I’m self-employed, so when I’m not working, I’m not getting paid.

That’s not the case with most us. In a 2014 study conducted by Salary.com, 69% of workers admitted to wasting at least one hour a day at work. With the average worker working between 250 and 260 days a year, that’s over six weeks of time we’re paid for but, well, we waste.

Where’s all that extra time going? How can we hack our day so we’re productive enough to get the best raise on our teams?

Let’s talk about how we can avoid wasting time.

The top 5 time wasters.

1. Surfing the internet

This is no big surprise, right?

According to Salary.com, Google searches were the number one time-waster in 2014. I admit that I had a small group of sites that I visited daily while I was working the W-2.

I’m sure you’d agree. Are you reading this at work right now?

Internet surfing at work comes from our short attention spans.

We’re working, and a song pops up on YouTube or our phone and we think, “Whatever happened to Macy Gray and that gigantic head of hair of hers?” Before we know it, we perform a Google search and get sucked into a black hole of useless information.

2. Being social on social media

If you want to avoid wasting time, you need to recognize social media as a major culprit.

Facebook was number two behind Google as the most common time suck at work.

Whether on our phones, at our desks, or sitting on the toilet to check out the latest cat video, social media is a huge time suck.

And, BTW, the number of men who pee sitting down has quintupled in the past ten years. I think it’s because they want to peruse social media more comfortable while in the bathroom.

Also, I’m writing a book: Twitter for the Toilet — Your Guide to Conquering the Business World from Inside Your Favorite Office.

I’m kidding, of course. But in all seriousness, keeping up with cat videos, commenting on others’ political rants, leaving birthday messages, and combing through Facebook memories are killing our productivity and helping us waste a few more minutes each hour of the working day.

You might even consider a social media break, just to help you get rid of the habit.

3. Circling the vortex of emails

It’s almost become the “unignorable phone” of yesteryear. A ringing phone must be answered, right? I remember a time when the whole family dashed to answer the phone.

For many of us, email has replaced the rotary phone on the wall. Whether they’re coworkers’ emails or the emails from friends and family, too few of us ignore email until the appropriate time.

What occupies the first hour of your day?

It’s totally email, isn’t it?

Responding to emails. Writing emails. Looking at emails and then not doing anything about them.

If you’re anything like me, you have hundreds of emails in your inbox. Too often they’re parts of email chains seeking one answer but getting everyone’s two cents and, in some cases, four or six cents.

The average office worker gets 121 emails per day. If we spend an average of one-minute reading and responding to each email, that’s a whopping two hours of the day sucked away. Yes, some emails are important, but we all know that many are not.

Add to work emails our personal emails. It’s estimated that the average person receives 88 personal emails a day. Spend 30 seconds on each and we’ve spent almost 45 minutes of our day on personal emails.

If you’re keeping track, that’s two and a half hours on emails. Add in text messages, and we’re probably doubling our time communicating via technology.

4. Unnecessary — and unnecessarily long — meetings

Love them or hate them, in some cases they’re a necessary evil. At the same time, they can be a huge time suck.

Some jobs, usually director level and higher, center on decision-making. Much of that requires meetings for education and decision making. The reality, though, is that most corporate meetings offer little value.

If you’re like I was, on a regular basis you leave meetings and think, “well, that would’ve been better as an email.”

Plus, the first five to ten minutes of most meetings are spent catching up with the other future tortured souls, especially early morning or Monday meetings? We must learn about everyone’s weekend or rehash last night’s episode of The Walking Dead.

If you want to avoid wasting time, consider how you can do your part to reduce meeting time. You can’t always avoid meetings (especially if your boss is involved). But you can get rid of meetings under your purview.

Speaking of chitchat…

5. Being coopted by coworkers

The last major time suck is one of which we may have little control over.

Whether it’s Chatty Cathy or Babbling Bill, every office or team has one. It’s the coworker who seems to have all the time in the world to talk about an endless amount of nothing.

I’m not suggesting an Orwellian office place where everyone punches in, sits at their desk for seven point five hours and then punches the clock on their way home. (I’m an introvert, though, so that would be workplace heaven.)

So, what’s the solution to these problems with wasting time at work? Here are five hacks that can help you stop wasting time at work. Because the more productive we are, the more our boss likes us and the greater our chances of getting a fat bonus next year.

5 hacks to help you avoid wasting time at work.

1. Reduce your time surfing the internet

Keep a Word or Google document up on your computer or notepad by your side to list what it is you want to search and research.

Then, research them during a designated break or in the privacy of your own home because, much like Facebook, your employer is watching your every move online. They can find that information if they want to.

Also, shut down spare browser windows when you’re not using them for work-related activities. When your window’s tab is signaling that you have a new message or that someone just tagged you in a tweet, it’s nearly impossible to not stop what you’re doing and look. It’s very much like that ringing phone that must be answered.

Get rid of the temptation altogether.

2. Downgrade the social media time

Seventy-nine percent of social media is done on mobile. This means solving this problem alone will increase your productivity.

First, turn DND on your phone during work hours. Second, hide your phone from yourself in a drawer for 55-minute periods. During those 55 minutes, focus only your work and get your work done.

On a side note, even if you’re not being social on your office desktop but you’re syncing with your office’s WiFi on your phone, your employer is still watching your every move.

If you can avoid wasting time this way, you’re also keeping your boss from seeing what you’re up to.

3. Don’t let email run your life.

Avoid emails during the first hour or two of your day.

Instead, focus on the most important task for your success that day.

Most highly successful people manage their emails and don’t let their emails manage them. Let’s be honest: emails are usually about what’s important to other people  — not what’s important to you. So you want to focus on what matters most in your own life.

Ask yourself the One Thing question: “What’s the one that I can do such that by doing it everything else will become easier or unnecessary?”

