How Millennials are Happy and Productive in the Workplace

How Millennials are Happy and Productive in the Workplace

“67% of millennials are likely to share personal details [at work]…while only one-third of baby boomers do the same,” found a 2014 study by LinkedIn.

The work/life balance is an unspoken rule among working people. What happens at home shouldn’t be brought to work, and vice versa. This has long been the idea undergirding “professionalism.” But millennials have challenged this distinction in a very simple but powerful way.

It goes without saying: there are many reasons to keep the work/life distinction afloat. The workplace is not home. And a certain level of professionalism is required to maintain an efficient organization. This is true without qualification.

But what millennials have done, writes Sarah Landrum of Forbes, is widened their investment in the workplace. Work isn’t just an investment of time for them; it’s also an emotional investment. And this isn’t a bad thing. The attempt to roadblock the emotional aspect is not only a misunderstanding of science (the brain is interconnected in unimaginably complex ways), but a recipe for unproductive habits.

How Work + Happiness = Productivity

Many of you, like myself, may think making friends at work would impede upon productivity. But friendships at work aren’t like friendships at home. They don’t involve hanging out, but are held together and formed by self-disclosures in conversations. What does this mean? Simply put: it’s talking about how you feel about what you do, about how the weather is, about your weekend, more than about what you do, Landrum points out.

In Psych 101 you might have learned the simple difference between an acquaintance and a friend. Acquaintances talk about facts. They say to each other, “It’s sunny out. It’s a nice day. I have work to do.” But they don’t go further by disclosing any information about themselves like, “It’s sunny out, I think I’ll go to the park after work because there’s a good area to fish.”

Just to understand this from a millennial’s perspective, think about it this way: If you’re not self-disclosing sometimes to people you talk with every day, you’re basically working with acquaintances. And that means you never learn more about anyone, even after 20 years of work.

In 2014 Censuswide and LinkedIn joined to conduct a survey on 11,500 working professional that spanned 14 countries. They found that “57% of respondents indicated having friends at work made them more productive.”

Conclusion

Millennials get the most out of work by relating to those around them. This doesn’t keep them from being productive. In fact, it makes them more productive. And one reason just might be because they don’t feel like they are working in a world of acquaintances. The emotional investment is a powerful piece to the overall work experience. And it might be the key to productivity in a world where everyone is more and more alienated by technology.

And there’s another benefit. Apparently friendships at the workplace make companies more valuable to employees. As Landrum reports, “When asked whether they’d swap camaraderie for a larger paycheck at a different employer, 58% of men indicated they wouldn’t make the trade. A whopping 74% of female professionals concurred.”

The work/life distinction has a valuable place in a professional setting. But it doesn’t necessarily deny the possibility of self-disclosure. And self-disclosure just may be the key to happiness and productivity in the workplace.

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How to Break Old Habits and Adopt a Healthy Lifestyle

How to Break Old Habits and Adopt a Healthy Lifestyle

Now the holidays are over, and the New Year’s resolutions are kicking in, it’s time to think about sustainability. Whether you are resolved to eat healthier this year, exercise, or even learn a new instrument, you’ll have to think long and hard about how you’ll accomplish your by-the-end-of-the-year goals. The good thing is you’re not alone. Gaining traction on your New Year’s resolution is a matter of forming a new habit. So it’s important to understand how habits work.

Habits are like Cycles

In an interview with NPR, Charles Duhigg discusses his book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life And Business. Everything we’ve made into a routine, from exercising to cooking, from brushing teeth to cleaning laundry, begins with the same “psychological pattern.” This is called a “habit loop.” It’s really simple, actually: every habit begins with a cue, proceeds by routine, and ends with a reward. That’s it!

Let’s look a little closer. A habit begins with “a cue, or trigger, that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and let a behavior unfold.” Then the routine occurs, which is the behavior itself, or the habit. Lastly, the reward is “something that your brain likes that helps it remember the ‘habit loop’ in the future.”

The interesting thing is habits are formed in the part of the brain that has a major influence on “emotions, memories and pattern recognition.” It’s called the basal ganglia. Why is this interesting? Because it’s a separate from the region of the brain responsible for decision making – the prefrontal cortex. And, as a result, when automation kicks in, when habit loops initiate, the prefrontal cortex goes into hibernation.

This is readily available knowledge, at least by quick reference to experience. Think about how difficult the very basics of reading and math once were. We learned by rote memory, by memorizing the alphabet and times tables, and this period of learning required intense concentration. But after a while these things became second nature. It’s because, like any other habit, our focus, determination, and persistence eventually formed habit loops.

