Month: April 2016

Here Comes the Sun: Save Money with Solar Batteries and Solar Panels

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As utility companies continue to raise the prices of the resources homes and businesses need to thrive, more people have begun to look for alternative forms of energy.

Renewable natural resources such as geothermal power, wind power, hydroelectric energy and solar energy are being further developed by scientists seeking efficient and eco-friendly methods to harness the natural vitality of our planet.

One of the simplest ways to permanently lower operating expenses is by using solar power for electricity; and with a global rise in demand, solar energy is becoming more affordable than ever.

This means that if you are considering harvesting the sun for your energy needs, you may be making a money-savvy as well as environmentally-sound decision.

 

Below are 5 reasons everyone who owns a home or business should consider solar batteries and solar panels for savings and potential profit.

 

1. Installation Costs Will Be Recovered in Savings—

One of the main reasons companies and homeowners have resisted solar energy in the past is because of the installation costs. Who wants to spend money for later savings when you can have the utility company turn electricity on now for free?

A few years and many utility bills down the road, however, we realize that had the collective money from those bills instead been invested in solar energy, we would be free from that monthly payment forever.

If you install solar panels and solar batteries, and switch to an all-electric or gasoline-electric hybrid car, you can also add to your savings by using the sun to power your vehicle.

 

2. Popularity Lowers Start-Up Costs—

As solar energy becomes more popular, competition increases, reducing costs when products become more broadly available.

Large companies worldwide have converted to solar energy, causing increased demand, which is expected to rise dramatically in the next few years.

This means that if you’ve looked into solar panels and solar batteries in the past, but found them too expensive, it might be wise to take another look around the marketplace. You may be pleasantly surprised by the new products and lower prices available.

 

3. Beginning Can Be a Bargain—

While making the switch to solar energy isn’t impossible for a traditionally-wired structure, if you’re building from the ground up, you’re in the desirable position of choosing exactly where to install solar panels and solar batteries.

Because there are no other electrical issues to consider and you can incorporate solar panel placement into your building design, you’ll save money if you know you’re using solar power from the beginning.

 

4. Excess Energy Equals Extra Income—

Solar panels collect sunshine and convert it into power, and solar batteries store up excess energy. This process keeps solar electricity systems running at night when the sun is down, and on cloudy days.

Multiple countries are working on developing “smart grids” to allow solar power consumers to sell unused energy to the collective grid, and many utility companies already let solar battery users to do this.

Look into local laws, or contact electric companies directly to find out if you can turn solar energy into extra income.

 

5. Solar Power Can Sell Your Home—

Are potential home buyers going to choose the property that comes with electric bills every month… or the solar money-saver that may even allow them to sell excess energy? You know the answer to this question: The money-saving house wins every time.

Be sure to place solar panels in an unobtrusive place on the roof to keep the curb appeal high and the profit possibilities private.

 

The decision to use sustainable resources for energy is growing, making solar panels and solar batteries a smart choice for anyone who wants to maximize revenue while being environmentally green. Consider the reasons above, and if it makes sense—and cents—for you to go solar, then make the switch to sunshine power and extra profit today.

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Are Your Knees Being Naughty? Top Tips to Stop Knee Pain

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Knee pain can happen to anyone—old, young, fit, overweight, active, sedentary—knee pain doesn’t discriminate. Genetic factors may bring arthritis to the knees, and sometimes over-pronation, bodily misalignment or good old-fashioned exercise can cause knee soreness.

But no matter why the knees are hurting, the good news is that there are things anyone can do to lessen the aching. Below are some tips recommended by health and fitness experts, doctors and researchers to help stop knee pain.

 

1. Weighty Matters—

Nobody likes to hear this important tip, but it must be said that one of the most effective ways to lessen knee pain is to reduce the amount of weight the joints are supporting.

Many people use their bad knees as an excuse to avoid exercise, exacerbating the problem with weight gain, but this is actually not a legitimate excuse because there are knee-friendly exercises (see: next tip).

 

2. Do Gentle Knee-Friendly Exercises—

If you can walk, you can exercise, no matter how out-of-shape you may feel. But if even walking hurts your knees, consider swimming. Swimming builds the muscles around the knees to support them while placing no strain on the joints.

Another knee-friendly exercise is biking, especially on a stationary bike to reduce the potentially jarring effects of outdoor biking. Elliptical and rowing trainers can be helpful as well, and always remember to stretch first.

