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These Hacks Will Make Your Work Day A Breeze

Workin' Girl

I can't remember who told me what I'm about to say, but I laughed when they said it and I'm chuckling now as I recall it—"Two things that you should do smart and not hard is f—k and work." As far as the work thing goes, there's research that echoes this very point (as far as sex goes, we'll have to touch on that at another time—LOL).


Did you know that, according to a Gallup poll, over half of us work more than 50 hours a week? Did you also know that once we reach that amount, productivity significantly slips and, when we don't take a full day off every week, it works against our job performance? (Check out "What to Do When You Don't Know How to Chill Out"). All of this serves as great reminders that if you're pushing yourself to do more than eight-hour work days, you should really think long and hard about if it's truly benefitting you—and whatever you're working on—or not.

While we're on this topic, as far as overall productivity goes, if you know you're not making the absolute most out of the time you have at work, not only will the following 10 tips help you to get more done, they will also help you to "work smart" in the process too. 'Cause really, why make work harder than it actually has to be?

1. Sing While You’re in the Shower

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Does this sound crazy? Maybe, but how about you try it first and then report back? Word on the street is that people who start off their day by singing a tune or two while they're washing up end up having more energy and feeling more positive than coffee drinkers do. A part of the reason is because singing takes us back to when our parents sang us lullabies as babies (it warms our hearts). Another reason is it results in what is known as "higher immune competence" which basically means it strengthens our immune systems.

So, if you've been singing in the shower, sing louder. If you've been too embarrassed to, give it a shot. You never know just how much it could impact the start of your day for the better.

2. Write a One Paragraph Weekly Mission Statement

If you don't have a personal and professional mission statement either in your journal or hanging up somewhere in your home office, there's no time like the present to put one together. Creating a mission statement is a great way to figure out what you want in life and then stay focused until you get it.

If you are already ahead of the game and you've got one jotted down somewhere, take things up a notch by writing a shorter version of one every Sunday or Monday. It doesn't have to be anything deep or dramatic. Just a few lines about what you want to accomplish and what you feel you deserve over the next 5-7 days when it comes to your professional life.

On the days when you're feeling overwhelmed, you just might be surprised by how quickly your paragraph-long mission statement can calm and center you.

3. Download the Self-Control App

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Surely, I'm not the only one who's surprised by this. I recently read that 40 percent of people admit that they spend an hour a week doing things at the office that are totally non-work-related; 30 percent said they wasted two hours and 21 percent owned up to wasting five or more. Unless you have your own office, it's kind of difficult to be on personal calls all day long. Oh, but it's super easy to be surfing the 'net for hours on end.

If you know that gossip blogs, new channels or YouTube videos are what's got you distracted, you might want to download the Self-Control app. It's an app that will literally block your access to certain websites for a certain period of time so that you can focus on other things. Like your job.

4. Hide Your Email Inbox

Speaking of apps that help to keep you on task, another cool one is the Inbox When Ready app. If you Google ways to save time at work, one of the things that most articles are going to mention is you should limit the amount of time that you spend checking your inbox(es).

For the most part, it's a good idea to check it in the morning, at lunch and about 15 minutes before calling it a day. But if you know that you don't have the self-control to only look 2-3 times, this app will help you out. What it basically does is hide your inbox for a certain amount of time. That way, you won't be distracted by every message that comes in throughout the day. This alone, could result in you gaining an extra 1-2 hours (at least) a week of productivity, easily.

5. Turn Off Your Notifications

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Guess how many times, on average, people check their phones on a daily basis? Every freakin' 12 minutes! That roughly equates to 80 times a day. Aside from how much checking your phone serves as a distraction, based on the notification that pops up, that can also deter you from what needs to be done at your desk.

You can probably think of at least two dozen things on your phone that are more interesting than the tasks that are waiting for you. But are any of those things paying your rent? Checkmate. Yeah, do yourself, and your back account, a favor and either set your notifications on vibrate or (even better) silent. And put your phone in your purse or desk drawer so that you won't be tempted.

