You’ve heard about plenty of privacy risks. Here’s what to do next.That little privacy people don’t give away, companies tend to take. Given this unfortunate reality, to get complete privacy you’d need to install a labyrinthine series of software tools that make the internet slow and unusable — think specialty Web browsers, encrypted email and chat; virtual private networks; and security-focused incognito operating systems. Or you’d need to stay off the internet altogether.But don’t lose hope. Although total privacy is all but unattainable, you can protect yourself in two ways: Lock down your devices and accounts so they don’t give away your data, and practice cautious behavior online. Getting started is easy. By making a few simple changes to your devices and accounts, you can maintain security against outside parties’ unwanted attempts to gain access to your data as well as protect your privacy from those you don’t consent to sharing your information with. You really can take back some control over who has access to your data. Here’s how, according to the experts at Wirecutter, a product recommendation site owned by The New York Times Company. Start with these tools, but keep in mind that behavior matters just as much.
Password manager: LastPass or 1Password
Browser extensions: uBlock Origin (Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Safari), HTTPS Everywhere, Privacy Badger Antivirus: Windows Defender and Malwarebytes Premium
1. Secure your accounts
Why: In the past decade, data breaches and password leaks have struck companies such as Equifax, Facebook, Home Depot, Marriott, Target, Yahoo and countless others. If you have online accounts, hackers are likely to have leaked data from at least one of them. Want to know which of your accounts have been compromised? Search for your email address on Have I Been Pwned? to cross-reference your email address with hundreds of data breaches.
How: Everyone should use a password manager to generate and remember different, complex passwords for every account. This is the most important thing people can do to protect their privacy and security today. Wirecutter’s favorite password managers are LastPass and 1Password. Both can generate passwords, monitor accounts for security breaches, suggest changing weak passwords, and sync your passwords between your computer and phone. Password managers seem intimidating to set up, but once you’ve installed one you just need to browse the internet as usual. As you log in to accounts, the password manager saves your passwords and suggests changing weak or duplicate passwords. Over the course of a couple of weeks, you end up with new passwords for most of your accounts. Take this time to also change the default passwords for any devices in your house — if your home router, smart light bulbs or security cameras are still using “password” or “1234” as the password, change them. Everyone should also use two-step authentication whenever possible for their online accounts. Most banks and major social networks provide this option. As the name suggests, two-step authentication requires two steps: entering your password and entering a number only you have access to. For example, step one is logging in to Facebook with your user name and password. In step two, Facebook sends a temporary code to you in a text message or, even better, through an app like Google Authenticator, and you enter that code to log in.
[Technology has made our lives easier. But it also means that your data is no longer your own. We’ll examine who is hoarding your information — and give you a guide for what you can do about it. Sign up for our limited-run newsletter.]
2. Update your software and devices
Why: Phone and computer operating systems, Web browsers, popular apps and even smart-home devices receive frequent updates with new features and security improvements. These security updates are typically far better than antivirus software at thwarting hackers.
How: All three major operating systems can update automatically, but you should take a moment to double-check that you have automatic updates enabled for your OS of choice: Windows, macOS, or Chrome OS. Although it’s frustrating to turn your computer on and have to wait out an update that might break the software you use, the security benefits are worth the trouble. These updates include new versions of Microsoft’s Edge browser and Apple’s Safari. Most third-party Web browsers, including Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox, also update automatically. If you tend to leave your browser open all the time, remember to reboot it now and again to get those updates. Your phone also has automatic-update options. On Apple’s iPhone, enable automatic updates under Settings > General > Software Update. On Google’s Android operating system, security updates should happen automatically, but you can double-check by opening up Settings > System > Advanced > System Update. For third-party software and apps, you may need to find and enable a check for updates option in the software’s settings. Smart-home devices such as cameras, thermostats and light bulbs can receive updates to the app as well as to the hardware itself. Check the settings using the device’s app to make sure these updates happen automatically; if you don’t find an automatic-update option, you may have to manually reboot the device on occasion (a monthly calendar reminder might help).
3. Protect your web browsing
Why: Companies and websites track everything you do online. Every ad, social network button and website collects information about your location, browsing habits and more. The data collected reveals more about you than you might expect. You might think yourself clever for never tweeting your medical problems or sharing all your religious beliefs on Facebook, for instance, but chances are good that the websites you visit regularly provide all the data advertisers need to pinpoint the type of person you are. This is part of how targeted ads remain one of the internet’s most unsettling innovations.
How: A browser extension like uBlock Origin blocks ads and the data they collect. The uBlock Origin extension also prevents malware from running in your browser and gives you an easy way to turn the ad blocking off when you want to support sites you know are secure. Combine uBlock with Privacy Badger, which blocks trackers, and ads won’t follow you around as much. To slow down stalker ads even more, disable interest-based ads from Apple, Facebook, Google and Twitter. A lot of websites offer means to opt out of data collection, but you need to do so manually. Simple Opt Out has direct links to opt-out instructions for major sites like Netflix, Reddit and more. Doing this won’t eliminate the problem completely, but it will significantly cut down on the amount of data collected. You should also install the HTTPS Everywhere extension. HTTPS Everywhere automatically directs you to the secure version of a site when the site supports that, making it difficult for an attacker — especially if you’re on public Wi-Fi at a coffee shop, airport or hotel — to digitally eavesdrop on what you’re doing. Some people may want to use a virtual private network (VPN), but it’s not necessary for everyone. If you frequently connect to public Wi-Fi, a VPN is useful because it adds a layer of security to your browsing when HTTPS isn’t available. It can also provide some privacy from your internet service provider and help minimize tracking based on your IP address. But all your internet activity still flows through the VPN provider’s servers, so in using a VPN you’re choosing to trust that company over your ISP not to store or sell your data. Make sure you understand the pros and cons first, but if you want a VPN, Wirecutter recommends IVPN.
4. Don’t install sketchy software
Why: Every weird app you install on your phone and every browser extension or piece of software you download from a sketchy website represents another potential privacy and security hole. Countless mobile apps track your location everywhere you goand harvest your data without asking consent, even in children’s apps.
How: Stop downloading garbage software, and stick to downloading programs and browser extensions directly from their makers and from official app stores. You don’t need half the apps on your phone, and getting rid of what you don’t need can make your phone feel faster. Once you clear out the apps you don’t use, audit the privacy permissions of what’s left. If you have an iPhone, open Settings and tap the Privacy option. On Android, head to Settings > Apps, and then tap the gear icon and select App Permissions. Here, you can see which apps have access to your location, contacts, microphone, and other data. Disable permissions where they don’t make sense — for example, Google Maps needs your location to function, but your notes app doesn’t. In the future, think about app permissions as you install new software; if an app is free, it’s possibly collecting and selling your data. The same rules go for your computer. If you’re not sure what to delete from your Windows computer, Should I Remove It? can help you choose. (Yes, it’s more software, but you should delete it after you’re done using it.) Mac users don’t have an equivalent, but all software resides in the Applications folder, so it’s easy to sift through. If you find an app you don’t remember installing, search for it on Google, and then drag it to the trash to delete it if you don’t need it.
