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A Preview of The NHL Conferences Finals 2019

Eastern Conference Final:  Bruins vs Hurricanes

The Eastern Conference Final pits what can be considered these years “Cinderella story” the Hurricanes, against a team most love to hate in the Bruins.  The Bruins are in their first conference final since 2013 while the Hurricanes are hoping to ride the wave to their first Stanley Cup Final since 2006 when Justin Williams tapped the puck into the empty net, sealing the Stanley Cup for the Hurricanes.

In playoffs defined by unpredictability, the Bruins have solidified their standing as one of the NHL’s elite teams in defeating the Maple Leafs and Blue Jackets, both quite handily at the end of the day. The Hurricanes can and will challenge the Bruins with their style of aggressive play and speed, but on most nights they are going to be outmatched by a better team. Rask is playing extremely well while the Hurricanes reply on a less seasoned goaltender in Mrazek.  The Bruins mainline can’t be silenced forever, Boston has renewed passion and will ultimately serve as too much for the Hurricanes.

FANPICKS PREDICTION:  Boston in five

Western Conference Final:  Blues vs Sharks

This is a rematch of the 2016 Western Conference Final, which was won by the Sharks in six games. For both the Sharks and Blues it represented their best playoff runs of the 21st century, and ever since they just haven’t been able to live up to expectations.

Since 2000, the Sharks and Blues have the second- and sixth-most cumulative regular season points in the league, however, neither have a Stanley Cup to show for it.  This year may be as good a chance as any to put those demons to bed.

Injuries remain the concern for the Sharks top D-man Erik Karlsson.  He hasn’t scored a goal yet these playoffs, and while Karlsson brings that offensive dynamism, when he’s on the ice the Sharks are allowing more goals than they are scoring.

The Blues have been excellent on the forecheck and cycle throughout the playoffs, carrying the play and applying immense pressure in key moments.  This pressure will eventually be overwhelming for an already worn down Sharks defense and aging players such as Joe Thorton, Joe Pavelski, Brent Burns, Justin Braun, and Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

 

Blog Source: FANPICKS | NHL Conferences Finals 2019 Preview

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4 Reminders for Self Storage of Couches

One of the most common household items, couches, can be found in living rooms across the country and around the world. In a variety of shapes, styles, and sizes, these pieces can really pull together a room.

No matter how long you may need to store your couch, keep the following quick tips in mind to protect and preserve.

1. CLEAN AND PREP FOR SHORT OR LONG-TERM STORAGE

The first step will be to get your couch ready for storage, and this means giving it a proper clean. Regardless of its term in storage, a clean start improves the likelihood that your couch will preserve itself well against threats of mold, mildew, and wear and tear.

When caring for any piece of furniture, pay attention to a material type and adjust your cleaning technique appropriately. Incorrect cleaning methods can ruin the look and feel of your item indefinitely, so it’s important to get it right.

Once you’ve identified the material type, keep the following tips in mind.

  • Leather: Dust and clean with soap and water. Should you find existing stains already on the piece, cleanse further with a mix of water and white vinegar.

  • Cotton: Dust and clean with water and bleach-free detergent. Spot clean hard-to-tackle areas further with a mix of water and white vinegar.

  • Linen: Find a cleanser that notes specific use for linens, and be sure to consult your couch’s care tag. This will give you your best chance at treating it right.

  • Wool: Read the label attached to your couch for care instructions. Wool is commonly cleaned with water, solvent or a combination of the two.

  • Silk: Be extra careful with this material, as it’s easy to leave unintentional marks. Test possible cleaning options on small areas to be sure desired results occur. Clean with cold water and mild detergent solution, or consider consulting a professional.

  • After cleaning, cover with a secure, yet breathable, furniture cover.

2. INVEST IN FURNITURE SLIDERS, AND MOVE WITH EASE

If the thought of moving a couch yourself is enough to pick up the phone and call a mover, consider furniture sliders.

Trust us, these things are like magic!

Simply slide them under couch legs and push. They allow heavy pieces to glide.

