How to Be More Productive

by Stacy Tharp 7. January 2014

Productivity

As one year comes to a close and another year begins, one of the most common sayings you hear is “where did the time go?” Time is something that always seems to get away from us, and something we have absolutely no control over. We do, however, have control over how we use that time. We’d all like more time to spend with our family, our hobbies, or just relaxing. Here are some tips on how to be more productive and make the most of your time.

Set a Daily Schedule

The to-do list is not a new concept, but it is an essential ingredient to having a productive day. Whether you make your to-do lists on post-it notes or use an electronic tool such as Wunderlist or Todoist, it’s something that should be done daily. Not only is it important to list the tasks that need to be completed, you should schedule a specific and realistic time frame by which each task should be completed. Setting deadlines for yourself throughout the day will help you avoid procrastinating.

Examine Your Internal Clock

Figure out what time of day you are the most productive, and schedule your most challenging tasks during that time frame. Don’t confuse your most productive time for your most awake time of day. You want to be the most focused at this time. For the time of day that you are the least focused, schedule your most mundane tasks that don’t require as much thought.

Get Energy Boosts from Smart Sources

You lose energy when you are hungry and tired. Eat snacks regularly throughout the day, but make sure you choose the right ones. Foods high in simple sugars will zap all of your energy, but foods high in protein and fiber will give you a healthy, long-lasting energy boost.

Regular breaks are also necessary to remain productive. The sun is a major source of energy, so if you start to lose focus, take a break and head outside for a few minutes.

Exercising and getting a good night’s sleep on a regular basis are other ingredients to a productive lifestyle.

Don't Multitask, but Batch Together Similar Tasks

Contrary to the popular resume skill of multitasking, it is more efficient to focus on one task at a time. However, it does make sense to batch together tasks that are similar to one another. For example, if you have several phone calls to make, make them all in a row. You should also set aside time to respond to emails rather than interrupting what you are doing every time you receive an email throughout the day.

Whenever Possible, Automate

Don't waste time doing anything that a computer can do for you. At work, set up email rules to help you sort through your email. At home, use online banking to set up automatic bill payments and transfers.

You should also use a personal finance manager to set a budget and savings goals. Once you set up all of your accounts, your personal finance manager will do the rest of the work for you.

At the End of the Day, Clean Up and Reflect on Your Day

Take a look at your to-do list at the end of the day. Did you get everything done? If not, why? Did you put too many items on your list? Did you spend too much time on Facebook? Then, put everything you were working on away until the next day. Walking into a room or office filled with clutter can be daunting, so make a new do-do list for the following day and repeat tomorrow!

If you found this article useful, be sure to check out these related articles:

An Easy Way to Stick with Your Financial New Year's Resolution

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1st Mariner Bank's Annual Thanksgiving Video - 2013

by Stacy Tharp 20. November 2013

At 1st Mariner, we certainly know banking, but how much do we know about Thanksgiving? We decided to find out. We went around and asked our employees some Thanksgiving trivia questions.

Will you be impressed with our Thanksgiving knowledge? Will you laugh at our expense? Will you learn some new Thanksgiving facts? We're betting yes, yes and yes. Plus you may or may not get to witness some of us gobbling like a turkey (spoiler alert: you will).

Ladies and gentlemen, it's time for us to introduce 1st Mariner Bank's annual Thanksgiving video!

 

Want more entertainment? Check out our previous holiday videos:

Happy Thanksgiving from 1st Mariner Bank! (2012)

Happy Holidays from 1st Mariner Bank! (2012)

A Holiday Video Message from 1st Mariner Bank (2011)

4 Financial Mistakes Newlyweds Make

by Stacy Tharp 6. November 2013

Marriage Finances

One of the biggest decisions newlyweds have to make is how to go about combining their bank accounts. This decision requires a lot of discussion around personal money habits and short- and long-term financial goals. Depending on the couple, this conversation may be short and sweet or it may be excruciatingly long and painful.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this money discussion will not be your last. No, not even close. It is important that you regroup on a regular basis to discuss your budget, the progress of your goals and any circumstances that may divert your current financial path.

To give you a head start on your wonderful journey of navigating the world of finances as a newly married couple, here are some of the top financial mistakes that newlyweds make and how to avoid them.

Mistake #1: Have one person take control of the finances.

 Why it's bad: Couples often divvy up household chores, so in theory, it makes sense to give one person the “chore” of paying the bills. However, this can leave the other person completely out of the loop when it comes to financial decisions that affect both people. Plus, if something were to happen to the person who is in charge of the finances, the other person must be ready and able to take over the financial responsibilities.

What you should do: It’s fine to give one person the responsibility of making sure the bills get paid – but both of you should be aware of bill due dates and account information. It’s also important to make sure that both of you are on the same page when it comes to your budget.

Mistake #2: Only have the “money talk” once.

Why it's bad: While it is essential to have that initial talk to establish your goals and budget, the difficult part is actually staying on track. It’s likely that the initial budget you create will not work as well in practice as it does on paper. It’s okay if your first budget ends up being impossible to follow. What’s not okay is doing nothing about it.

What you should do: Set up regular meetings with your spouse to discuss your finances. Since this isn’t exactly the most exciting topic to discuss, you can liven things up by doing it over a nice Sunday brunch, or any other activity you enjoy. I’d suggest setting up these dates at least once a month, at the beginning of the month, to discuss how well you were able to stick to last month’s budget, and to discuss any tweaks that should be made to this month’s budget. You should also discuss any large purchases that you plan on making that month. You may want to consider meeting again in the middle of the month to discuss your monthly progress.

Mistake #3: Refuse to compromise.

Why it’s bad: One of you is the spender, and the other is the saver. It’s good to have this balance, but one of you is likely to be more stubborn than the other. If one person is so stubborn that the other feels that they have no choice but to always give in, only one person wins.

What you should do: Both the spender and the saver should recognize that having this balance is a good thing, but that for most major financial decisions, you are going to have to meet somewhere in the middle. It can take some time, but you have to accept the fact that the financial habits which you have always lived by are going to have to change – and your spouse needs to accept that too.

Mistake #4: Fail to plan for worst case scenarios.

Why it’s bad: We never think something bad is going to happen, so it’s easy to tell yourself that putting money into an emergency fund can be put to better use somewhere else. But the fact is, unfortunate things are going to happen at some point or another, and if you aren’t financially prepared, your bad news just got much worse.

What you should do: Pay your “savings bill” first. If you have a large credit card bill one month, you should adjust your spending the next month, not your savings. It is a dangerous practice to pay for your overspending habits with your savings – doing so encourages you to continue to spend more than you had budgeted.

If you found this article useful, be sure to check out these related articles:

I Do...But Maybe I Don't Want to Share My Money

Money in Your 30s: Manage It, Don't Be Managed by It

The Cost of Love



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