5. Use antivirus software on your computer
Why: Viruses might not seem as common as they were a decade ago, but they still exist. Malicious software on your computer can wreak all kinds of havoc, from annoying pop-ups to covert bitcoin mining to scanning for personal information. If you’re at risk for clicking perilous links, or if you share a computer with multiple people in a household, it’s worthwhile to set up antivirus software, especially on Windows computers.
How: If your computer runs Windows 10, you should use Microsoft’s built-in software, Windows Defender. Windows Defender offers plenty of security for most people, and it’s the main antivirus option that Wirecutter recommends; we reached that conclusion after speaking with several experts. If you run an older version of Windows (even though we recommend updating to Windows 10) or you use a shared computer, a second layer of protection might be necessary. For this purpose, Malwarebytes Premium is your best bet. Malwarebytes is nonintrusive, it works well with Windows Defender, and it doesn’t push out dozens of annoying notifications like most antivirus utilities tend to do. Mac users are typically O.K. with the protections included in macOS, especially if you download software only from Apple’s App Store and stick to well-known browser extensions. If you do want a second layer of security, Malwarebytes Premium is also available for Mac. You should avoid antivirus applications on your phone altogether and stick to downloading trusted apps from official stores.
6. Lock down your phone in case you lose it
Why: You need to ensure that nobody can get into your phone if you lose it or someone steals it. Smartphones are encrypted by default, which is great, but you still need to take a few steps to ensure that your phone is properly locked down if it disappears.
How: You have two main defenses here. The first is to use a strong passcode alongside your biometric (fingerprint or face) login. The second is to set up your phone’s remote-tracking feature. If you haven’t taken the first step, set up a PIN or pattern, and enable the biometric login on your phone. You can find these options on an iPhone under Settings > Face ID & Passcode or Touch ID & Passcode, and on an Android phone under Settings > Security and location.
Next, set up your phone’s remote-tracking feature. If you lose your phone, you’ll be able to see where it is, and you can remotely delete everything on the phone if you can’t recover it. On an iPhone, head to Settings, tap your name, and then go to iCloud > Find My iPhone. On an Android phone, tap Settings > Security & location and enable Find My Device.
7. Enable encryption on your laptop (it’s easier than it sounds)
Why: If you lose your laptop or someone steals it, the thief gets both a sweet new piece of hardware and access to your data. Even without your password, thieves can usually still copy files off the laptop if they know what they’re doing. If a stranger poked around your laptop, he might get a look at all your photos, say, or your tax returns, or maybe an unfinished bit of “Game of Thrones”fanfiction.
How: When you encrypt the storage drive on your laptop, your password and a security key protect your data; without your password or the key, the data becomes nonsense. Although encryption might sound like something from a high-tech spy movie, it’s simple and free to enable with built-in software. Follow these directions on how to set up encryption on both Windows and Mac.
Speaking of computer theft, if you store a lot of data on your computer, it’s worth the effort to back it up securely. For this purpose, Wirecutter likes the online backup service Backblaze, which encrypts all its data in a way that even the folks at Backblaze don’t have access to it. Ultimately, security and privacy are linked, so you need to get in the habit of protecting both. It might seem like a time-consuming, overwhelming headache, but once you follow these steps, all that’s left is to cultivate your judgment and establish good online behaviors. Be suspicious of links in emails and on social media. Make your accounts private, and don’t share anything you don’t want madepublic. Keep your main email address and phone number relatively private. Use a burner email account you don’t care about for shopping and other online activities; that way, if an account is hacked, it’s not linked to an important personal account, like that of your bank. Likewise, avoid using your real name and number when you have to sign up for a service you don’t care about, such as discount cards at a grocery store (your area code plus Jenny’s number — 867-5309 -- usually gets you whatever club-card discount a retailer offers). Don’t link together services, like Facebook and Spotify, or Twitter and Instagram, unless you gain a really useful feature by doing so. Don’t buy “internet of things” devices (like smart watches or speakers) unless you’re willing to give up a little privacy for whatever convenience they provide. Once you settle into a low-key, distrustful paranoia about new apps and services, you’ll be well on your way to avoiding many privacy-invading practices.
A version of this article appears at Wirecutter.com. Mr. Klosowski is a staff writer at Wirecutter, a product recommendation site owned by The New York Times Company.
Follow @privacyproject on Twitter and The New York Times Opinion Section on Facebook and Instagram.
One tip to help make you happy: Think about your goals. It changes how you see the world and releases happy chemicals in your noggin.So what’s going to make you happy? Let’s get more specific: what’s going to make your brain happy? And let’s focus on things that are simple and easy to do instead of stuff like winning the lottery.
Neuroscience has answers. I’ve discussed this subject before and it was so popular I decided to call an expert to get even more dead simple ways to start your brain feeling joy. So let’s get to it. Alex has some great suggestions for simple things you can do to feel happier every day …
1) Listen To Music From The Happiest Time In Your Life
Music affects the brain in an interesting way: it can remind you of places you have listened to it before.Were you happiest in college? Play the music you loved then and it can transport you to that happier place and boost your mood. Here’s Alex: One of the strong effects of music comes from its ability to remind us of previous environments in which we were listening to that music. That’s really mediated by this one limbic structure called the hippocampus which is really important in a thing called “context dependent memory.” Let’s say college was the happiest time of your life. If you start listening to the music that you were listening to at that time, it can help you feel more connected to that happier time in your life and makes it more present. I hope you weren’t happiest in elementary school because it’s going to be weird if you’re playing the Barney song or the Sesame Street theme around the house. (To learn more about what the music you love says about you, click here.)
Now you can’t listen to music everywhere you go. What does neuroscience say you should do when you have to take those earbuds out?
2) Smile — And Wear Sunglasses
The brain isn’t always very smart. Sometimes your mind is getting all this random info and it isn’t sure how to feel. So it looks around for clues. This is called “biofeedback.” Here’s Alex:
Biofeedback is just the idea that your brain is always sensing what is happening in your body and it reviews that information to decide how it should feel about the world. You feel happy and that makes you smile. But it works both ways: when you smile, your brain can detect this and say, “I’m smiling. That must mean I’m happy.” So happiness makes you smile, but smiling can also produce happiness. Feeling down? Smile anyway. “Fake it until you make it” can work. Here’s Alex:
That’s part of the “fake it until you make it” strategy because when your brain senses, “Oh, I’m frowning,” then it assumes, “Oh, I must not be feeling positive emotions.” Whereas when it notices you flexing those muscles on the side of the mouth it thinks, “I must be smiling. Oh, we must be happy.” When you start to change the emotions that you’re showing on your face, that changes how your brain interprets a lot of ambiguous stimuli. Since most stimuli that we experience is ambiguous, if you start to push the probability in the positive direction then that’s going to have a really beneficial effect. In fact, research shows smiling gives the brain as much pleasure as 2000 bars of chocolate, or $25,000. And so what’s this about sunglasses? Bright light makes you squint. Squinting looks a lot like being worried. So guess what biofeedback that produces? Yup. Your brain can misinterpret that as being unhappy. Sunglasses kill the squint and can help tell your brain, “Hey, everything is okay.” Here’s Alex: When you’re looking at bright lights you have this natural reaction to squint. But that often has the unintended effect of you flexing this particular muscle, the “corrugator supercilii.” Putting on sunglasses means you don’t have to squint and therefore you’re not contracting this muscle and it stops making your brain think, “Oh my God, I must be worried about something.” It’s really just a simple little interruption of that feedback loop. So smile. And wear those sunglasses. They can make you look cool and make you happier. (For more on how to be happier and more successful, click here.) So you have your music playing, you’re smiling and wearing your sunglasses. But you can still be stressed about things. What should you think about to kill your worries and keep yourself happy?
