Working Smart to Maximize Your Income

Although you might be focused on working hard while at work, a different way of approaching your work tasks is to work smart. The smarter you are about the work you do, the more likely you are to maximize your income.

Promotions, raises, and lucrative career opportunities come more often to those who work smart.

If you want to stand out at work, apply these suggestions for working smart:

1. Keep your mind open to learning new software and new methods for old tasks. Working smart means you’re willing to learn something new that will eventually save you time and trouble.
• It might take a time investment to learn something new, but the payoff will be worth it.

2. Observe the co-workers whose work you respect. Learn by watching.
• Notice what these co-workers do that you don’t. Take note of the differences in how they perform from your own approach to a task.
• Learning to do what your respected co-workers are doing might earn you a raise or promotion sooner than you think!

3. Ask questions to clarify any work-related issues or confusion. Avoid feeling “out of the loop” of communication at work.
• Get the information you need right away – before you work on a task.
• Listen to what your supervisor and co-workers are saying. To work smart, it’s necessary to have a clear understanding of what’s important to them.

4. Become indispensable at work. If you know how to perform your co-workers’ jobs and can fill in doing their tasks whenever they’re absent, you’ll demonstrate to your supervisor how important you are to the company.
• After all, can he really afford to lay you off if you can fill in for every worker in the place?
• Plus, the ability to do the tasks of others means you truly have a grasp on your workplace and how it functions.

5. Be honest about what you can and can’t do. Working smart is not saying ‘yes’ to everything but, instead, judiciously using your time to do your best work.

6. Be ready for your workday. Get plenty of rest, prepare for your day, and manage your energy and effort to be alert and efficient while you’re at work.

7. Is your desk and office in good order? Working smart means you have ample work areas, order and organization in your space and can easily put your hands on that file that you might quickly need.

8. Think it through before you do a project. Take a few minutes to cogitate over the task at hand. Plan your work and work your plan.
• What’s the purpose of the project?
• What are the goals you’re working for?
• What do you want to accomplish?
• One of Steven Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is especially helpful: “Begin with the end in mind.” Visualize how you want the project to proceed before you begin. That is truly working smart.

Although working hard is admirable, make it a point to work smart. Being open to new ways of doing tasks, making yourself indispensable at work, and thinking through work tasks before you tackle them are all smart ways to ensure you boost your income!

Co-Worker Relationships That Work

Unless you’re living in a cave, you’ll probably work with other people at some point in your life. Workplace interactions can be interesting and enjoyable. Or they can be disappointing and frustrating. Your experience of them is entirely up to you.

Practicing particular behaviors and applying certain techniques in the workplace will help you manage work relationships successfully. Read on to discover the tenets of colleague relationships that work.

1. Strive to love your work. Make a conscious decision every morning to love what you do. Whether you’re a customer service representative, IT technician or a small business owner, learn to love your work. Your associates will notice you have a true passion for what you do, and they’ll develop great respect for you.

2. Vow to be optimistic when discussing work situations with your colleagues. You’ve probably worked with a negative co-worker in the past and seen the impact of such attitudes. Rather than allow yourself to be pulled down into negativity, keep your positivity high. If you’re consistently optimistic, your colleagues will follow suit.

3. Set a motivating example for your co-workers. Show interest in work projects. Ask questions. Demonstrate a strong work ethic.

4. Be proactive in addressing any difficult issues with your associates. Work in conjunction with them to solve any troublesome situations early in their development.

5. Step up to meet work challenges. Show confidence that your colleagues will do the same. It never hurts to have a “we’re all in this together” attitude at work.

6. Negotiate work differences cheerfully and honestly. Speak from your genuine feelings and use tact in your communication. Those you work with will see your honesty, recognize your integrity, and strive to interact with you the same way.

7. Keep it “short and sweet.” If you’re succinct and clear in your questions and responses, your co-workers will appreciate your efficiency.

8. Listen intently when someone is talking to you. Training yourself to be a good listener is integral to effective relationships, whether at home or work. Avoid interrupting others at all costs. Recognizing your co-workers’ feelings is an important step to strengthening your relationships.

9. Although you may be extremely motivated, allow other co-workers to shine, too. Give credit where credit is due. Compliment your colleagues openly within earshot of others. Remind yourself that praising them doesn’t threaten your work persona in any way. In fact, positivity about others only enhances how people see you.

10. Avoid joining in with co-workers who show negativity. There’s no benefit to anyone if you engage in negative comments or give credibility to such discussions. Spend your precious time elsewhere!

11. Learn to let go of past hurts and struggles with your associates. No real accomplishments can be achieved through holding onto old baggage. Letting go will bring you great relief. Plus, your relationships with those individuals will be on the road to recovery when you decide to let go.