Lessons from in the Loop

Because all habits begin with a cue and end with a reward, it’s important, especially if you have big plans for your health this year – to exercise three or four times a week, to cut out sugar from your diet, etc. – to figure out some sort of consistent pattern to follow when you eat, go to the gym, or whatever you may do.

Maybe before a trip to the gym you listen to music you really like as you prepare, and afterwards you treat yourself to some yogurt. When some people crave a sweet snack, they cut up some apples and eat those as substitutes instead.

With new habits, especially healthy habits, old habits are broken. And this means the power of the reward system established by the old habit loop becomes more and more powerless. As you exercise more, your desire to lay around all day will weaken. And as you stay away from sugar, your cravings will diminish.

For more information on habits and the science behind them, you might also be interested in Scientific American’s podcast episode where Dr. Art Markman discusses things like “How to know you have a habit,” “How to work in league with your psychology to from new habits,” and “How we are more likely to succeed when we view failure as part of the process.”

Conclusion

But, most importantly, remember that habits are like cycles: as you reinforce them, they eventually become as automatic and predictable as the sunrise in the morning. Don’t be discouraged by failure. Every mistake is an opportunity to learn, an opportunity to change, and an opportunity to become better at what you are trying to do.

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Prepare Your Clothes for Storage

Prepare Clothes for Storage

It’s time to put those summer clothes away for the season. Here are some tips to help prepare your clothes for storage.

Clean

You probably don’t want to pack away clothes with bad odors. But don’t forget your clothes might be stained too. And those stains will become permanent if you let them sit for half a year. Just be sure, wash all the clothes you plan to put in storage.

Pack

Everyone has boxes of some sort lying around. You’ll be tempted to use them. But purchase some plastic containers to store your clothes in. These containers secure your clothes from insects and rodents. And if you have clothes from the drycleaner, don’t just leave them in the drycleaner plastic. They could get water damaged.

If you use a storage facility, like Infinite Self Storage, you can purchase wardrobe boxes to hang up your clothes while they’re in storage. Then you won’t have to worry about creases or folds.

Label

You might think you can just throw everything together. And that’s fine, if you are just going to get everything out once spring arrives. But if you have a more variegated clothing selection, you’ll want to label your items by season or, even, activity. Then you can keep your harvest season clothes in storage while it’s planting season.

Store

Sure, it’s reasonable to think plastic bins will protect your clothes from temperature changes. But they won’t. In fact, they could compound the effects condensation has on your clothes. If you have an expensive wardrobe, invest in a temperature controlled storage unit to protect your clothes from condensation.

If you have any more questions about storing clothes, we encourage you to contact one of our professional storage team members. At Infinite Self Storage, we have solutions to all your storage problems.

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Winterize Your Apartment

Winterize Your Apartment

If this is the first year you’ve lived in your apartment, you don’t yet know how winter conditions might change your electricity bills or room temperature levels. Maybe things won’t change at all. Here are some tips in case they do.

Windows

The very first thing you’ll want to do is seal your windows. Even if they are new, it can only help. Purchase some plastic to put over the glass, buy insulating curtains, and get a door sweep. Even if your windows are old, the plastic and curtains together will reduce winter’s effects on your apartment significantly.

But don’t become a hermit. When the sun is out, make sure your curtains are open. It’s not only good for your skin to get some sunlight, but it’s a free source of heat.

Vent Filter

You’ll want to replace your vent filter as well. Ever wonder why spring cleaning is a huge deal? Why it has it’s own name? Why winter cleaning isn’t a thing? It’s because your home gets dirtiest during the winter months. This is due to a lot of factors. But the main reason is because people keep their windows closed when it’s cold outside. This traps in dirt, dust, and everything else in your home, for months.

Beginning the winter with a clean filter is a good idea. Not only will it filter out dirty air coming into your apartment, it’ll increase air flow from your vent.

Rugs

Lastly, rugs are great insulators. Get large rugs. Not only will it help liven up your living space, it’ll trap in some heat, especially if you have hardwood floors. It’ll be nice to not have to walk on cold floors during the coldest months of the year.

Space Heater

If you’ve done everything here and still are cold, don’t hesitate to purchase a small space heater. It’s not a bad investment, because it’s usually cheaper to run a space heater than it is to hike up the thermostat and keep the furnace running.

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Use These 2 Things to Maintain a Clean Car

How to Maintain a Clean Car

We all know this experience. You go to the car wash. You pay for a nice shine. You vacuum the seats and floors. And after a month, not only has the shine faded, but it looks like a dump on the inside. Follow these tips to maintain a clean interior throughout the winter.