3. GIVE IT ROOM TO BREATHE IN STORAGE

Within your unit, store your couch the same as you would in your home. Keep it free from debris, and avoid propping it upright. Layering with boxes or standing a couch up in a fashion it is not used to can put undue stress and strain on it.

Instead, give it air, and the space to be on its own.

4. CONTROL CLIMATE CONDITIONS

Material types can wear, discolor or gain unwelcome residue in harsh conditions. Too much sun or moisture, in particular, can be hazardous when storing.

With this in mind, speak with your storage facility manager about climate-controlled storage options. These units allow you to set the conditions your couch needs to maintain its preferred color and style.

Blog Source: Security Self Storage | Couch Considerations: 4 Reminders for Self Storage

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Tips for Finding an Apartment for Rent

Here at Rentberry, it’s a part of our daily routine to work with different types of properties as well as people renting different types of properties. In light of this, we know all the ins and outs of renting apartments, condos, duplexes, you name it, and we are ready to share our knowledge with you. So today our focus is on tips that will come in handy if you’re planning to rent an apartment.

Set Your Budget and Stick to It

If wasting time is not your idea of fun (and we assume it is not), then setting a budget is what you need to do first thing. The benefits of having your budget set are numerous, but the biggest one is that you immediately narrow your search down, which will save you time and effort on the way. If it gives you hard times deciding which part of your income should go for paying rent, remember that it’s suggested for renters to have a gross income that is at least three times the cost of their lease.

Research Your Chosen Apartment Complexes

One of the smartest things you can do before renting an apartment in a certain apartment complex is Google it and see if there are any complaints or reviews from current residents. If there are some problems with the building, chances are good the agent or property manager won’t tell it to you (but Google surely will). When there’s something serious going on with an apartment complex (let’s say, it has problems with electricity or water pressure), you should learn about it before signing your lease.

Find Out How Much Storage Space is Available

Raise your hand if you also think that there’s never enough storage space in your home. No matter how big your new place seems at first glance, soon enough it turns out you need extra space to store your winter clothes or books you’ve already finished reading. If that sounds familiar, make sure to inspect your prospective apartment on the amount of storage space. Unlike single-family houses or duplexes, apartments don’t usually have a hall or extra closets.

Clarify the Parking Situation

Even if you noticed a parking lot while attending an open house, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have access to it as a renter. In nearly all the cases, parking space near apartment buildings is limited. So if you’re a car owner, you’d better ask your prospective landlord about parking policy right away. Being informed never hurts, agree?

Make Sure the Walls Are Not Too Thin

Living in an apartment means having neighbors that live leftward and rightward of you as well as above and below you. Under the circumstances, the question of noise gets critical. The majority of modern apartments have soundproof walls, but if the apartment building is relatively old, noise might be an issue. To find out if it is the case with your prospective home, try to schedule an open house during the early-morning hours. This is the time when people tend to be at home getting ready for work or school, which means you’ll get a chance to learn if adequate soundproofing is present.

Find Out If Utilities Are Included

Renting an apartment with all utilities included saves money and effort. When you don’t have to worry about extra money to cover electricity or Internet bills, managing your monthly budget becomes a lot easier. Ask your prospective landlord whether or not utilities are calculated as a part of your monthly rent and if they are not, don’t shy away from asking how much money you should be ready to pay for them.

Check Your Water Pressure

If you’ve never lived in high-rises before, you might not even know that weak water pressure can be a huge problem. There is nothing more annoying than not being able to take a shower at your home simply because there are too many people already taking a shower at their homes (sounds funny, but it’s not). To save your healthy nerves, check the water pressure and, ideally, talk to neighbors from the same or higher floor to find out if water pressure is strong enough.

Ask About Apartment Community Rules

Pretty much like in the case with condos and co-ops, apartment communities might have their own terms and rules. For instance, you might not be allowed to make changes to the outward appearance of your apartment or make car repairs on the territory around an apartment complex. To save yourself the trouble, check out if some of the apartment community rules are present and think whether or not you’ll be comfortable following them day in and day out.