By focusing on your One Thing and not one everyone else’s, your productivity will skyrocket.

One strategy is to answer emails for 10 minutes at the top of each hour. Another strategy is to only go into your email three times during the day.

Figure out what works for you, stick to it, and you’ll be surprised at how much you can accomplish.

4. Do your best to get those meetings under control

It’s helpful to have a somewhat militaristic approach to managing meetings at work.

First, have or ask for an agenda for every meeting. Everyone should be on the same page as to what the meeting’s about and what the goal or objective of the meeting is. It’s extra helpful to have this agenda in writing in advance. Anyone who goes off topic gets the buzzer.

Second, schedules meetings for 25 and 50-minute increments rather than 30 and 60-minutes. Let all attendees know in advance that the objective or goal of the meeting must be resolved in this limited time.

If anyone needs to prepare in advance, they should do so accordingly for the sake of everyone else’s time.

Finally, block off 30 or 50 minutes on your calendar, rather than 30 to 60 minutes. This budgets in time for you to fill up your coffee cup or hit the restroom, as needed, and let you shift focus to your next task.

5. It’s time to shut your coworkers down (politely)

Post a DND sign at your desk or on your door, or schedule time in a spare meeting room or office away from everyone else to focus on your most important tasks. You want to avoid wasting time at work? You might need to find a time to politely keep your coworkers away.

We teach people how to treat us. So, train your colleagues to not disrupt you outside of scheduled times or breaks.

This may be tough at first, but in time they’ll catch onto your routine. When you get to leave the office earlier or you get that raise or promotion, they’ll see the value in your regimen.

If these suggestions make you uncomfortable, lie to your coworkers. Tell them you have a deadline and cannot be disturbed. The lie will only go so far for so long, but it’s an easy way to start changing their behaviors and increasing your productivity and efficiency at work. Just don’t get in the habit of lying.

With most of these ways of wasting time at work, it comes down to first acknowledging what the problem is and then coming up with an appropriate solution for the problem.

Once that’s done, you can change how you work, avoid wasting time at work and get much more done.

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You only fail if you stop trying. Read More...

So, you decided to become an entrepreneur because you had a vision and a passion.

You didn’t want to answer to anyone and wanted to be in control of your whole life. Tony Robbins tells you to follow your dreams. Gary Vee says you can do it.

But this entrepreneur thing is harder than it looks.

You keep hearing and seeing everyone else’s “overnight success,” and you’re toiling away year after year just waiting for your break.

Social media has become your worst enemy. According to Instagram, everyone else is killing it, and you’re dying a slow business owner’s death — you feel like the next entrepreneurial failure.

Before you step further into that coffin, it’s time for a reality check.

Remember why you started.

“Always remember, you have within you the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” – Harriet Tubman

When we feel like an entrepreneurial failure, it often means that we forgot what our original dream was. The entrepreneur must evolve to succeed, but the original inspiration should remain.

Go back to the original source of your inspiration. Remember what it felt like before you lost that original passion.

Everyone is born with a purpose and it’s in the inspiration, those moments that put excitement in our bellies, where we find our purpose. When you remember that original feeling, what was it that excited you?

You probably felt that you had a product, service, or knowledge that would help people. You probably envisioned positively affecting your community or the world. When you’re feeling down and out about your progress, remember why you started in the first place.

It’s not likely that whatever higher power you worship gave you that inspiration without a purpose.

Remember what made you think you could succeed.

William Arthur Ward said, “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it.”

I believe Ward is correct. I believe every successful or struggling entrepreneur must also believe him otherwise they’re doomed to become an entrepreneurial failure.

When I’m feeling down about the struggles of my own business, I remind myself why I thought I could succeed in the first place.

Losing a big client or taking on an unexpected expense is scary for the small business owner, and it can be easy to forget that you were once certain of your success. That’s why, for me, it’s helpful to return mentally to that “one time.”

If you’re like me, you saw signs that told you your dream would be your reality. I have about a dozen instances throughout my life that grew progressively louder telling me that “this” is what I’m supposed to do. If that’s the case for you, then you weren’t brought here to fail. You were led here to succeed, and maybe your feelings of failure are an opportunity for growth.

Renew your confidence in yourself and your abilities, learn from past mistakes, and move forward.

Don’t go down the rabbit hole.

“All negativity is an illusion created by the limited mind to protect and defend itself.” – Ambika Wauters

For me, negativity breeds negativity. The longer that I’m negative the louder the negativity gets.

Some theories of quantum physics say this is because everything is a vibration, including our thoughts. Therefore, my negative thoughts spiraling out of control, the melancholy music I play on iTunes, and the brain-draining television I watch on Netflix when I’m feeling down all produce more negativity.

From spilling my coffee to not winning a client, these negative experiences attract more negativity thoughts and experiences. Over time, the increasing negativity can lead to entrepreneurial failure.

The solution to overcoming this negativity is in the next section.

Don’t let it fester.

“The five-minute rule: it’s okay to be negative about certain things but not longer than five minutes.” – Hal Elrod

We’re not Vulcans. We’re humans and burdened by the arch of human emotions. It’s okay to feel down when something doesn’t seem to work in our favor. It’s okay to feel anxious; it shows our hearts are in it. It’s okay to question ourselves; it gives us a chance to grow.

But, it’s only okay to be negative for five minutes, or so says Hal Elrod of The Miracle Morning. In my experience, this especially works when my entrepreneurial endeavors go sour.

I’m human. Things upset me. I let it upset me for five minutes, and then I return to happiness. Okay, I often just return to being okay – I’m only human. But, being okay is better than being negative.

The next several times you’re down about your business, try the five-minute rule. It’ll feel useless at first, but the more you practice it the more it’ll help you.

Pause.

