4 Things Causing You to Be Less Productive At Work
We all want to be standouts at work from the moment we reach our desks until we shut the lights for the evening. Part of being a stellar employee is being as productive as possible. But with the wide array of distractions, disturbances, and unforeseen dilemmas that weasel their way into the everyday, productivity can unfortunately dwindle.
Don't let non-important nuisances and idiotic interruptions meddle with your mind. You can be in charge of your work day and make productivity the primary priority. When you weed out the nonsense and time-wasting capacity-crushers, your productiveness will soar and the lost opportunities will be found once again.
These 4 things that are causing you to be less productive at work must be wrangled in and repurposed in order for you to make the most of your work day. Follow these tips to achieve better concentration and control. Productivity = power!
While not many of us hear that exciting notification, "You've Got Mail!" anymore, the moment a new email arrives in the inbox is a real thrill for many. Do you check your inbox countless times throughout the day, perhaps every time a new item comes in? Not only is this slightly obsessive, it's severely sucking the time out of what's sure to be an already busy day.
As per Hubspot, "Constantly switching tasks between work and email can really hurt your productivity. To help you focus in chunks of time, turn off those pesky email alerts and limit checking your email to specified breaks."
Consider 3 checks per day – first thing in the morning, before lunch, and an hour before you plan to leave in order to give you enough time to respond to anything pressing. Believe it or not, no one is expecting you to reply to their email immediately (unless they fall into the unproductive category). If something is extremely urgent, you'll receive a phone call… remember those?
Additionally, you can set your email to automatically send certain items into pre-set folders for your perusing preferences. Check the high priority folders a bit more frequently, if necessary, when something is of top concern or you're on a tight deadline.
It may take time and a little uneasiness to make this email checking change, but over time, the increase in your productivity will become evident. Don't be held captive by your inbox! You're in charge of what gets opened and when.
Social Media Sink Hole
One of the biggest disruptions of the modern age is social media. Feeds, pages, profiles, and pics are draining the life out of a full day of work. Your Twitter page is likely opened in a tab on your computer right now. Unless you actually work for Twitter or are a social media manager or have a similar job, there's no reason that any social media site should be part of your work day. And you're only fooling yourself if you constantly check Facebook on your smart phone on the down low.
Is it really that important to "like" Betty's status update when you should be finishing that report due at 3pm? Sure, it's cool that she's having fun on her honeymoon in Barbados, but that won't impress your boss when he reads your less-than-complete review of the company's Q3 earnings.
Train yourself to only check social media during your lunch break. Or, gasp, wait until you get home. You'll be surprised how free you will start to feel. And don't forget to change your settings on your phone so you aren't interrupted by notifications and messages from your more easily-distracted (and still underproductive) friends. The posts and photos won't disappear if you didn't see them the instant they were put live. What may disappear is your focus if you choose to give in to the urge to waste time and scroll through silly pet pictures and political memes all day.
Do you find yourself responding "Yes" to every single meeting request you receive? Sure, no one wants to miss out on a good gathering, but before agreeing to attend, take a moment to assess whether or not you'll benefit from participating.
Many meeting invites are sent as a courtesy rather than a real need. Plus, any decent invitation will come with a brief synopsis of the planned agenda and what the intended goal is. Will you gain anything from spending up to an hour sitting in this meeting or is your input vital to its success? If the answer is no, then that should be your R.S.V.P. as well. You can always get a summary of the meeting after the fact or send someone else from your department who'd be a better fit for the meeting's intentions.
And don't worry about offending anyone or feeling left out. Saying yes to everything doesn't make you a better worker, it only makes you a people-pleaser. According to Under 30 CEO, "Any time you say 'yes' to something, it means less time and energy you can give to something else. Ask yourself where this fits into the importance/urgency grid." If it falls on the low end, it only makes sense to focus on the work that will move the needle.
