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4 Benefits of Taking a Break from Technology – Tejesh Kodali

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Technology is an essential part of today’s lifestyle. It’s used to connect with friends and family across the world, pay bills, and provides plenty of entertainment. Most people feel lost if they don’t have their smartphone, tablet, or computer. Being able to access anything at the touch of a button is a luxury that most have grown accustomed to in their daily lives. However, these devices can easily hamper interpersonal skills and cause antisocial behaviors. While it’s great to have technology, it can also be bad depending on how you use it. Here are five reasons why taking a break from technology every now and again is necessary.

Develop more profound relationships

People are constantly checking email, text messages, and social media posts. Because a phone is ever present, they become an addiction. Being buried in a cell phone can be very annoying to others. Put the phone away and use the art of good, old-fashioned conversation. When physical interaction occurs, people develop deeper relationships. Texting and social media connections are surface level and can lead to isolation from others.

Have more time

Electronic devices are big time wasters. The average person spends over eight hours on technological devices, which is more time than most people sleep. It’s easy to see how these devices take a huge chunk of one’s time. Think of all the things that could be done if the phones and tablets were put away for a few hours. Set some firm limits and stick with them. Consider downloading an app that tells you how much time you spend on your phone and on what apps so you have a better idea of where you can cut back. Many will be surprised how much more they can accomplish when they don’t have their head buried in their phone.

Improve your outlook on life

Social media creates a false sense of reality. People post pictures that are airbrushed and put stories that only portray their family in the best light. Many people feel frustrated because they don’t measure up to friends and family they see online. By taking a break from technology, many can reconnect with their inner self and what’s important. Most of the stuff online is fabricated to make someone else feel better anyway.

Reduce daily stressors

People have no way to escape their job. The phone is always ringing, texts are pouring in, and emails from the boss can be received at 2 am. All this constant action can be very stressful. There needs to be some time for peace. No one wants to deal with office troubles at all hours of the day or night. To leave work at work, try switching off devices at a particular time, or just leave them at the office.

Breaking bad habits is not going to happen overnight. However, taking a break from technology can help those who are overstressed, and lack depth to their relationships, to improve.

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5 Ways Tech Can Be Used in Schools

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There have been huge advances in technology in recent years. Technology has begun influencing nearly every aspect of our lives and education is no exception. Children are growing up with technology and becoming much more tech literate than many older generations. Since technology has saturated every industry, it’s vital that students learn how to use technology to the best of their abilities. That means it’s up to educators to find ways to integrate technology into schools for the benefit of their students.

Gather feedback

A great way to get students comfortable with using technology while also improving your teaching methods is through gathering their feedback using technology. You can set up a survey form students can fill out online. If your students are older, you can incorporate social media profiles, such as Twitter, as well. You can create a hashtag unique to your class.

Let students be creative

Your students are going to frequently use technology in their daily lives, so they’ll know the basics of navigating the software and hardware that you’re using. Give your students the chance to explore software programs on school computers or online resources and use those to be more creative. Encourage them to create videos and presentations on a specific topic in class or even a podcast type project that can educate the rest of the class about something related to class.

Make it fun

Students are more eager to learn when they’re enjoying doing so. With technology, there’s an endless amount of resources you can use to make learning more enjoyable for your students. You can use sites to set up quiz games in a jeopardy format or find fun videos your students would enjoy. You can also encourage students to work on projects in groups and come up with fun ideas for their projects.

Educate on technology

While your students will know the basics of using common types of technology and resources online, there are also plenty of ways you can educate them further about tech. As you’re using technology in collaboration with your lessons, incorporate knowledge on how to use higher level technology, such as recording and editing equipment or minor coding and design tips. You could help a student discover a passion that they may want to one day turn into a career.

Create a class webpage

It’s fairly easy to create a webpage for your class. You can make this page public or password protected so that only your students can access it. Create a forum page where students can have class discussions, post questions about homework, or share their answers to questions. A class website makes it easier for students to work together and share ideas, all on a medium you can monitor.

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5 Reasons to Create a Stable Emergency Fund

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We’ve all heard the financial commandment of creating an emergency fund. Most people talk about an emergency fund as though it’s the single key to achieving financial stability and making sure your finances are in order. By this point, you probably hear this advice, nod, but do not really understand how important a stable emergency fund is. While simply having an emergency fund doesn’t necessarily mean your finances are in order, it does indicate that you’re financially stable enough to set aside money for your emergency fund. A stable emergency fund shows that you’re prepared for unexpected situations and have put thought into your finances. Here are some of the reasons you should start working on building a stable emergency fund as soon as possible.