Talk to Your Prospective Neighbors

That’s one of the best things you can do as a prospective renter, seriously. By simply talking to your possible neighbors you’ll kill two birds with one stone. Not only will you get the idea of what kind of people are going to live next door, but you will also get a chance to learn some unobvious problems and peculiarities associated with an apartment and building.

Negotiate the Terms and Prices

In nearly all cases, it’s possible to negotiate a better deal by simply talking to your prospective landlord. Especially, if you’re armed with relevant information like for how long the property has been vacant or which tiny problems about the apartment might result in a discount.

Identify Your Priorities for Amenities

As soon as you’ve decided on a neighborhood and your budget, it’s high time to define which amenities should absolutely be a part of your new home. To avoid confusion and hours of time wasted, it’s better for you to choose your top three amenities instead of trying to find a rental that will contain everything from fireplace and stainless still kitchen to hardwood floors and a rooftop pool. Choose three amenities that are your first priority and appreciate if your prospective apartment will feature more than that.

 

Check Locks, Windows, and Doors

What looks good doesn’t always work well. If you don’t want to end up realizing that your locks are broken or there’s no way to open a window in your bedroom, check every single thing in your prospective home. It might take some time, but it is absolutely worth it. After all, having good locks and properly working doors/windows is one of the best ways to protect your home from break-ins.

Searching and finding a perfect rental apartment requires some diligence and patience. Hopefully, the above-mentioned tips will help you avoid possible pitfalls and make your apartment hunting as seamless as possible. And no matter what, remember to have your objectives and goals in place. As long as you clearly understand what you need and how much money/time/energy you’re ready to spend in order to get it, you’ll surely end up securing the apartment of your dream.

 

Blog Source: Rentberry | Finding an Apartment for Rent: Tips for Potential Tenants

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Tips for Working At a Co-working Space

It is important for you to be aware of why you are at a coworking space and its benefits. Whether you’re aiming to be productive without a lot of socializing or trying to build a strong professional community or just want to be around other people in a productive environment, you need to design and have a personalized approach to your involvement in the community. Below is a list of tips based on our around that can help you get the most out of your coworking experience.

Put Yourself Out There
Take the initiative to introduce yourself to new members even if it’s straight out of your personality. Nothing beats making a good, friendly first impression to a fellow coworker. A hello! will go a long way, either it could land you the next collaboration, get your next client, spark the most inspirational conversation or simply create a new best friend.
A simple smile and ‘good morning’ when you enter the office could be the start of a great relationship. Knowing your co-workers helps build a stress-free environment leading to better work life and productive time! Take a break and invite your coworkers for lunch or for a coffee, bring food or sweets, a great way to know everybody pretty quick, especially if you are shy. I invite our new members to join me for tea at a ‘chai stall’ below Collab House.
A good strategy is to take a break with people in fields that are different from your own and see the ways your fields intersect. Grab lunch with someone in your field and talk openly about opportunities and issues in the industry. It’s great to have a few people to bounce ideas off and necessary to be willing to discuss your projects.?

Get Involved in the Community
If you’re not necessarily wanting to go out of your way to talk to others or make connections, at least make yourself and your business is known at community events so everyone’s aware of who you are and what you do! A great non-intrusive way to meet your fellow co-workers is to participate in events and social gatherings organized by your coworking space.
The first step is to participate. Most of the coworking spaces host events, workshops, guest talks, socials and happy hours, and special networking events to give members an opportunity to mingle; sharing upcoming projects, past setbacks, and current successes. A community invests so much of time and money for their members, by being a part of its members will get an opportunity to interact with the coworkers and get the best out of the events.

Socialize Not Just Network
The goal is not to talk to as many people as possible: one meaningful and interesting conversation is worth a thousand business cards. You don’t need to attend them all, if something is not of interest at all, you don’t need to make an appearance. Check your coworking space’s upcoming events calendar, stay updated and if something is remotely on your radar, check it out.