 

3. Comfort Trumps Fashion—

Don’t let vanity tighten your calf muscles and increase knee and foot pain. High-heeled shoes place extra pressure on the feet and knees, causing inflammation and permanent damage over time.

Be sure to wear the right shoes with good cushioning while exercising, or embrace the barefoot trend which has been shown to encourage proper muscle and tendon alignment.

 

4. Sample Some Supplements—

Recent studies have shown that glucosamine and chondroitin supplements work for some people, making them worth a try.

Other supplements known for having anti-inflammatory effects are cherry juice, vitamin C, Omega-3s, turmeric, grape seed, ginger, oregano, coriander, flaxseed and yucca root.

Spinach, onions, walnuts and salmon are also great anti-inflammatory foods to include in your weekly diet, and avoiding inflammatory foods such as refined carbohydrates and sugar is always a good idea.

 

5. Build Your Buns—

When the sitting muscles weaken, this can have a domino effect down the legs. As rear end muscles drop, the pelvis lowers, throwing the thigh muscles out of alignment to strain knees and feet.

The solution is to start at the top by doing strength training exercises for the glutes and the quads, because strengthening all of these muscle groups will support the knee joints to reduce pressure.

And don’t forget to work the calf muscles while you’re at it, because weak calves can also contribute to knee pain.

 

6. More Core, Less Sore—

If you can strengthen your core, you will not only be doing your knees a huge favor; the rest of your body will benefit along with them. As the core grows stronger, it assists many of the muscles of the body, reducing pressure on the joints.

Another positive about strengthening core muscles is that it can be done via floor exercises and other forms of strength training that don’t involve the knees.

 

7. Use Ice and Be Nice—

Using ice on the knees post-exercise for 20 minutes can reduce inflammation, and elevating the legs while icing will increase the positive results.

Also, know your limits during workouts and be careful not to get caught up in the activity, pushing knees past what you know they can handle. If you do take it too far, be sure to allow knees adequate rest and healing before your next session.

When it comes to joints, pain doesn’t equal gain, and can actually set back your fitness goals.

 

People are different, so what might work in a study or anecdotally for one person may not work for somebody else, but maybe if you try some the tips and suggestions above, you’ll find the one that works for you. You’ve got nothing to lose but knee pain, after all.

Music Matters: Using Music Therapy to Help Children

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Popular amongst psychological professionals for decades, music therapy is a respected treatment for children with learning disabilities, physical, emotional or behavioral disorders and atypical neurology. With music therapy, kids have been shown to heal faster, overcome anxiety and improve socially.

According to the Individuals with Disabilities Act, music therapy has proven so valuable for assisting children with disabilities that it is an official special educations service that can be provided by the school if it is determined that a child may benefit from it.

 

Below are 6 different ways music therapy can help children, and how it works.

 

1. Music Therapy Can Help Kids with Autism—

Autistic children can sometimes have trouble communicating, making eye contact, and socializing. Music has been shown to pull autistic kids out of their private worlds, allowing them to better connect as they bond over music.

Music therapy can help kids who with communication hurdles by allowing kids to engage with others, especially when allowed to play musical instruments themselves.

By making socializing fun, music takes the anxiety out of interpersonal interaction for many children.

 

2. Music Therapy Can Help Kids with ADHD—

Music is naturally calming, no matter what the style, as long as the listener finds it pleasant.

Kids with ADHD often experience anxiety because memory issues and being unfocused/easily distracted can lead to learning and behavioral problems. Music therapy can be a great way to calm anxious or frustrated children.

Multiple studies have found that music therapy also improves motor skills and attention in kids with ADHD, which can help them fit in socially and perform better intellectually.

 

3. Music Therapy Can Help Kids with Mental Processing—

Music playing in the background while kids work on math problems and language arts has been proven to allow children to more efficiently process information, with classical being the most beneficial genre.

Music can also improve memory by giving students something melodic and memorable to mentally link to what is being taught for better retention and recall.

 

4. Music Therapy Can Help Kids Physically Heal—

For a sick child, the hospital can be a sterile, cold and scary place. Fear raises anxiety and stress levels, which has been proven to be extremely detrimental to the healing process.