“Almost everything will work if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” – Anne Lamott

I really want to tell you to meditate here, but that’s not the only way to pause. We all have our own definition of taking a break. For me, it’s meditating. I like going inside and focusing on positive thoughts to replace my negative thoughts, thinking of a productive outcome to my current situation or to not thinking at all.

You may be different. Going for a quiet walk or long run might be your fix. Coloring in an adult coloring book with a glass of wine might be the temporary break (or date) you need. Watching motivational videos on YouTube or listening to inspirational podcasts might be just the pause you want before you hit play again.

When you pause, you get out of your negative space. On top of that, you have the chance to recharge the creative juices. Taking a break can help you move from entrepreneurial failure mode and into a creative problem-solving mode.

Look to friends, family, and colleagues.

“A true friend is someone who lets you have total freedom to be yourself — and especially to feel. Or, not feel.” – Jim Morrison

Life as an entrepreneur, especially a solopreneur, can feel lonely.

Working in your home office day after day — or kitchen table, as I do — can make you feel disconnected from the rest of the world. One of the reasons you decided to go into business probably related to people and the best people in your life are the ones who know and love you when you’re happy or sad, successful, or struggling.

There’s nothing that I love more than hearing what’s going on in the life of someone I love. It’s a mental break from me, my business, and my stresses. Hearing stories of raising children, planning vacations, and their career successes give me time to remember that the world doesn’t revolve around me or my business.

My entrepreneurial success or failure isn’t the only thing out there.

I’ve also found that even though my friends and family often have a limited understanding of what I do, they can provide unique, outsiders’ perspectives on my struggles. At the very least, they’re my biggest fans and they give me the emotional support and physical hugs I need.

Change what needs changing.

“Tack like a sailboat in navigating towards your goal, course-correcting as you go.” – Mike Michalowicz

No one has it all figured out. Even if you do exactly what the most successful person in your field did, it won’t yield the same exact results. Times change. Markets change. You’re different people.

My point is that no matter how perfect your recipe, long-term entrepreneurial success is more cooking than baking. When something’s not working and you’ve overcome the subsequent mental challenge, follow Mike Michalowicz’s advice and tack.

Ships rarely do a 180 and, if they do, it takes a long time. Ships mostly set sail towards their destination and make minor tweaks to stay on course, as the winds and water require. Such is the case with a successful business owner.

When something isn’t working, there’s a good chance it doesn’t need to go into the dustbin of history. It’s possible you simply need to make a minor change. Minor changes are easier to manage than drastic ones, and small changes along the way can help you avoid entrepreneurial failure.

Turn your entrepreneurial failure into success.

“Fall forward.” – Denzel Washington

The more I study successful people, the more I learn that all successful people have failed. Those who succeed in the end have used their failures as information and inspiration for their successes.

Oprah Winfrey was fired from a job as an anchorwoman in Baltimore. Steve Jobs was fired from his own company, Apple. Madonna was fired from Dunkin Donuts. President Obama was fired from Baskin Robins.

From learning why they weren’t a good fit for a certain job or simply learning that it was time to move onto something better, every successful person has done what Washington advises: they fell forward.

Life as an entrepreneur can feel like a psychological challenge as much as a financial and physical challenge.

Don’t give up just because your life doesn’t look like a Facebook success story. Instead, realize that you were born to succeed.

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Get that paper. Read More...

It’s often said (most notably by Dave Ramsey) that you need at least $1,000 saved for emergencies.

In my experience, this is often been the case.

Like when my car finally gave up the ghost and some random belt in it broke. Cost for the repair: $1,300. And, yes, I plan on paying it.

But I don’t have to like it.

What about when my neighbors and I had to replace our roof? Deductible: $1,000.

I’m not the only one, either. A relative of mine needed to get some major dental work done and they had to pay $1,000 towards their deductible.

You need at least an extra $1,000 cash at all times. And, fortunately, it’s not too hard to do once you decide it’s time to get that emergency fund built. (Although there are some circumstances in which it might be impossible for you to reach this goal right now.)

For simplicity’s sake, though, we’re going to assume that most things are going well in your life and that you just would like to make an extra grand for whatever reason.  

An extra $1,000 in a month: set the goal.

It’s amazing how often people underestimate the value of setting goals. Each goal has an energy and a process of its own.

You decide on the goal, then you break it down into workable parts. The idea is to make it manageable over time. It’s not something that you just accomplish immediately. However, having that goal — something to work for — can help you stay motivated and give you focus.

Some people start with the end result in mind and then work backward. This is a great approach that works for many people. By figuring out what the result should be, they can then put together a plan with steps to help them reach those goals.

Personally, I find that a bit confusing. I prefer to work from the beginning towards my end result. When focusing on financial goals like getting an extra $1,000 in your pocket each month there are a couple of things to consider.

First, ask yourself: Could you achieve this goal by changing your job?

Finding a new job may take longer, but once you find a job that meets your “earn more” criteria you’re all set. Nothing more needs to be done. 

What if you love your job and just would like to side-hustle your way to an extra grand each month? Or what if it’s just not practical to get a new job? Maybe you just want the extra money so you can work on financial independence.

If these situations apply, you need to take different steps to achieve your goal.

Decide on your “how.”

You’ve created your goal and now you need to decide how you’re going to make your extra $1,000 per month.

If you’re side hustling, you may end up going down a rabbit hole of choices.

There are a ridiculous number of ways to make money. The most important consideration to keep in mind is the following: you should avoid paying money to make extra money whenever possible.

Next, do your best to enjoy whatever hustle you add to your week.

One of my favorite side hustles is brand ambassador work. I have a friend who runs a team of brand ambassadors for a local brand here in Colorado. The best part about working on her team is that once we’ve run out of whatever product we are tasked with sampling, we’re still paid for the entire shift.

There are times I’m scheduled for a four-hour shift and the work is done in one hour. And I get paid for the remaining three hours. Nice.