Take Initiative
Run a workshop in your area of expertise or organize a pub crawl, or host a table-tennis tournament or monthly community meeting. Speak to your community manager and get it organized. This is a great way to introduce yourself (or your company) and get to know your neighbors and possibly find a new client or gain a referral.

Don’t Sell
Don’t always look for the opportunities to sell. People who are simply trying to have a light conversation at water-cooler or kitchen are not necessarily interested in the hard sell and so very quickly people will start to avoid you.

Smart Talk
Don’t start up long conversations with people when they are not fully contributing to the discussion, most of the time they are just being nice to you. Always ask if they are up for a discussion.

Know Your Community Manager
Many coworking spaces have a community manager who is an invaluable resource. They will have a good knowledge of the people within the space, are informed about events, deal with any issues that arise and are keen to make their service as good as possible. Ask questions, give feedback and share your ideas and your projects! They will be glad to listen to you and to help to find a solution together or introduce you to people who can help you professionally. This will put you on top of their mind and can help refer coworkers who could benefit from your service.
By getting to know the community manager or a well-connected employee of the center, you’ll be poised to make the connections that may ultimately mean business for you.

Collaborate
It’s important to realize your limitations when you work for yourself. Helping each other is an integral part of coworking culture. If you’re a software developer, you’re not necessarily a designer, product manager, or marketer as well. When you work at a coworking space, people with those skills probably work right next to you and are just as interested in building something awesome as you are.
Invest in your community by taking a genuine interest in what they do. Ask questions. This provides both parties with an opportunity to learn one’s strengths and collaborate! Best coworking spaces have the ability where you can look across the room and ask someone for help with exactly what you need! In a true community coworking space, generosity and an underlying spirit of helpfulness are the heart of everything.

Don’t be Afraid to Ask
The great thing about coworking is they get to operate as real human spaces.
Talk to your coworkers, and talk to your hosts. Let them know what you are looking for: they will guide you through the infinite resources of their networks, knowledge, coworking and it will help you to integrate. Be as precise as possible when you ask for help.

Participate in the Online Community
Leverage your coworking community’s communication tool – WhatsApp group or Slack channel or a Facebook group for quick help with relevant asks (‘help I need a designer/UX person/content writer etc.’).

Juice the Offerings
Optimizing your coworking experience is really about putting the resources available to you to full use. Your coworking space may provide you with a number of obvious solutions to help you work your best, such as meeting rooms, audio-visual equipment for presentation use, and/or printing and copying solutions including complimentary items such as coffee, water, and snacks.?
What most of them miss look into is most of the coworking spaces have great discounts for other businesses nearby, events and conferences. For instance, we get a 15% discount at a local Pizza and Sandwich store, free deliveries and more. Sometimes if you ask nicely, you may also get complimentary tickets to various workshops and conferences happening across the city.

Be Organised and Disciplined
Without cubicles, you add more distractions to the mix. It is easy to start random conversations as people are usually friendly. Being organized and disciplined in your place not only helps you boost capacity but helps the coworkers to be productive as well. It is easy to get carried away as you are at a place where a lot will be happening around and it will easier to draw into it.

Set a Routine
The most important thing about being productive is that it can only be accomplished by setting a routine and being disciplined. Prepare a routine and be ardent about following it. Set timers for how long you’re going to work, and have intense focus and maintain breaks to keep your workday on track – take a walk or having a conversation. Be consistent and make a plan with a coworker friend to meet over a coffee every day at a certain time.
Use personal time management apps; they can play a crucial role in increasing productivity and keeps you on top of your time.

Invest In Decent Headphones
It can be hard to concentrate on your work when there are a bunch of interesting conversations happening around. Noise is the main complaint in open-plan offices. Whether it’s digital sounds like ringing phones or computer notifications, or it’s human sounds coughing or sneezing, the ambient sounds of coworking spaces can be distracting. It is easy to get pulled into random conversations with people sitting around you. Sometimes this can be extremely distracting and unproductive.