Job loss

The biggest reason people highlight the importance of an emergency fund is that it’ll help you in case of job loss. We can never predict how our companies will do or what the economy is going to be like in a few months. You might even make a mistake at work that could cost you your job. Having six months worth of living expenses saved up in your emergency fund makes this situation a lot less stressful.

Unexpected costs

People frequently talk about the usefulness of an emergency fund for when your car needs repairs or medical costs come up. You might need to get surgery or end up in the hospital due to some accident. Medical bills can quickly rack up, so an emergency fund can help cover those costs. Instead of going into debt for unexpected costs, an emergency fund can cover these payments.

Forgotten payments

No matter how organized or on top of your finances you are, there is a chance you’ll forget to make a payment. Whether it’s a credit card payment that then racks up interest or something else, having an emergency fund on hand means you can cover this payment as soon as you remember, even if you forgot to leave room for it in your monthly budget.

Family emergencies

Sometimes, an emergency fund isn’t for emergency situations in your own life. You might have a sick family member and need to suddenly fly across the country and take time off of work. Maybe a parent or sibling needs some financial assistance; with an emergency fund, you can help them out if you want to.

Life changes

Not all changes in your life that cost money are negative. You might suddenly be expecting a baby or need to move for a better job opportunity, but do not have the immediate finances to cover that cost. Maybe you need an expensive medication or want to take a spontaneous trip. An emergency fund gives you the freedom and peace of mind to handle these changes and keep moving forward.

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5 Tips for Writing Fantastic Emails

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While we all spend time writing countless emails for professional and personal reasons, many people do not know how to write quality emails. We’ve all received emails, often in a professional capacity, where we aren’t sure what the person is trying to communicate or what they need from us. Sometimes, emails get confusing in the daily hustle and bustle of life, but there’s no excuse for many of the common mistakes we see in emails. If you want to be viewed as a competent professional, it’s important that you craft good written communication, no matter who you’re emailing or what you’re discussing. Here are some tips for crafting fantastic emails that can enhance your professional image.

Consider if an email is necessary

Before sending your email, think about whether or not you actually need to send the email. Could the issue be better handled through a phone call? Could you wait until the next time you see the person? Too often, information gets lost through email and tone is misunderstood. If it would be easier to ask your question or provide an answer to something, simply get on the phone with the person. You’ll save yourself time and can avoid possible issues.

Meaningful subject line

As you start your email, make the subject line relevant to the email you’re sending and keep it clear and concise. People too often send emails without a subject line, which makes the receiver less likely to open them since they do not know what they’re about. Create a short, clear subject line such as “meeting this Friday” or “quick question about x project.” Emails with a meaningful subject line make communication much easier and are clear on the topic being discussed.

Think about what you’re saying

When you write your email, put thought into what you’re saying. Make sure your tone is what you want it to be and that you’re not writing excessively. Consider different ways your message could be interpreted and edit it to make it as clear as possible to avoid confusion.

Make the words matter

Every word in an email is important. Avoid writing extra sentences that do not actually pertain to what you’re trying to say. While you do not want to be too short and you should be polite, it’s also important to make it as concise as possible so your question or response is clear and doesn’t get lost in fluff.

Proofread before sending

Finally, once you’re done with your email, proofread it. The last mistake you want to make is sending an email filled with grammar and spelling errors or that’s missing an important part of the message you wanted to convey. Make sure you’re spelling your recipient’s name correctly and that you’re actually sending the email to the correct person!

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How to Keep Your Family Safe Online

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Technology and the internet is such a major part of our lives. It’s an incredible resource that has made so much knowledge readily available and makes communication easier. There is an endless amount you can streamline and accomplish thanks to technology, but there are risks as well. It’s important to educate yourself and your family on the ways to stay as safe as possible online.

Change your passwords

Far too many people make the mistake of using the same password for every account and never changing it. Many people choose to use a combination of names or important dates as their passwords. Too often, these passwords are simple to figure out for hackers because this information is actually usually readily available. Consider using an online password generator to create a completely random password and then update it every few months. Get a notebook where you can physically write down all of your passwords in case you forget them.

Avoid talking to strangers

This rule is important to follow for yourself and your children. If someone contacts you claiming to represent a company you’re affiliated with, such as a bank or your insurance, do not give them any of your personal information or send money unless it’s in the way you typically do for your institution. Never give an individual person your personal details. Make sure your children understand this rule as well and know to never tell strangers where they live or agree to meet them in person.

Do not share personal information

Like I mentioned above, avoid ever giving personal information to another person. However, it’s also important to not share personal information in any other form. Avoid creating a document that has all of your passwords and account numbers on it; these can actually be fairly easily hacked. It’s also important to not share personal information such as your pets’ names, your birthdate, the birthdates of your family, your address, or other information that could be used to scam you or hack into your accounts.