But that’s not the only side hustle you can use to get an extra $1,000 a month. Think about what you enjoy. Whether it’s selling stuff on Etsy, driving for Lyft, or pet sitting, think about what you might enjoy that others are willing to pay for. From writing to taking pictures, there are plenty of amazing side gigs that can help you grow your wealth.

For some inspiration to get you started, here are our suggestions on how to Make $200 a Day with These 57 Side Hustle Ideas.

Daily focus.

What are the tasks that you need to focus on each day to attract more money to you?

The way you approach your gigs and your life can make a huge difference in getting that extra $1,000. 

For example, if you’re interested in brand ambassador work and live in a mid- to large-sized city, the best time to start signing up for these gigs is during the months May through October. Each product activation varies by length of time, but typically these gigs last most of the summer months.

On top of that, if you are interested in attending events for free and getting paid, the summer months are ideal for making a little extra money. Event season starts to ramp up — and events need people to work them.

Wedding season is also in full swing during the summer and a well run wedding needs help. You can also pick up clients if you’re a freelance photographer or videographer. It’s a fun side gig and you see people and families at the happiest.

It’s not just about working toward side gigs during the summer, though. Tap into your network.

Maybe you need to tell people every few days that you’re looking to make some extra cash. Share on social media that you’re available to help people by using your talents.

In fact, I just had a friend reach out to me this week who needs help running an event at the school her kids attend. I would have helped for free (she’s a friend) but she also mentioned that they were paying and feeding people. Done.

Time vs. income.

Not all side hustles are created equal, though.

The most sought-after side hustles make a lot of money in as short an amount of time as possible.

There is a reason why people love freelance writing. If you’re a reasonably fast writer and editor you could potentially write for a couple of clients a month and easily make that extra $1,000.

A lot of bloggers focus on creating passive income with this metric in mind. It takes a lot of work in the beginning, but, once you begin making a steady passive income stream, pretty soon that income has its own little money babies.

But you have to be careful. Are you using your time productively? For example, rideshare driving can be a solid way to earn money. But is it worth it to spend five hours driving around (not to mention paying for the cost of gas) only to end up with three fares, making $35. That’s less than $6 an hour.

Carefully pay attention to your return on investment with your time. You don’t want to spend a ton of time on something that doesn’t end up providing you with a good return. Try a few things. But if it turns out to be a dud, you might have to abandon the idea and move on to something else.

Don’t be afraid to try new things to make extra money. But also don’t be afraid to pivot when needed.

Trim the Fat.

You may already have an extra $1,000 in your budget and not even know it.

What if you just need to focus on your spending and monthly expenses?

I cut $13,500 from my annual budget by focusing on my monthly expenditures. I changed my phone service, cut down on clothes shopping, tracked my daily spending, and stopped shopping for groceries like a fool. By taking these steps I averaged a savings of $1125 a month.

While some folks really are already down to the bone, the fact is that many of us might be surprised to really look at our finances and see there’s room to cut back. Be honest as you go through your costs and be ruthless as you cut back on things that aren’t helping you reach your goals.

Replace some of your pricey activities with free or low-cost fun. Look for discounts and free samples on your favorite products. If you can spend a few minutes each week to save some money on your spending, you can enjoy life that much more — and get to your goal much faster.

Start today.

It may feel a little overwhelming to save an extra $1,000 if you’re not in the habit of aggressively saving money.

And, let’s face it, most Americans struggle with building up their savings.

Don’t get stressed out, though. Just start. Maybe you make $200 or $500 extra this month, instead of $1,000. That’s ok. It’s $200 or $500 more than you had the month before.

Start today. Do one thing to help grow your wealth today. Get started. You’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish.

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Screw the huge salary and 80-hour workweeks. Do your benefits help you actually LIVE your life? Read More...

When you start a new job — including your first job — salary seems like the most important issue.

Making money is important.

We all enjoy eating and most of us like to have a little fun, too.

But it’s not just about the salary or the hourly wage. When my now-ex-husband got his first real job after, I was shocked, shocked, at how much easier life became with the addition of benefits.

For years, we’d been without benefits, with me cobbling together a “package” using IRAs, individual health insurance, and other financial accounts and tools. And then that glorious time came.

The time of benefits.

Health insurance is your BFF.

The biggest bonus was health insurance. We’d been paying for private health insurance for a decade, using my earnings as a freelancer to pay for everything. Every year, as has been the case for decades, prices went up. That’s the nature of health insurance. And for families and individuals without health benefits, it can be almost unmanageable.

With my ex’s employer subsidizing our coverage, our premium was cut in half, and we had a better plan. That was money in our pockets — on top of the fact that he was making more money.

I swear, one of the biggest disappointments of the divorce was the prospect of going back to being entirely responsible for my own health insurance.

Luckily, accepting a remote job with Student Loan Hero a year after the divorce helped the situation. I now work for a company that pays my entire health insurance premium. It’s a huge load off my budget and my mind.

Not everyone is fortunate enough to have an employer who pays the whole premium. However, your employer might be paying as much as 68% of your premium if you have health benefits, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you are paying $250 per month for your health benefits, there’s a good chance they cost as much as $368. That’s a savings of $118 a month. It’s like making an extra $1,416 a year.

Paid vacation days are totes amazing.

Get paid even while you aren’t at work? Yes, please!

If you can negotiate a package that allows you to take vacation days and still get paid for them, you are doing something right. It might be worth it to accept a little less in terms of salary if you don’t have to worry how you’ll make up the money for the days you missed to attend SXSW.

Many companies offer 14 days a year of paid vacation. Others might offer a little less or a little more. Check into how much paid vacation you get and see if you can negotiate a little more to make up for a slightly lower salary.

Even if you don’t get paid vacation days, some companies are willing to offer extra personal days (although you won’t get paid for these).