When compared to anti-anxiety medications in studies, music therapy proved more successful for calming hospitalized children by distracting them from unpleasant procedures and their intimidating environment.

In a recent study, children receiving music therapy during bone marrow transplants actually produced white blood cells faster than kids who didn’t receive music therapy. (Source: University of Rochester Medical Center in New York.)

 

5. Music Therapy Can Help Kids Express Emotions—

Children with emotional disorders and/or kids who have been traumatized at an early age can have trouble expressing their feelings because what they’re trying to process is so overwhelming.

Without the life perspective of an adult, children often don’t know how to adequately put into words what is bothering them, even when talk therapy would be highly beneficial.

Music can help kids identify with a feeling, rather than a verbal definition, giving them an outlet to express emotions that doesn’t force them to put their problems into words. This process can be extremely cathartic by allowing kids to work emotional issues out of their systems via music.

 

6. Music Therapy Can Help Kids Feel Good About Themselves—

Being allowed to bang on a drum or play an instrument can be empowering for a child, fostering creativity and raising self-esteem by making them feel accomplished at a new skill.

When allowed to play instruments with a group of children, kids who might normally be shy or insecure may feel accepted and more confident, helping them to assimilate smoothly with peers and make friends faster.

 

The benefits of music therapy are evident, and the profoundly positive effect it has on kids has been widely studied and documented. Music therapy continues to grow in popularity both in health care and psychology, validating it as a useful treatment and creative way to help children thrive.

Aural Relaxation: Stop the Stress with Music Therapy

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Research has proven that music therapy can be an effective anxiety-reliever, making it a commonly utilized treatment by healthcare and psychiatric professionals. Music has the power to soothe the stressed-out by lowering blood pressure, regulating breathing and heart rate, and can even slow down or speed up brain waves.

Read below about 6 ways music therapy can uplift or calm a worried mind, relax a tense body and bring peace to anyone in need of some serenity throughout the day.

 

1. Reduce Road Rage—

Many people commute to and from work, which can be a constant source of stress and anger, thanks to congested traffic and distracted drivers.

Playing music during a drive can distract us from the drudgery of travel and turn it into a source of pleasure.

Music helps by psychologically reframing the commute, turning a necessary-but-unpleasant daily event into what feels more like a fun activity, keeping the listener calm and less frustrated.

 

2. Increase Productivity—

Once you step out of your music therapy vehicle and head into the job, consider continuing to use this valuable method of relaxation once you reach your workspace.

If your employer allows music to be played at desks, cubicles, in kitchens, factories, retail establishments, or wherever you are employed, this has been shown to dramatically increase employee morale—and happy employees work harder.

Remember: A fast tempo will speed up brain waves to increase concentration, while a slow tempo promotes a tranquil state of mind.

 

3. Have a Musical Lunch—

Another way to use music therapy throughout your day is to play music during your lunch break. If you’ve had a rough morning, playing upbeat music with positive lyrics can get you back into a determined, go-getter mindset.

If you’re feeling anxious, mellow classical music or folksy acoustic tunes can calm you down enough to refocus and stay on-task for the rest of the day.

If your work’s break room doesn’t allow music, get into the habit of having lunch in your car where you can control the melodies and play exactly what you need to keep your mental state solid.

 

4. Play an Instrument—

In addition to listening to songs, playing music can be one of the most effective stress-relievers available.

Playing percussive instruments such as drums or bongos can be a great way to work out aggression or tension after a tough day.

Strumming a guitar or expressing emotions through songwriting can also be tremendously cathartic.

Harmonicas have proven helpful for music therapy because they are conducive to deep breathing, which naturally alleviates anxiety.

But don’t forget about the instrument everyone can play; the voice. Singing along to music can be wonderfully therapeutic, whether you consider yourself a good singer or not. If you’re self-conscious, sit somewhere secluded in the car, or wait until the house is empty, and sing the stress away.

 

5. Dinner Time Tunes—

Listening to music while preparing food can turn a nightly chore into a positively purifying process.

Sometimes after a long day, cooking dinner is the last thing in the world we feel like doing, but music can lift our spirits and revitalize this task.

Light, calming background music played during the meal can also soothe everyone at the table—just make sure it’s not loud enough to compete with conversation.

 

6. Musical Meditation—

Meditating to music can be done while sitting in a classic meditation pose with a visual focal point, lying comfortably on the floor with closed eyes, in a warm bath, or anywhere you feel the most relaxed.