As per Hubspot, "The average person wastes 31 hours in meetings per month." Not to mention the time it takes to get back to what you were working on before the meeting began. Hubspot notes that is takes about 25 minutes to refocus after switching tasks. And if there's more than one meeting per day, your productivity will pitfall pitifully.
We've all got a lot on our plate, but trying to do everything at once is a productivity nightmare. It's difficult to get deep into the nitty gritty of any one particular task when your mind is scattered on everything you need to work on simultaneously.
Hubspot asserts that, "Research shows (multitasking) can make us less effective, increase mistakes and stress, and costs the global economy an estimated $450 billion every year. Only 2% of the population is capable of effectively multitasking. For the other 98%, all it does is cause us to be 40% less productive and make 50% more mistakes than non-multitaskers."
You must keep your focus on one item at a time. Finish the job and move on. You'll feel satisfied that a task is completed from start to end and you can move on to the next task with a fresh mindset. At first you may have trouble getting the other agenda items out of your head, but you'll need to have a clear head in order to get the best result for each project.
Under 30 CEO suggests making a "To Do" list to keep your thoughts in check. Itemize what's on your schedule and prioritize them, getting to the most urgent matters first. It's a shame to leave your office with a bunch of tasks only partially completed. It can lead to stress, frustration, and a manager that's not sufficiently satisfied with your achievements. Finishing a task is rewarding and productive and will give you the energy and drive to get to the next thing on your list.
Are you ready to be more productive tomorrow? You can drown out the noise and get to what's important. Start by asking your cousin to stop posting those irresistible photos of her new puppy on Instagram!
Looking for a job? In addition to encountering those annoying never-ending job interviews you may find yourself face-to-face with an artificial intelligence bot.
Companies worldwide increasingly use artificial intelligence tools and analytics in employment decision-making – from parsing through resumes and screening candidates to automated assessments and digital interviews. But recent studies claim that AI does more harm than good.
While AI screening tools were developed to save companies time and money, they’ve been criticized for placing women and people of color at a disadvantage. The problem is that many companies lack appreciable diversity in their data set, making it impossible for an algorithm to know how people from underrepresented groups have performed in the past. As a result, the algorithm will be biased toward the data available and compare future candidates to that archetype.
The City’s Automated Employment Decision Tools (AEDT) law is designed to offset the potential misuse of AI and protect job candidates against discrimination. It was enforced on July 5th, 2023 in New York City - with other cities and states expected to gradually follow suit. Employers must now inform applicants when and how they encounter AI. Furthermore, companies have to commission a third-party audit of the AI software used, and publish a summary of the results to prove that their systems aren’t racist or sexist. Job applicants are able to request information regarding what data is collected and analyzed by the AI. Violations of the law can result in fines of up to $1,500.
Replacing Human Hiring Decisions
However, should a job applicant want to opt-out of such impersonal judgement by a bot, the new law's scope is quite limited.
While the law specifies that instructions for requesting an alternative selection process must be included in the AI screening disclosure, companies aren't actually required to use other screening methods. Not to mention that the law only applies to AI in hiring and not any other employment decisions. It also wouldn't apply if the AI, for example, flags candidates with relevant experience, but a human then reviews all applications, making the ultimate hiring decision.
Some civil rights advocates and public interest groups argue that the law isn’t extensive enough and that it’s even unenforceable. On the other hand, businesses say that it’s impractical, costly, and burdensome, and that independent audits aren’t feasible.
Responsible use of AI in hiring
Although this law may be a good first attempt to assign more regulatory guardrails around AI, it remains to be seen if it ensures the responsible use of AI in hiring processes. At the end of the day, perhaps recruiting talent should remain a human-made decision.
The good news is that AI can help companies without harming potential job candidates in many ways – such as connecting new employees with internal organizational information and company benefits during onboarding. Or helping employees to do their jobs more effectively rather than replacing them.