If you could take extra time off to live life, would you take it even if you aren’t getting paid? I would.

Just being able to take that time can be a huge relief. And, if you get into a side hustle, you can use some of that time off to potentially make money doing something you like more.

Don’t discount time off — paid or unpaid — when it comes to your job.

Nothing beats flexibility.

Money Isn't Everything: Are Your Benefits On Fleek?

There is nothing — nothing — I value more than freedom and flexibility. Increasingly, companies are offering benefits that include flexible work schedules.

Thanks to technology, a number of jobs now come with location independence, and there are some companies that allow completely remote workers. I work for one of those companies myself. It’s an amazing perk that can be almost as valuable as another $10,000 a year.

Even if you don’t get to work in your jammies or from the coffee shop every day, you might be able to negotiate telecommuting privileges for two or three days a week or customize your schedule to come in earlier or later in the day. Being able to manage your schedule around your life is a big plus.

I have a friend who is willing to accept a little less in terms of salary because his employer allows him to work three 12-hour days a week. That means that he has four days off each week, and is still considered full-time and enjoys health benefits. That level of flexibility is worth $7,000 a year to him.

Is there a way for you to get some sort of concession like that? Maybe it’s coming in from 10 am to 6 pm. Or maybe it’s going in at 7:00 am to be done at 3 pm. Perhaps you just want a two-hour lunch break so you can go to the gym in the middle of the day, or meet your friends.

No matter what it is, the ability to boost your quality of life makes a huge difference in your job satisfaction and performance.

How fierce is your retirement plan?

No matter how much money you make, investing can help you prepare for the future.

The easiest way to invest is through your company’s retirement plan. Your money is automatically withheld from your paycheck and invested for the future.

And if your company’s plan is truly fierce, you’ll get an employer match. That’s free money that goes toward your future, building your retirement portfolio. It’s hard to beat that.

Companies that offer good retirement plan benefits can get a leg up in attracting talented workers. And you benefit as well. So what if you don’t get another $9,000 a year? The reality is that the value of a retirement plan with an employer match is worth way more than that. The free money that goes into your account and grows through the magic of compound returns ends up being worth waaaaay more than that in the long run.

Other epic benefits.

Companies are interested in attracting the best and the brightest, and if that’s you, there are plenty of other epic benefits that you might be able to enjoy at the right company — and that might be worth more than mere money:

  • On-site fitness center or a paid membership to a local gym
  • Meals in a cafeteria that serves actual food
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Student loan repayment help
  • Career development and training resources
  • Equipment, such as a smartphone or a laptop
  • Attractive and diverse workspaces (including open offices, standing desks, and other innovative perks)

There are a number of companies willing to offer high-end perks, ranging from concerts to concierge services.

So, while you might not get a huge salary, you might end up with a better quality of life. What’s the point of having a big salary if you end up working 60 to 70 hours a week and you don’t have any time to enjoy the money?

The reality of salary vs. benefits.

Before you get hung up salary, think of your preferred lifestyle. Your life is going to such if you work 80 hours a week with no time for true enjoyment.

You might have a lot of money, but are you enjoying life now?

There’s more to life than work. There’s more to life than having a lot of money. We often see money as a status symbol, but does it help you live better? Will it help you develop more meaningful relationships?

When you think of your compensation package holistically, including the value of the benefits and the kind of life you can live, things change.

The right benefits can be worth more than a few thousand extra dollars per year.

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New project? No worries. Read More...

You have a new project. It’s big. It’s huge — even “yuge” — but you’re not bloviating.

This is the real deal, a make or break moment for you. You need project success to level up.

Ugh! The stress starts to creep into your mind and your body.

There are so many components, so many moving parts. How will you manage them all? How will you get all the way to the top of that hill from all the way down here?

You’ll do it with a process that will make your project easier to see and simpler to manage, like eating an elephant.

Elephants can grow up to 11 feet tall and weigh up to 13,000 pounds. The more important question is why would you eat an elephant? For our purpose, however, how would you eat an elephant? You’d eat an elephant one bite at a time. Just like you’ll tackle this project and succeed.

Breathe, and see project success.

Your first step is to breathe.

Too often, we want to dive right in and start our projects or tasks before we have a chance to fully think them through. It’s at this point when the panic starts. Stop the panic before it starts.

You have your assignment. You know the objective. Now, breathe. Even for five minutes. Sit back in your chair, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. As you feel the benefits of your deep, energizing breaths, imagine the inevitable results of your success.

Do, as Bob Proctor says, “Imagine the feeling of the wish fulfilled.” Your subconscious mind can’t tell the difference between your reality and your imagination.

  • Thoughts create your feelings.
  • Feelings create your actions.
  • Actions create your results.

Take the time to convince your subconscious mind that success is yours and you’ll nurture your thoughts.

You don’t know how you’ll get there today, but know you’ll get there.

See your team, your manager and your manager’s manager patting you on the back for your job well done. Ignite that feeling in your stomach when you know your work is good. Project the movie in your mind’s eye of what it will feel like when you go home and tell your partner, spouse or your girls how you rocked it at work.

With clarity and calm — and a positive mindset — proceed to the next step.

Ask questions.

You were assigned this project because you know enough. However, there’s a chance you don’t know everything to ensure project success. Find out what you don’t know.

Do you have questions? Where can you find the answers? What aren’t you 100% certain about with this responsibility? Are there points of confusion?

What tools and resources do you need? Can you get them? How?

Who are your points of contact? Can they help you? When are they available?

Go through these questions and do your best to answer them. At the very least, know where you can get the answers. You don’t have to know everything right now. But you should have a solid idea of where to find what you need.

And, if you have to ask for clarification, do it sooner rather than later. Ask an insightful question now, get on the right track, and you’ll avoid bigger issues later.

Do your research.