Slow your breathing, and allow yourself to unwind until you are thinking about nothing but the music, clearing the mind and body of all anxiety and negativity.

 

Our hectic world, jobs and personal lives can often create chaos and inner turmoil, but living in a constant state of fear and worry can damage our physical and psychological health. Try to incorporate some of the music therapy techniques above into your day to release tension so you can stay healthy, happy and stress-free.

They Did WHAT? Ways to Protect and Improve Your Company’s Online Reputation

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Before the Internet, it took years of good customer service and advertising to create a successful business. Now, with the addition of social media like Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, LinkedIn and Pinterest, getting a company noticed is easier than ever before.

But with great power comes great responsibility, and while word-of-mouth used to travel slowly, the social media that makes advertising easier can also spread negative reviews lightning-fast. An angry customer who might have shared a bad experience with a few friends can now condemn your company to hundreds of people at a time.

 

Below are 10 recommended ways to protect and improve your company’s online reputation.

 

1. Start on the Inside—

Employees behaving badly on the Internet can destroy a respectable company, making it important to establish a “no Internet sharing” policy with everyone hired.

Have all employees sign a legally-binding privacy agreement to refrain from discussing anything about your brand online while employed—and if they leave.

 

2. Assign Online Representatives—

It’s important to have an online presence to promote your company, but make certain nothing is posted that might insult customers.

Choose or hire specific employees to monitor and establish your online reputation, and never leave this task to a single person, because what one person may find harmless can offend another.

 

3. Positively Use Social Media—

When used correctly, social media can brand a business and improve an image. Facebook and Twitter giveaways can especially enhance your status.

Be sure to post winners of contests in a timely manner so people aren’t left wondering who won. Confirming winners shows integrity, and is a great way to earn customer trust and respect.

 

4. Good Words Earn Rewards—

Because word-of-mouth is powerful, some companies offer free or discounted products/services to loyal customers willing to give them a review.

Ask customers to e-mail links to comments or reviews they’ve posted about your business on Yelp, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter or blogs, and offer incentives for these brand-bolstering words.

 

5. Own It—

If a customer complaint is posted on your company’s Facebook page, for example, apologizing and promising to try harder next time can go a long way. People are surprisingly forgiving of minor offenses as long as remorse is shown.

Offering displeased customers a free product and asking for a second chance can also win back a person in the process of walking away.

 

6. Use It—

Having a sense of humor about a bad review will occasionally work to a company’s advantage by showing customers you can have a laugh at your own expense.

One example of this positive spin would be the New York restaurant owner who wrote on the chalkboard sign outside of his restaurant, “Come in and try the worst meatball sandwich that one guy on Yelp ever had in his life.”

Because people realize that taste is subjective, the sign intrigued them by creating curiosity about the sandwich, increasing sales.

 

7. Consider Professional Assistance—

There are companies who specialize in search engine image protection who can increase the positive results for your company and reduce the negative feedback.

If your company’s reputation has been damaged beyond what you are capable of repairing on your own, a professional online PR company can reduce potential losses.

 

8. Always Be Available—

Respond immediately to any negative comments on your company website or Facebook page, because people perceive failure to respond as a lack of concern, which will only make them more frustrated.

If you respond quickly and kindly, it will also improve your reputation and image in the eyes of everyone else reading the comments.

 

9. Communication and Contact Count—

Good communication is crucial to a good reputation. Contact information should be easily available on everything representing your business on the Internet, and customer e-mails should be answered promptly.

Also: Consider hiring a phone service to assist customers so they can always reach a representative. This shows people that you care about their business, no matter what their schedule.

 

10. Track the Talk—

You can’t fix a bad reputation if you don’t know that you have one. Setting up a Google alert can help you find out what’s being said about your business.

Technorati and BlogType can also alert you to blog comments about your brand, and Twitter mentions of your company can be tracked via search engines like Tweetdeck.

 

The online threat of rapidly-traveling negative press makes it important to protect the image of your brand, and avoid making mistakes that might lose your company valued clients and money. Use the image-improving tips above to keep your reputation golden and your customers coming back.

Go Team, Go! Business Bonding Tips to Boost Employee Morale to the Max

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Unity in the workplace is an extremely important and often overlooked part of the profit-making puzzle. Unnecessary employee drama, the forming of social cliques, lack of communication and poor management can destroy employee morale, making what should be a professional work environment feel stressful and disorganized.

