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5 tips for a more efficient work day

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(Family Features) Being more productive at work means working smarter, not harder (or longer) and getting the most out of the hours you spend in the office. Sometimes, however, people find their workdays spiral out of control even when they start each morning with a set plan and to-do list.

Carol Lavin Bernick, former chairman of beauty conglomerate Alberto Culver, published “Gather As You Go: Lessons Learned Along the Way,”a book sharing insights she’s learned through her many roles as a corporate leader, working mother, philanthropist and founder of the nonprofit organization Enchanted Backpack. Bernick offers these tips and tricks to help maximize the minutes of your workday for optimal productivity and efficiency.

Identify Important Versus Critical
Days fly by and your to-do list can feel like it is getting longer. It is common to do what is immediately important or necessary, not what is critical. Whether it be setting up your will, scheduling doctor’s appointments or making sure your kids are up-to-date on their shots and vaccines, building time into your life to ensure critical items are done is imperative. Schedule a couple of times each year – the same times every year – to focus on completing critical tasks.

Be Resourceful
If you are unsure how to do something at work, reach out to your colleagues for help. Make friends with another person on your team at a similar level who has been around a while. Take ideas from anywhere you can get them. Even the best CEOs ask for help. Consultants are often hired by leaders to provide their specialized expertise, unique skills and objective viewpoints to businesses.

“The smartest people I know ask for help,” Bernick said.

Divide and Conquer
There are times life can be simply overwhelming and it seems impossible to get everything done. When this happens, take the problem and break it down to its elements then assess what you need to do and what can be completed by others. Create a system for tracking the project, such as using a word processor document or another tool to mark when each item is complete. This is an easy way to see what tasks you still need to get done, help others grow as they help you and find motivation in seeing what you have already accomplished.

Give Your Boss Everything Needed
Work more efficiently by giving your boss everything needed when asked to prepare information. Ensure you have a clear understanding of the end-goal. Repeat back what is needed and why to ensure you are both on the same page. A simple template works in many cases.

For example, if you’re asked to research new office furniture, you’ll need to provide more than just costs. Be prepared to answer questions such as: When would it be completed or delivered? Is a deposit needed, and if so, how much? What is the cancellation date? What other options are offered (colors, sizes, styles, etc.)? Is there a warranty or guarantee? Are there photos or samples available to share? Will it meet the needs of the office? Are there any negatives? Comprehensive work can make the most of everyone’s time and increase the likelihood of impressing your boss.

Find more tips and inspiration to increase workplace productivity at gatherasyougo.com.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

SOURCE:
Gather As You Go

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6 tips to prepare your home for winter weather

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(Family Features) Winter weather, while often beautiful, can prove challenging for homeowners. Snow and ice accumulation can cause damage or disruption to many components of homes and properties, including heating systems and appliances, communication and access to and from property.

Utilizing a reliable, efficient and affordable energy source like propane can help power critical systems – home heating, cooktops, ovens, fireplaces, boilers and water heaters. Because propane is stored on-site, it’s resilient enough to withstand some of the dangers of winter weather, such as power outages that interrupt access to the electric grid. Available in a variety of capacities to fit the needs of any size home, propane-powered generators can provide supplemental power in as little as 10 seconds after an electrical grid failure, ensuring vital systems like home heating, cooking and smoke and fire detection systems are not interrupted when you need them the most.

Consider these tips from the experts at the Propane Education & Research Council to help prepare your family and home for winter weather and find more resources at Propane.com.

Get to Know Your Propane System

If you’re unfamiliar with your propane system, take a few minutes to review it. Identify core components, including the tank, regulators, meter, piping and supply valves, as well as any appliance vents. Locate the main gas supply valve in case you need to turn off the propane in the event of an emergency. Call a propane professional to inspect the system before restoring it.

Ensure an Adequate Supply of Propane

Establish a regular delivery schedule with your propane provider – particularly during the winter months – or call to schedule a delivery when the tank gauge reads 30% to give your provider enough time to make a delivery and ensure you have an adequate supply in your tank.

Mark Your Tank

Especially if your home’s propane tank is buried, be sure to mark its location with a brightly colored stake or flag taller than the maximum anticipated snow depth. This will help propane suppliers easily locate your tank, ensuring they can refill it during scheduled appointments.

Ready Your Furnace

If it’s time to upgrade your home’s climate control system, it’s a smart idea to do your homework and explore all options. Consider propane-powered furnaces, which last 50% longer than electric heat pumps for a lower lifetime investment. Propane furnaces also provide warmer air than other heat sources (115-125 F), are less impacted by outdoor temperatures and produce 50% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than electric furnaces and 12% less than fuel oil furnaces.

Take Advantage of Your Fireplace

The warm glow of a fire isn’t only comforting; it can be a practical and effective way to increase the heat inside your home. Not only do propane fireplaces offer 5-6 times the heating capacity of electric fireplaces, they’re also more energy efficient, environmentally friendly, convenient to use and easier to install than woodburning models. They also emit less soot and other emissions.

