila</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 email email subject line inbox zero productivity Thu, 28 Aug 2014 17:00:04 +0000 Damian Davila 1196857 at http://www.wisebread.com 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