Fortunately, if management can create an atmosphere of positivity, open exchange of ideas and mutual appreciation, employees will become team members working together toward the same goal, increasing job satisfaction and productivity.

Below are some top bonding tips to help boost staff confidence and create unity in any workplace.

 

1. R-E-S-P-E-C-T—

No adult likes to be treated like a child or spoken to in a condescending manner, yet so many managers take this approach to leadership without realizing how devastating it can be to morale.

Remember that all employees are adults who were hired because they had something positive to offer the company, and deserve respect.

Asking your workers to complete tasks, rather than commanding them authoritarian-style will go a long way in building a positive relationship. Trusting people to get a job done without micromanaging every detail is another way to let them know you believe in their abilities.

 

2. Communication is Crucial—

Make time for meetings with multiple employees to keep everyone on the same page, allow for brainstorming and the airing of work-related grievances. Sometimes there’s a simple solution to a problem that can be solved with this kind of sharing.

Group gatherings also give people the chance to know each other better, allowing them to bond personally, as well as making sure team goals are in alignment.

This can also eliminate work cliques when people are forced to step outside their smaller social circles to see other employees as humans, rather than gossip fodder.

 

3. Little Things Go a Long Way—

Listening to employee input, staying open to new ideas and giving creative thinkers proper credit are little things that will raise team morale in a big way.

Keeping the break room stocked with healthy snacks, bottled water, coffee and other pick-me-ups will eliminate low blood sugar-related lulls in productivity while making workers feel valued.

Occasional “just because” gifts, such as company coffee mugs, water bottles, T-shirts or free meals are other thoughtful gestures that can make employees feel appreciated.

 

4. Take It Outside—

Plan social get-togethers outside of work, especially family-friendly gatherings, to allow co-workers to get to know each other better. Picnics are great for those with kids, as are work-sponsored sporting events, bowling alleys and restaurants.

Watching someone commonly thought of as a bit of a dud at work come to life in a social setting can give fellow employees a new appreciation for a person when they see them in a new light.

Also: Consider off-site team building events for workforce bonding, with meetings to discuss business matters during the day and catered meals. Company unification can be amplified by evening entertainment such as an open bar and music to allow co-workers to have fun together.

 

5. Coach Your Team—

As the boss, you are hoping to be the coach of a well-oiled, cohesive and driven team that will play tough to the end of every game to win for your company. That means you’ll have to motivate them to give you their best performance possible.

Money and opportunities for advancement are obviously great ways to inspire hard work. Never being rewarded for consistent effort and results will eventually demotivate anyone, leaving employees feeling discouraged and wondering why they should bother trying.

Meet personally with all workers to set clear objectives, and reward them accordingly when they reach these goals. This kind of positive reinforcement will make employees feel like successful players on a winning team, keeping them focused on achievements and progress.

 

Employees with friendly co-worker relationships and respectful management have been shown to perform better, because not having to worry about interpersonal issues decreases stress, allowing them to focus on accomplishments. Use the tips above to create a positive work environment to boost employee morale, productivity and profits.

Ahead of the Curves: Prom Dress Styles for Bodacious Beauties

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So often in our culture, lovely larger ladies allow advertisements full of airbrushed, Photoshop-phonies to make them feel insecure. But despite what women’s fashion magazines might try to make the female population believe, every survey given to the male population has proven that the majority of men love curves.

And women should, too. Curves only enhance femininity, so if you’re lucky enough to have a voluptuous figure; embrace it. Find a dress for prom that flaunts your body rather than hiding it. There is nothing more attractive than confidence—and once you find a gown that allows you to feel gorgeous, you will glow from within.

 

Below are 5 top tips to help any curvaceous beauty find the best dress ever.

 

  1. Delightful Décolletage—

Quite often, shapely ladies have amazing bust lines with the pretty power to draw the eye upward.  To show off this desirable asset, seek dresses with form-fitting bodices, such as an A-line design that is body-hugging at the top, and loose at the bottom.

Dresses with halter necklines can harness and lift the bust for extra support and shaping, if necessary, and a V-neck style will offer a very flattering fit.

An empire waistline that stops beneath the bust will help to enhance the chest, and sparkly embellishments, beading, or a dramatic necklace can also create upper-area interest.

