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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4 Tips for Finding Balance Between Work and Life

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It can be challenging to successfully balance work and the rest of your life. Some people make it look simple, but most struggle to find this balance. If you do not learn how to balance your job and your life outside of work, it can lead to burnout at work and issues in your personal life. It’s important to do your best to find a work-life balance that helps decrease your stress while allowing you to excel in all areas of your life. Here are some tips for finding a great balance between work and the rest of your life.

Create a strict schedule

The key to a successful work-life balance is setting clear hours for when you’re at work and when you’re at home. While there might be times you have to adjust these hours, such as business travel or time off for a doctor’s appointment, you should stick as close to the schedule as possible. Have set working hours and then avoid doing work once you’re home. Keep your professional and personal lives separate and you’ll find it easier to balance the two. Begin carefully scheduling each day and week so you know what’s ahead of you. Keeping a careful schedule and sticking to it makes you more productive and helps achieve balance.

Learn to prioritize

As you work through your to-do list for each day, evaluate the tasks you have to complete and identify what’s most important. Avoid getting bogged down on projects that can wait and be done at some other time. Prioritizing your most important work to get done first makes it easier to breeze through other tasks and feel relaxed. If you tackle the hardest projects first, you’ll feel less stressed as the day goes on and find it easier to leave the office at the end of your workday. You’ll also avoid feeling stressed out at home because you didn’t finish something important or are worrying when you’ll get it done.

Take time for yourself

A vital aspect of work-life balance is taking time to relax and focus on yourself. That could mean exercising every day, reading for fun, or spending time with family and friends. Regardless of what helps you relax, find ways to integrate it a little into each day. Constantly working wears you down if you avoid taking breaks and simply relaxing.

Communicate with others

In order to achieve real balance, you need to talk to the people around you. There are likely tasks that can be delegated to someone else, whether at work or at home. Share responsibilities with whoever you live with and communicate who should be responsible for what. You can do the same at work; speak up when you need help and trust others to complete some tasks you’re trying to do on your own.

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5 Ways to Foster Your Creativity at Work

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Regardless of the industry you work in or what your position is, creativity is vital to your job. However, when you’re putting in full work days, it can feel like you’re simply doing enough to finish all your tasks in the day and get by. Even if you enjoy being creative, you can’t force it and you won’t feel creative every second of your work day. Instead of giving up on using creativity in your job, find ways to foster it and use it to your advantage. It’s time to snap out of your mundane routine and take back your creativity. It’s important to always work on your creativity and find new ways to do your job that make you and your work more effective.

Start your morning strong

If you’re rushing around in the morning to get to work on time, it can throw your mind off for the entire day. Even setting your alarm back by 15 minutes can make for a better day. Consider using a sleep tracker to find out when the best time to wake up is and set your alarm for that. Then, once you’re up in the morning, spend time doing something interesting, such as reading an intriguing article, writing, or some time exercising.

Keep learning

We should all strive to embrace lifelong learning. You do not have to go to school your entire life to keep learning; you can achieve this goal without ever leaving your home. There are plenty of online resources, such as webinars or classes that you can take to learn something new. You can also take single classes at a local school or attend workshops. Find a way to stay creative and learn something new and you’ll see the benefits at work.

Do something on the side

Whether you get a side hustle or a hobby that allows you to embrace creativity, doing something outside your regular job is beneficial. It can be an alternative way to earn income or it can just be something interesting. You have a chance to take a break from your regular job and learn new skills that could help you there.

Schedule time to brainstorm

If you want to foster your creativity in your current position, find time to brainstorm. It can seem a bit forced to schedule time for creativity, but it simply means you’ll stop what you’re doing and give yourself time to take a break and think instead of rushing through your to-do list. Giving your mind time to wander can have fantastic results for your creativity.

Find inspiration

Whether you find inspiration through other people or something else is up to you. Surrounding yourself with creative people helps foster your creativity and can motivate you to work harder on creative projects. You can also find inspiration through books or images; surround yourself with what helps you be more creative.