12. Be supportive of others. Demonstrate true interest and involvement in what they’re doing. Keep in mind that everyone thirsts for recognition. Being supportive shows you care about your co-workers and enhances your relationships.

Having work relationships that actually work is within your reach. Apply the above strategies to establish and maintain positive relationships with your fellow workers. Developing effective co-worker relationships leads you down the path to true personal and professional growth.

How to Save Money on Back-to-School Clothes

Every year parents deal with the challenge of buying back-to-school clothes. Stores are crowded, items are expensive, and you know your kids will probably outgrow everything before the clothes wear out. But there are things you can do to minimize the cost and avoid the crowds.

1. Set a budget. As with anything else, the first step to limiting how much you spend is to set a budget and actually stick to it.

• Consider how much you’ll need to spend up front as well as what will be required for purchases during the school year. Stretch that budget as far as possible by only buying what you really need and by shopping when the sales occur.

2. Assess your current situation. What does your child currently have? What fits? What can be reused for the new school year? Figure out what you’re actually going to need, make a list, and keep it with you.

• When anything on your list goes on sale, you’ll be in the position to take advantage of the situation.

3. Consider hand-me-downs. Do you have older children whose clothes would be appropriate for your younger child? What about the children of your friends, neighbors, and co-workers?

• Many people just throw perfectly good clothes in the trash. You may be pleasantly surprised at what others may offer you, and usually everything is free!

4. In the spring, buy winter clothes for the next school year. Winter styles are amazingly inexpensive in March. So buy ahead.

• Of course, the same situation applies when buying clothes for the rest of the year. Out-of-season clothes are much less expensive. The stores want all that merchandise out of their way.
• Remember to consider your child’s growth.

5. Consider buying used clothes. Your kids might not be thrilled if they knew, but thrift stores and consignment shops have many pieces of clothing in excellent condition. Some are designer items that cost a ton of money new.

• Much of the apparel has only been worn a couple of times, and it’s not unheard of to find stuff that’s never been worn. Your kids will never know, but your bank account will be able to tell the difference.

6. Trade in the old clothes. Many stores like Once Upon a Child and Plato’s Closet specialize in used clothing. Not only can you get some money for those clothes your child can no longer wears, you might also find a great price on something they’ll love!
• Also consider selling last year’s clothes at a garage sale or on eBay. Your child’s old clothes may have value to someone, especially if they’re in good condition.

7. Check to see if your state has a back-to-school tax holiday. Some states have a couple of weeks or weekends before school starts when they temporarily eliminate sales tax.

• The amount you save can be considerable, so check if your state has this tax break before you plan your shopping trips.

If you utilize the above money saving tips, you can save a lot of money on back-to-school clothes! Follow at least a couple of the suggestions in this article and you’ll be well on your way to having a happy, well-dressed child and keeping more of your hard-earned money in your pocket.

Use Your Car Less and Save Money and Be Healthier

Automobile emissions contribute a considerable amount of air pollution and the accumulation of greenhouse gases. The less you use your car, the better it is for the planet and the more money you can save on car expenses – particularly with the price of gas going up and up and up.

But it’s not only gas money you save when you cut down on the use of your car; your tires last longer and you can go longer between oil changes and other maintenance as well.

Reducing our automobile use is something we can all do to improve our air quality, the health of our planet, and our pocketbook.

Carpooling

Not only can carpooling reduce the number of cars on the road, but many urban areas have faster lanes designated just for cars with multiple passengers. See if any of your neighbors want to get together and share a ride to the grocery store or the mall. Maybe some of your co-workers live nearby and would like to share a ride to work – you can alternate drivers daily or weekly.

Walk or Bike to Work

Consider walking or biking to work if the weather and your situation permit it. You’ll not only use your car less, but you’ll improve your health and fitness in the process.

You might even be able to ultimately get a reduction on your health insurance premium if you’re currently overweight and you lose the extra pounds by walking or biking to work.

Use Public Transportation

Check your local public transit information for schedules of buses and trains that serve your area. Typically these services hit the high traffic areas like shopping centers and downtown areas.

While it may be less convenient, you may be able to largely eliminate your dependence on an automobile. Take advantage of not having to drive by using the time to read or listen to your iPod.

Telecommuting

Telecommuting can be a great way to minimize your car usage. Ask your employer if you can stay home one or more days a week and work from the comfort of your home office. Saving the time and cost of your commute are added benefits.

Consolidate Trips

Many of your shopping destinations are located centrally. The goal is to do all of your shopping in one trip. You can do your grocery shopping and buy your clothes as part of the same excursion. Again, you’ll be saving time and saving money on gas.

Reducing your dependence on your car can go a long way toward contributing to improving the air quality in your area. All of these ideas will not only lessen the use of your automobile, but they’ll also improve your life by saving money, saving time, or strengthening your health.