 

  1. Fit Your Form—

Don’t bury your voluptuous body in a shapeless, flowing fountain of fabric. Instead, buy a dress in your true size and wear it with self-assurance.

It can be tempting to buy a loose, baggy dress in the name of comfort, but there are so many amazing dresses available today that you don’t have to compromise:  You can have comfort and style.

Finding a dress that accentuates your favorite features and fits you properly will let the world know that you have nothing to hide.

 

  1. Consider Color—

Color can be one of the most flattering dress decisions you make if you choose wisely. Obviously, darker, solid colors are more slimming, but don’t forget about the brighter shades of these hues, such as the jewel tones like emerald green, ruby red and deep sapphire blue.

If your eyes, hair or skin are your favorite features, choosing a gown in a shade that makes them more noticeable will allow you shine. Love the caramel highlights in your hair? Find a dress that matches them perfectly. Got gorgeous green eyes? You know what to do.

And ignore the advice that larger girls can’t pull off prints, because as long as they’re smaller patterns, they can add arrestingly eye-catching interest.

 

  1. Let Go of Length—

Curvy ladies are often encouraged to wear maxi-length dresses to cover themselves, which couldn’t be more off-target, especially for younger women who can attractively wear shorter lengths.

Long dresses may work fine for taller girls, but can visually shorten a smaller lady, making them a poor choice for anyone trying to create a longer line.

Tea-length or cocktail dresses can actually make women look taller, so go with whatever dress length makes you feel good.

 

  1. The Personal Touch—

Don’t forget that if you find a dress that would be incredible if only a certain part of it fit differently, you can always find a professional seamstress to adjust it.

Having an off-the-rack dress tailored just for you can turn that gown you’re on the fence about into a must-have. A seamstress can alter a hemline, bring in a bust, add embellishments, or anything else you can think of to make a dress work for you.

Be sure to wear the same shoes you’ll be wearing with the dress when you are measured for alterations, and remember when buying that it is easier to size a dress down than up.

 

Remember: Everybody is built differently, there is no such thing as normal, and perfection is boring. Everyone has strengths and qualities that make them interesting and attractive, so find yours and present them with pride.

Be bodacious, bold, and beautiful by using the tips above to find the prom dress of your dreams, and have a magical night.

 

It’s About Time: Tips to Master Time Management for Maximum Productivity

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One of the most positive things about humans is our adaptability, which makes setting up a more efficient time management schedule surprisingly simple once we adjust to the new routine.

To fix the problem of poorly-managed time, you must first sit down and analyze exactly how you’re spending your work hours, decide what to keep and what to get rid of, and figure out the best method to accomplish everything you’d like to get done every day.

Below are 5 top tips to help you master time management for maximum productivity:

 

1. Eliminate Distractions—

One of the hardest to accomplish, yet most productive things anyone can do to manage time more efficiently is to eliminate distractions from their working environment.

Distractions can take the form of internal conflicts, such as anxiety, interpersonal problems or difficulty concentrating, and external disturbances, such as chatty co-workers. Irritating outside noises, computer notifications and cell phone alerts can also be common diversions.

The obvious solution for avoiding external distractions is to create a working environment free of disruptive outside forces using isolation or privacy, if possible, and the elimination of electronic interruptions by silencing alerts.

If you are in charge of many people and unable to avoid constant human interaction, you may need to determine if a virtual assistant can save your company time and money.

Having someone else to serve as a “gatekeeper” to decide whether or not you are urgently needed by employees can remove unnecessary distractions on a daily basis, allowing you to get more work done.

 

2. Prioritize Your Day Early—

One of the top tips recommended to help with managing time is the popular method of ending each work day by writing down the six most important tasks to be accomplished the next day.

These tasks should be prioritized by importance, from first to sixth, and starting the next morning they should be completed in order before moving on to the next priority item.

By finishing each number before you move to the next, you will avoid the time-wasting pitfalls of procrastination and multi-tasking, both of which can derail your train of thought and lead to distraction.

Also: Be sure to give yourself adequate time to accomplish each of your six daily goals, because underestimating task time is a common time management mistake.

 

3. Just Do It—

Procrastination is the worst enemy of efficient time management, because we all know that if we don’t feel like accomplishing a task now, we aren’t going to magically feel like working on it later.