Trash Cans

This idea might seem unappealing at first. Who wants a trash container to take up legroom in the car? And won’t it smell? But, especially if you don’t want to clean out your car every time you drive it, a secondary benefit of a trash can is to get you in the habit of cleaning out your car. Even if it means just taking out the trash once a month.

But obviously the primary benefit of having a trash can in your car is it eliminates the garbage. And it won’t take up too much space. Buy a small 3 or 5 gallon trash can with a lid. Once you get in the habit of taking the trash out of the car, you can get rid of the trash can.

Organizers

Invest in a good car organizer. Then purchase some car wipes to keep the interior shiny and clean. Also stock up on some baby wipes for any messy passengers. Place these cleaners and any objects or tools in the organizer.

With the trashcan and organizer, what else can be in your car? Once you get organized, cleaning will be the easiest part of owning a car. Even if you have a family, an organizing box will hold toys, crayons, books, and anything else you’ll need.

Now that the floor is clean and the dashboard wiped, the interior of your car will stay as clean as it came out of the factory.

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3 Unhealthy Habits to Avoid this Winter

unhealthy holiday habits

The holidays are just around the corner. What, with all the food temptations, warm, chocolate drinks, and electric blankets, how can you blame anyone for lounging around? The snow is great—when you’re not covered in it. And besides, the best time for a nap is when it’s cold outside, and the fireplace is going, right?

But some habits are developed during the winter months that are best left undeveloped. Here are some habits to avoid this winter season.

Hot Shower

After you’ve built a snowman and won a snowball fight, what can be better than taking a long, hot shower? Well, in terms of your skin, one thing better than taking a hot shower is not taking a hot shower. A hot shower can dry out your skin. And in the winter months, you don’t want to look like a snowman, do you? Prevent skin irritation and flaking by taking a cooler shower.

Diet

Is there such a thing as a “cheat month?” The fact is, your body doesn’t think so. It doesn’t matter how warm that hot chocolate is. Don’t let your diet die this winter. Be sure to include vegetables. And don’t just drink hot chocolate 24/7.

Exercise

Of course, dieting and exercise are on every healthy-habits list. But in the winter months exercise is especially important. In the warmer months, you’re outside more on average than you are in the winter months. Think about the times you’ve walked to the store, jogged on trails, or relaxed with friends at the park or at that outside restaurant. But in colder weather, it’s really easy for all that extra movement in your day to completely cease. Keep up on your exercise: it might be the only significant movement you get most days.

The holiday season is just around the corner. Don’t let your health take a holiday! Avoid these three holiday slumps to stay in shape this winter.

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Boost Cell Phone Reception in Your Apartment

improve cell phone signal in apartment

Not much is more frustrating than trying to talk on the phone when your cellular reception is low. From broken sentences to incomplete words, the conversation is pretty much incomprehensible. The most obvious thing to do is keep your phone charged. A full battery guarantees the best hardware performance. But aside from finding the sweet spot in your apartment, there are a few things you can do to improve your cell phone service.

Wi-Fi Calling

Most phones now have a Wi-Fi assistance option. This is certainly the future of voice calling, and it’s free. All you need is an internet connection. And if your phone doesn’t have a Wi-Fi assisted option, you can simply forego your phone’s default voice calling by downloading any of the number of free Wi-Fi calling apps available on app stores. You can also get free texts through these apps also.

Purchase a Femtocell

A femtocell is a powered base station that connects to your internet service in order to amplify your cell phone signal. It’s basically an in-house cell tower. Through the Wi-Fi, a femtocell bridges the gap between the cell phone tower signal and obstructions (such as your house, its walls, and objects inside the house). It also reduces the number of cell phones using the cell tower directly, thus improving your signal.

It’s a fairly inexpensive solution to what might be a long-term problem. Before you go out and purchase one, research which femtocell might be best for you.

Signal Booster

Another option is acquiring a signal booster through your wireless carrier. This device basically boosts signals from anywhere in your house. For instance, if you can get two bars when you stand nearby the microwave by the back door, placing a signal booster in that area will spread the signal throughout the house, and in many cases will improve upon it.

Basically one of the only free options for improving your cell signal is to connect your phone to Wi-Fi (if the option is available). No matter what you choose, be sure to research to determine the best option to fit your needs.

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Prepare Your Car for Winter

prepare car for winter

Sometimes breaking down in the summer and spring months isn’t too much of a hassle: especially if the weather is nice. But breaking down in sub-zero temperatures is another story. Prepare your car this winter by following these tips.

