9:00am. The emails are flying, the texts are buzzing, and the messages from all of your various productivity apps are pinging off the hook. 9:00am is a lot different today than it was in the past, where the only notifications we received were by word of mouth or letter. But in our modern world, it can easily seem like we're all on fast-forward. So how are we supposed to manage all of our daily, hourly, and minutely communications? Notifications.

Notifications were designed to help us out. According to common belief, it was first Blackberry who used push notifications for email in the early aughts, and then Apple was short to follow. The point was to make it easier to know when we needed to be reached, immediately. With a ding or a buzz, we were ready to react to any message as if it were an emergency.

But the fact is, fortunately, not every message, email, or text is an emergency. So why do we need to be notified immediately? Are we afraid that there is a 5-second response deadline for even the most banal of messages? We all have to just relax. And it's for a very important reason.

Notifications, while seemingly convenient, are massive sources of distraction. According to a study by Gloria Mark of the University of California, Irvine mentioned in The New York Times, "a typical office worker gets only 11 minutes between each interruption, while it takes an average of 25 minutes to return to the original task after an interruption."

Though the research on how well we can focus and produce quality work is less abundant, it makes sense that these constant interruptions inhibit our productivity. Whereas speed is a valuable skill these days, long-term quality and efficiency will be sacrificed.

We suggest putting your phone on "do not disturb" mode and designating times throughout the day to check it occasionally. Instead of checking your email every time your inbox fills, use the same strategy. The more stimuli that floods our minds, the less we can devote ourselves to one task at a time.

For more tips on how to increase your productivity, read this.

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The Federal Reserve sets the guardrails for the federal funds rate, and through that helps control the money supply for the nation.

When you take out a loan for a car, charge something to your credit card, or get a personal line of credit, there is going to be an interest rate that applies to your loan.

A lot of different factors go into what you will be charged, including your own personal credit score. But even those with flawless credit still see a minimum charge that they can't get around. That all goes back to the Federal Funds Rate.

One thing consumers rarely realize is that all of our banks are lending money to each other every night. Banks are legally required to maintain a certain percentage of their deposits in non-interest-bearing accounts at the Federal Reserve to ensure they have enough money to cover any withdrawals that may unexpectedly come up. However, deposits can fluctuate and it's very common for some banks to exceed the requirement on certain days while some fall short. In cases like this, banks actually lend each other money to ensure they meet the minimum balance. It's a bit hard to imagine these multibillion-dollar financial institutions needing to borrow money to tide them over for a bit, but it happens every single night at the Federal Reserve. It's also a nice deal for those with balances above the reserve balance requirement to earn a bit of money with cash that would normally just be sitting there.

The Federal Reserve The Federal Reserve


The exact interest rate the banks will charge each other is a matter of negotiation between them, but the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) (the arm of the Federal Reserve that sets monetary policy) meets eight times a year to set a target rate. They evaluate a multitude of economic indicators including unemployment, inflation, and consumer confidence to decide the best rate to keep the country in business. The weighted average of all interest rates across these interbank loans is the effective federal funds rate.

This rate has a huge impact on the economy overall as well as your personal finances. The federal funds rate is essentially the cheapest money available to a bank and that feeds into all of the other loans they make. Banks will add a slight upcharge to the rate set by the Fed to determine what is the lowest interest that they will announce for their most creditworthy customers, also known as the prime rate. If you have a variable interest rate loan (very common with credit cards and some student loans), it's likely that the interest rate you pay is a set percentage on top of that prime rate that your lender is paying. That's why in times of low interest rates (it was set at 0% during the Great Recession), a lot of borrowers should go for fixed interest rate loans that won't increase. However, if the federal funds rate was relatively high (it went up to 20% in the early 1980's), a variable interest rate loan may be a better decision as you would be charged less interest should the rate drop without the need to refinance.

The federal funds rate also has a major impact on your investment portfolio. The stock market reacts very strongly to any changes in interest rates from the Federal Reserve, as a lower rate makes it cheaper for companies to borrow and reinvest while a higher rate may restrict capital and slow short-term growth. If you have a significant portion of your investments in equities, a small change in the federal funds rate can have a large impact on your net worth.

Getty Images/Maria Stavreva

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