This can be difficult for everyone because sometimes we simply don’t feel like doing something, but if we have it on the priority list, there’s usually a good reason. Remember that working hard to get an unpleasant chore over with will allow you move onto the next thing.

But if you truly don’t have the time, or absolutely cannot deal with the task at hand, remember to delegate so the job gets done.

 

4. Set Your Schedule—

It’s easy for busy business people to get caught up in the chaos of a bustling, hectic work environment, making it extremely important that you have a set schedule to count on.

Adding structure to your workplace can help you stay on-task by giving you somewhere to focus, so create set times at which you do the necessary parts of your job, and stick to them. Examples of this might be checking e-mail at the same time, one or two times per day, and setting up other daily must-do chores on a schedule.

Once you get into a routine, you will find that adhering to your self-administered rules will keep you on the path to productivity, rather than wandering aimlessly from one duty to another until you’ve completely forgotten your main objective.

 

5. Become a Master of Organization—

Much time is wasted trying to find poorly organized files, receipts and paperwork, making it crucial that you implement a system of organization.

Figure out a filing system that works for you, and don’t forget to keep backup copies of all data off-site as well as on-site in case of emergency.

A cluttered environment can make your mind feel cluttered, so don’t underestimate the power of an organized and clear desk or office to help with organization.

Keeping a paper book-style daily planner in plain sight can also help remind you of important goals and meetings while allowing you to avoid potentially distracting technological reminders.

 

Time management is easily attainable once you decide to implement a plan and follow the new schedule you’ve set in place for yourself. Use the tips above to create a distraction-free and organized environment, accomplish everything on your daily list, promote productivity and increase profits.

Take It Off! 5 Top Foods for Faster Weight Loss

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No matter how badly we’d love for weight loss to be simple, there’s no magic pill or special trick to make shedding the pounds an easy process. But there is plenty of research to show that the foods we choose to eat can make a difference by raising metabolism and making us feel fuller to avoid unnecessary weight gain.

Certain foods allow the body to process calories in different ways, making nutritional choices a very important part of the diet and exercise puzzle for those hoping to lose weight.

 

Below are 5 top foods recommended by nutrition and fitness experts for faster weight loss:

 

1. Dairy—

Often touted for its value as a post-workout recovery drink because of the high amino acid and protein content, whey protein shakes are a common favorite of those in need of a quick pick-me-up.

Because they’re easy to make, whey protein shakes can be a good way to curb the appetite before it reaches the dangerously hungry “eating whatever’s available” levels that can sabotage anyone’s best intentions.

Calcium has also been shown to have a metabolism-boosting thermic effect on the body, with studies proving that dieters who ingest it every day lose almost twice as much weight as those who don’t: so if you’re not a fan of milk, consider adding some yogurt to your day.

 

2. Apples—

Apples are full of fiber, which is dietary aid well known for curbing hunger by creating a feeling of fullness in the stomach without a lot of calories, as well as promoting good digestion.

Apples are also full of pectin, a substance that swells into a gel that binds with water to enhance satiation, with the added bonus of preventing the amount of fat the body can absorb.

Apples have recently been connected to the prevention of metabolic syndrome, which presents with high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, waist thickening and pre-diabetes, making the timeless advice “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” more important to follow than ever.

 

3. Broccoli—

You’ve seen broccoli on every super-food list for its dense nutritional content, but broccoli is also a strong contender in the weight loss assistance arena because of the high levels of fiber it contains.

This high fiber content is also found in many other cruciferous vegetables, such as cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts, which are great sources of vitamin C and phytochemicals.

Broccoli is high in riboflavin, which has been shown in studies to play a role in raising metabolism to increase weight loss, as well as providing an excellent non-dairy source of calcium for those who are lactose-intolerant.

 

4. Berries—

A bright and delicious addition to any smoothie or bowl of whole grain cereal, berries are loaded with antioxidants, which are famous for their anti-aging cellular protection and metabolism-boosting effects.

Berries are also a surprisingly good source of fiber, with raspberries at the top of the fiber-full list, with blackberries at a close second place.

Low in calories, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries have ketones that can help the body burn more fat and stabilize blood sugar levels.

A recent study also showed that berries helped raise metabolism and suppress appetite in mice by decreasing glucose levels while burning fat. (Source: University of Pennsylvania Health System.)

