Genuine Curiosity

Author Dwayne Melancon is always on the lookout for new things to learn. An ecclectic collection of postings on personal productivity, travel, good books, gadgets, leadership & management, and many other things.

 

Fight depression and low energy in your office (with Infographic)

I was just reading through a great article from the "OmniPapers" blog about using the chemistry of our emotions for fighting depression at work. I live in Portland, Oregon and this time of year, natural light is scarce which affects moods, motivation, and happiness for a lot of people.

OmniPapers' Emily Johnson has provided the comprehensive infographic below to help people work through improvements in the workplace (whether in a corporate or a home office environment). I've been experimenting with introducing more light into my workspace the past several weeks, and I have definitely noticed a difference.

I hope you enjoy this infographic! Be sure and check out OmniPapers for a lot of other good content, as well (click on the graphic below to go to the original article).

Career Contentment: Key Factors to Help You Find a Job That You Love

When we were children, it sounded so simple. Just come up with an answer to the age-old question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" and voila, there's your dream job. But as an adult, you realized it's hardly that simple. In fact, finding a fulfilling career is a lifelong quest for many people.

Don't Expect to Get It Right on the First Try

While you should consider yourself supremely fortunate if you happen to find career contentment at your first job out of school, this is not the reality that most people experience (and if you're reading this article, it's unlikely that you feel your job is perfect). More often, you need to try out a few different jobs before finding one that brings you career contentment and job satisfaction.

There is no magic number of jobs that you need to try before finding the one that suits you best. The key is to be flexible and willing to put yourself out there to try something new. It's also crucial to maintain a high level of self-awareness, so you can identify what qualities you like and don't like about your position. Over time, a clear understanding of your likes and dislikes in a career will help make it easier to identify the best opportunities that suit your needs.

Don't Stick with a Job If You Don't Find It Fulfilling

Don't be afraid to start looking for a new opportunity at the first sign of discontent with a job. There is no reason to stay at a job for an arbitrary period if you are miserable. Life is too short to spend 40-plus hours a week doing something that makes you unhappy.

Rather than quitting right away, wait until you have another opportunity to move on to, so you can avoid financial stress. If you can't find the perfect job within a few months, take matters into your own hands by exploring entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial opportunities. For instance, you could start your own business with a direct sales company like Amway or open an Etsy shop selling handmade goods if you are particularly creative.

Qualities to Look For

When exploring the topic of career contentment, a few common themes present themselves. Things like work-life balance, a minimal commute and a fun work environment are commonly identified by people who have found career contentment in their current jobs. U.K.-based recruitment firm Reed recently conducted a formal survey and identified the following factors are the top qualities that contribute to career satisfaction:

  • Simple commute: 31 percent of respondents noted that an easy, stress-free commute help make a job more enjoyable.
  • Great workspace: A well-designed workspace that is tailored to create a fun environment scored as a top quality by 29 percent of those surveyed.
  • Work-life balance: This is a hot topic in the HR world for a good reason, over 20 percent of people surveyed noted work-life balance as a top contributor to their career contentment.
  • Good salary: Surprisingly, career contentment isn't all about the money. Salary was only noted by 18 percent of survey respondents as a factor leading to career fulfillment.
  • Social events: 16 percent of respondents said that opportunities to socialize with co-workers at company-sponsored social events were important to them.

Cyber Monday Shopping Tips

AS FEATURED ON KGW TV'S
"PORTLAND TODAY" CLICK HERE TO WATCH

The Monday following the "Black Friday" shopping day has been declared as "Cyber Monday" and millions of people around the world are expected to do much of their holiday shopping online on that day.

With that in mind, here are some tips to help you shop more safely, this holiday season - whether you shop on Cyber Monday or not:

1. Be careful when clicking on email links

This time of year, people are especially vulnerable to "Click now for this amazing offer!" phishing emails. When you receive an enticing email offer, be careful when clicking on that link - what you see on the screen may not match the underlying link. Often, you can hover over the link to see where you're actually being sent but this can sometimes show you a long and confusing link, due to embedded tracking information.

If the sender is one you recognize, and the email is from a vendor to which you've "opted in" to receive email offers, you're probably OK. However, if you have any concerns about the validity of the link, it's better to be safe by typing in the address of the website directly rather than clicking on the link.

Which brings me to tip #2...

2. Use https:// instead of http://

When you're typing the address, you can ensure you get a secure connection by using the "https://" prefix on your web address. The 's' stands for secure, and it encrypts the connection between your browser and the site you're browsing.

More and more websites are offering (or even defaulting to) https: connections, but you can force it by typing the address in yourself. If your site doesn't support https: it is generally OK to browse there, but avoid using insecure sites for shopping, since your payment information  is not secure when you transmit it to the site.

Also, your browser can help you - it will often show a lock icon or other indicator, signifying that you have a secure connection to the website.

Clicking on the website address will show you the full path, which should start with https: as shown above.

3. Shop using official apps

If you shop from your mobile device and the site you're shopping with has an official app, use it. This can help you avoid spoofed sites (i.e. sites masquerading as a legitimate site, but in place to harvest your personal and/or financial information. If you go this route, you're best off going to the main shopping site from your browser, clicking on the app store link from their site, and letting that link redirect you to the correct app on the Apple App Store, Google Play Store, or whatever app store is used by your device.

4. don't Shop on Public WiFi networks

If you're shopping from a public WiFi network in a coffee shop, airport, library, etc. chances are, your traffic is being transmitted unencrypted (aka "in the clear"), which means an attacker could observe and capture this information. Unfortunately, in some scenarios, this can even expose your information when connected to an https: site due to something known as a "man in the middle" attack.

