Lifestyle:

How to Squeeze Certification Into Your Lifestyle

Remember the college years when it was your job to study and do well on tests? Unfortunately those days are long gone and most people didn’t take advantage of that kind of sweet arrangement. Now you might have a full-time job, family responsibilities, vacations already booked and perhaps a pretty solid routine down as an adult. What happens when you realize an additional certification can boost your career?

Whether it’s a Microsoft certification or other industry certification course, it can make a huge difference in your career. It might lead to a promotion, the ability to demand much more money or opportunities otherwise closed off to you. However, some of these certifications are nearly a full-time job in themselves and you don’t have time for it. Or do you?

Time management skills

It’s time to buff up the foundation you set in college and get back into super time management mode. Start by knowing that every single person has time wasted each day and that everyone has the same hours, so you’re not at a disadvantage. Figure out some time at least five days per week that you can carve out for studying. It might mean staying up past everyone else, getting up early or giving up your weekends for awhile. Set your priorities.

There’s no point in pursuing a certification if you’re only going to do it halfway, but you can buckle down and give up some R&R time knowing that it’s temporary. Keeping a tangible calendar that marks down the date to the test can help you stay motivated. Also ensure that everyone in the house is on board to keep you accountable and not disturb you during study time. If you have kids, this is a great way to lead by example.

Tricks of the trade

Ideally, you can create a study space that’s quiet and free from distractions. Know your own best study habits (if possible, night owls should study at night) and keep any digital devices far away so you’re not tempted to check your phone or play Angry Birds on your tablet. With your laptop, keep any tabs and windows besides what’s necessary to study closed so you’re not tempted.

There are different options for certification courses including online, in-class and a mix. You know what environment is best for you, so don’t think that “just this once” you’ll be able to swing online classes if it’s not for you. Give yourself advantages because nobody else will volunteer to do so.

 

Lifestyle:

Why Your Customers Don’t Like You

Just because you have X amount of customers don’t mean they’re all satisfied; they might leave you if tempted enough. It can be tough in a digital world to give that superior customer service, especially when so many of your customers would much prefer sitting and stewing in silence (or writing bad reviews) rather than communicating their unhappiness directly to you. However, you’re not without some secret sauce of your own.

The best way to ensure customer happiness is to deliver what you promise in a timely and professional manner. You can optimize on this approach with the right delivery software, routine customer service training and re-training, and remembering that the customer should top your priority list. Don’t depend on cold, hard numbers alone to see how you’re doing. Actively engage and ask for feedback, and you shall receive.

Top complaints

Customers can and will complain about a lot of things (though not necessarily directly to you), so listen. Some of the top complaints include too much customer service automation (they want to talk to a real person), hidden charges and companies that seem like they don’t care about clients. There are many ways you can tackle these complaints even if you think you’re doing a pretty solid job. Everyone can always do better.

When it comes to customer service, continuing education and asking for feedback is key. Understanding how your customers want to be treated, the kind of service they prefer and what their dream interaction with you looks like is business gold. You can get this information by having a third party conduct a survey, consider number shifts when trying new practices, and by making sure every employee who deals with customers is well trained.

Taking care of business

Hidden charges can be tricky because, to you, it might not seem like charges are “hidden” at all. People notoriously don’t read the fine print, but is that your fault? If you want to run a successful business, then yes it is. Be as clear, transparent and up front as possible when describing charges and don’t underestimate the intelligence (or temper) of who may seemingly be a mild mannered customer. It’s the quite ones you have to watch out for, and transparency is quite simply a business practice everyone should adopt.

Finally, if customers think you don’t care, that can be one of the toughest perceptions to correct. Start with branding and customer service, getting professional guidance to change your reputation. It’ll take time, but it will be worth it.

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last update: July 30, 2014

Lifestyle:

4 Mobile Apps for Improving Your Family’s Dental Hygiene

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Poor dental habits can lead to long-term health and financial consequences. Are all of your family members brushing twice a day and using fluoride? If not, they might enter their older years without teeth. According to the Centers for Disease Control, about a quarter of adults over the age of 60 no longer have their natural teeth. Poor dental care can lead to cavities and gum disease that affect your ability to eat and socialize. You can avoid some of these risks by improving your family’s dental health. Here are four educational apps that can get your loved ones brushing and flossing!