3) Thinking About Goals Changes How You See The World
And I mean, literally. Researchers flashed a bunch of circles on a screen in front of study subjects. One of the circles was always slightly different than the others. It was brighter or smaller, etc.
But when they told people to prepare to point at or try to grab the circles something crazy happened…If they thought about pointing at the circles, they became better at noticing the brighter circle. If they were told to think about grabbing a circle, it was easier for them to identify the smaller circle. What’s that mean? Having a goal literally changed how they saw the world.
So when you’re feeling stressed or challenged, think about your long-term goals. It gives your brain a sense of control and can release dopamine which will make you feel better and more motivated. Here’s Alex: The goals and intentions that you set in your prefrontal cortex change the way that your brain perceives the world. Sometimes when we feel like everything is going wrong and we’re not making any progress and everything is awful, you don’t need to change the world, you can just change the way you are perceiving the world and that is going to be enough to make a positive difference. By thinking, “Okay, what is my long-term goal? What am I trying to accomplish?” Calling that to mind can actually make it feel rewarding to be doing homework instead of going to the party because then your brain is like, “Oh yeah. I’m working towards that goal. I’m accomplishing something that’s meaningful to me.” Then that can start to release dopamine in the nucleus accumbens and that can start to make you feel better about what you’re doing. (To see the schedule the most successful people follow every day, click here.) Sometimes you can try all these little tricks and it doesn’t feel like it’s making a bit of difference. That’s often because you’re missing something that’s really key to good brain function …
4) Get Good Sleep
We all know depression messes up how people sleep. But what’s interesting is it’s actually a two way street: bad sleep also causes depression. Here’s Alex: They took all these people with insomnia and followed them for a few years and it turned out that the people with chronic insomnia were much more likely to develop depression. Depression causes sleep problems but sleep problems are also more likely to lead to depression. So how do you improve your sleep? Alex has a number of suggestions: Get bright sunlight in the middle of the day. At night, try and stay in a dimly lit environment. Having a comfortable place to sleep and having a bedtime ritual so that your brain can prepare to go to sleep are also good. Trying to go to sleep at the same time every night and keeping a gratitude journal can also improve your sleep. (To learn everything you need to know about having the best night’s sleep ever, click here.) All this little stuff to feel better is good. But if you’re not getting stuff done at work it’s going to be hard to stay happy. What’s neuroscience say about building good habits and conquering procrastination so you can stay smiling?
5) How Neuroscience Beats Procrastination
Your brain isn’t one big ol’ lump of grey goo that’s perfectly organized. Far from it. Think of it a little more like a bunch of your relatives arguing at the dinner table during a holiday get together.
When it comes to the choices you make and the things you do, Alex says there are 3 regions you need to be concerned with. You don’t need to memorize the names. It’s just important to realize they all get a vote:
I have a friend who always says, “Stress takes the prefrontal cortex offline.” Stress changes the dynamics of that conversation. It weakens the prefrontal cortex. That part of your brain doesn’t have infinite resources. It can’t be eternally vigilant and so while it’s not paying attention, your striatum is like, “Let’s go eat a cookie. Let’s go drink a beer.” Anything that you can do to reduce stress can help strengthen the prefrontal cortex’s control over your habits. So if you want to build good habits and stop procrastinating, the first thing to do is reduce stress. (The best ways to do that are here.) Procrastination is often a vicious circle because you delay, then you have less time to complete the project, so you get more stressed, procrastinate more, have even less time, which makes you even more stressed and … well, you get the idea. So what’s the answer? After a little something to reduce stress, find one small thing you can do to get started. This focuses you and prevents the overwhelm that knocks the prefrontal cortex out of the conversation. Here’s Alex:
When the prefrontal cortex is taken offline by stress we end up doing things that are immediately pleasurable. Instead of getting overwhelmed, ask yourself, “What’s one little thing that I could do now that would move me toward this goal I’m trying to accomplish?” Taking one small step toward it can make it start to feel more manageable. (To learn 5 weird but effective ways to conquer chronic procrastination, click here.) Time to round up everything we learned. Alex gave us six great …
Wait. Did I only say “5” in the headline? Okay, you’re getting a bonus. Keep reading for Alex’s #1 easy thing to do to cause an upward spiral of happiness in your life …
Here’s what you can learn from Alex about how neuroscience can bring happiness:
Go for a walk outside every morning, preferably with a friend.
Yup, that’s it. How can something so incredibly simple be so powerful? Here’s Alex:
I think the simplest way to kick start an upward spiral is to go for a walk outside every morning, and if possible, do it with a friend. The walk engages the exercise system and when you’re walking outside the sunlight you’re exposed to has benefits on the sleep systems and can impact the serotonin system. If you do it every day, then it starts getting ingrained in the dorsal striatum and becomes a good habit. If you can do it with a friend, that’s even better because you get the social connection.
Right now: share this post with a friend and ask them to join you for a walk tomorrow morning. That’s it. (And wear your sunglasses.) Go outside. Put one foot in front of the other. Smile with a friend. And you’re on your way to neuroscientific happiness. Looks like it really is the simple things in life that bring us joy.
If the next person you meet says or does any of these things, they might be passive-aggressive.
If Jim Rohn is right and you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with, then you definitely don't want hostile people in your inner circle. And you also don't want to hire or work with with passive-aggressive people. At least openly aggressive people are fairly direct in actions and words; while you might not like what they say or do, at least you know how they really feel--and what they are likely to actually do. A passive-aggressive person, on the other hand, "may appear to comply or act appropriately, but actually behaves negatively and passively resists."
Maybe what passive-aggressive people do is relatively benign, like agreeing to and then canceling a meeting they had no intention of attending. Or maybe their behavior is more extreme and can negatively impact your success or happiness. You definitely don't need those people in your life.
So how can you tell, as quickly as possible, if someone is passive-aggressive? Be alert for conversational and behavioral indications like these:
1. They ask questions that make you feel defensive.
You tell someone you're following a keto diet plan. Instead of asking, "What does that involve?" or saying, "I've heard about keto diets, but don't know much about them," or even just, "How is that going for you?" a passive-aggressive person might say, "Why did you ever decide to do that?"