Armed with your questions, reach out to your points of contacts for answers. Use your company’s resources. Most firms have intranet sites, web-based tools, and software loaded with information. Search your resources for answers — and make a not questions you haven’t thought to ask until now.

Even in business, that thing we call the World Wide Web is a useful tool. Use Google to find if someone or something else has completed a similar project before this. Understand how they succeeded or failed. Find out what you should do differently and what you can do better.

Make a list.

As you’re asking questions and researching, make a list of steps you need to take, things you need to learn, people you need to contact, and more questions you need to ask.

Good organization can be a big deal as you work toward project success.

A tablet or Post-it® Notes may be where you currently list your to-dos, but this is the 21-century, my friend. Let’s get your more efficient tools.

My current favorite task manager is Asana. If you’re working with a team on a project, you can manage the whole thing from Asana. You can name a task and assign it to the larger project. You can add attachments and due dates, as necessary.

For now, create a free account with Asana to list all your tasks. As your project evolves and you become comfortable with Asana, you can use more of its features and loop in your team.

Another great free tool is Trello. With Trello, you can create boards to represent different projects or different tasks with sub-tasks. You can add attachments and due dates with Trello, too. You can also add checklists on each card, assign labels for tracking and move cards from one board/project to another.

If neither of these tools works for you and you are based in corporate America, it’s likely you use Microsoft Outlook for email. Outlook has a Task manager that works with your Outlook Calendar and is quite convenient.

No matter the tools you use, look for a way to organize your tasks and break them down into smaller, more manageable chunks. This will help you tackle the project more effectively.

Map your process.

Now that know all or most of your required tasks, put them in a logical sequence. You’ll see tasks that are contingent on the completion of other tasks. You’ll see what can be done simultaneously and, likely, what should be done first, second, third, and so forth.

Asana and Trello are great for this because you can easily move tasks around on your board or your list, as your process requires. When things change, as they inevitably will, you can move your tasks around accordingly.

Both Asana and Trello have visual elements that make them ideal for mapping your process. As you find that something needs to be done in a different order, or if you need to add something, it’s fairly simple. Plus, you can see the entire roadmap laid out.

Budget time for surprises and breaks.

Most projects have deadlines and most deadlines are yesterday. That said, do your best to negotiate a reasonable timeline to successfully complete your project. Include in that negotiation time for surprises and breaks.

Sure, your project success can come without breaks — but that also means more stress. If you want to reduce the stress, you need to prepare ahead of time for problems.

Something unexpected will pop up. A mistake or oversight will happen. Your manager will come up with additional requests. As best as you can, factor time in your project timeline for these surprises. They will happen, and you’ll do yourself and your project a favor by planning for them.

Budget time for breaks. This helps in two ways. The first is that it reduces stress. Factoring in time for walks, casual conversations with colleagues and to read will take your mind off your project and let you relax and unwind.

The second benefit is that our best ideas and solutions often come when we’re not thinking about the task at hand. Go for a walk. Meditate. Do a routine task, like washing the dishes, knitting, or tinkering with a car.

These simple put us in a slightly meditative state that some psychologists call our default mode network. In this state, “you become less aware of your environment and more aware of your internal thoughts,” says John Kounios, a psychologist who studies creativity and distraction at Drexel University in Philadelphia.

Remove your distractions.

When you’re working on project success, eliminate as many distractions as possible. Despite what some think, no one is good at multitasking.

You can’t give any task all it needs if you’re distracted by the chime on your computer indicating a new email or the ring of your phone from a push-notification. You can’t zero in on a project if you’re talking on your office phone and scrolling through Facebook on your iPhone.

Those things have their time and place but not when you’re working on an important task. Not being focused will delay you, increase chances of errors and eventually stress you. Research shows that it takes between 23 and 25 minutes to refocus on a task after we’ve been distracted.

You don’t have time for that.

Shut down your email. Put your office phone on DND. Turn off your phone and hide it from yourself. Shut the door and ask to not be disturbed. Focus solely on your project. The more successful tasks you have, the more successful your project will be.

Trust me. You won’t miss anything of real importance on Facebook.

Forgive yourself for mistakes.

As sure as surprises come, you’ll make mistakes. This is life, and you’re only human. Expect mistakes and expect to forgive them.

In fact, mistakes and failure are necessary. The road to ultimate project success often littered by failure.

Jass saxophonist Coleman Hawkins once quipped, “If you don’t make mistakes, you’re not trying.” This applies to every aspect of life, including business, and shows that our biggest failures can lead to our biggest successes.

Turn your mistakes into successes and learn from them. Apply your new-found knowledge to your current project, share them with your team, and apply them to future projects.

Don’t let that new project stress you out. Go for a walk, take a deep breath, map it out, and get back to it.

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Persistent, but innocent or completely inappropriate behavior? Here’s how you can tell. Read More...

With the recent upswell of sexual harassment allegations both in Hollywood and Washington, victims of sexual abuse are starting to come out of their shells. Sexual misconduct isn’t happening more often, but victims now feel emboldened to share their stories and name the people who have mistreated them.

But for every victim stepping forward, there are still plenty who remain silent – often because they don’t fully understand the line between harassment and flirting. Sexual misconduct has always been vaguely defined by the masses, but that definition is starting to crystallize as the public turns to address the epidemic.

Like many women, I’ve experienced my fair share of sexual harassment, both in the workplace and elsewhere. Here’s where I draw the line.

What is the difference between flirting and sexual harassment?

The line between flirting and sexual harassment can seem hazy. What’s innocent and flirty to one person may be totally inappropriate to someone else. A kind smile can seem lewd to its recipient.

To me, the difference between flirting and sexual harassment is the frequency with which it occurs, as well as any escalation in the nature of the behavior. For example, telling me I’m pretty once is flirting – repeating it multiple times becomes sexual harassment. This is especially true if I’ve made it clear I have no interest in the other person.