My Little Dentist

Kids can learn not to fear the dentist by taking on the role of a dentist! This game app allows children to simulate the experience of patient care. Tackle tooth cleaning with a variety of tools and learn about a variety of dental ailments that you can suffer as a result of poor health care. This educational experience allows children to learn about proper dental hygiene and the issues they might encounter if they don’t brush their teeth.

Dental Patient Education

This app was designed by a dentist to create a better anatomy resource for patients concerned about upcoming procedures. 3D animations help viewers understand the various types of diagnostic tools used by dentists, including X-Ray procedures. Additional animations cover 43 different dental conditions along with treatment procedures.

5 Minutes Brushing

This adorable app features a pink bunny character who accompanies users as they complete a brushing session over the span of five minutes. This app can lead to educational family moments, as the bunny character provides instructions on how to apply toothpaste and how to thoroughly clean teeth. Kids can follow allowing with handy diagrams of toothbrush angles and tooth diagrams.

Dental Aid

This is the ultimate dental education glossary, helping patients gain a thorough grasp on upcoming treatments and procedures. This app can take some of the fear and negative emotions during your next appointment. Dental Aid takes the mystery out of dental crowns, orthodontic bands, supported bridge implants, complete dentures, and dozens of other prospective treatments.

Proper dental hygiene starts at home with your family’s daily habits. If your loved ones are unable to leave the house for an appointment, you can even receive mobile dental treatments right at home. Taking preventative action can help improve your family’s dental health for the long term.

Lifestyle:

4 Ways to Document Workplace Harassment Digitally

If you don’t feel safe at your workplace, this can be an extremely stressful situation. If you are the target of unwanted sexual attention, physical abuse, or verbal harassment, it’s vital for you to speak with your superior or human resources department immediately.

While this might feel like a risky move, acting early can prevent the situation from escalating further. If you’re worried about retaliation, speak with your HR department and your corresponding state Department of Labor office.

Below are four ways to pursue a complaint effectively and safely.

1. Employ written correspondence

When you must send internal communications to HR and other staff members, document every exchange via email. If someone displays inappropriate behavior through a written communication, make sure to save this documentation.

When you submit a report of work incidents, obtain a copy of the paperwork for your own records. Having ample documentation of each incident can help your employer, the authorities, and local labor office intervene and stop dangerous or inappropriate workplace activities.

2. Take photos

If you’re in a situation where you can document harassment through photos, then use your smartphone to take a shot or two of the environment or subjects of an incident. This can be useful in the documentation of property damage or injuries sustained at work.

However, you should obviously use a camera only in a situation where it is safe to do so.

3. Make backups

Create backups of all your documentation and incident correspondence. Ideally, you should have more than one backup in separate locations.

That way, if one backup is lost or damaged, you will still be able to access the documents in the alternative backups. HR investigations can last a long time, and this information can come in handy in the future.

Also, you may want to revisit old documentation in case an investigation is reopened, or an incident occurs again.

4. Maintain online calendars

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission encourages employees to report workplace harassment to management teams immediately to mitigate risk. It is vital that you keep records regarding the dates and times of possible harassment incidents during the reporting.

This will give your testimony more credibility, and help your company verify the incidents of harassment. Online cloud calendars that sync between your computer and mobile devices can be an excellent place to keep notes regarding incidents at your workplace.

Experiencing workplace harassment can be emotionally draining, and cause a great deal of anxiety. A business litigation attorney can help you resolve these incidents and give you insight regarding your local, state, and federal rights as an employee.

If you are currently a victim of workplace harassment, start exploring ways to get out of the situation as soon as possible.

Lifestyle:

Does Networking Increase Your Net Worth?

Networking

With the advent of the Internet and social media, networking has become the new norm for the way businesses share information and gain potential clients. One article, The Advantages of Networking, even states that it can improve a company’s credibility.

It’s also a means to advertise directly to a specialized niche. More important, it’s the new way to grow your business while solidifying your foothold in the world. But networking did not always look the way it does today.

Death of a Salesman is a famous play by Arthur Miller that debuted in 1949. The main character is a door-to-door salesman who’s down on his luck because the industry is dying.

