January 03, 2019

Best Books of 2018

Read 23 books in 2018. Down a bit from prior years, as podcasts are getting better and better (and taking up more and more of my commute time). Top 8 asterisked, with the rest in descending order.
Any must-reads I missed?
*Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy - Sheryl Sandberg
*Like Brothers - Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass
*Sick in the Head: Conversations About Life & Comedy - Judd Apatow
*The Power of Moments - Chip and Dan Heath
*12 Rules for Life - Jordan Peterson
*The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement - Eliyahu Goldratt
*Why Not Me - Mindy Kaling
*Lost and Founder - Rand Fishkin
Dare to Lead - Brene Brown
The Power of Now - Eckhart Tolle
Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few - Robert Reich
The Modern Political Tradition: Hobbes to Habermas
The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing - Al Ries, Jack Trout
When to Jump - Mike Lewis
The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption and Pee - Sarah Silverman
Not That Kind of Girl - Lena Dunham
Killing Marketing - Robert Rose and Joe Pulizzi
Recovery: Freedom From Our Addictions - Russell Brand
The Coming Storm - Michael Lewis
The Rational Optimist - Matt Ridley
Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant - Renee Mauborgne, W. Chan Kim
Unqualified - Anna Faris

Making Working From Home Easier

Note: This post has been contributed.

Many people have finally taken that plunge to either work for themselves and freelance or start their own businesses, and traditionally these begin from home. Working from home for some can often be seen as the dream, but actually it is a lot harder than you might think. There are, however, tips and hacks you can implement into your day to make things work easier, and to allow you to strike that work and home life balance right. With that in mind, here are some suggestions.

Go paperless 

Working from home means that you have everything in the one place, but that can often mean that your home gets untidy because of work related papers, etc. So out may be time to go paperless. You could start with a cheap virtual mailing address service that will actually make all your mail virtual and sent direct to your email. Making less paper. It can also look professional at meeting to have a paperless system. Being able to showcase results, figures, etc on your tablet or to be sent to potential clients via email. 

Work on your time management

Time management is extremely important when you work from home, so it may be time to start thinking about how you can make some changes to the way you work. This will help stop the blur of working and living at home. It could be that you give yourself set working hours, and focus on areas to make some big changes. It could be that you look at blocking time to do certain tasks, so that you can bulk do tasks at different points of the day. There are some great time management hacks online and many of them are very useful for working from home. 

Have a dedicated area to work

Working from home means that you are surrounded by distraction, so having a dedicated place to work can help you get into work mode more easily than it would be to sit in bed or in your living room. Of course, these are big benefits of working from home, being able to work from anywhere, but having one space for work can help you to stay on track. Plus it can also work in the opposite way, enabling you to walk away from your job and then focus on home life without feeling constantly on the clock. 

Work in the local community 

Finally, working from home means that you have the local vicinity to work with. Not only does it help to work locally and outside of the home, for a change of scenery, but dependent on what your work is, you could also canvass for business in the local community. You are there to provide a service or to sell products, so doing this locally can help you to tap into a customer base with very little competition out there. Working outside of the home can also give you that time to network and be in the company of others, as working from home can get lonely at times. 

Let’s hope these tips help you to make working from home easier. 

January 01, 2019

My Favorite Songs of 2018

2018 was an INCREDIBLE year for new music. And I listened to it all, so you'd only have to listen to the best. Here are my favorite (indie rock/chill-leaning) SONGS of 2018, since albums are irrelevant (fight me).

Anything move you that I missed?
lovely (with Khalid) - Billie Eilish
This is America - Childish Gambino
Slow Burn - Kacey Musgraves
Fallingwater - Maggie Rogers
‘Til It’s Over - Anderson .Paak
Loving You Well - Luke Sital-Singh
2009 - Mac Miller
Nina Cried Power (feat. Mavis Staples) - Hozier
The Gold (Phoebe Bridgers version) - Manchester Orchestra
Peach Scone (Live) - Hobo Johnson & The LoveMakers
Birthplace - Novo Amor
Souvenir - boygenius
Bambi - Hippo Campus

December 28, 2018

Car Maintenance Tips that will help you out in Winter

Note: This post has been contributed.

