4 Tips for Business Travel

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Many up-and-coming executives find they spend excessive amounts of time traveling from city to city and meeting to meeting. In fact, some will admit that they often have trouble remembering what country they are in as they jet across the world, especially if they work for a large corporation. They have learned the tricks and tips of surviving business travel, and they are willing to share them with other travelers.

Avoid checking bags

Business travelers on a full flight may see appeals to gate check their bags. Unless they are on a very small regional carrier, this means that they will have to go to baggage claims to get the bags at the final destination. Instead, try to be in one of the first groups to board the flight. Additionally, divide belongings into two different bags. The one placed in the overhead bin should be extremely flexible allowing the traveler to cram it into any available space while the other one should be more sturdy allowing the traveler to place it under their seat. Even if you’re traveling by car or train, plan on packing as lightly as possible.

Wear simple clothes

Both men and women should consider taking along simple clothes for business trips that look professional, fairly versatile, and require minimal maintenance. Generally, sticking with neutral-colored clothes allows the traveler to wear clothes more than once if it becomes necessary. Wearing the same-colored bottoms allows the traveler to wear a single blazer during the entire trip. Choose shoes carefully so that they can be worn on multiple occasions and are also comfortable if you need to do a lot of walking. Additionally, business travelers should try to wear their heaviest clothes on the flight as this will save room in luggage.

Organize bags

Travelers should have a designated spot for everything in their briefcase, purse, and baggage. This organization allows them to see at a glance if they are leaving anything behind. Since many gadgets use the same cord, do not take multiple cords where it can be avoided. Make sure to take along an electrical plug adapter if traveling to foreign countries where they use a different type of outlet. Travelers may also want to take along a small surge protector to protect expensive gadgets. Organizing your bags keeps everything organized so you know where your belongings are.

Use mobile phone as a hotspot

Eliminate the need to pay for the expensive internet at hotels by using a mobile phone as a hotspot. Travelers should contact carriers before leaving to ensure coverage where company business takes them. If you use a business phone, it’s even easier to create a hotspot. Talk to your company beforehand so they approve you using a hotspot and make sure it’s less expensive than paying for WiFi somewhere else.

Following these tips will certainly make business travel less stressful. You’ll soon find that traveling for business is much less stressful and you might even find traveling to new places enjoyable.

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5 Best Productivity Apps

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Technology can greatly improve your productivity both at work and at home. It doesn’t matter what task you have to complete; there is probably an app out there that can seriously help you out. If there’s a way to get something done more efficiently and make your tasks easier to complete, you’ll likely want to use this resource. We’ve taken the liberty of reviewing the top five productivity apps so you can find the right one for you and see the difference it makes in your productivity.

  1. RescueTime

RescueTime is a time-tracking app that helps you track your work habits and patterns. The app measures the time you spend on your computer and the time when you get distracted by some other task. At the end of the week, RescueTime creates reports on your productivity rating. It also produces charts and graphs with information you can use to adjust your behavior.

  1. FocusList

FocusList is an app that helps you plan your day, track your time, and stay focused on your daily activities. The app is based on the Pomodoro technique. Once you select the task you want to undertake; you’ll get to work on it in 25-minute sessions separated by five-minute breaks. Later in the day, you can review the time you spent on every task to track your productivity.

  1. Doodle

This mobile app takes the pain out of scheduling events and meetings. Here’s how the app works; you set up an event, propose potential times, and invite your colleagues. They then select the option that works for them, and the app finds the time that works for everyone. For easier scheduling, you can sync Doodle to your Outlook or Google calendar. No more email threads trying to find the best time for a quick meeting or call!

  1. Buffer

Buffer is one of the best tools for scheduling posts on sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. The platform is straightforward; all you have to do is link your business accounts to a single email, and you will be able to push out status updates and tweets instantly. Buffer is available for iOS and Android. Users can also use the app on the web if they prefer working on a desktop.

  1. Todoist

Todoist is a powerful task management app for iPhone, iPad, Android, Mac, Windows, and various internet browsers. This app enables users to create tasks and subtasks, add priority labels, share items with colleagues, and set up recurring events.

Have you interacted with any of these productivity apps? If yes, how does the app you use help you manage your day-to-day life? Let us know in the comments below.

Being an Entrepreneur Gives You Superpowers

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As an entrepreneur, you’re going to need to learn a lot of important lessons in a short time. There are many skills necessary to being an entrepreneur; if you want to succeed, you need to develop these as soon as possible, if you don’t already possess them. Whether or not you remain an entrepreneur your entire life, the lessons you learn while doing it are going to be skills you carry with you the rest of your life and benefit you no matter what you’re doing.

