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Take this 30 day productivity challenge

(BUSINESS) Take this productivity challenge to make incremental yet meaningful change in your day.

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freelance productivity

Oftentimes, we will get this spark of energy that motivates us to embark on bettering ourselves and improving our productivity. This may be a new diet idea, workout plan, or side hustle. Sadly, these don’t always get to fruition, as life sometimes gets in the way and the idea of a new undertaking is just too overwhelming.

What if it didn’t have to be overwhelming? What if you were able to better your life with just a little effort each day?

This is possible with monthly challenges you can set for yourself. What we’ll focus on today is productivity and how to make your everyday life more efficient.

Below, you’ll find a list of 30 ideas that you can complete within one month – some are easier than others, some are common sense, others will leave you with aha moments. Pick one a day to implement and stick with, and by the end of the month, you will have new habits and a more productive life.

  1. Organize your email inbox. Take a few minutes to delete emails you don’t need, or create folders that’ll make organization easier.
  2. Get a file folder and organize some documents. For example, break down each file into a category of bills, and file the paper away once each bill is paid. If you ever need it later on, you’ll know exactly where to find it.
  3. Make a to do list for the week ahead. Pay close attention and see if having a to do list helps you to be more productive and efficient. If it does, implement that into your routine.
  4. Keep track of your activities and see how long each of them take. See if you can save yourself time by eliminating steps.
  5. Try setting your alarm 15 minutes earlier than normal.
  6. Make a playlist that will keep your energy elevated throughout the day. (No James Blunt!)
  7. Set time aside to learn something new that might inspire you. Listen to a podcast, watch a Ted Talk, strike up an interesting conversation with someone, etc.
  8. Pick out your outfit the night before.
  9. If you’re working on a new goal, ask one of your friends or loved ones to check in on your progress. Sounds silly, but it actually helps to have accountability.
  10. Drink eight glasses of water throughout the day to keep you hydrated and alert.
  11. Clean out your desk. You probably don’t need that Pizza Hut flyer from 2005 anymore.
  12. Set a list of goals and prioritize them by importance.
  13. Choose a habit you would like to improve and actively work to better it.
  14. Alternatively, choose a habit you’d like to eliminate and work to lessen it.
  15. Make time for self-care. Seriously.
  16. Only let something pass your desk once.
  17. Develop a positive and beneficial morning routine.
  18. Try and stop multitasking. Focus on one task at a time.
  19. Use a calendar to schedule your tasks.
  20. Silence your phone an hour before bedtime in order to decompress from technological stress.
  21. Switch up your working environment; it may spark inspiration.
  22. Make time for breaks to give your mind and body some rest.
  23. Like this list, break your tasks down into bite-sized pieces.
  24. If you commute by taking public transportation, use that time to read or listen to something inspiring. Don’t just mindlessly scroll through social media.
  25. Move your alarm clock across the room to force yourself to get out of bed when it goes off.
  26. Go to bed at the same time each (week) night for a week. Do the weekend, too, if truly committed.
  27. Always keep a pad of paper and pen nearby to write down any helpful ideas that may pop in your head.
  28. Then, make time for these ideas to come to life.
  29. Try your best to leave work at work.
  30. Reward yourself for all of your efforts (this takes us back to #15).

And after these 30 days, you’ve set yourself up for productivity success – congrats!

Staff Writer, Taylor Leddin is a publicist and freelance writer for a number of national outlets. She was featured on Thrive Global as a successful woman in journalism, and is the editor-in-chief of The Tidbit. Taylor resides in Chicago and has a Bachelor in Communication Studies from Illinois State University.

Business News

You should apply to be on a board – why and how

(BUSINESS NEWS) What do you need to think about and explore if you want to apply for a Board of Directors? Here’s a quick rundown of what, why, and when.

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board of directors

What?
What does a Board of Directors do? Investopedia explains “A board of directors (B of D) is an elected group of individuals that represent shareholders. The board is a governing body that typically meets at regular intervals to set policies for corporate management and oversight. Every public company must have a board of directors. Some private and nonprofit organizations also have a board of directors.”

Why?
It is time to have a diverse representation of thoughts, values and insights from intelligently minded people that can give you the intel you need to move forward – as they don’t have quite the same vested interests as you.

We have become the nation that works like a machine. Day in and day out we are consumed by our work (and have easy access to it with our smartphones). We do volunteer and participate in extra-curricular activities, but it’s possible that many of us have never understood or considered joining a Board of Directors. There’s a new wave of Gen Xers and Millennials that have plenty of years of life and work experience + insights that this might be the time to resurrect (or invigorate) interest.

Harvard Business Review shared a great article about identifying the FIVE key areas you would want to consider growing your knowledge if you want to join a board:

1. Financial – You need to be able to speak in numbers.
2. Strategic – You want to be able to speak to how to be strategic even if you know the numbers.
3. Relational – This is where communication is key – understanding what you want to share with others and what they are sharing with you. This is very different than being on the Operational side of things.
4. Role – You must be able to be clear and add value in your time allotted – and know where you especially add value from your skills, experiences and strengths.
5. Cultural – You must contribute the feeling that Executives can come forward to seek advice even if things aren’t going well and create that culture of collaboration.