Check Your Battery

According to TheAA, the most common cause of breakdown is battery related. And battery related issues are exacerbated in winter months. Because of the cold weather, batteries have lower outputs levels, accept charges at lesser levels, and carry increased loads (lights, heat, wipers, etc.).

To avoid issues in the winter months, TheAA recommends replacing your battery if it is five years or older, especially if your car has trouble starting up. An easy preventative maintenance step you can take to decrease the load on your battery at startup is to turn everything electrical off for the first few seconds when you start your car. Avoid a breakdown this winter by taking care of your battery.

Wipers

Do you remember the last time you bought windshield wipers? If not, it’s probably time to get a new set. You can find wipers made specifically for the winter at your local auto store. These wear down less from ice accumulation and remove ice from your windshield easier than non-winter wipers.

Tires Lose 1 Pound of Pressure per Every 10 Degree Drop

Well, according to TireRack.com, the actual equation is 2% per every 10-degree Fahrenheit drop. But for the average car tire requiring 30-50 psi for adequate inflation, the difference between the summer and winter temperature could lose you at least 5 psi in tire inflation. That difference could end up making your car slide on the snow. Be sure to check your psi periodically in the winter months to ensure your tires are up to the car manual’s specifications.

Car Wash

This might sound strange, but car washes are imperative in the winter months if you drive on roads that are constantly plowed and salted. The salt can cause rust on your car’s frame and break and gas lines. Car washes will keep your car untouched by the dangers of winter-related rusting.

The winter months don’t only call for a change in attire. But they also demand certain preparations be made to your car. Get your car ready for the winter by following these tips.

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Tips for Working from Your Apartment

working from home

Working from home can be a huge blessing for some people: you can drink as much coffee as you want! For others, it can be a death sentence. From childcare and errands to cleaning the house and Sportscenter, some distractions you’ll find at home don’t exist at the workplace. But distractions don’t have to ruin the experience for you. These tips will help you make the most of working from home.

Create a Workspace

This is one of the easiest ways to remove distractions. Create a workspace you’ll enjoy seeing and working in. Make it extremely personal. You can do this: you have the freedom of your home. But whatever you do, leave that television in the living room. And never bring your phone or phone charger to the workspace. You’ll probably want a coffee pot though, right?

Dress like You’re Working

I know, it’s very tempting to stay in your pajamas all day. But it might also encourage you to take a nap, watch TV, or check your Instagram. This is because you’re basically dressed to lounge around. Continue with your normal morning routine when you work from home, but instead of going in to work, you’ll be able to just go to a different room in your apartment. You’ll feel more energetic and ready to work if you don’t make working from home like a day-off.

Take a Walk

When you’re feeling drowsy or uninspired, simply take a break. But don’t just watch TV or check your phone. Get outside the apartment. Take a walk around the neighbor or exercise for half an hour. Make sure you’re off the clock. But getting your mind off work every once in a while might actually boost productivity and energy.

Working from home can be extremely rewarding. Follow these tips and you’ll be just as productive, if not more so, than when you drive to the office.

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Storage Hacks for Apartment Living

Apartment Storage Ideas

Ever notice how densely populated areas have tall buildings? It’s because when you run out of horizontal space, you have to think vertically. If you lived in a dorm room during college, you’ll understand this principle. Most dorm room roommates position their beds over their desks and dressers. It’s efficient, and it opens the rest of the room for other things (like a table tennis table).

This means lack of closet and storage space doesn’t have to be the last word on your storage capabilities. Here are some hacks for making the most of your apartment space.

Use the Walls

Get some command strips. Hang everything. From your hats and hair ties to your shoes (the trick is to tie them together) and backpacks. You can probably think of more things to hang. You can also buy bags just for the purpose of placing things in them to hang on your wall.

Bed Lifts

If your bed doesn’t sit high off the ground, take a tip from dorm rooms: raise it. You’ll be able to fit a lot more things under there than you might expect: dressers, book shelves, desks. The possibilities are endless. You could even purchase a portable clothes rack and hang your clothes underneath.

Bookshelf Storage

This one is kind of obvious if you keep your bookshelf vertical. But try placing it on its side. Then you can purchase linen baskets and place anything inside of it (like charging cables, papers, extra blankets, and sheets, etc.) without making your room appear cluttered. Using linen baskets to create storage blocks in your bookshelf gives you the advantage of storage space without the messy appearance.

Don’t Hang Clothes

You read that right. Instead, go the military way and roll your clothes in their drawers. If rolled correctly, they won’t wrinkle. And you won’t have to dig through your drawers to find the perfect outfit.

If you feel like you don’t have enough space in your apartment, you may not be using the space efficiently. Use these hacks to maximize your apartment space.

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