At face value, the question is valid: Why did you decide to follow a keto diet plan? But the undertone--and tone of voice--is accusatory and immediately makes you feel defensive.
Which is a problem. You shouldn't feel defensive about the choices you make. If someone has a different opinion--one that even, after a respectful conversation, convinces you to change your mind--that's great. (In fact, Jeff Bezos says that's the hallmark of smart people.)
A different opinion shouldn't make you feel defensive.
And other people should never make you feel defensive.
2. They give back-handed compliments.
Your startup has turned the corner. Significant sweat, tears, and sleepless nights later, it's profitable.
What will a passive-aggressive person say?
"I can't believe you actually made that work." Or, "If you can convince people to buy (whatever you sell), you must be amazing at selling." Or, "Wow. I had no idea you were good with people."
A genuine compliment leaves you feeling good about yourself. A back-handed compliment leaves you thinking, "Wait...what?"
Life's too short to think, "Wait...what?"
3. They try to make you feel sorry for them.
An entrepreneur's startup gets funded. Most people will say, "That's awesome! She's worked really hard to build her business."
Passive-aggressive people will say, "We should be able to attract venture capital, too...but no one ever gets how big our market could be."
Most people are happy when others succeed. Great leaders, for example, find happiness in the success of others. Passive-aggressive people want you to feel sorry for them. They want you to feel guilty if you succeed. And they definitely try to imply that you--and other people--don't deserve the success you worked so hard to earn.
4. They ignore what you say. (Or that you exist.)
You ask a question. You make a comment. You share an opinion. There's a pregnant pause.
Then the other person talks about something else. Or says nothing at all. Or they simply ignore the fact you exist--because they're mad at you, or upset at you, or don't like something you just said or did. Not responding is classic passive-aggressive behavior. And so is pretending that someone doesn't exist: whether by ignoring their presence, leaving them off email chains, "forgetting" to ask for their input, etc. Most people let you know where you--and your professional or personal relationship--stand. Passive-aggressive people make you figure out where you stand. And where you're standing never turns out to be somewhere good.
5. They gossip.
It's hard to resist inside information and gossip. Finding out the reasons behind someone's decisions, the motivations behind someone's actions, the inside scoop about someone's hidden agenda...that stuff is hard to resist. The problem is, the person who gives you the inside scoop on other people is also giving other people the inside scoop on you. Passive-aggressive people love sharing the dirt; they feel better about themselves by making other people look bad.
The people you want around you feel good about making other people look good.
They don't take. They give.Just like you.
The real challenge isn't the work; it's learning to love your own company. For jobs that don't absolutely require face-to-face interaction, working from home is far more productive than traditional office environment and also tend to make employees happier and less stressed. The reasons: no commute time, more privacy, fewer interruptions, and control over your schedule. I know a little bit about working from home because, aside from the odd business trip or conference, I've exclusively worked from home since 1996. It's literally been decades since I've even considered taking a regular job, so I suppose you could say that I've successfully made the transition. I've also watched numerous colleagues and friends attempt full-time work-from-home, with mixed results. When they try to crossover to the lifestyle, they often discover that working from home is challenging in ways they don't expect.
Those challenges include staying focused without outside supervision, innumerable temptations to goof off (videogames, Netflix, etc.), and the nearness of a fully stocked kitchen. A former boss of mine went full-time work-from-home and gained 50 pounds in a single year.
By far the biggest challenge of working from home, though, is the lack of social contact. Let's face it: it's fun to bat stuff around and generally hang out with people who share a common interest, in this case the work you're collectively doing. Indeed, employees hate the open plan office because it suppresses conversations and reduces collaboration.
Lack of social contact can turn pretty quickly into loneliness. One guy I worked with in corporate marketing was basically a professional meeting-goer. When he tried to go freelance, he didn't know what to do with himself. He got so blue that he accepted an office job for which he was overqualified just to be around people again. So, if you're going to succeed and get the full benefit of working from home full-time, you'll need to overcome the tendency toward loneliness and learn to enjoy your own company. Here's how:
Stephanie Denning for Bergen Review
Every additional year I spend in the workforce, I realize promotions become increasingly mystifying. The guy you never thought would advance suddenly gets a raise. Your colleague who definitely didn’t deserve it gets promoted. Your peer, who is no smarter nor harder working, gets promoted more quickly. But you also get promoted faster than you expected maybe as many times as you’re disappointed. You are recognized for work you thought everyone was doing. And you get a raise when you least expect it.
After 10 years of watching these promotion cycles, I’ve decided they only get more and more complex.
Promotions at work, by and large, still mimic “promotions” at school. At school, you do well in an intro-level class, and you then advance to the next. That process, however ill-suited, is the same one in place for promotions at work. Do well in your existing job and you will excel. But the skill set to excel in your current job doesn’t necessarily match the skill set required for the job you’re stepping into.
You don’t have to look far to find examples. It’s common to see great software developers who get promoted and then poorly manage, great writers who get promoted to editors and then poorly edit, business analysts who get promoted and then poorly manage or sell the work. In short, the promotion problem is everywhere. So common, in fact, that there’s an entire management theory around it:
The Peter Principle.
The Peter Principle is defined as the phenomenon in most organizations where employees continue to get promoted until they hit a skill set-ceiling and eventually fail. In the book that bears the same name, The Peter Principle, by Laurence Peter and Raymond Hull, the authors describe it more succinctly. "In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence." Visually, it looks a little like this.
At the start of your career or a new job, you might get promoted, but eventually, you get to a point where you no longer possess the skills needed for the job. This is where you fail. The Peter Principle posits that this is almost a universal concept, that everyone at some point will experience this. And I believe that to be true.
But if this is truly a universal problem, it would be fair to ask: Are we all fated to fall into the Peter Principle, or is there a way out?
I’ve been informally studying the trajectory of career success for the last 10 years, and to answer this question, I’ll leave you with three frameworks to consider.
Focus On Productivity (Not Income) Growth
When many people enter the workforce, they are concerned (understandably) with how much money they make. But it’s the amount of money you make relative to the value you generate as an employee that matters. In equilibrium, you’re paid what you think you are worth. If you ever let your income rise faster than productivity, the Peter Principle traps you. In "How The Economic Machine Works," investor Ray Dalio offers a similar conclusion: "Don’t have income rise faster than productivity because you’ll eventually become uncompetitive."
If your income rises faster than your productivity, you price yourself out of the market. At first, you’ll likely experience a career burst as you start making more money than your peers, but that will quickly turn into a career bust if you fail to adjust your productivity growth. Your wage will recalibrate back down to match your productivity until you reach a point of equilibrium.
Do all that you can to raise productivity because in the long run, that’s what matters most," says Dalio.
Don’t Conflate Job Title With Skill Set
As people advance in a corporation and get subsumed by the politics of that particular organization, it is easy to lose sight of the skill set you’re developing, and perhaps more importantly, to lose sight of how that skill set is valued in the marketplace. Too many people conflate job title and pay for skill set. If you aren’t proactively developing a unique set of skills, you could easily again fall trap to the Peter Principle.