His means of forming relationships is by traveling from town to town and knocking on every door he can to sell his product. In the play, the main character slowly loses all his money and control of his family because his method of networking has become obsolete.

Even decades before the Internet gained popularity, the playwright knew that certain ways of forming meaningful business relationships were a tactic of a dying breed. So what does networking look like today?

Of course traveling salesmen aren’t going door to door anymore with their products in large briefcases. But what are they doing, how do they do it, and what exactly are they doing?

What networking is

According to the School of Library and Information Science, the term indicates a type of exchange between two parties, with the possibility of a career advancement.

This means that networking isn’t just a fun way to keep in touch or gain information. The main purpose is for monetary gain; it’s a type of intellectual business transaction.

How networking should be done

There’s more to it, though. Networking can make you a leader in your field.

Whether it’s real estate, journalism, or sports, establishing the right kinds of relationships with people in your business area will help you advance. When you want to be thought of as good in a particular field, you should surround yourself with those kinds of people.

How should networking be done? Ivan Misner states that networking is only an efficient use of time, energy, and/or money if it’s a strategic and focused method of building meaningful relationships. That means people who network shouldn’t just blanket email everyone they know. It has to be specialized and concise.

Some tips on how to start

Here are some tips on how to begin networking yourself:

  • Keep an ongoing list of names and contact information

  • Politely ask your friends, family, and contacts for their contact information

  • Use blogs, discussion groups, forums, and chats

When it comes down to it, does social networking increase a company’s net worth? It certainly builds meaningful relationships between like-minded individuals.

It passes useful, current information between two or more parties. It brings potential clients to a company who might possibly be interested in the product.

In all, it’s much more than what a door-to-door salesman would do.

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Lifestyle:

4 Apps That’ll Help You with Household Chores

Most of us juggle chores at home, on top of our full-time jobs and other responsibilities. It can be very discouraging when you let dirt and grime accumulate so much that cleaning the house becomes an extraordinarily time-consuming proposition. housework1

However, the tedium and drudgery can be eased with apps designed to help keep you on schedule with your home-cleaning tasks. Take a look at these four great apps that can help you manage your chores and even entertain you a little along the way.

1. You Rule Chores

Human psychology is a funny thing. Turns out, if you transform cleaning into a game, you’re more likely to complete the tasks.

You Rule is a game of chores that awards users with unique avatar power-ups as you clean. This is ideal for families that have a difficult time getting motivated to tidy up.

Your kids will get on board so they can reach new upgrade achievements and compete with each other. Once you have this, your house will get cleaner than it’s ever been.

2. Bright Nest

Your home fixtures are accumulating lime deposits, dust, stains, rust, and other unwanted grime. So how exactly do you clean these surfaces?

The Bright Nest app is full of simple tips and tricks that have been crowd-sourced by cleaning professionals. For example, did you know that you can use lemon water to clean the inside of your microwave?

Also, vinegar will kill mold that you find growing on the edges of your sink or bathtub.

3. Green Shine

Are you concerned about exposing your family members and pets to harmful chemical cleaners? You can cut out dangerous substances by using green cleaners.

Not only are they non-toxic, but they’re also better for the environment. This app contains a guide to simple and safe cleaning substitutes for a variety of home surfaces.

4. Podcasts

Your podcast app can become your best friend during cleaning sessions. You don’t have to put up with the boredom of cleaning alone.

Download a couple of informative podcasts and turn cleaning into a period for entertainment or education. Pop in some ear pods so you can hear over the sound of running water or the vacuum cleaner.

Are you feeling motivated to tidy up yet? These apps can help you maintain a cleaning schedule, avoid dangerous chemical cleaners, and stay entertained while performing household chores.

Regular cleaning can help maintain the longevity, look, and functionality of your household furniture. Enlist the help of your roommates and family members so you’re not stuck with the bulk of these responsibilities alone. Happy cleaning!

Lifestyle:

How You Can Use Technology to Buy the Perfect Home

Technology has come a long way in virtually every area, including the way today’s home buyers go about purchasing a home. Finding a home to buy that meet all your needs has become a lot easier, thanks to the latest technology.

Quickly find homes that meet your standards

Before the Internet arrived, most people spent hour after hour sorting through newspaper ads and real estate pamphlets trying to find a home. It was usually hard to know which houses might meet their needs and desires, since the listings offered very little information along with one black-and-white photo at best.