When you view it that way, it’s easy to see the line between flirting and harassment. Men don’t have to worry about being accused of wrongdoing if they don’t continuously try to woo an obviously disinterested woman.

However, flirting can automatically become sexual harassment when it’s done by someone in a position of power. For example, I used to intern at a local magazine where the editor-in-chief had a reputation for pursuing the young interns. His actions were so widespread that multiple people warned me before I started working there.

Sure enough, a few weeks into the gig, the editor approached one of the interns and asked her out for a drink. She said no because she wasn’t 21 yet, and we tried to convince her to complain to HR about it.

“But he didn’t do anything bad,” she told us. “Maybe it was just going to be a friendly drink.”

At the time, I didn’t have the proper context for why an editor asking out an intern is problematic, but now I know. If you have authority over someone, treating them like a sexual object is always sketchy. They can’t say no without worrying about what it could do to their career.

The legal definition of sexual harassment.

According to the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, sexual harassment not only includes sexual comments or physical advances, but also general statements about one particular sex. For example, if a male coworker complains that all women are golddiggers, that’s sexual harassment.

The EOEC says sexual harassment becomes illegal “when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).”

Anyone can be a harasser, including a vendor, client, peer or boss. The harasser can be your same gender and have a similar or different sexual orientation from you. So yes ladies, you can be accused of sexual harassment just as much as men.

What you can do.

If you’re being sexually harassed in the workplace, the first step is to document everything. Successful cases are made when the accuser has details, such as where and when the harassment occurred and what exactly was said and done. It can also help to share what happened with people you know who can back you up.

After you’ve documented the instances of harassment, it’s time to go to your human resources department. Tell them you’d like to file a sexual harassment report and bring all the details with you. It’s even better if you have concrete proof, such as texts, emails or voicemails. The stronger your evidence, the more likely it is people will believe you and take action.

Don’t stop writing down what happens after the sexual harasser has stopped bothering you. It’s important to note what your company does in response, in case you want to sue them later on.

If you report sexual harassment to HR, you should know that many companies don’t punish people who are accused of sexual harassment. In fact, sometimes the person reporting it has to deal with blowback if the person blamed is popular or has significant clout in the office.

It’s also OK if you don’t feel like reporting it, just like my friend decided not to back in the day. Not every company has a strong history of defending accusers and reporting it can be more traumatizing than the initial interaction. Do what makes sense for you and your mental health.

What are your feelings or experiences on this timely topic? Let us know in the #Adulting Facebook community.

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What’s the plan? Determine what goals for your work you’d like to reach by the end of the year — and make them happen. Read More...

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Do you feel stuck in a rut with your career? You’re not alone. Plenty of people feel stuck. What you need is to clarify your career goals for the new year. Whether you hope to start your own business, get a promotion, or find a better job, it’s time to put together a strategy that works.

In this episode, we talk about how you can come up with realistic career goals this year, and the steps you can take to achieve them.

Concepts

  • How to figure out what you really want out of your career this year.
  • Understanding the why behind your desire for a change at work.
  • What types of career goals and strategies make sense for you?
  • How to set realistic goals.
  • How to integrate your career goals into your overall life objectives.
  • Tips for setting goals that might take more than a year to achieve.
  • Who to talk to if you need guidance.
  • The importance of knowing what you need to accomplish your goals.
  • How to find free and paid resources to help you proceed.
  • Tips for turning your goals into a strategy that works.

Our DO NOWs are all about getting started ASAP. We talk about figuring out the kind of work you want to do and researching what you need to make it happen. Then we encourage you to take that first step toward your career goals.

What happens when you’re happy with your job and your parents want to push you to be “more”? It can be tough to deal with this type of situation. We talk about what it means to be content, and why it’s ok if you don’t want to always be chasing more money.

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Resources

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Make THIS the year you get out of that career rut. Read More...

If you’re a young person trying to succeed professionally today, you’ve probably found yourself in a career rut at some point.

Chances are, you’re in one right now.

While showing up on time and getting your work done used to be enough to gradually ascend through the ranks, today’s career-savvy professionals need to stay active. That could mean changing positions, changing companies or even changing industries.

Mostly, it just means changing something.

Before you act, you need a plan. As we approach the end of 2017, it’s time to come up with a clean, effective career strategy for the new year.

Determine your goals.

You can’t create a roadmap until you know the destination — and you can’t have a great career until you know where you want you to go. Do you want to enter the private sector after working in the public space? Do you want to advance to a managerial role? Do you want to change industries entirely?

Write down what you want your career to look like at the end of the next year. It doesn’t matter how far-fetched the goal seems, just write it down. For example, my goal is to be earning 50% more. It sounds extravagant to want 50% more money in just 12 months’ time, but that’s my goal.

Your goal will form the basis for your career strategy going forward.

Your goals should follow the SMART rule and be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Actionable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

For example, it’s one thing to say, “I want to earn more money.” Someone with a SMART goal would say, “I want to be earning $65,000 annually by December 2018, and I will do so by applying to new jobs at larger companies.”

Look at the goal you’ve written down. Is it specific and relevant? Does it give you a clear set of directions or are you unsure how to put it in motion? Remember, the people who actually reach their dreams aren’t always the smartest, most talented or hardest-working. They’re the ones who have a clear sense of where they’re going and how to get there.

Identify your weaknesses.

Once you know your goal, it’s time to figure out what’s standing between you and your dream. For example, if you want to work part-time hours for a full-time income, identify what’s holding you back. Are you charging too little? Are you targeting the wrong customers? Is your workflow not efficient enough?

It will probably take some time to figure out what you’re missing, so don’t rush through this part of your career strategy. I consider myself a pretty insightful person and sometimes it takes weeks before I figure out where I’m going wrong.