Let’s say you make a pretty good salary. If your skill set isn’t difficult or costly to acquire, new entrants in the market will quickly acquire that skill set and offer to do the same job for marginally less pay. Firms will then substitute cheaper and equally effective labor. That triggers the substitution effect.
If your skill set isn’t scarce, you face either taking a salary hit or getting pushed out. Develop a skill set in high demand, but short supply.
Apply Neil Gaiman’s “Secret Framework”
As most people in the workforce eventually learn, promotions are not based on your work alone. In writer Neil Gaiman’s keynote address at University of the Arts, he gifted the audience his secret framework for getting freelance work. But the real secret, I believe, is that this framework applies to all jobs. "I will pass on some secret freelancer knowledge. Secret knowledge is always good. And it is useful for anyone who ever plans to create art for other people, to enter a freelance world of any kind. I learned it in comics, but it applies to other fields too. And it's this: "People get hired because, somehow, they get hired. . . . People keep working because their work is good, because they are easy to get along with, and because they deliver the work on time. "And you don't even need all three. Two out of three is fine. People will tolerate how unpleasant you are if your work is good and you deliver it on time. They'll forgive the lateness of the work if it's good, and if they like you. And you don't have to be as good as the others if you're on time and it's always a pleasure to hear from you."
To summarize Gaiman’s framework, here is a visual for you.
Developing unique skills is only one part of the puzzle. Find the two overlapping areas in which you most excel and mine it. If you happen to rate yourself as above average in all three, you’re probably overestimating your capabilities. However, if you happen to find yourself in a job where you feel way out of your depth, but you're willing to put in the effort learn, you can always hold on tight to these other two areas while you slowly learn the skills required to say sayonara to the Peter Principle.
Anyone who knows me knows that I religiously leverage my calendar to make sure I prioritize and shift tasks in order to get everything done as efficiently as possible. My approach is based on my core values (personal & professional) and prioritizing what is important versus unimportant. I definitely value my time and protect it. I take full accountability for how I spend it. That’s why I am a big believer in waking up early, working with purpose, working smart and getting things done – you know, the invisible work that Jeff Bezos famously refers to.
However, over the last 12-18 months, I have really started to question whether or not “busy” is the new “stupid”. In a world seduced by entrepreneurship porn and the glamorization of the “grind”, we need to step back and take notice of this epidemic. There are tons who are sacrificing their personal development and health while on a professional journey. A journey filled with glamorizing the busy life via social or by attending every single networking event the city can possibly hold, all in addition to being seduced in to mixers and incubator/chamber events due to FOMO (fear of missing out). Many feel their lack of ‘busyness’ means they are unsuccessful. Now listen, I’m in favour of being active in the community because that’s how you create opportunities, but your activity has to have a purpose and should aim directly at what you are trying to achieve, especially if your activities are going to take away from your personal time and family. It should not be aimlessly and meaninglessly driven by FOMO. It should be driven by the fact that you are hitting your professional and personal milestones and goals. The bottom line is that there needs to be results tied to your “busyness”, or you’re just haemorrhaging time! And I get it; I live it and I’ve said it before, entrepreneurship and business, especially today, is 24/7 with little to no downtime, but I implore you carve out time in your day to ensure you are not neglecting all parts of your life. It’s super important to control your time and create a cohesive and healthy approach to everything you do. Being “busy” is not the indicator of success and mentioning “you’re too busy for x” is not an indicator of success. In my opinion it is the indicator of only 2 things:
1) Whatever you are “too busy for” is simply not a priority – which is fair, but I challenge you to tell the person that it is not a priority at the moment versus just mentioning that you are too busy.
2) You’re not able to control your time – which is scary, especially when growing a business and/or family.
Overall, as mentioned by Robert Glazer via Inc. – “Being busy shouldn’t be a status symbol. It probably means you need to manage your time better.” Even Albert Einstein concluded – “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough“. I can apply this quote to this article as well. If you can’t simplify, organize and manage your life and time for personal development, claiming that you are just too busy…then you don’t understand your own life well enough.
Bill Gates states that you should ask yourself 4 crucial questions in order to assess the quality of your life (the last being inspired by Warren Buffett):
Now, I will continue to put in the invisible work by waking up early, working with purpose, working smart and getting things done. And I will still schedule my day, minute by minute, for maximum efficiency (both professionally and personally), never claiming that I am too busy, but prioritizing where my time goes. By doing this, it will continue to open up more time and focus into sitting, reading, thinking and meditating, the things that centre me, energize me and keeps me moving forward! Moving forward is ideal for business and life. This approach will ensure that I have the mental capacity and time to spend time where I want to spend time, ensuring that I can answer all 4 above questions from Mr. Gates.
Do you control your time? Share, like and comment below.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by dating apps. The endless stream of matches, messages, gifs, and shirtless selfies is a lot. But the dating burnout can start as early as not knowing which dating app to use in the first place. Now, I’ll level for you, your literal mother and I are probably the only two people who aren’t using dating apps at the moment. To each their own, but I can’t do it, it’s too Seamless-y (and IDK, it would probably tick off my S.O.). But I’m not like a regular mom, I’m a cool mom, and if you’re going to use the apps I’d rather you do it based on what you’re looking for. And whether that’s a DTF dude to boink, a woman you can grow old with, or someone with a full and robust beard, here’s how to get started. These are the best dating apps to help you find exactly what you’re looking for, in no particular order.
Great if: You’re looking for something easy right now.
I won’t sermonize here because most of you are intimately acquainted with the app. In short, Tinder is best if you’re looking for something low-commitment, in uh, a variety of ways. It’s no muss, no fuss swipe-intensive approach works for quick hook-ups with the very occasional long-term success story.
Great if: You, like, actively want your friends to set you up.
Betches new baby, Ship, allows your friends to swipe for you, which definitely isn’t the worst plan. After all, when you’re trying to decide which way to swipe or how to respond to a message, isn’t the move to drop that screenshot in the group chat? Ship seems to streamline that process, so it’s a match if you’re very squad-forward (or can’t be bother to overwork your index finger anymore).
Great if: You’re trying to look for something slightly more serious than Tinder.
Right now, Hinge is “designed to be deleted.” (Does anyone really want to keep swiping until they’re using Depends? I don’t know, you do you.) Your matches are based on questionnaire that pairs you people who share common interests and expectations. You know, people who might actually want to date versus people that’ll never be dignified with a last name or introduced your second tier friends. Try it out when you’ve past the rebound phase and feel ready to graduate to dinner plans.
Great if: You’re on the quest for solid queer connections.
Her is an app “for queer womxn, by queer womxn,” and a really safe space to find lesbian, bisexual, queer, or gender non-conforming partners. More than that, Her is big on building a community; the company hosts parties and socials in over 15 cities across the country. So it’s great for finding your person, but it’s also great if you’re looking to expand your LBGTQ circle.