Install Gas and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Installing UL-listed propane gas detectors and carbon monoxide detectors can provide you and your family with additional peace of mind. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding installation, location and maintenance.
SOURCE:
Propane Education & Research Council

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Efficient ways to warm your home

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(Family Features) Creating reliable and efficient heat for your home during the winter months may be easier than you think. Using propane appliances like furnaces, water heaters, fireplaces and kitchen appliances alongside other energy sources, like electricity, can help reduce the strain on the electrical grid.

With the capability to power all major systems in a home, propane offers homeowners an affordable, comfortable, reliable and efficient energy source. It’s a clean, low-carbon option that is made in the United States and available right now.

Consider these energy-efficient, propane-powered appliances and their benefits compared to other energy sources, according to the experts at the Propane Education & Research Council.

Furnaces
Not only are propane-powered furnaces more efficient than other energy sources, but they can also provide a lot of comfort. They heat air to 115-125 F, making the indoor air feel consistently warmer than other options. Heat from air source heat pumps often supply temperatures lower than 100 F and are more affected by outdoor temperatures.

A propane-powered furnace has a 50% longer lifespan than an electric heat pump, reducing its overall lifetime costs to a homeowner. Energy Star-qualified propane furnaces can save up to $75 in energy costs each year and are 15% more efficient than standard propane models. In addition, propane-powered residential furnaces emit up to 50% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than electric furnaces and 12% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than fuel oil furnaces.

Fireplaces
A propane-powered fireplace is a great source for secondary heat and can be used in all climates. They provide 5-6 times the heating capacity of an electric fireplace and emit less soot and other air-polluting emissions than wood-burning fireplaces.

In fact, some parts of the U.S. have banned wood-burning fireplaces due to their negative effects on the environment. What’s more, traditional wood fireplaces are about 15% efficient as secondary sources of heat while high-efficiency propane fireplaces are up to 90% efficient.

Boilers
Many homeowners appreciate the versatility of propane boilers, which offer high-level performance and space savings while also providing heat, hot water and even snow melt capabilities. This versatility also extends to the type of heating delivery system propane boilers serve, including hydronic baseboard systems, in-floor hydronic systems or even forced-air systems, in which hot water from the boiler (instead of a furnace) acts as the heat source.

Propane boilers have an expected lifespan of up to 30 years, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, but many boilers can last longer if serviced and maintained properly. Thus, the initial investment can provide long-term value beyond other heating alternatives. High-efficiency propane boilers also result in significantly reduced carbon dioxide emissions compared with those fueled by heating oil.

Learn more about how you can rely on propane to heat your home at Propane.com/ForMyHome.


SOURCE:
Propane Education & Research Council

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Dog grooming advice to keep pets clean, healthy

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(Family Features) Regular grooming can keep your dog looking and smelling his or her best, but it’s also important for maintaining health. If you choose to groom at home rather than opting for (often expensive) professional care, it’s also an opportunity to examine your pet for potential concerns.

A proper grooming routine starts with the right tools. Consider these suggestions from The Humane Society of the United States:

  • Dog-friendly nail clippers
  • Rubber-bristled brush
  • Dog-friendly toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Dog-friendly shampoo and conditioner
  • Cotton balls
  • Blunt-ended shears or small clippers with guides
  • Microfiber towel

Trimming Nails
When your dog’s nails nearly touch the ground, it’s time for a trim, typically every 3-4 weeks. Trimming the part of the nail that turns down helps prevent pain and damage to paws.

If your dog has white nails, avoid cutting the “quick,” the pink part that’s visible on white nails, which bleeds when cut. For dark nails, simply trim a bit at a time until evidence of the quick is visible.

Bathing and Brushing
Frequency for baths and brushing depends on your dog’s coat type – be sure to research optimal grooming schedules based on his or her breed. In general, The Humane Society of the United States recommends these guidelines:

  • Short, smooth or wiry coat: Brush once a week with a rubber-bristled brush.
  • Long, silky or curly coat: Brush once a day with a rubber-bristled brush or wire slicker brush. Use a steel comb to prevent tangles or mats, if necessary.
  • Double coat: Use an undercoat rake or de-shedding tool to gently de-shed once a week in addition to regular brushing routines.

When it’s bath time, use a shampoo formulated for dogs and a damp cloth or cotton ball to clean around the eyes and ears without pushing anything into the eyes or ears. Dry with a microfiber towel or hair dryer on a low setting.

Cutting Fur
Be careful and work slowly to avoid mistakes and keep your dog calm and comfortable. Brush, bathe and completely dry prior to cutting fur with blunt-ended shears or small clippers with guide combs. Specifically trim hair covering the eyes and private areas and between your pup’s paw pads. It may be helpful to watch a tutorial online to ensure success.

Brushing Teeth
You can prevent gum disease and plaque buildup by brushing your dog’s teeth with a soft toothbrush and dog-friendly toothpaste. Make sure your pet is comfortable and start slow, staying on the outside surfaces of teeth and gently rubbing back and forth. Focus on the area where the tooth surface meets the gum.

Visit eLivingtoday.com to find more pet health advice.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash


SOURCE:
eLivingtoday.com

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