As Charlotte Valeur, a Danish-born former investment banker who has chaired three international companies and now leads the UK’s Institute of Directors, says, “We need to help new participants from under-represented groups to develop the confidence of working on boards and to come to know that” – while boardroom capital does take effort to build – “this is not rocket science.

When?
NOW! The time is now for all of us to get involved in helping to create a brighter future for organizations and businesses that we care about (including if they are our own business – you may want to create a Board of Directors).

The Harvard Business Review gave great explanations of the need to diversify those that have been on the Boards to continue to strive to better represent our population as a whole. Are you ready to take on this challenge? We need you.

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Business News

Everyone should have an interview escape plan

(BUSINESS NEWS) A job interview should be a place to ask about qualifications but sometimes things can go south – here’s how to escape when they do.

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interview from hell

“So, why did you move from Utah to Austin?” the interviewer asked over the phone.

The question felt a little out of place in the job interview, but I gave my standard answer about wanting a fresh scene. I’d just graduated college and was looking to break into the Austin market. But the interviewer wasn’t done.

“But why Austin?” he insisted, “There can’t be that many Mormons here.”

My stomach curled. This was a job interview – I’d expected to discuss my qualifications for the position and express my interest in the company. Instead, I began to answer more and more invasive questions about my personal life and religion. The whole ordeal left me very uncomfortable, but because I was young and desperate, I put up with it. In fact, I even went back for a second interview!

At the time, I thought I had to put up with that sort of treatment. Only recently have I realized that the interview was extremely unprofessional and it wasn’t something I should have felt obligated to endure.

And I’m not the only one with a bad interview story. Slate ran an article sharing others’ terrible experiences, which ranged from having their purse inspected to being trapped in a 45 minute presentation! No doubt, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to mistreatment by potential employers.

So, why do we put up with it?

Well, sometimes people just don’t know better. Maybe, like I was, they’re young or inexperienced. In these cases, these sorts of situations seem like they could just be the norm. There’s also the obvious power dynamic: you might need a job, but the potential employers probably don’t need you.

While there might be times you have to grit your teeth and bear it, it’s also worth remembering that a bad interview scenario often means bad working conditions later on down the line. After all, if your employers don’t respect you during the interview stage, it’s likely the disrespect will continue when you’re hired.

Once you’ve identified an interview is bad news, though, how do you walk out? Politely. As tempting as it is to make a scene, you probably don’t want to go burning bridges. Instead, excuse yourself by thanking your interviewers, wishing them well and asserting that you have realized the business wouldn’t be a good fit.

Your time, as well as your comfort, are important! If your gut is telling you something is wrong, it probably is. It isn’t easy, but if a job interview is crossing the line, you’re well within your rights to leave. Better to cut your losses early.

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Business News

Australia vs Facebook: A conflict of news distribution

(BUSINESS NEWS) Following a contentious battle for news aggregation, Australia works to find agreement with Facebook.

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News open on laptop, which Australia argues Facebook is taking away from.

Australia has been locked in a legal war against technology giants Google and Facebook with regard to how news content can be consumed by either entity’s platforms.

At its core, the law states that news content being posted on social media is – in effect – stealing away the ability for news outlets to monetize their delivery and aggregate systems. A news organization may see their content shared on Facebook, which means users no longer have to visit their site to access that information. This harms the ability for news production companies – especially smaller ones – from being able to maintain revenue and profit, while also giving power to corporations such as Facebook by allowing them to capitalize on their substantial infrastructure.

This is a complex subject that can be viewed from a number of angles, but it essentially asks the question of who should be in control of information on a potentially global scale, and how the ability to share such data should be handled when it passes through a variety of mediums and avenues. Put shortly: Australia thinks royalties should be paid to those who supply the news.

Australia has maintained that under the proposed laws, corporations must reach content distribution deals in order to allow news to be spread through – as one example – posts on Facebook. In retaliation, Facebook completely removed the ability for users to post news articles and stories. This in turn led to a proliferation of false and misleading information to fill the void, magnifying the considerable confusion that Australian citizens were confronted with once the change had been made.

“In just a few days, we saw the damage that taking news out can cause,” said Sree Sreenivasan, a professor at the Stony Brook School of Communication and Journalism. “Misinformation and disinformation, already a problem on the platform, rushed to fill the vacuum.”

Facebook’s stance is that it provides value to the publishers because shared news content will drive users to their sites, thereby allowing them to provide advertising and thus leading to revenue.

Australia has been working on this bill since last year, and has said that it is meant to equalize the potential imbalance of content and who can display and benefit from it. This is meant to try and create conditions between publishers and the large technology platforms so that there is a clearer understanding of how payment should be done in exchange for news and information.

Google was initially defiant (threatening to go as far as to shut off their service entirely), but began to make deals recently in order to restore its own access. Facebook has been the strongest holdout, and has shown that it can leverage its considerable audience and reach to force a more amenable deal. Australia has since provided some amendments to give Facebook time to seek similar deals obtained by Google.

One large portion of the law is that Australia is reserving the right to allow final arbitration, which it says would allow a mediator to set prices if no deal could be reached. This might be considered the strongest piece of the law, as it means that Facebook cannot freely exercise its considerable weight with impunity. Facebook’s position is that this allows government interference between private companies.

In the last week – with the new agreements on the table – it’s difficult to say who blinked first. There is also the question of how this might have a ripple effect through the tech industry and between governments who might try to follow suit.

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