Great if: You want to be in control of who you talk to.
If you’re less enthusiastic about the idea of a salutation dick pic, Bumble might be the match for you. As a refresher, Bumble ethos is that women are in charge of making the first move. It encourages a more female-friendly environment in this way, with a dedication to stomp out hate speech and bad behavior. Your roommate might still end up accidentally dating a Trump supporter for six months, but this why you gotta vet people thoroughly IRL.
Great if: You’re looking for women and the OG apps are not cutting it.
Lesly has a Tinder-esque swipe right interface but dumps all those bros holding fish (to which I say, regardless of sexuality, thank GOD). Instead, you can match with other LGBTQ singles. The app promises that each registered user is “rigorously scrutinized” by staff to ensure that you’re not getting scammed. No one wants to find out that the cutie with the bob haircut is some finance guy named Mike.
Great if: You’re the person who boasts that they’re “fluent in sarcasm,” which, okay, we’re not 15 anymore. As someone who literally couldn’t write this piece without sarcasm, can we just all agree that it’s code for, “I’m kinda mean”? That, or you’re just very, very picky.
Here’s the deal, Hater matches you up with someone based on—you guessed it!—what you hate. You mark a seemingly endless list of prompts of things like, “facebook stalking,” “vegan food,” and “paying for a broker” with whether you hate, dislike, like or love it. And I wanna snark on this, but this is kind of a perfect filter if you’re one of those loves-to-bitch Misery Loves Company types. Or, like, any New Yorker.
Great if: You’re firmly committed to a sober lifestyle.
It’s pretty much a dating default to “grab drinks” after work, to the point where some of my friends have designated “Bumble Bars.” That go-to can breed awkwardness of you struggle with addiction or just don’t mess with booze anymore. Enter Loosid, a supportive app that connect you with not only connects you with other sober-minded singles, but thoughtfully tunes you in to alcohol-free events in the area.
Great if: You want something meaningful and embrace wellness as big part of your lifestyle.
And there is a very good chance that you’re down with wellness if you’re here, so here’s the situation. MeetMindful is all about “connecting with intention.” There’s no swiping, just a questionnaire that asks about your feel-good passions (yoga? spirituality? meditation?) and then presents you with a platter of people you can choose to “like.”
Great if: You’re looking for your swolemate (I’ll see myself out).
Sweatt is serious when it comes to fitness, and if you’re serious about fitness, I couldn’t think of a better app. It really separates the people who love hitting up the gym versus the people who say they love hitting up the gym. Good luck, you crazy kids, I’ll be here on my couch eating ice cream for dinner!
Great if: You’re not effing around when you put “Dog Mom” in your profile.
Yo, if I was single I would exploit this to no end. Twindog is an app for dog owners, and allows you to match with other pups in the area. Oh, and maybe you’ll fall in love with their person 101 Dalmatiansstyle. AND THE DOGS COULD BE THE RING BEARER AND FLOWER GIRL AT THE WEDDING. I don’t know how legit it is, but it might be preferable to my old technique of lurking Fido-less in Brooklyn’s McGolrick dog park, hoping to leash in a dude with a Corgi.
Great if: You’re sexually attracted to Hagrid.
Or if you’re just a fan of facial hair. Bristlr boasts the incredibly direct tagline of “connecting those with beards to those who want to stroke beards.” If beard-stroking is a big priority for you, then truly, go wild.
When it comes to dating apps, here’s how to put your best foot forward. And here’s some advice for flirting at the gym IRL.
U.S. citizens are currently permitted to visit 26 countries in the European Union for up to three months for the purpose of business or tourism without any visa requirements. Beginning July 1, 2021, the rules will change. Visiting any of these Schengen-member countries for tourism, business, medical or transit will require approval from the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS)—which will be considered an additional check on security rather than a visa. The intent of this new requirement is to better address the challenges posed by terrorism and to raise revenue for the EU.
The application and approval process
The ETIAS application process will take place online and should take less than 10 minutes to complete.
Applicants will be asked to provide three types of information: 1) a valid passport (with an expiration date that is at least three months longer than the intended stay; 2) a credit or debit card, and 3) an email address. Application must take place at least 96 hours before travel. Applications need to be made for infants and children as well as adults. The cost will be 7 Euros per person, waived for those under the age of 18. Payment will need to be made online via credit or debit card. The application will be checked against a number of security databases as well as an ETIAS watchlist, and then will either be approved or denied by email. If an application is denied, an explanation will be provided (which can be appealed). ETIAS travel authorization will be valid for multiple entries over the course of three years.
Other information ETIAS approval will be checked electronically prior to boarding an aircraft, boat or bus, and again by a border agent upon entry into the Schengen zone. ETIAS is not only aimed at Americans. Citizens of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and dozens of other countries will have to meet similar requirements.
There are lots of reasons to learn a new language: whether you want to chat up the locals on your next vacation, converse better with your in-laws in their native tongue, or increase your chances of getting a job abroad. The thought of learning a brand new language (or even re-learning a mostly familiar one) can be intimidating.
Instead of fumbling through a sub-par language course in a traditional classroom environment — and struggling to find the time to practice — check out these helpful apps and online training courses, all designed to get to up and running with a new language fast.
uTalk Language Education: Lifetime Subscription
Part of the reason why traditional language lessons don't work is that they teach you formal diction that's nothing like the way people actually talk. uTalk teaches you practical, real vocabulary used by locals through engaging games that help you measure your achievements as you progress. You can choose six languages to learn over your lifetime subscription from a massive list of 130 languages, including Afrikaans, Cantonese, Czech, and many more.
Usually this subscription is $389.94, but you can get it on sale for $29.99 — or 92% off.
Online course: Become Fluent in Any Language with Gabriel Wyner
Figure out how to learn a new language in months, not years, with this course taught by Gabriel Wyner — a true lover of foreign languages. You'll explore memorization tools, linguistic concepts, and free software that will ensure speedy fluency. The course also breaks down the four essential stages of language acquisition: understanding correct pronunciation, building vocabulary and grammar skills, reading and listening effectively, and conversing with native speakers.
Usually this course is $49, but you can get it on sale for $9.99, or 79% off.
Online course: Fluent in 3 Months Premium Language Learning
Featured in the New York Times, National Geographic, BBC, and Forbes, this course is your hack to getting fluent in three months. Taught by world traveller and polyglot Benny Lewis, you'll learn the tools, resources, and daily habits you can employ to learn new languages — plus, the course gives you access to immersion resources for speaking Spanish, French, Arabic, Chinese, Esperanto, English, Russian, Italian, Japanese, German, Irish, Portuguese, American Sign Language, and more.
Usually this course is $97, but you can get it on sale for $29 — that's 70% off the usual price
Rocket Language Learning Service
Learning a new language can be exactly like taking classes in high school — sure, you learn the stuff, and about two years (or let's be real two days) later, it's like it never even happened. That shouldn't be the case with this Rocket Languages: not only do you learn the finer points of grammar and culture, but the voice recognition system helps you pronounce words more naturally and authentically. These 20-minute interactive audio lessons break down languages in an organic way that helps it all stick — a definite improvement over high school.