The world of travel is not the same as it was two years ago. From the surge in "revenge travel" to the TikTok-inspired itineraries that make the most random destinations suddenly the most popular, there's so much about traveling that's out of your control.
What you can control — to some extent — is how much you pay for it.
According to CNBC, “Between dining out and taking trips, Americans are now spending an average of $765 more a month compared with last year when much of the country was shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the MassMutual Consumer Spending & Saving Index … Young adults, in particular, are determined to make up for lost time. Millennials and Gen Z, who reported feeling the financial impact from the rise in reopenings and social gatherings, said they are shelling out $1,016 more a month, on average, than they did during the summer of 2020. MassMutual polled 1,000 U.S. adults from July 21 to 28.”
While some are okay with making up for lost time by gleefully spending all their money, not everyone has the desire to blow up their budgets on trips. Yet, the allure of travel still calls. Thus, the appeal of travel hacking.
Travel hacking has been around as long as credit card rewards have. But during the pandemic, travel hacking gurus found unprecedented fame on TikTok and Instagram. With time to learn about the points and miles community, suddenly people were planning for future travel using tips and tricks gleaned from experts sharing their knowledge on social media.
Though it might sound complex, anyone with a fair credit score can enter the travel hacking game. Here’s how:
What Is Travel Hacking?
Travel hacking is using reward points and miles from airlines, hotels, and credit cards towards free or heavily discounted travel. This ranges from opening a number of credit cards for the reward bonuses, optimizing your normal spending in order to max out your points per shopping category, and leveraging loyalty and status for awesome perks.
To a lot of people, the term “travel hacking” can sound shady. The “hacking” scares people off. Is it illegal? Is it a scam? Can you get punished for opening too many cards? Will you ruin your credit score? The answer to all of these concerns is no.
There’s no hidden trick to travel hacking. It’s not a game of risk or cheating, it’s a game of research and planning.
Travel Hacking 101
Most commonly, travel hacking hinges on the points you can get from certain travel credit cards. Credit cards aren’t merely a way to manage cash flow. Many offer rewards programs that give you points for each purpose. These points can then be repurposed to pay for part or all of a trip.
Different networks have different systems, but most can be transferred to a range of partners. Top credit cards are with Chase, Amex, Citi, and Capital One. Simply accumulate points on your credit card, then you have the option to transfer those points to airlines, hotels, and more — for free.
When learning travel hacking, The best tip is to go backward. Don’t just open popular cards with high bonuses. Identify where you want to go, then find out what actions to take. Which airlines travel there? Which cards’ points can be transferred to that airline? Where do you want to stay? Which hotels can you book with points? Once you’ve planned out your dream vacation, see how many points you need. Then strategize for the best way to nab them.
Choose which cards are right for you, then start stockpiling those points towards free travel.
One way to quickly amass points is to take advantage of sign-up bonuses. Many credit cards use sign-up bonuses to entice users. And if you play smart, just one or two sign-up bonuses can account for one entire flight cost. However, there’s one catch: you must meet a minimum spend requirement to qualify for the bonus.
The best way to approach this is to funnel all of your regular expenses through those credit cards to chip away at the minimum spending. Pro tip: open your card right before you need to make a lot of purchases. The holidays are a good time to open a card so the cost of festivities ends up working for you.
And remember: it’s key to always pay off your monthly credit card balance before the due date! The benefits of those points are useless if you go into debt to accrue them.
And here’s a hack for you newbie travel hackers out there — be sure to manage your money and keep track of how much you’re spending for that bonus with the MeetCleo app.
MeetCleo is the personal finance tool that’s actually fun to use. Taking control of your money while “earning” free travel using your credit cards? Finances have never been more fun.
There’s all this talk about solo travel. And for good reason — no wasting precious time waiting for others to get their act together, take the plans out of the group chat and actually buy the tickets. Going solo, you can be spontaneous. You can plan your trips according to your precise tastes. You can hop on any flight and fly awayyyyyy.
