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!

Email Eagerness

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.

Meetings Mania

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.

Multitasking Mayhem

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!

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Over the past month, both Haiti and Afghanistan have been pummeled by tragic disasters that left devastation in their wake.

In Haiti, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake erupted, leading over to 2,189 deaths and counting. A few hours later, in Afghanistan, Kabul fell to the Taliban just after U.S. troops had pulled out after 20 years of war.

In many ways, these disasters are both chillingly connected to US interference. The United States invaded Haiti in 1915, ostensibly promising to restore order after a presidential assassination but really intending to preserve the route to the Panama Canal and to defend US creditors, among other reasons.

But the US forces soon realized that they were not able to control the country alone, and so formed an army of Haitian enlistees, powered by US air power and intended to quell Haitian insurrection against US controls. Then, in 1934, the US pulled out on its own, disappointed with how slow progress was going. Haiti's institutions were never really able to rebuild themselves, leaving them immensely vulnerable to natural disasters.

Something similar happened in Afghanistan, where the US sent troops and supported an insurgent Afghan army – only to pull out, abandoning the country they left in ruins, with many Afghans supporting the Taliban.

In both cases, defense contractors benefited by far the most from the conflict, making billions in profits while civilians faced fallout and devastation. While the conflicts and circumstances are extremely different and while the US is obviously not solely to blame for either crisis, it's hard not to see the US-based roots of these disasters.

Today, in Haiti and Afghanistan, civilians are facing unimaginable tragedy.

Here are charities offering support in Afghanistan:

1. The International Rescue Committee is looking to raise $10 million to deliver aid directly to Afghanistan

2. CARE is matching donations for an Afghanistan relief fund. They are providing food, shelter, and water to families in need; a donation of $89.50 covers 1 family's emergency needs for a month.

3. Women for Women International is matching donations up to 500,000 for Afghan women, who will be facing unimaginable horrors under Taliban control.


4. AfghanAid offers support for people living in remote regions of Afghanistan.

5. VitalVoices supports female leaders and changemakers and survivors of gender-based violence around the world.

Here are charities offering support in Haiti:

1. Partners in Health has been working with Haiti for a long time, and they work with the Department of Health rather than around them, which is extremely important in a charity.

2. Health Equity International helps run Saint Boniface Hospital, a hospital in Haiti close to the earthquake's epicenter.

3. SOIL is an organization based Haiti, "a local organization with a track record of supporting after natural disasters." They are distributing hygiene kits and provisions on the ground to hospitals and to victims of the earthquake.

4. Hope for Haiti has been working in emergency response in Haiti for three decades, and their team is comprised of people who live and work in Haiti. They focus on supporting children and people in need across Haiti.

via Tiffany & Co.

When the new Tiffany's campaign was unveiled, reactions were mixed.

Tiffany's, the iconic jewelry brand which does not (despite what some might be misled to believe) in fact serve breakfast, featured Jay Z, Beyoncé, and a rare Basquiat painting in their recent campaign.

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Road trips can be a lot of fun — but they can also drain your wallet quickly if you aren't careful.

From high gas costs and park admission fares to lodging and the price of eating out every night, the expenses can add up quickly. But at the same time, it's very possible to do road trips cheaply and efficiently. Without the headache of worrying about how much money you're leaking, you can enjoy the open road a whole lot more. Here's how to save money on a road trip.

1. Prepare Your Budget, Route, and Packing List in Advance

If you want to save money on a road trip, be sure you're ready to go. Try to count up all your expenses before you hit the road and create a budget. It's also a good idea to plan your route in advance so you don't end up taking unnecessary, gas-guzzling detours. And finally, be sure to pack in advance so you don't find yourself having to buy tons of things you forgot along the way.

2. Book Cheap Accommodations — Or Try Camping

All those motel rooms can add up surprisingly quick, but camping is often cheap or free, and it's a great way to get intimate with the place you're visiting. You can check the Bureau of Land Management's website for free campsites. Freecampsite.com also provides great information on If you don't have a tent or don't want to camp every night, try booking cheap Airbnbs or booking hotels in advance, making sure to compare prices.

Camping camping road tripConde Nast Traveler

If you're planning on sleeping in your car, a few tips: WalMart allows all-night parking, as do many 24-hour gyms. (Buying a membership to Planet Fitness or something like it also gives you a great place to stop, shower, and recharge while on the road).

3. Bring Food From Home

Don't go on a road trip expecting to subsist on fast food alone. You'll wind up feeling like shit, and it'll drain your pocketbook stunningly quickly. Instead, be sure to bring food from home. Consider buying a gas stove and a coffee pot for easy on-the-go meals, and make sure you bring substantial snacks to satiate midday or late night cravings so you can avoid getting those late night Mickey D's expeditions.

Try bringing your own cooler, filling it with easy stuff for breakfast and lunch — some bread and peanut butter and jelly will go a long way. Bring your own utensils, plates, and napkins, and avoid buying bottled water by packing some big water jugs and a reusable water bottle. Alternatively, try staying at hotels or Airbnbs with kitchens so you can cook there.

4. Avoid Tolls

Apps like Google Maps and Waze point out toll locations, so be sure to avoid those to save those pennies. (If it takes you too far off route, you might have to bite the bullet and drive across that expensive bridge).

You can also save on parking fees by using sites like Parkopedia.

Road Trip Road TripThe Orange Backpack


5. Save on Gas

Gas can get pricy incredibly fast, so be sure that you're stopping at cheap gas stations. Free apps like GasBuddy help you find the most affordable gas prices in the area. Also, try going the speed limit on the highways — anything faster will burn through your tank. Be sure that you don't wait till you arrive at touristy locations or big cities to fill up.

6. Get a National Park Pass

All those parks can get really expensive really fast. If you're planning on visiting three or more parks, it's a great idea to get an America the Beautiful National Parks Pass. For $80 you can get into every National Park for one year.