Usually this service is $149.95, but you can get it on sale for $59.99, or 59% off.
Mondly: Lifetime Subscription
The best reinforcement is the positive kind, and this helpful app only gives it to you if you actually pronounce words correctly. Using professional voice actors and using a conversation-focused curriculum, you can take your pick of five languages from a choice of 33 total options, including English, Afrikaans, Arabic, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian Bokmål, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese. Catch all that? The app breaks down lessons into short, digestible lessons that you can explore any time.
Usually a lifetime subscription to Mondly is $1199.75, but you can get it on sale for $69.99 — that's 94% off the original price.
A few minutes of brief, intense exercise may be as effective, or more effective, for incinerating body fat than walking, jogging, swimming or cycling for lengthier periods. These intense exercises may be as effective as much lengthier walks or other moderate workouts for incinerating body fat, according to a helpful new review of the effects of exercise on fat loss. The review finds that super-short intervals could even, in some cases, burn more fat than a long walk or jog, but the effort involved needs to be arduous.
I have written many times about the health, fitness and brevity benefits of high-intensity interval training, which typically involves a few minutes — or even seconds — of strenuous exertion followed by a period of rest, with the sequence repeated multiple times. Most H.I.I.T. workouts require less than half an hour, from beginning to end (including a warm-up and cool-down), and the strenuous portions of the workout are even briefer. But despite this concision, studies show that interval workouts can improve aerobic fitness, blood sugar control, blood pressure and other measures of health and fitness to the same or a greater extent than standard endurance training, such as brisk walking or jogging, even if it lasts two or three times as long.
People being people, though, the most common question I hear about quickie intervals and have asked, on my own behalf, is whether they also will aid in weight control and fat loss. Only a few past studies have directly compared the fat-burning effects of endurance training to those of short interval workouts, however, and their results have been inconsistent. Some indicate that intervals prompt significant fat loss and others that any losses are negligible when compared to the effects of endurance training.
But those studies have almost all been small and short-term. They also used many different approaches to interval and endurance exercise, making the findings difficult to interpret. So, for the new review, which was published in January in The British Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers from Brazil and Britain decided to pull together as much data as possible from all of the existing, high-quality studies looking at intervals and body fat. Scrolling through medical library databases, they eventually found 36 studies that involved randomized experiments — not surveys or other epidemiological data — comparing the effects of endurance training to those from interval workouts. The experiments had to have lasted at least a month and included body-composition measurements at the start and finish, even if changes to body fat had not been the primary focus of the study. (And in most of these experiments, they were not.)
Then the researchers pooled numbers from the studies, giving them a total of more than 1,000 participants, young and old, male and female.
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The moderate-exercise routines used in the studies varied considerably, with some involving walking and others jogging, cycling or swimming. In general, the endurance-style workouts lasted for about 40 minutes.
The interval sessions likewise differed from one study to the next, but most involved intervals lasting for a few minutes at a time, at a pace just below all-out effort, which is typical of H.I.I.T. Others required a few seconds of absolutely all-out exertion, an approach the researchers dubbed sprint-interval training, or S.I.T.
Then the researchers simply compared fat loss after the different exercise programs.
The results should be encouraging for anyone who exercises. Both moderate training and intervals, of all types, led to reductions in body fat, the researchers found. These reductions were absolute, meaning that people shed some of their actual fat mass, and also relative, meaning that they lowered the percentage of their body mass that was fat.
The changes also for the most part occurred whether or not people lost a noticeable amount of overall weight, suggesting that they might be losing fat while gaining muscle. Perhaps most important for people drawn to quickie exercise, interval training, especially S.I.T. workouts, often burned more fat, in absolute terms, than prolonged, moderate exercise, with interval trainers dropping an average of about 3.5 pounds of fat during most studies, versus about 2.5 pounds for moderate exercisers. It is worth noting that this is a one-pound difference, which in real-world terms is almost negligible. In fact, the primary takeaway of the review could be that, “due to the similarity of outcomes, there can be flexibility in choice of exercise approach,” for anyone hoping to trim fat, says James Steele, an associate professor of sport and exercise science at Solent University in Southampton, England, who conducted the review with colleagues from the Federal University of Goiás in Brazil and other institutions. Plan your workouts around your preferences and schedules, he says, and not concerns about which type of exercise might better trim fat. Of course, even with 1,000 participants, the review remains relatively small. In addition, interpreting the data from individual volunteers can be somewhat baffling. In every study and every exercise program, some people lost more fat than others and some much less, for reasons that remain unclear. But in general, the message is, work out how you like, Dr. Steele says. “If you prefer longer yet easier-effort exercise, then go for it,” he says. “If you want to pump it up in a H.I.I.T. session, be my guest.”
Warren Buffett Says 1 Decision Separates Successful People From Everyone Else (and Will Make the Biggest Difference in Your Life)
Warren Buffett knows how to make smart decisions. One is to say no to just about everything. Another is to hire the right people. But there's one decision Buffett feels is the most important you will ever make: Deciding who to marry.
As Buffett says:
You want to associate with people who are the kind of person you'd like to be. You'll move in that direction. And the most important person by far in that respect is your spouse. I can't overemphasize how important that is. Marry the right person. I'm serious about that. It will make more difference in your life. Research backs him up. One study found that people with relatively prudent and reliable partners tend to perform better at work, earning more promotions, making more money, and feeling more satisfied with their jobs. That's true for men and women. What the researchers call "partner conscientiousness" predicted future job satisfaction, income, and likelihood of promotion.
The Power of Partner "Conscientiousness"According to the researchers, "conscientious" partners perform more household tasks, exhibit more pragmatic behaviors that their spouses are likely to emulate, and promote a more satisfying home life -- all of which enables their spouses to focus more on work. As one researcher said, "These results demonstrate that the dispositional characteristics of the person one marries influence important aspects of one's professional life." In non-research speak, a good partner sets a good example and makes it possible for you to be a better you. That's definitely true for me. My wife is incredibly organized, juggling family, working multiple jobs, pursuing another advanced degree. She sets goals and achieves those goals. Her conscientiousness sometimes bugged me until I realized the only reason it got on my nerves was because her level of focus implicitly challenged my inherent laziness. Her example helped me realize the best way to get more done is to actually get more done. She not only shows me that, she also helps me do that. And while she's still much more conscientious and organized than I am, she's definitely rubbed off on me in a very positive way. Of course, this makes sense: As Jim Rohn says, we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with -- and that's particularly true where our significant others are concerned. Bad habits rub off. Poor tendencies rub off. We all know that. But good habits and good tendencies rub off too. Plus, if one person is extremely organized and keeps your household train running on time, that frees the other up to focus more on work. (Of course, in a perfect world, both people would more or less equally share train-engineer duties so that both can better focus on their careers, whether those careers are in the home or outside.) Keep in mind, I'm not recommending you choose your significant other based solely on conscientiousness. As the researchers say, "Marrying a conscientious partner could at first sound like a recipe for a rigid and lackluster lifestyle." Nor am I suggesting you end a relationship if you feel your partner is lacking in those areas. But it does appear that having a conscientious and prudent partner is part of the recipe for a better and more rewarding career. So instead of expecting your partner to change, think about what you can do to be more supportive of your significant other. Maybe you can take on managing your finances, or take care of more household chores, or repairs, maintenance, or schedules. After all, the best way to lead is by example, and in time you may find that you and your significant other make an outstanding -- and mutually supportive -- team. This will help you both achieve more of your goals. And live a more satisfying and fulfilling life.