If your car is looking a little worse for wear, then now is the time to give it a little TLC. If you don’t then this could lead to a ton of issues later down the line and you may even end up with repairs that you can’t afford. If you want to get around this then there are a few things that you can do about that.

Check the Car Battery

Your car battery should always be your first priority. In winter, your car is having to face very cold temperatures. This, combined with the increased use of lights, heaters and even blowers can put it under even more strain. Batteries do tend to have a very good lifespan and they can often last way more than 5 years, but if you are having problems or if you suspect that yours is at the end of its life then now is the time to get that checked out. If you ever find yourself with a dead battery then it is possible for you to jump-start your car, but you should avoid doing this where possible as it can degrade your car if done too often. You might want to look into battery venting as well.

Top Up your Engine Coolant

Your engine coolant should be a mixture of 50% water and 50% antifreeze. You will need to top it up as it will become diluted over time as well. So many people make the mistake of topping their engine up with water throughout the year and this can reduce the amount of antifreeze. This can lead to freezing, which in turn can make your engine overheat. Avoiding this repair is very simple to do, and by taking the time to monitor your coolant, you could save yourself thousands.

Check the Condition of your Tyres

Your car’s tyres are the key to steering and braking as well. It is super essential that you keep them in very good condition. It’s recommended that you have around 3mm of depth on your tyre treads during the winter. This will give you way better grip when you are out and on the road, and it will also help you to avoid skidding when driving on sheet ice.

Clean out your Lights where Possible

Reflectors can get dirty over time, and the last thing that you need is to have them dimmer than they should be in winter. It’s a good idea to check to see if your rear reflectors are clean and to also make sure that you have no cracked lenses or even blown bulbs. Checking your full-beams, fog lights and even indicators is also a good idea.  It’s very dangerous to drive in winter with dull or even dirty lights, and it doesn’t take much to clean them out either so take your time and make sure that you do the job properly. You never know, it could save you from having an accident, especially if you frequently drive at night.

Making Money When You Need It Quickly

Note: This post has been contributed.

Sometimes life can throw you off course, and you may find yourself in a situation where you need money quickly. Those life emergencies can make a real dent in your wallet, so how can you make money when you need money now?

Get A Loan

It’s the quickest way of getting money, but like a credit card, you always need to remember that it was never your money to, begin with. Loans can sometimes be quite risky, especially with the chance of hidden costs or dodgy loan companies charging high-interest rates that leave you vulnerable to loan sharks. Only get one from a loan provider that you trust, and that’s reputable to others that you know and pay close attention to any interest rates or length of re-payments. 

Fill In Online Surveys

There’s now plenty of online websites that pay individuals to fill in online surveys, which is great for a little extra money on the side. The payouts aren’t usually that substantial, but if you have lots of spare time, you can make a nice amount of money in a short space of time. Surveys will often be on a range of subjects and the more tailored and niche they are, the more likely they’ll pay a little more because the requirements of the person are much rarer to find. 

Start Your Own Blog

In the digital world, individuals are now beginning to make money and craft their own careers online through a blog. Brands and companies alike are flocking to these individuals who influence other people to work with them on paid sponsorships, gifting reviews and advertisements. So if you think you have that creative flair and knowledge of a particular area that you can write about, this can be a great way to make some serious money. With hard work and perseverance, it won’t take you long either.

Offer Your Services

There are now so many apps available, where anyone with a useful skill to another, can offer their services for money. It’s a great way of earning some extra cash! There are platforms like TaskRabbit where you can set up a profile within seconds, set a rate and your skills and you’ll be reachable instantly. It’s also flexible so you can often work it around another job. So why not give it a go if you have the spare time?