Find solutions.

Once you’ve identified your weaknesses, you can figure out the best way to fix them — and take your career strategy to the next level. For example, if you’re currently underpaid, you know that you need to negotiate a raise. But if you’re bad at negotiating and standing up for yourself, then asking for more money might be like walking on hot coals.

What should you do? Read every book about negotiating, visualize the scenario in your mind and practice with your friends. Then, you can go to your boss and negotiate for real.

Another way to reach your goals faster is to find a community of like-minded people striving for the same thing. When you’re around people who share your dreams, you can find resources and information faster than if you’re going at it alone.

If you find a community that seems too big, consider creating a mastermind group with two or three other people. You can hold weekly calls and keep each other accountable. I’m in a mastermind group with other female freelance writers and it’s been a huge comfort throughout my years of self-employment.

You can find your community online or in person at networking events. It’s probably easier to locate a group on Facebook, but don’t underestimate the power of meeting people IRL.

Consider confiding in your closest friends and family members about your situation, even if it seems like they can’t help. I often tell my friends about issues I’m having because they can offer a different point of view than what I’m used to.

Stay focused.

Once your career strategy is set, ignore the squirrels. A squirrel can be an exciting conference or a marketing strategy that promises to solve your problems – anything that draws you in by promising the world. Usually, though, squirrels are distractions that lead you away from what you’re working on.

The simple career strategy you’ve already set is almost always better than chasing squirrels, and the more time you spend distracted, the less time you spend getting things done. When I get a tantalizing email with a catchy headline, I ask myself if it’s a squirrel.

Most of the time, I end up deleting these emails because I know I’m already on the path to success.

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There’s a good chance your first job out of college will be shitty. Here’s how to cope when reality doesn’t live up to your degree dreams. Read More...

Once in a while, we present Adulting.tv LIVE! Subscribe on YouTube to hear about future events, and share your questions about or suggestions for our next discussions!

Show Notes

Ugh. Does your first job out of college suck?

Join the club.

One of the first harsh lessons of adulting is that sometimes you don’t get your dream job when you finish your degree. But just because the job sucks, doesn’t mean you can’t learn something.

Lindsay VanSomeren from Notorious D.E.B.T. joins us to talk about her terrible first job after college — and what she did to get out of the rut. It’s your first job, not your permanent job. Learn, survive, and move on to something better.

Find Lindsay on Twitter and Facebook.

Watch the video above or listen to the audio podcast below.

Hosted byHarlan L. Landes and Miranda Marquit
Produced byadulting.tv
Edited and mixed bySteve Stewart
Music bybensound.com

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Great idea? Check. Good Response? Not so much. Here’s what to do from here. Read More...

We’ve all been there. One day your boss asks for feedback on a program, project, or concept that your team is working on. You spend hours working on your concept: the wording, why the idea rocks, and how your team can start rocking out your new idea. You’re nervous, but you know that they will love it.

An hour passes by, then two, and then your boss says the following: “I’m sorry but we’re not going to use your idea.” You’ve been shot down and it hurts.

If you’re really emotionally invested in your job, having an idea shot down may feel really personal and you might find yourself wrestling with some self-doubt about your value to the team. Before you go down that rabbit hole of crazy, let’s walk through some of the things you should do to keep this situation in perspective.

Rejected.

Unless your boss truly hates you (and sometimes they do) don’t take the rejection of your idea personally. If there are several people who work on your team, it’s possible that your immediate supervisor may have opted to use a different idea.

Hey, it happens.

You might not be aware of a last minute change to the project concept so you’ve ended up presenting something that is no longer relevant. If you’re defined by the work that you do, the rejection of ideas can feel intensely personal. Keep things in perspective, walk away if you’re feeling hurt or angry – don’t lose it on your boss and colleagues. Never let them see you sweat.

Time to regroup.

Spend some time away from the office regrouping and getting into a positive headspace. Don’t let your ego get in the way of all the hard work that you’ve done previously.

If you find that you’re feeling especially demoralized, watch the movie Office Space and imagine how good it would feel to beat up one of the printers that always seems to jam. But don’t do it. You have an imagination for a reason.

Now that you’ve calmed down and are thinking rationally, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Was I clear about the scope of work?
  • Would what I suggested truly move our project on forward? Or, was it an ego-driven suggestion? (Yes, I went there.)

Then, ask yourself, “Am I clear about the overall goals of my team and department?” You may feel like you’re clear on the overall objectives, but things do change. It’s never a bad thing to ask your team lead, “What is the ideal outcome you would like us to arrive at via our work efforts?”

Again, you might not be aware of changes that may have been communicated from the top down – but, not to you. Your team lead will (typically) appreciate that you’re zeroed in on achieving positive outcomes with any suggestions that you may share.

Is this boss an ally?

If you suggest something to your boss, will they truly be open to any suggestions that you make? Do you have a boss who has basically checked out mentally and just goes through the motions?

They may perceive your suggestions either in a positive light (this employee has ideas that I can piggyback on) or, they may feel threatened and think that you’re angling for their job. And, you could be. Remember that the phrase “office politics” exists for a reason.

Is your boss a little…flaky? Do you find yourself wondering how on earth they got the job? Are they easily influenced or super open to team input? If they are open to suggestions, create a strategy where you share new ideas without being annoying or come across as a brown-noser.

It’s ok to Jedi-Mindtrick your boss…as long as you’re using your powers for good.

Finally, if your idea has been rejected, ask for feedback. Don’t be afraid to have an open and candid conversation with your boss. In fact, I would strongly encourage you to become comfortable asking for helpful feedback from your supervisor or boss.

Creating an open line of communication may also signal to your boss that you’re professional and invested in creating change in your job. Good luck!

Have you been knocked down at work? How did you bounce back? Tell us about your experiences in the #Adulting Facebook community

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