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3 Tips for Keeping Your Smartphone Secure

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Your smartphone may be a small device, but it is a powerful piece of technology that you can use at your disposal to access the Internet, make important phone calls, and a litany of other things to increase your productivity. However, if you are not careful, your information and other pertinent features can be compromised by would-be criminals. Smartphone security is so very important, but not many know how to adequately make sure their phones are secure. Here are the best ways to go about properly securing your phone.

Make your PIN strong

Your smartphone’s PIN number is the first line of defense for security. If you are able to properly make a PIN that no criminal would be able to guess, you can protect your smartphone from infiltration. You have to make sure that your PIN isn’t short or predictable. Avoid making this number a date of graduation or a date of birth. The general rule of thumb is to make a PIN that is at least six digits in length. There are also smartphones that have multi-faceted security checkpoints such as facial ID and touch ID, so take advantage of those as well. The harder it is to unlock your smartphone, the more secure it’s going to be.

Avoid Third Party Stores

While you may have heard the temptation to download apps from third-party stores that are not a part of your smartphone’s main software, this could potentially lead to malware or other viruses being downloaded onto your phone because it is considered foreign material. This issue bodes especially true for iPhones, because the possibility exists to “jailbreak” it, causing it to be exposed to a many more harmful viruses that wouldn’t otherwise have access to it. Stick to your main party’s app store and platform, and do not run the risk of third party apps.

Permissions

By knowing how your phone’s permission system works, you can limit how much data a certain app can collect from your person and who can access it. These limitations can be extremely important, because sometimes the app will request permission to access complementary features on your phone such as the camera and microphone, and that can be used to collect data without your consent, even when you aren’t using the app. Go to your “Settings and permissions” tab to undo anything you do not want to subscribe to.

Follow some of these tips, and increase your smartphone secure today. Avoid having your private information stolen.

5 Reasons You Need Great Online Customer Service

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Maintaining a quality customer service department is more important than ever before, now that the internet has created greater transparency. There are many reasons your business should focus on providing excellent customer service, but they can generally be factored down into these five areas.

Good customer service builds loyalty

When your company offers good customer service, it builds trust and confidence in the consumer. If they know their concerns are important and will be addressed, they’re likely to return to your business when they need more products that you offer. Most consumers would prefer to stay with a business that has a proven track record of offering quality customer service, rather than take a chance with an unfamiliar company.

Low prices cannot compete

If you still doubt the importance consumers place on customer service, take a look at any recent consumer survey. The majority of consumers will pay more for a product, if they know the company selling it will back-up the purchase with efficient and courteous customer service. Too often, consumers opt for a lower price and end up with a bad product that the company will not handle properly when customer service is contacted. Conversely, a low price won’t attract customers, if they think the customer service department will be difficult if there’s any issues with the product.

It’s a powerful marketing tool

While most people think about customer service as a means of addressing customer complaints, it can be a useful marketing tool as well. Consumers satisfied with the quality of service tell others about their experiences, which helps build a positive reputation for your brand. The happier you can make your clients with customer service, the more likely they are to refer others to you.

Reduce conflict

You will never satisfy every single customer all the time, but how you handle complaints can be as important as the buying experience. When customers feel confident that you will attempt to resolve their problems, they’ll be more willing to return to your business.

Opportunity to connect

Today’s consumers expect a higher level of customization from their favorite brands and they like to feel as though they matter. Creating a quality customer service department, which is capable of addressing each individual concern, goes a long way toward achieving that goal. It’s a way to ensure that every customer can be satisfied and that they return to your company for their future needs.

Creating a quality customer service department may require a process of trial and error, but the effort will be worth it. Your brand’s willingness to put the customer first and address concerns to the best of your ability earns you consumer respect and engenders confidence in your business.

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How Safe are Self-Driving Cars?

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Earlier this year in late March, an Uber controlled by autopilot in Tempe, Arizona, struck and killed a pedestrian who quite literally darted out into the road directly in front of the autonomous vehicle.