Make sure a site is secure

If you get an email that says you need to change your password or provide login information by following a link, do not use the link unless it leads to a secure website that is clearly the one you usually use for your bank or whatever other account it’s linking to. People often try to scam others’ personal information by creating fake pages that look similar to an official site and then steal login information.

Use a safe network
When you log onto your accounts, make sure you’re using a safe and secure network. For your home WiFi, regularly change your password and make sure it’s a quality network. Outside of your home, avoid logging into secure accounts on public WiFi. If you do log into an account on a publicly used computer, use an incognito window or VPN and make sure you sign out and none of your information is saved.

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How to Cultivate Communication in Your Office

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Communication is key to a successfully functioning workplace. It can be challenging to encourage employees to talk to their supervisors and one another, especially as new people come into the office and others are promoted or move on to different companies. Having strong communication in your business is the best way to make sure any issues are taken care of as soon as possible and more serious problems are avoided. Employees who feel comfortable communicating also feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas. Follow these tips to enhance communication at your company.

Provide constructive guidance

Communication can be seriously impaired if employees feel their ideas are only being criticized and that management is not open to suggestions. As you interact with your employees, make sure the criticism you’re providing is constructive and doesn’t deter them from bringing new ideas to you or trying innovative things. If it seems like none of your employees are communicating, it could be an indication that the office culture doesn’t encourage it.

Encourage open feedback

Too often, employees have ideas they’d like to bring to management, but feel as though they cannot provide this feedback. Make sure your office is a place workers feel comfortable expressing ideas or even disagreements with how something is done. Have office hours and an open door policy to make management more approachable and consider periodically sending out an anonymous feedback form to get a genuine read on the atmosphere of the office.

Practice good listening

A huge deterrent for communication is that no one actually listens. People often think they are listening when others speak, but they aren’t really paying that much attention. It’s important to teach all employees at every level active listening skills that they should use no matter who they’re speaking with. Learning to be engaged in conversations is a guaranteed way to improve communication in the office.

Make transparency a priority

If your employees feel like there’s no transparency in the office, it’s going to negatively affect communication. You may not even realize that employees do not think you’re transparent, so it’s important to consciously work to improve this issue. Be clear about the company vision, how employees fit into it, and keep them regularly updated on major (and minor) changes and decisions within the company. Simply making sure that employees are up-to-date with what’s happening shows them that you value communication and encourages them to do the same on their end.

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6 Pieces of Advice for Dealing with a Difficult Manager

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In your professional life, there’s nothing worse than having a difficult manager. The attitude of who you work for can make or break your enjoyment of your job. All too often, difficult managers lead to great employees leaving companies and finding better opportunities somewhere else. If you have a difficult manager, you can certainly try to find a job elsewhere. However, if you otherwise like what you do and where you work, here are some tips for successfully dealing with a challenging manager.

Learn if there’s a reason

Before writing your supervisor off as a bad boss, consider whether or not there’s a reason for their current attitude. Have they always been difficult? Was there a recent change in their life? There could be a specific reason your boss is being difficult and it could have nothing to do with you. Before reacting to their attitude, make sure you’re correct in identifying their behavior as difficult.

Examine your own behavior

Is there something you could do to improve your interactions with your manager? Are you giving off an attitude that says you’re difficult to work with? Make sure you’re not the person causing a problem and fix anything on your end that you believe you could improve to help the situation.

Keep working hard

Regardless of your relationship with your manager, do not let it affect the quality of your work. Keep working hard and doing great work; it makes it that much harder for your manager to find something tangible to criticize you about. Throw yourself into doing the best work possible while trying to resolve the issue with your manager.

Set your boundaries

When dealing with a difficult manager, you may have to begin setting boundaries. Be clear about your schedule and what you’re doing. Avoid unnecessary meetings if you can. Avoid all conflict. It’s also important to learn to say “no,” especially if you feel that your boss is dumping too much on you and not giving you space to actually do your job.

Consider communication

If your situation seems like it could improve with a conversation, it wouldn’t a bad idea to talk to your manager about how you feel. Avoid placing blame on them and making it seem like they have a problem; talk about feeling overwhelmed and like you need more autonomy at work. Find ways to broach the subject with your manager without putting them on the defensive.

Plan ahead

Finally, if the situation simply does not improve and you don’t see a way out in the near future, begin planning for what you’ll do. You could switch to another position or department within your company or simply go somewhere completely new to work. Even taking small steps, such as preparing your resume, can help relieve your stress at work and make it easier to decide on what to do.

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