6. Do the Hardest Things—First.

I work from home. For so many reasons, and on so many levels, it's awesome. But if there's one thing that I sometimes struggle with, it's putting off the thing that I don't want to do for as long as possible. This isn't smart for a few reasons. One, even if I procrastinate, the weight of the project, assignment or task is ever-looming over me. Two, if I start off dragging, it's easy to "keep that same energy" with other items on my to-do list. Three, by the time I do get around to it, it's even harder to get done because I'm already worn out from doing other stuff.

That's why it really is best to do the hardest things you've got on your plate first. Once that is completed, you'll feel like you've already accomplished a lot and that will make knocking out everything else a breeze.

7. Hold Meetings While Standing Up

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I can't recall where I read this at the moment, but it was such a good tip that it stayed with me. A CEO somewhere said that he prefers to hold meetings with everyone standing up. It adds a sense of urgency to them and, it also prevents everyone from getting too comfortable (and distracted) like they would if they were sitting down. Plus, who wants to stand for 30 minutes straight? 15-20 minutes tends to be our limit which is the CEO's point. Get in, get out. Next.

While I'm on this topic, if you've been looking for a great note-taking app, try Cogi. Long story short, it's a recording app that has the ability to highlight the important points of what was said in a meeting so you don't have to worry about jotting everything down and/or missing the "good" parts.

8. Take Your Breaks (Away from Your Desk)

I've got a girlfriend who works through her breaks and lunches every single day. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. She claims she does it so that she can get more work done, but whenever I check in with her, she's drained and exasperated.

It's not healthy to do anything for too long without taking a break from it, work included. If you want to have more energy, a fresh perspective and the ability to find your second wind so that you can be more productive during the last half of the day, take your breaks. Away from your desk, outside if you can. The fresh air and sunlight will do you a world of good and make a huge difference.

9. Make a Plan for the Following Day

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If one of the reasons why you hate the first 2-3 hours of almost every work day is because you're always feeling pressured or rushed, which leads you to feeling overwhelmed, something that you can do to prevent that from happening in the future is make a plan for your following day during the last 15-20 minutes of the present day. The plan should consist of putting down what you need to do in the order of most important (or hardest) to least important, along with any goals that you want to achieve. That way, as soon as you walk in the following morning, your day will already be nice and organized.

Speaking of organized, if Post-it Notes aren't gonna quite cut it, Any.do is an app that easily creates lists and reminders for you. You can even sync your info with others if you need to. That way, your co-worker will know what time you'll be meeting with them and your significant other will know who's supposed to be picking up dinner on the way home.

10.  Give Yourself Something to Look Forward To

Reward is such a great word. It means "something given or received in return or recompense for service, merit, hardship, etc." Depending on the kind of day or week you've had, you might deserve something based on the service you gave or the hardship that you endured. But make no mistake about it, you definitely should do something special for yourself for a job well done.

If you start off each week with a "reward plan" in place, not only will it get you through those ho-hum moments (like hump day), it will also give you something to look forward to. It can also keep you on task too. So, every Sunday night, plan to reward yourself for anything from showing up 10 minutes early every day to having that much-needed chat with your boss.

Just knowing that a spa day or your favorite bottle of wine is awaiting you at the end of the week is something else that will make each and every work day that much easier.

Featured image by Getty Images

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

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Lawd, lawd. I'm assuming that I'm not being too presumptuous when I start this all out by saying, I'm pretty sure that more than just a few of us can relate to this title and topic. I know that personally, there are several men from my sexual past who would've been out of my space a lot sooner had the sex not been…shoot, so damn good. And it's because of that very thing that you'll never ever convince me that sex can't mess with your head. The oxytocin highs (that happen when we kiss, cuddle and orgasm) alone can easily explain why a lot of us will make a sexual connection with someone and stay involved with them for weeks, months, years even, even if the mental and emotional dynamic is subpar, at best.

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