There are so many more ways out there to make money quickly. You just need to have the motivation to find it.

December 11, 2018

How To Make Winter Fun Again

Note: This post has been contributed.

When the winter comes, there is a general feeling amongst us of sluggishness. Why bother going out, when you could just stay inside and relax under the duvet, re-watching shows on Netflix that you’ve already seen 100 times? And whilst we all like to have a lazy day, they soon get old. In fact, winter can leave you with pretty bad cabin fever, and you can struggle to remember the last time you went out that wasn’t simply to go and pick up some comfort food. We’ve made this guide, so that you can make winter fun again, without going through the traditional snowman-making, Netflix-watching cycle, over and over again into infinity. You’re welcome.

Go on a road trip
Ok, when you think of road trips, you probably imagine those summer drives, with the windows down, the sunglasses on, and the summer songs blasting from the radio. However, road trips should never be confined to a specific season (well, we don’t think that they should). As long as you’ve got a car that was manufactured in the last 20 years or so, you should have air con and some means of keeping your passengers from turning into ice blocks during your trip, so why not make your winter fun by giving this a go?

Whilst you’re probably not going to be able to wind the windows down, you could think up a rough route of where to go in the winter. Why not do a museum or art gallery road trip, where you go from indoor-fun-establishment to the next? You’ll get to see the world in all of its winter glory, and you can see some beautiful wildlife and sights, no matter what season it is. If you want to take it a step further, you could even get your hands on some festive music to set the mood, and you could definitely go on a winter walk if you dress appropriately. Ok, it’s not the summer road trip you’re used to, but it will still be great, and you won’t have to splash the cash.

Go to an amusement park
Again, you may associate going to an amusement park with the summer, but this doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, many amusement parks have seasonal events on, such as Halloween fright nights and Christmas-related days. You could have a lot of fun eating some delicious warm fairground food, and going on all of the rides, as long as you’ve wrapped up warm, that is. We’d probably advise that you pass if somebody asks you to go on the log flume, or another water-related ride, but other than that, you’re all good.

If it tickles your fancy, places like Disneyland actually look better in the winter (well, we think so) and everybody is feeling especially festive, so there will be no pushing and shoving when it comes to getting on the rides first, and no amusement park injuries ruining your Christmas (hopefully…). Most parks are open all year round, but have a look at opening times before your visit if you’re thinking about giving this a go. Of course, if the weather is pretty extreme, you might want to give this one a miss.

Get creative
If the weather is really bad, and you’re not looking to leave the house anytime soon, then getting creative could rid you of those winter blues. Think of something that you’ve never tried before, like painting or writing, and give it a go! Most of us have lots of creativity that we’ve never tapped into, and trying your hand at these things will not only fill those dark winter days, but will also improve your mental wellbeing, and you’ll feel great when you’ve made something yourself. 

There are no age limits on creativity, so no matter what your age is or your job role (high earners, we’re talking to you) you should still give this a go. Why not try to make something like your own cushion covers? This isn’t too difficult, and it will give your home a new lease of life, in the face of those winter nights. Everybody will be asking where you got your furnishings and paintings from, and your answer will be: ‘Ah-ha! I made them myself, and they’re one of a kind.’ Honestly. You will feel that cocky.

Get cooking
This is another one for those who are not quite ready to leave the house yet, and you’ll get a lot back from this (including a few pounds on the scales, probably). Winter is the perfect time to try out those warm, carb-heavy bakes that you’ve been meaning to try out for a while. Get a recipe book, and make something seasonal if you can. This will also help you to bring the family together around the table, and they’ll love your new food as much as you do.

For most of these recipes, you’ll probably already have most of the ingredients in your fridge or pantry. If you’re going to make gingerbread, for example, you only need to have things like flour, butter, sugar and cinnamon (ok, and a few more) but you’ll create something that is priceless. You could also try your hand at making a warm winter stew, or anything that your family would appreciate after a long day outside in the cold. If you’re not usually one for cooking, then there’s always time to start, so put the TV remote down and get baking!