Planning is vitally important

This trait is true for nearly any industry, but it’s especially pertinent to entrepreneurs. When you’re running your own business, you need to be on top of everything and stay informed. There are endless deadlines and responsibilities and careful planning is the only way to survive. In any aspect of your life, planning is incredibly beneficial and helps you stay organized.

Failure isn’t the end of everything

If you’re an entrepreneur, there’s a large risk that you’ll encounter failure in one way or another. No matter how confident and experienced you are, any kind of failure is daunting. We’re often terrified of failure. As an entrepreneur, you learn that failure frequently occurs, but you also know it isn’t the end of the world. You can encounter failure in any part of your life, but knowing how to learn from it and move on is invaluable.

Learn to focus on what you’re doing

If you want to be productive, you need to learn how to focus on the task at hand. Far too often, we procrastinate on what needs to get done and end up making life more difficult for ourselves. Learn to tackle one important task each day and prioritize your to-do list. Then, focus on your day’s most important task and avoid distractions.

Embrace creativity and learning

Entrepreneurs understand the intrinsic value of creativity and continued learning. No matter how busy you are, find time to learn something new as often as possible and express yourself in a creative way. Maybe it’s simply reading a few articles about a new topic and writing down your thoughts or going as far as to take official classes to get a degree in something. No matter what learning you’re doing, it’s helpful.

Find what you’re passionate about

To be a successful entrepreneur, you need to be passionate about your business idea and what you’re pursuing. If you don’t know what you’re passionate about, you won’t have a solid idea of where to direct your life. Passion is what makes life interesting and fun; find out what yours is.

Understand how to communicate

No matter what you do in life, you’re going to have to communicate with other people. Entrepreneurs constantly hone their people skills and learn how to talk to others. Far too many people lack strong communication skills and don’t understand how to relate to others. Being an entrepreneur forces you to learn to communicate well and this skill will benefit you in every other area of your life.

Manage Your Time Like a True Champion

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Far too many people catch themselves falling behind on deadlines or work they need to get done. Maybe you knew about a project a few weeks ago, yet you find yourself a week away from your deadline and realize you’ve barely made progress and have no idea how you’ll find the time necessary to devote to getting everything done. Learn how to actually manage your time so you can enjoy the free time you’ll have!

Identify time wasting

The first step to getting time management under control is learning where you’re wasting time. You might not realize how often you check your phone throughout the day or get distracted by a website or something else. Set your phone away from you when you need to focus on something at hand and consider looking into apps and extensions that block certain sites during specified times.

Decide what’s most important

At the start of each day, take time to figure out what tasks you need to get done for that day. Prioritize these tasks by importance and tackle the most important/difficult task first. We often avoid a looming task because we know it’ll take a significant amount of time and effort, but this approach ends up harming us much more in the long run. Once you get that big task over with, you’ll find everything else much easier to handle.

Say no to unnecessary tasks

For overachievers, it’s all too common that you often say yes to things you just don’t have time to take on or even really want to do. Instead of always saying yes, consider whether or not what you’re trying to do is actually necessary. Do not feel bad telling someone no, especially if it’s not a pressing issue or you have something that seriously needs your focus.

Take care of yourself

Self care is an incredibly important aspect of life that many people overlook. You could be the busiest person in the world and have multiple businesses to run, but you need to take some time to focus on yourself. Take a little bit of time at the end of each day to meditate, exercise, read, or anything else that helps you unwind. This small amount of time helps decrease your stress and makes focusing much easier throughout the day.

Plan out your entire day

Whether you do this step every day, once a week, or both, you need to take time to plan out what you’re doing at all times throughout the day. You don’t have to go overboard and plan out every single minute; in fact, you should allow yourself some buffer time in case something comes up that throws off your schedule. But, it’s incredibly helpful for time management to set deadlines for yourself and keep track of everything you need to accomplish each day. Use a physical planner, your phone’s calendar, or both, and you’ll feel much more organized.

How to Be Productive When Working from Home

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If you work from home, it can be hard to stay productive for the entire day, especially if you have other responsibilities calling for your attention. Sure, it feel great to be able to earn income in your pajamas but you need to instill proper strategies to make sure you don’t give in to bad habits. Otherwise, you could fritter away your time and miss important deadlines. To get the most out of your at-home work situation, use these powerful tips and techniques.

Rise early

Even though you might be able to wake up at noon, you should consider getting up earlier. When you get up early, you have the whole day ahead of you. You will feel more confident and motivated to get your work done, even if you are typically a night person. That way, you limit the temptation of wasting time and procrastination. It sets the tone for the rest of the day and helps you get your work done.