Thus, it was extremely difficult to find a home based on criteria such as the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and other desired features without the assistance of a Realtor. But now, anyone can perform a search on the Internet or their smartphone to search for a home that meets all their criteria in minutes.

Need a home that’s near your current neighborhood with five bedrooms, four bathrooms, and a three-car garage? In just seconds, you can find the answer to that question on your home computer or your smartphone. Narrow the search even further to square footage and price.

Instantly compare home values

Another superb technological advantage that potential homebuyers enjoy today is the ability to research the value of a particular home almost as swiftly. You can learn the selling prices of other homes in the neighborhood, or how much people paid for the ones recently sold with just a few clicks of your computer’s mouse or the keypad on your phone.

Also, you can obtain an estimate of what a home may be worth. With a little homework you’ll know if you’re overpaying for your dream home or getting the deal of the century.

Homebuyers can now get information that was once only accessible to real estate agents. Today you can easily figure out the average number of days that a home has been on the market.

Research the targeted neighborhood

Current technology enables you to research and obtain information about the area where you intend to buy your new home. You can find out anything, from the quality of schools and how many parks are in the neighborhood to crime rates.

Another great but often overlooked online tool is Google Earth. This can give you a bird’s-eye view of the property and area surrounding the home you want to buy.

Use virtual tours

There’s no need to wait for an open house or your agent to schedule a walk-through. Now you can take a virtual tour of many homes listed for sale in order to view their interior features.

Too often, it’s hard to get the real feel of a home by just looking at pictures. But a video offers an excellent peek into the home’s layout and other details.

Advances in technology make it fun and simple for potential homebuyers to do their homework quickly and get the necessary facts before taking the plunge into homeownership.

Lifestyle:

Linking Technology with Schools Essential In India

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There’s no shortage of volunteer opportunities in the world’s second most populous country. With a population of more than 1.2 billion, India is challenged by poverty, crime, and hunger every day.

One particularly sobering area where this nation trails much of the rest of the world is in education.

The facts

According to a blog that monitors education, the statistics are disturbing:

* Fewer than 12 percent of high school graduates in India continue on to higher education; in the US, that figure is 83 percent.

* Many of those who go on to an institution of higher learning are receiving educations graded to be of middling or poor quality.

* There is a shortage of teachers.

* Indian students study abroad at a cost of $7 billion a year.

Volunteer opportunities

The low literacy rate can be traced to the high dropout rate and the lack of teachers who have sufficient training. What all this means is that there are opportunities for volunteers through programs such as Volunteer in India to help make a difference.

Volunteers are encouraged to develop their own lesson plans, although coordinated to make sure that Indian students get a well-rounded education, according to Volunteer in India. New methods of teaching could include making sure the students are tech-savvy.

A recent study lends hope that today’s modern tools can help lift India out of its education morass. The use of modern technology, including Facebook, actually helps university students do better with their assignments.

A study by Baylor University concluded that students perform better when they feel part of a community and less isolated. “Although some teachers may worry that social media distracts students from legitimate learning, we found that our Facebook group helped transform students from anonymous spectators into a community of active learners,” according to a Baylor professor who helped conduct the study.

Volunteers in India participants should be encouraged by the fact that students who took part in the Baylor study performed better than those students who were not part of the Facebook program.

The future looks better

The common refrain in recent years has been that India’s tech industry should have made bigger strides than it has. While large sums of money have been invested in technology, it was not emphasized in the schools. The reason India lagged was due to poor education, according to a report circulated by TED.

There’s a silver lining. According to a statistical look at India and the Internet, sales of “smart” devices skyrocketed in 2013. With more iPads and other tablets available to younger Indians, the hope is these devices will spark a thirst for learning.

Mobile Internet use is ready to explode in India, which furthers the notion that people will have another tech avenue for learning. As volunteers have focused on early education initiatives in India, children will get a head start on taking steps to attend the Manipal Institute of Technology, India’s foremost technological school.

The list of illustrious grads from MIT is long, and without these initiatives, India’s children could continue to languish behind the rest of the world. By getting involved now, volunteers can sow the seeds for a better educated population.

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