The vehicle didn’t have enough time to react to the now-deceased pedestrian; there was a professional Uber driver who was sitting in the driver’s seat, behind the wheel – and she was devoting her entire attention to what was on the road that night.

While this event is tragic, it does not mean that self-driving cars are inherently unsafe. After the unfortunate death, many people questioned whether we should continue pursuing self-driving technology and allow these cars on the streets. However, there is plenty of research that shows self-driving cars are quite safe and can actually decrease the amount of risk associated with driving when compared to human drivers.

Let’s be fair – think about this for a moment

Autonomous cars are slowly being developed, tweaked, and manufactured as we speak. Every day, scientists are running tests and developing new technology to use in self-driving cars in an effort to make these cars as safe and accurate as possible. Thus far, no federal or state government in the United States allows people to ride in fully-autonomous motor vehicles. We’re still taking steps to ensure the safety of all people where self-driving cars are concerned.

Although the technology unarguably exists right now, intellectual property related to self-driving cars won’t be released anytime soon. This information is guarded and only partly shared with test drivers and companies who want to share the technology with interested business parties who helped contribute to the robotic technology.

We can assume that there aren’t any autonomously-operating cars out there just driving around putting humans at risk. Even if the cars were dangerous, it’s not a current concern. Companies are taking steps every day to ensure that the cars will be as safe as possible once they are released for business and commercial use. Businesses and governments will not allow self-driving cars on the roads if they haven’t completely proved their safety.

Official statistics from the United States National Transportation Safety Board, the go-to government agency for transportation in the United States, show that about 95 percent of all car crashes result from human error.  That statistic should say it all; self-driving cars are as safe as they get.

When dangerous car crashes do occur, almost always it’s because of a mistake humans made, whether that’s not paying attention to the road, driving in an altered mental state, or moving themselves or their vehicle in front of another vehicle without considering how quickly the other car can stop.

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3 Reasons You Need to Educate Yourself About Personal Finance

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Money is one of the most important things in life; the more money someone has, the more freedoms they effectively have since they are more able to make choices to live where and how they want. Some people are fortunate enough to inherit vast sums of money from family members or spouses, but most of us aren’t that lucky. Bill Gates, for example, has so much money that he doesn’t have to be financially literate; he is, of course, but everyone who lives paycheck-to-paycheck or close to it should be well-informed about personal finance.

There are several reasons why you and everybody else on the planet should know personal finance inside and out. Unfortunately, in the United States, barely more than 50 percent of adults are financial literate, says Standard and Poor’s Rating Services Survey “Financial Literacy Around the World.” The United States is both the wealthiest country in terms of gross domestic product and has the highest number of billionaires residing in the country, yet we’re far behind other countries when it comes to teaching and understanding financial literacy.

Even though so few Americans are financially literate, the basics of personal finance – everything someone would need to know to make responsible decisions – are not difficult to understand.

You’ll avoid frauds

If someone is financially literate, they are responsible in their decision-making as far as money and debt are concerned. People who are financially literate should be able to know differences between checking and savings accounts, how to calculate interest, and what inflation is. Thanks to this knowledge, if you’re financially literate, you’re much less likely to fall victim to some kind of financial fraud. You understand how to keep your personal information secure, avoid any investments that seem too good to be true, and are aware of various other facts that make it harder for you to fall victim to scams.

It provides comfort and a sense of security

Once someone is caught up on personal finance, they are less likely to feel anxiety related to money problems, have to borrow money, or waste money. All of your financial health improves as you educate yourself on personal finance.

Not only are people better off if they know about personal finance; they can talk about financial information and offer advice to their friends. The more common personal finance becomes in society, the more likely parents will be to pass the knowledge onto their kids and set them up for financial success.

Planning for retirement is a lot easier

Once someone learns about personal finance, they can then reasonably explore the world of financial investments and actually understand what’s going on. Investing is a personal finance topic many people lack understanding of, but if you work on building up your foundation of knowledge of personal finance, you’ll eventually see how much easier it is to plan for retirement once you have a greater understanding of investing and your options.

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