 

5. Beans—

An April 2013 study revealed that a diet rich in beans was as effective as a low-carbohydrate diet for weight loss, enhancing feelings of satiety with the added bonus of better cholesterol levels. (Source: Loma Linda University.)

While not offering quite the protein punch of lean meats and dairy, beans still have enough to help boost muscle mass and metabolism.

Beans also have a high fiber content that helps assist digestion by moving food through the gastrointestinal system faster than animal-based proteins.

 

Genetics and hormones definitely play a role in the physique we’re given, but there are ways to work with what we’ve got, and smart food choices that can make it easier to get into shape. Consider adding some of the foods above to your daily regimen, and see if they can help you lose weight faster and reach the fitness goals you’re hoping to achieve.

Make It Move: 5 Ways to Crank-Up Your Middle-Aged Metabolism

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With age comes wisdom, but some of us would gladly trade a bit of that hard-earned knowledge for the body we took entirely for granted in our 20s. Joints start to ache as we get older, muscles are pulled more easily, and perhaps the worst thing of all that happens is the slowing down of our once-speedy metabolisms.

Like a lot of things we’ve learned about in life, this simply isn’t fair, but the good news is that there are many things we can do to stay in shape as we age. We may have to work a little harder to get there than when we were younger, but it is still entirely possible to maintain a fit and healthy physique.

 

Below are 5 top tips to speed up a sluggish middle-aged metabolism:

 

1. Set a Schedule—

Some people like to eat 6 small meals a day, and some choose the traditional 3, but the most recent research has shown the amount of meals per day actually doesn’t matter as much as we once thought – calories are calories.

If maintaining even blood sugar levels is mandatory, multiple, mini-meals may be your smartest choice, but if you’re a 3-squares-a-day kind of person, that’s okay, too.

However, no matter how often you choose to eat, the most important thing is consistency: set an eating schedule and stick to it. When your body feels deprived, it goes into starvation mode, which lowers metabolism, so let it know what to expect and deliver the goods on time.

 

2. Muscle Up, Buttercup—

In addition to increasing bone mineral density, adding weightlifting to your workout routine can build muscles, which automatically increases resting metabolic rate.

Strength training exercises can also build up muscles around aching joints to take the pressure off of them, reducing strain and pain.

When starting a weightlifting regimen, remember that you don’t recover as quickly as your younger self, so start slow. If you can’t do 15-20 repetitions, lower the weight, and gradually work up to it. Pushing yourself too hard can result in an injury, which will send you frustrated and limping back to the beginning.

 

3. Make More Movement—

Your days of circling the parking lot, vying for the up-front parking are over. If you want to boost your metabolism, one of the best ways to do this is to create reasons to go the long way – like parking at the back of the lot. On purpose.

If you work in a building with an elevator, make friends with the stairs; they will thank you by burning calories and building muscles. Finding a walking buddy to get some head-clearing and fat-burning exercise on your lunch break is another great idea.

If you can get up and walk around while on the phone, even pacing while you chat is an excellent way to sneak in more movement.

 

4. Protein is Your Pal—

Studies have proven that protein not only assists in the building of muscles, it makes us feel more satisfied than carbohydrates, which can cut down on daily calories consumed.

Try to include a little protein with every meal for increased feelings of fullness and steadier glucose levels to eliminate hunger-binging.

High-protein yogurt (such as Greek) can be especially helpful for weight loss, as it also contains probiotics to bolster good intestinal flora and assist in digestion.

 

5. Slow Down to Speed Up—

The stress hormone cortisol is a common carbohydrate-craving culprit that can cause extra weight gain, especially in the belly area. Not getting enough sleep can also increase levels of ghrelin, a hormone that increases appetite.

The solution to this hormonal weight gain double whammy is difficult for many: making sleep a priority, and getting a minimum of 7 hours per night. But no matter how hectic your life may be, it’s crucial to get a good night’s sleep.

Yoga and meditation are also wonderful ways to stretch, relax, soothe the soul and de-stress. And if nature eases your mind, gardening or taking a hike somewhere green can work wonders, as well.

 

If you’ve noticed you can’t eat as much as before without gaining weight, and the ways you used to stay in shape are no longer working: don’t give up. Try some of the ideas above, and move your metabolism back into a higher, fat-fighting range to keep your body burning calories like a champ and feeling great.