For those who take mass transit to and from work, the time in motion can be anything from frantic to feeling like forever. Sure, it may seem like staring at the seat in front of you or doing your best to avoid being accidently tossed about like a ragdoll in a jam-packed subway car is the most you can do until you reach your destination, but this time can be spent in a far more meaningful way.
Don't let this time go to waste. Here are 3 productivity hacks that will make your commute one to be proud of. OK, reading a celeb gossip rag now and then or flipping through Facebook is fun once in a while, but with some strategic planning, you can make those minutes (or hours) life-changing. Take a seat (hopefully next to someone courteous) and move the needle as you move towards the office!
1. Plan Your Day
Once you find your spot on the train, bus, subway, or some other mode of transport, unless you're driving, it's the perfect time to create a "to-do" list to organize your actions and activities for the day ahead. By getting all your meetings, work responsibilities, and other scheduling in order before you set foot in the office, you're already one step ahead of the game – ready to get to work as soon as you clock in.
Hubspot notes, "Taking that extra time to think about each task can help you prioritize and set realistic expectations." Business Insider adds, "By creating a to-do list and prioritizing the day's responsibilities, you're setting yourself up to have a more organized and focused workday. If you can't actually write a list because you're driving, it can still be useful just to have a mental checklist."
Jot down your notes on pen and paper (the old-fashioned way), or try an app like Evernote. Once you capture your note, it's instantly available on all your devices. Type in your to-dos or use the voice recording feature. Planning will make your day more structured and less stressful.
2. Catch Up on Email
For nearly anyone with an email account, the morning means an inbox filled to the brim with both important information and a whole lotta junk. Use your commuting time to dump the spam and annoying advertising messages and sift through the important work email. If you can get back to some of the senders, do so, otherwise read through the messages and asses which are the most pressing so you know how to proceed once you get to the office.
Hubspot notes the satisfying feeling of arriving at the office with a clean inbox. Tending to email before the workday begins can "save at least a half hour and a loss of momentum during the most productive time of day."
An added perk of getting back to some open items in your inbox is that the recipient will see your email at the top of their box once they get to work. Your timeliness and top-of-the-morning work ethic will be looked upon fondly.
3. Read a Book or Newspaper
Stimulate your mind, invest in your interests, and catch up on the happenings going on in the world by doing some reading as you're stuck in rush hour. Business Insider writes, "These activities support your ongoing learning and development."
Bring along an eBook reader such as Kindle, or go the old-school route with a favorite hardcover you've been meaning to dive into. Grab a paper at the newsstand or log into apps or newspaper websites on your tablet or laptop.
While reading books or newspapers may not effect what you need to do for work directly, it broadens your mind, gives you a variety of perspectives, and educates you on general and specific information which can be useful in an array of workplace settings. Plus, it's far more entertaining than reading the poster above your seat for the length of the commute!
Are you ready to get moving with productive ways to spend the commute? No more nodding off and arriving at the office in a fog. Use your commute wisely and the benefits will be as rewarding as arriving at your destination on time.
As anyone who has ever sold a house will tell you, you must prioritize curb appeal. Before a potential buyer even considers looking inside your house, they notice the outside first. Does it attract the right kind of attention? Does it take away from the feel you're going for? If you plan to sell sometime soon, you must think about these things. Here are some landscaping options to increase your home's curb appeal, so you can get the best price on your home.
Extensive Plants and Greenery
A barren front yard won't get you the price you want on your home. So, invest in at least a little bit of greenery to keep the surrounding area from looking too dead. Shrubs and bushes tie the house to the lawn that precedes it, and flower beds bring a pop of color to an otherwise drab structure. You can also strategically plant some trees to improve the overall feel of your home's exterior.
As we mentioned, your lawn is one of the most prominent features of your home's exterior. A patchy, dried-up lawn will quickly drive your home's price way down. Some of the best landscaping options for your home's curb appeal involve improving your lawn for the next inhabitant. Overall fertilization, ground aeration, underbrush removal, proper mowing—all of these lawn care tasks contribute to a greener and more lively area that invites people to see your house, rather than stay away from it.
There's nothing like a broken and disheveled pathway to make someone think twice about buying a property. Just as you want the entryway in your house to be welcoming, so too should the pathway leading up to the house be inviting. The pathway from the street to your front door provides plenty of real estate to get creative with. You don't have to settle for a boring concrete pathway. Consider something more eye catching, like a cobblestone path or intermittent brick patterns, as a way to better welcome potential buyers.