But what if each time you flew you’d get a free ticket? That’s what you get with the Southwest Companion Pass.
Award status, upgrades, lounge access — there are many perks in the frequent flier game. But one of the coveted holy grails is the Southwest Companion Pass.
What is the Southwest Companion Pass?
The Companion Pass is part of Southwest’s Rapid Rewards program. You get to choose one person to be your “companion,” and they fly with you for free (plus some taxes and fees) on every flight. That’s right. Two for the price of one. That’s half off each ticket if you split it! Whether you’re flying with a partner, family member, friend, or anyone else, they can tag along for free.
And it gets better: once you earn the pass, you can reap the rewards for that full calendar year … AND the next. That’s why people go mad trying to earn a companion pass during the early months of the year. The sooner you qualify, the longer you can use it.
There are also no blackout dates. There are no limits. And if you didn’t purchase the ticket (think: work travel, your companion, or a generous benefactor), there are no restrictions! As long as you’re the one on the plane, your companion can also … be on the plane.
You can also switch out your designated companion 3x a year. So, no need to stay in a relationship simply to get the most out of your companion pass! Ghost and fly away — with a whole new companion!
If this sounds too good to be true — it’s not. But there is one small catch. It’s kinda tough to earn this mega reward.
How to qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass?
You can qualify for the pass in one of two ways:
- Fly 100 qualifying one-way flights
- Earn 135,000 qualifying points in a calendar year.
Clearly, this is no small feat — especially if you’re trying to qualify ASAP.
So how do you actually earn the Southwest Companion Pass?
Don’t worry, there’s a path to earning this amazing reward without climbing on 100 flights or spending an exorbitant amount of money.
Earning 135K reward points may seem completely impossible, but it’s easier than it sounds. Simply sign up for a Southwest Credit Card and turn those spending habits into a rapid rewards account. Through the Rewards Priority Credit Card, earn points when using local transit and commuting, plus score major points and miles whenever you spend.
Stay with me here. This is not some scheme to get you into credit card debt. Many airline cards come with potential savings, giantic rewards, awarding you points, and cashback with every purchase you make that can be redeemed for travel. And often they can come with passive sign-up bonuses. If you spend a specific amount of money within a certain timeframe of opening the card, you can be in for a windfall of points.
Now that’s where the companion pass comes in:
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card
- Southwest Priority Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card
- Southwest Performance Business Credit Card
Southwest has three personal cards and a business card. Each of these cards offers rewards between 30K-80K points. In the past, people could open two cards and get a bonus that granted enough points to almost meet the minimum. However, with new restrictions on personal cards, you can only get one bonus every 24 months. Boo!
However, this doesn’t apply to business cards. If you’re eligible, have good credit, and not likely to spiral into insane credit card debt, you can open a business card and a personal card, and accrue 100K+ points. The Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card will get you points after you spend money in no time.
Now to earn the rest of them.
The secret to gaining these credit card points is to plan your card sign-ups around big purchases. Just before a recent move, I opened a card . . . and the rewards came rolling in — a small balm to ease the pain of how exorbitant moving can be.
Put everyday spend — especially big purchases or bulk items — on your Southwest credit card and watch your award points quickly add up. Typically, you earn 1 point per $1 spent on your Southwest card and 2 points per $1 on actual Southwest purchases.
But there are other ways to earn points, including:
- Flying Southwest: Booking travel on Southwest earns more points. The cost of this travel will be worth it with your companion pass
- Shopping from Rapid Rewards Partners: Purchases with Southwest’s “Home & Lifestyle” and “Shop and Dine” Partners also earn Companion Pass qualifying points. While you shouldn’t make gratuitous purchases, browse Southwest’s partners to see if you could earn extra points for items you'd be purchasing anyway. All this, simply from enrolling in their Dining Program and shopping with their partners.
So there you have it! And since it’s almost Spring, get to earning and soon you’ll be flying two for the price of one!