In general, you're best off not shopping on public, unsecured WiFi networks. If you really want to shop on these networks, and wish to do so in a secure fashion, you can use a VPN (Virtual Private Network service) to encrypt your device's traffic. There are some easy-to-use services that help you do this, such as Cloak (Mac and iOS only); TunnelBear (multi-platform), and WiTopia to name a few.

If you're not using a VPN, avoid sending sensitive information (such as your payment card data) over a public WiFi network.

5. Use a good, up-to-date security solution on your computer

Modern anti-virus and anti-malware technology can help protect you while shopping. Many of them not only scan your computer for malicious programs, they also have add-ins for your browser that are aware of know, malicious web sites and can warn you when you're in a dangerous spot.

Paid software is available for this, as well as free options. If you're using Windows and don't want to pay, the built-in Windows Defender is a good option. Companies like AVG, Avast, and Avira also offer free antivirus solutions for Windows and Mac computers.

Many Internet Service Providers (ISPs) also offer free anti-virus or anti-malware licenses to their customers - check with your internet provider to see what is available.

Bottom line, have something in place and keep it up-to-date with current malware and virus definitions.

6. Consider Using Apple Pay or Google Wallet 

Whether you're shopping online or in a store, if Apple Pay or Google Wallet payments are available, they offer a safe way to pay. Due to the way the security model on these systems works, your individual payment card details are never transmitted to the merchant.

Instead a one-time transaction credential is shared to enable the payment and a new one is generated each time you pay. That means that even if an attacker gains access to the transaction information they will be unable to use that information for a second transaction.

I hope you find these tips helpful, and I hope you find some great bargains on Cyber Monday!

Managing Money: 3 Unconventional Strategies to Adopt

When it comes to improving your money management knowledge and skills, a little unconventional thinking can go a long way. Instead of simply being a victim of your impulses, spend your hard-earned money in a more conscious manner.

Here are three strategies that can help you:

Shop Smarter, Guided by Practicality

Gone are the days when your location and a store's sales limited your shopping habits. Thanks to online shopping, the options are endless, making good bargains more accessible than ever before. You no longer have to wait for Black Friday to get the best deals on your holiday shopping, either.

But avoid emptying your bank account for the sake of fulfilling your holiday shopping list. To save more money around the holidays, downsize your list and check everything off before the holiday madness begins. Get creative by giving gifts you can create on your own. Or, if you must buy something for someone, make it as practical as possible. For instance, instead of buying your spouse a new iPad that they don't really need, buy them a new set of winter tires for their car, or a new winter coat. Necessities are the new "fun" gifts.

Think of the Future like the Present

Many of us fail to save as much money as we could — and should — due to plain old procrastination. Why do it today if you can put it off until tomorrow, right? But that line of thinking — the assumption you have plenty of time to save money — is precisely the problem, and it sneaks up on you.

UCLA behavioral economist Keith Chen found a direct link between our failure as a culture to save adequately and the manner in which we understand the future is near. Chen divides languages into two categories: futured and futureless. Like the English language, futured languages have different verb conjugations for the future tense. However, in futureless languages, like Japanese, Chinese and German, the same verb forms are used when the speaker is expressing something in the present or future tense.

This seemingly minor difference actually makes a major impact in how we perceive the "future" based on our native tongue. Those who speak futured languages tend to view the future as something significantly different from the present, thus making it easier to disregard its imminence and the need to save for it. Meantime, futureless language speakers view the future much more similarly to the present and, as such, tend to be much more successful at saving money for the future.

In order to better manage your own personal finances and savings, try to adopt the same concept of the future that futureless language speakers have. In other words, think of the future like it's tomorrow or just months away and allow it to positively impact your bank account so you can enjoy the benefits.

Question Your Motivations

Many industries are taking advantage of an emerging field called behavioral finance, which combines principles of cognitive and behavioral psychology. In business, the concept is used to manipulate consumers into doing what big business wants: for you to spend more.

To avoid falling for these behavioral finance ploys, it pays to be conscious of when your emotions are signaling you to make a purchase. Companies often use or take advantage of consumers' emotions in order to influence their decision-making and override their rationale. Instead, consumers like you should be especially mindful of their instinctive reasoning. Instead of going with the flow and following the herd mentality, be especially prudent of potential purchases if you know other people who have recently made the same purchase. A little extra caution will go a long way to help you better manage your money.

A Great Stand and Portable Charger for Apple Watch

The Nomad Pod in action.

I recently bought a Nomad Pod for Apple Watch, and I really like it. It is a pretty simple device: it is essentially a "shell" in which you install your Apple Watch charging cable, but with a twist - it has an internal battery that you can use to charge your Watch any time, whether you have access to electrical power or not.

From my experience, I can fully recharge my watch somewhere between 2 and 3 times before recharging the Nomad Pod. This has been handy in a number of situations:

  • While traveling, when I've forgotten to recharge my watch overnight (or when I don't realize the plug I've got it plugged into goes dead when I turn off the master room lights in a hotel);
  • During the day, after using the GPS on my watch to track an activity;
  • While camping - I put my watch in airplane mode while camping, so it lasts a couple of days easily but when I'm on the trail for a week, being able to recharge my watch every couple of days with the Nomad has been great.

The  Nomad Pod for Apple Watch is a great idea for anyone with an Apple Watch, as well as a cool gift for others in your life.

Inside the Nomad Pod. (click to embiggen)

If you're curious what the "innards" of the Nomad Pod look like, here is a view inside (at left).

You simply plug your Apple Watch charger into the base, wrap it around, snap the magnetic charging pad into the top of the Pod, and put the magnetically-attached shell on top.

To charge the Pod, you connect a micro-USB cable to the dock and that charges the embedded battery.

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