There’s a depressing reason time flies faster as we age. So here’s how to slow things down.
Digesting that the first day of spring came and passed was a toughie—and not just because the park outside my apartment still looks like the forest from the Blair Witch Project. Rather it’s because of how fast entire seasons—and thus, years—seem to fly by. Honestly, wasn’t it just the holidays? Well, new research shows you’re not crazy—time does seem to be moving more quickly, but the reason why is kind of a downer. We’re all getting old, and our brain needs new viewing material. The theory, recently published in European Review, hypothesized that as we get older, the speed at which we process new images slows down, because our seasoned psyches are simply processing fewer new images. As the web of nerves and neurons grows with age, it gives more resistance to the flow of electrical signals. That negatively impacts the rate at which fresh images are acquired and processed with age. Basically, we’re seeing less new stuff than we used to but within the same brackets of time, and this lower density of stimulus makes time feel as if it’s passing faster. “People are often amazed at how much they remember from days that seemed to last forever in their youth,” lead researcher Adrian Bejan, PhD and professor of mechanical engineering at Duke, tells Science Daily. “It’s not that their experiences were much deeper or more meaningful, it’s just that they were being processed in rapid fire.” Consider how babies are always moving their eyes around quickly: That’s because they’re acquiring all this new information, and they have to do it fast. Meanwhile, adult brains doesn’t have to relearn new images—like the Starbucks on the corner you go to three times a week or the Starbucks three blocks away you go to two times a week. The nerves and neurons have seen these surfaces a gajillion times already, meaning our lives are blandly passing us by at fast-forward speed. So now that you’re either bummed or low-key panicking about your life passing you by, you might be wondering if there’s any way to slow down time. Well, that one terrible Adam Sandler movie suggesting a magical remote as a solution aside, my hot take is that now is the time to switch up your routine or your surroundings. There’s a reason why it seems like time slows down when you’re traveling; it’s the element of novelty, supported by research termed “the oddball effect,” referenced by The Cut. In a 2004 experiment, the image of a shoe flashed on a monitor multiple times and the image of a flower just once. Subjects insisted that the flower was on the screen for much longer, simply because their brain took longer to process it once than it took to process the shoe several times. This is how we can trick our brain to savor the moments we’re in—and honestly, it’s sound advice. I get it if you don’t have the trust fund for an Eat, Pray, Love thing, but exploration doesn’t always involve going to the ends of the Earth. So this spring, seek out your flower! Try a Sri Lankan restaurant. Take a spontaneous day trip. Find a new coffee shop (Starbucks will always be there for times you want to cater to your comfort in sameness!). Look, you can’t stop aging and you can’t stop your brain from doing what it biologically must. But you can slow down your perception of time by discovering new environments, and painting your experiences in different hues. Go see new things and enjoy feeling like you’re living more and louder and longer.
BeeLine Reader uses a colorful cognitive trick to help you read 20 percent faster.
Reading on a regular basis gives your brain a workout, and curling up with a book is a popular habit among the world’s most successful people. Barack Obama said that reading helped him survive his two terms as President, and Bill Gates releases an annual list of his favorite books every year.
If you think you’re too busy to carve out time to read every day, think again. The right speed reading techniques can slash your reading time without sacrificing reading comprehension.
BeeLine Reader is an award-winning plugin that uses a colorful cognitive trick to help you finally get through all of your emails. BeeLine Reader was one of the 10 startups honored at the UN Solutions Summit, and it has won other accolades from Stanford, Dell and the Tech Museum of Innovation. It’s a Chrome and Firefox plugin that changes the text colors on your screen. It creates an eye-guiding color gradient where the color at the end of one text line perfectly matches the hue at the beginning of the next line. This helps you follow text without skipping any lines, speeding up your reading without letting you miss a single word. When you use BeeLine Reader on your inbox, it helps you sift through email subject lines more quickly so you can pull out the most important messages first. It also reduces the risk of “line transition errors,” so you won’t skip any important thoughts as you scroll through your boss’s latest message. BeeLine also helps you absorb and remember the emails, blog posts, white pages and ebooks you read up to 20% faster. If you can read something in your web browser, you can read it more efficiently and thoughtfully with this app. Usually a lifetime subscription to BeeLine Reader costs a hefty $220, but you can start burning through your daily reading now for $29.99 (86 percent off).
Matt Wiley from Smartasset for Bergen Review Media
Choosing a financial advisor is a big decision. Being aware of these seven common blunders when choosing an advisor can help you find peace of mind, and avoid years of stress.
1. Hiring the First Advisor You Meet
While it’s tempting to hire the advisor closest to home or the first advisor in the yellow pages, this decision requires more time. Take the time to interview at least a few advisors before picking the best match for you.
2. Choosing an Advisor with the Wrong Specialty
Some financial advisors specialize in retirement planning, while others are best for business owners or those with a high net worth. Some might be best for young professionals starting a family. Be sure to understand an advisor’s strengths and weaknesses - before signing the dotted line.
3. Picking an Advisor with an Incompatible Strategy
Each advisor has a unique strategy. Some advisors may suggest aggressive investments, while others are more conservative. If you prefer to go all in on stocks, an advisor that prefers bonds and index funds is not a great match for your style.
4. Not Checking References
Most advisors are happy to offer references to prospective clients. Calling references only takes a couple of minutes, and it can help put you at ease when handing over the keys to your bank account.
5. Not Asking about Credentials
To give investment advice, financial advisors are required to pass a test. Ask your advisor about their licenses, tests, and credentials. Financial advisors tests include the Series 7, and Series 66 or Series 65. Some advisors go a step further and become a Certified Financial Planner, or CFP.
6. Making Assumptions When They are Affiliated with a Reputable Brand
An advisor might appear qualified and professional due to an association with a major firm like J.P. Morgan or Morgan Stanley. Working with an advisor from a reputable firm can lead to stability and better tools and information. However, choose an advisor because they are the best fit, not because of their branding.
7. Not Understanding How They are Paid
Some advisors are "fee only" and charge you a flat rate no matter what. Others charge a percentage of your assets under management. Some advisors are paid commissions by mutual funds, a serious conflict of interest. If the advisor earns more by ignoring your best interests, do not hire them.
Article found on: SMARTASSET The web's best personal finance advice.
Content gathered & updated by the Bergen Review Media team.