Go to the theatre
If you haven’t been to the theatre in some time, then winter could be the time to get that fancy outfit out again, and make a night of going to see a show. One of the best things about this is that it is indoors, so you’ll have to make a quick dash for the subway or a cab, but you’ll get to enjoy the warmth of being surrounded by other (similarly well-dressed) people, which will also be good for the cabin fever you’re probably suffering with. Having a meal beforehand is also a great way to make a day out of your theatre trip.

You don’t need to go and see a Shakespeare play to get those brain cogs turning, and there are loads of things out there, whatever your taste may be. From Broadway musicals to Christmas plays (hello, A Christmas Carol), you’ll find something that will make you feel warm inside this season, and the beautiful theatre bar will also be worth spending some of your hard-earned cash on. Basically, there's nothing bad about the theatre, especially if you get to wear some fancy winter clothes. Winning.

There are many ways to make winter fun again, and it doesn’t always have to mean watching reruns of your favorite shows. You can go on a road trip, and see the beautiful sights that winter has to offer, some of which you would have never expected, so go via a forest if there is one nearby. Going to an amusement park is also a good idea, as there are many seasonal events on, and getting creative could help you to learn about a skill that you never knew you had. You could also try to bake some festive treats to share with the whole family (or not…) and you could treat yourself and your loved one(s) to a trip to the theatre. Whatever you choose to do, have fun this winter, and make sure that you make the most of it! Happy holidays!

November 16, 2018

Three Things You're Probably Overspending On

Note: This post has been contributed.

Regardless of how big or small your budget is, the important thing is how well you manage your money. And most of us are guilty of overpending on some things- socialising, clothes, technology and other luxuries probably spring to mind. But there are others that you might not even realise you’re overspending on, here are a few examples. 

Food and drink
Take a look through your bank statement and add up everything you’ve spent on food and drink. Groceries, coffee and drinks when you’ve been out, sandwiches and work lunches, takeaways and naughty treats like cakes and donuts. Chances are, you’ll be surprised at just how much it comes to. As humans, we’re programmed to love food, and we live in a world where it’s just so accessible. But overspending on it can be bad for our waistlines as well as our wallets. It makes much more sense to plan carefully, and make as much of our food at home as possible. Create a weekly dinner menu, and then shop based on this so you know exactly what to buy. Leftovers make great lunches, whether it’s a portion of bolognese or lasange heated up in the microwave the next day, or leftover chicken or meat thrown into a tasty sandwich with some salad. Stock up the pantry with long life ingredients so you always have a few staple items for meals on hand- tins, jars, sauces, seasonings, breakfast cereals and grains are all examples. When you make your own food you save money and can control what goes into it, making it easier to live more healthily too. Buy a flask and take your own coffee to work, and spend a little time on a weekend planning for the week ahead so you know what to buy.

Bills and insurances
When it comes to bills, it’s easy to think that they cost what they cost. However, the simple act of switching tariffs or companies could save you literally hundreds over the course of the year. Do your research, use a price comparison site to find the best deals and give the company a call. Search sites like cheapautoinsurance.co to see if you can bring down things like your car insurance. Another way to save money on your bills is to use less energy and water too, small lifestyle changes can all mak a big difference. Switch your bulbs to LED varieties, and turn off the tap while you’re brushing your teeth. It doesnt need to be extreme!

Digital subscriptions
Digital subscriptions can be really handy. You have Amazon Prime for your shopping, Spotify for your music and Netflix for your tv. You have magazine subscriptions, website subscriptions and more which can allow you to access the things that you want online. However, most of us don’t use them as much as we should- and therefore are wasting money by having them. It’s nice to have the luxury of having them there ‘just in case’ but try cancelling them. If you don’t miss them after a week or so then save your money!

Best Books of 2018

Read 23 books in 2018. Down a bit from prior years, as podcasts are getting better and better (and taking up more and more of my commute ti...