Are company meetings getting you down? Do you find yourself hoping for a productive meeting but wind up stuck in a conference room for an hour (or more) wondering what the point was? Is half your day stolen away from you due to one meeting invite after another and you feel obligated to attend? Bring meaning back into meetings with these 4 tips to help make the most of them. Getting together with co-workers to make progress is possible if you implement changes that will move the needle rather than having you feeling like you're being poked in the eye with one!

1. Have a Clear-Cut Objective

What's the plan, Stan? Your meeting needs a plan and purpose. As per Forbes, "Before you send that calendar invite, ask yourself: What do I seek to accomplish?" Not only will this give a clear-cut definition of what your motives and goals are, but your attendees will come prepared with useful tools and talking points.

As Effective Meetings notes, "The more concrete your meeting objectives, the more focused your agenda will be. (Another) benefit of having specific objectives for each meeting is that you have a concrete measure against which you can evaluate that meeting."

Learn what works and what needs improvement. The next meeting and those thereafter will be more fine-tuned and worth the effort.

2. Come Prepared

Speaking of arriving well-prepared, both the meeting organizer(s) and the invitees must have adequate time and resources to best position themselves to bring well-thought out material, information, and data to the meeting in order for it to be as effective and fruitful as possible.

According to The Muse, "Figure out what you already know about the topic of the meeting, and determine if there's anything you need to research and learn beforehand. Jot down a few questions that you plan to ask in the meeting."

Without pre-planning, the meeting may not deliver the results expected. Participants who come with ammo are the ones who will collectively shoot for the stars with the most accurate aim.

3. Watch the Clock

A meeting needs a defined start and end time. There are only so many hours in a day, and people have work to do. Be sure your meeting starts promptly and is run in a fashion that allows for a resolution once the bell rings. Like Entrepreneur notes, "If you don't start your meetings on time, chances are you won't end on time. Then the next meeting starts late. Before you know it, the entire day is off schedule."

Be sure to create and stick to an organized agenda. Forbes notes, "Create an agenda that lays out everything you plan to cover in the meeting, along with a timeline that allots a certain number of minutes to each item, and email it to people in advance." Entrepreneur adds, "By sending the agenda 24 hours in advance you give people a chance to prepare and make most of the time."

By making it clear that you value and respect the time of your co-workers, they will reciprocate. This creates a harmonious workplace and a day that delivers results by closing time.

4. Follow Up

Meetings have a goal to make something happen, so you'll need to follow up to be sure all assigned tasks are underway or completed. According to Entrepreneur, "Before you end your meetings make sure you recap any immediate actions and assign them to the appropriate owners."

After the meeting, send a brief email to all participants with the meeting's highlights and takeaways. As per Meetings.org, "Meeting minutes are very helpful as a reminder to everyone of what happened during the meeting and what is meant to be done now, by whom and by what date. It is good practice to circulate the minutes as soon as possible after the meeting has taken place."

Following up will keep participants accountable and responsible for their portion of the workload and keep everyone in-the-know about the projects and plans moving forward. With proper follow-up, the meeting's initial goals will be kept in check and reached with a solidified group effort.

Now it's time to plan your next meeting that will be smoother and more successful than in the past. But before you reserve the conference room, read "Can This Meeting Be an Email" and save everyone some time.

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Home garden and porch

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.

Lawn Care

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.

Paved Pathways

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.

Unfortunately, giving back can sometimes go haywire. If you're ready to make a donation, first consider common mistakes made when giving back.

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.