Hygiene

Have you ever had a day where you decided not to shower, shave, or otherwise groom yourself in a way that made you feel confident? If you did, you probably weren’t as productive as you could have been. If you treat yourself with respect, you’ll be more motivated to act accordingly.

Space

Control your space that you work in. Whether you work in your office, living room, or other location, make sure it promotes productivity. Consider posting your goals on the wall, or positioning your desk to face your great view (if you have one). Get accessories that set up your office space. It’s incredibly helpful to set aside space as your office in your home so your home life and work life do not blend more than you can avoid. The better you feel in your space, the better you will perform.

Focus

If you work at home, a lot of distractions can interfere with your work day. Your kids might interrupt you. Your partner may want to talk about your weekend plans. Perhaps the phone is ringing off the hook. You need to establish clear boundaries with loved ones and the outside world that you are not to be disturbed when working. That way you can focus on the task at hand.

Time constraints

You don’t work in a traditional office, but you need a system. Consider a set block of time that you work within and don’t cheat; stay true to your schedule.

When it comes to working at home, it can be a gift or a curse. It all depends on how you handle it. If you fail to use the right strategies, you might be less productive than possible. However, if you use the advice above you can enjoy getting more done in less time than ever before.

Wisely Choose Your Business Partners

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Becoming an entrepreneur offers special freedoms and opportunities that an individual can pursue on an individual basis. However, as a company grows, the option of hiring a business partner is often considered, and in many cases, necessary. While assistance in running a business may seem desirable and advantageous to the company, a partner should be carefully selected to ensure the best match for professional success; not anyone can succeed at this job.

Look for company-oriented compatibility

A partner should share the same degree of interest in the company as the owner, although their interests may vary. For example, one person may prefer the day-to-day operational tasks, while the other enjoys handling the creative side of things, such as marketing and community relations. If one person has only a casual interest, the other will probably be burdened with most of the work, which creates animosity.

Divide the duties

Write a company mission, strategic plan, or business plan to organize the operations and goals. Make sure it clearly spells out who is responsible for what. The plan should also specify how disagreements or conflicts will be handled. Profit-splitting and other financials should likewise be addressed. Never assume anything in running a company, and put everything in writing, updating as needed.

Keep it professional

Some experts recommend social activities with your business partner, and perhaps even taking vacations together. While this works for some individuals who knew each other before their joint business venture or who automatically get along perfectly, it can backfire. Spending too much time together could lead to relaxing the rules at work by allowing the partner to arrive late or leave early, or take a pay advance if that is not the usual practice. Some partners may expect perks or not fully understand how to conduct business professionally. While it is okay to have fun out of the office, be careful that it does not jeopardize company operations or the work environment.

Don’t expect perfection

If your business partner has less education or experience than you do, he or she may need some time to adapt to the job. Special training might be needed to get your partner up to speed. While you don’t want to necessarily relax the rules or lower your expectations, a degree of patience could be needed while your partner adjusts.

Have a back door

Agree up front on an exit strategy if the partnership doesn’t work out. Keep interactions amiable and respectful, no matter the outcome because you never know when you may have to work together again in the future. Make sure you have an agreement that protects you and your business, no matter what happens.

What to Do if You Feel Exhausted Trying to Make a Difference

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If you are the leader of a non-profit, then you may discover that you feel like quitting on some days even though you are deeply committed to the organization’s goals. While burnout occurs in all organizations, over 75 percent of nonprofit executive directors say they have a plan to leave within the next five years. Instead of joining the line of executives looking for other employment, try making some beneficial changes within your organization.

Create a work and rest cycle

Research shows that employees become very ineffective after they have worked more than 50 hours in a workweek. Yet, many nonprofit employees regularly clock more than 70 hours in a week, which leads to burnout. Instead, limit the number of hours to six or less before you take an hour break. Insist that you will not work more than six days in a row. You need to lead by example, but make sure that those under you get the same benefit. Balancing life and work leads to happier employees who are more productive.

Leave time each day for items you wish to do

There is no doubt that the list of items demanding your attention is probably more than you will accomplish during the workday. Therefore, many executives find little time to reflect on the things they wish were happening. This leads to lack of direction within the organization. Create a special time and place each day that you can reflect on the items you wish to think about. Make this a top priority by finding a time and place you will not be interrupted, but where you’re comfortable.

Cultivate a healthy work environment

You, and many of your employees, may work far into the night on occasion. Yet, you expect everyone to be back at work the same time the next day. Doing this causes you and others to grumble about the demands of the job. Instead, provide flexible work schedules where people can trade late hours for time off during the day when they need to attend a child’s school event or just take time for themselves.