Usable Outdoor Furniture
Landscaping doesn't just involve the ground you walk on; also included are the items you use as extras to the overall look. Outdoor furniture is one such extra that you don't necessarily need but can look quite attractive if done correctly. Staging is important with outdoor furniture. Old, broken-down pieces will only look like more work to the potential buyer. A few comfortable chairs, a bench, or a table with an umbrella really go a long way to improving your outdoor aesthetics.
A good tip for deciding on curb appeal items is to decide what you personally would want to see as a part of a welcoming home's exterior. You don't need to go overboard, but a little bit of forethought could net you quite a lot of extra cash in the sale.
Many people strive to support their community by donating their time or their money. When you find a meaningful cause, you might be quick to cut a donation check. Though it's admirable to be quick to act charitably, you should be wary of several common mistakes made when giving to charity. Being mindful of these mistakes and learning tips for making informed charitable choices can help you make the most out of your generous check.
Acting Quickly Out of Emotion
Mission statements are meant to be compelling. If you're an emotionally driven individual, it's natural to pull out your wallet at the sight of a sad puppy on TV or when informed about food insecurity over the phone. Unfortunately, not all charities are as effective or official as they may seem.
Take your passion for helping others one step further by making sure your chosen charity is legit. Speaking with a representative, reviewing their website and social media accounts, and looking at testaments online can give you a better idea of whether the organization is worth your donation.
Forgetting to Keep Record of the Donation
Don't forget that you can reap some financial perks from giving back! With the proper documentation of your donation, you can acquire a better tax deductible.
If you donate more than $12,400 as a single filer or $24,800 as one of two joint filers, you're eligible to deduct that amount from your taxes. So, when a charity asks if you'd like a receipt of donation, always answer yes.
Donating Unusable Materials
Most charities can utilize a monetary donation—it's the physical donations that usually cause some issues. Providing a local nonprofit with irrelevant materials or gifting them with unusable products are surprisingly common mistakes made when giving to charity.
Always check your intended charity's website for a list of things they do and do not accept. The majority of places will provide a guideline to donating or offer contact information to clarify any questions.
Strictly Giving at Year's End
As more and more people get into the holiday spirit at the end of the year, nonprofit organizations see an influx of donations. While it's great to spread holiday cheer via a monetary donation, it's important to keep that spirit going year-round.
With regular donations, charities can more effectively allocate their annual budget. Setting up an automatic monthly donation with the charity of your choosing can maximize your impact. You can account for a monthly donation by foregoing a costly coffee every once in a while.
Knowing how much you should spend on home maintenance each year is hard to figure out and may be preventing you from buying your first home. The types of costs you'll incur depend on the house you buy and its location. The one certainty is that you should start saving now. Read on to figure out how much to start setting aside based on the home you own.
The Age of Your House
Consider several factors when budgeting for home repairs. If you've purchased a new home, your house likely won't require as much maintenance for a few years. Homes built 20 or more years ago are likely to require more maintenance, including replacing and keeping your windows clean. Further, depending on your home's location, weather can cause additional strain over time, so you may need to budget for more repairs.
The One-Percent Rule
An easy way to budget for home repairs is to follow the one-percent rule. Set aside one percent of your home's purchase price each year to cover maintenance costs. For instance, if you paid $200,000 for your home, you would set aside $2,000 each year. This plan is not foolproof. If you bought your home for a good deal during a buyer's market, your home could require more repairs than you've budgeted for.
The Square-Foot Rule
Easy to calculate, you can also budget for home maintenance by saving one dollar for every square foot of your home. This pricing method is more consistent than pricing it by how much you paid because the rate relies on the objective size of your home. Unfortunately, it does not consider inflation for the area where you live, so make sure you also budget for increased taxes and labor costs if you live in or near a city.
The Mix and Match Method
Since there is no infallible rule for how much you should spend on home maintenance, you can combine both methods to get an idea for a budget. Average your results from the square-foot rule and the one-percent rule to arrive at a budget that works for you. You should also increase your savings by 10 percent for each risk factor that affects your home, such as weather and age.
Holding on to savings is easier in theory than practice. Once you know how much you should spend on home maintenance, you'll know what to aim for and be more prepared for an emergency. If you are having trouble securing funds for home repairs, consider taking out a home equity loan, borrowing money from friends or family, or applying for funds through a home repair program through your local government for low-income individuals.