Create an open door environment

While your desk may be piled full of important things to accomplish, make employees your top priority by letting them know your office is always open for them to talk to you. When they choose to do so, make sure you are listening by giving them feedback. Splurge for lunch occasionally providing more time to listen. You can also host regular meetings where you listen to your employees’ concerns and ideas.

Set clear boundaries

You should set clear boundaries when it comes to your time. Let your employees know you will not answer an email or a phone call after a certain hour in the evening. Encourage them to do the same. This boundary gives you time to decompress and return to work refreshed the next day.

When you follow these tips you will be less likely to burnout. The best nonprofit leaders lead by example, so make sure you act the way you want your employees to behave.

How to Encourage Your Employees to Make a Difference

Nowadays, anyone has the ability to become charitable. There are online sites where any person can state a cause and easily raise money. If you run a business, you are rewarded for being charitable with tax incentives. Besides getting tax credits, you want to help the community and get your employees involved, too. Here are a few ways to get your employees interested in becoming philanthropists.

Host donation drives

Many businesses have ways of encouraging their customers to make charitable donations. At certain stores and restaurants, there are donation bins where people drop off coins or dollar bills. After customers make purchases, some cashiers ask if they want to donate to a certain charity.

Host a donation drive to get many more people involved. You can even direct them to other companies and organizations that are hosting drives. To show your sincerity in the cause, consider matching every donation made by an employee or customer.

Attend charity events together

Tell your employees about important charity events that are happening locally. Suggest that all of the staff attend an event together; however, do not force people to go or threaten to penalize them if they don’t attend. Get everyone informed about events that are being hosted regularly by your favorite charities.

Offer rewards

Employers are known to reward employees who work in their favor. Offer to reward whoever makes the most donations to a certain cause or organization. Common rewards made by employers are gifts, bonuses, and added vacation days. Encourage them to donate regularly and show more interest in helping members of the local community.

Explain the value of philanthropy

Explain the importance of philanthropy and why it is needed in society. People in need of food, shelter or care cannot always rely on the government, so they turn to nonprofit organizations for help. Some organizations are more useful at helping others than the government.

Show the results that come from helping others, such as increased graduation rates, lower crime rates, and improved living conditions. You also don’t need to be wealthy to be a philanthropist; anyone can assist those in need in some way. You do not always have to donate money – you can donate your time and skills to help others.

It’s important for businesses to donate to worthy causes. They are saving part of their hard-earned money to help people in need. As an employer, teach your employees they should participate in philanthropy as well. Get your business involved in every aspect and improve the community in which you work.

How Being Kind to Others is a Form of Philanthropy

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By definition philanthropy is the desire to improve the welfare of others. It comes from a Greek term, which translates to mean “love of mankind.” What is more kind than showing your love of mankind through helping out others?

Common philanthropic acts of kindness

Everyday, businessmen, churches, volunteer groups, and nonprofit organizations set out to identify individuals who are in need of assistance and then provide them with that assistance. The goal is to give the underdog a leg up in the hopes that the act of kindness elevates them into the role of a successful, well-adjusted, useful member of society. The acts of kindness are given with little or no expectation of repayment, and often these actions do exactly as intended—they elevate the receiver into a better position.

Some examples of these kind philanthropic acts include:

  • Sponsoring scholarships for underprivileged kids
  • Creating intern programs for retired senior citizens
  • Providing free daycare to single parents
  • Mentoring minority women entrepreneurs
  • Sponsoring a job fair for immigrant workers

What you can do

You do not need an organization behind you to do a kind philanthropic act. Anyone can become cognizant of need and make a concerted effort to fill that need, not because they want their efforts repaid, but because it is the right thing to do. The stay-at-home mother of three can volunteer to lead a Girl Scout Troop in an underprivileged neighborhood. A retired grandfather who gardens can take fresh vegetables to shut-in senior citizens or donate the goods to a women’s shelter. A teenage boy can see bullies cornering a younger boy and make it a point to be his protector. A family of four can make two Thanksgiving dinners and share one with a family who has recently lost a parent.

The ultimate goal

The goal is to see a need and fill it because you have a love of mankind. You truly want to see your fellow man succeed, and you have it within your power to help. The good news is many people naturally operate at that level, but even if you are not one of those people, you can train yourself to look for ways to give back.

It may take even more practice to give up the idea that the people you help should be thankful or owe you something for your kindness. Like any other love, your love of mankind must come with no strings attached to be a truly philanthropic act of kindness.