Headphones are the universal coworking sign that you don’t want to be disturbed. Headphones are a topmost recommendation for staying productive. If you can, invest in noise-canceling headphones.

Experiment with Different Spots Within The Space
One of the best parts of working in a shared space is your ability to choose your work environment. Many coworking spaces are designed with different “vibes” in mind–from communal tables and lounges to hidden corners and conference rooms.
Speak to the community manager or coworking team and try out which area makes you feel most comfortable. If you’re having a hard time concentrating at your desk, head over to a couch or communal table. There’s likely an area that will make you feel right at home.

 

Blog Source: Entrepreneur India | #15 Tips to Get the Most Out of Working At a Co-working Space

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Material Needed for Building Patio

Popular patio building materials run the gamut from poured concrete and pavers of recycled plastic to natural flagstone and bricks of fired clay.

Patios can make your outdoor space more enjoyable, increase your home’s value, and not so insignificantly, save you money on landscape maintenance costs. What type of patio is right for you? Any number of colors and patterns may be installed in a variety of materials. Pros and cons for a few of the most popular are discussed here.

FLAGSTONE

The color and characteristics of flagstone result from the natural process by which it forms, a slow and gradual accumulation of layers of sand, clay, mineral and organic sediments. The most common colors available are red, blue, and buff, with regional varieties like Arizona sandstone and Pennsylvania bluestone among the most popular.

Flagstone patios are unmistakable—and hard to resist if you favor the material’s earthy, timeless appearance. Irregularly shaped and sized, quarried flagstones are heavy and rather difficult to work with, especially for the inexperienced do-it-yourselfer. Since flagstone is subject to erosion and splitting, a successful flagstone patio design prioritizes adequate drainage.

Note: Different types of flagstone entail different maintenance requirements. Sandstone has a cooler temperature in summer, but it’s porous and prone to water damage. Bluestone is more durable but requires a sealer to maintain its coloring.

CLAY BRICK

A time-tested, enduringly popular patio building material is clay brick, which offers a distinguished aesthetic that complements both traditional and contemporary architecture.

Over time, bricks usually retain their rich, warm color, and due to their handy weight and size, installing them in a patio is DIY-friendly work. Mortar is not strictly necessary; bricks can be laid easily on a dry bed of sand.

Homeowners love brick’s versatility—myriad patterns are possible, from rectangular to round. Reclaimed brick, though typically more expensive, has grown in popularity owing to its “green” status and unique look.

Note: Though it may crack with wintertime freeze-thaw cycles, brick is otherwise durable, and individual damaged bricks are easily replaced.

PATIO PAVERS

Pavers come in forms as varied as natural stone, concrete, clay, and even recycled plastics. For patio installations, experts recommend either stone or concrete pavers, which, due to their higher density, may be expected to last longer and undergo less color fading than other paver types.

Concrete pavers, in particular, are a mainstay of patio building, beloved for their easy installation and the range of sizes, shapes, and colors in which they can be found. Inevitably, this manmade product lends itself to a less “natural” look, although some concrete pavers are manufactured to look like natural stone or clay brick.

Note: With the exception of interlocking designs, all pavers will spread over time. To maintain the shape of your patio, be sure to ring your paver installation with a border of pressure-treated lumber.

CONCRETE

Concrete patios are typically one of the least expensive to build. Assuming proper installation and maintenance, they are one of the most durable, too, though, like brick, concrete is subject to cracking with freeze-thaw cycles.

Since poured concrete follows any form, unlimited patio design options are possible. If your dream patio is one covered with glazed decorative tiles, a concrete slab is a way to go, as it will provide a solid, even base on which to add tiles in the future.

Note: Control stormwater runoff by devising the shape, depth, and slope of your poured concrete patio in such a way that adequate drainage is achieved.

GRAVEL

If you are looking for a patio material that may be installed quickly and easily, look no further than gravel. Usually, two types are available, river rock or crushed stone (in sizes ranging from a quarter-inch to one inch in diameter). When installing over landscaping fabric, gravel effectively deters weed growth, and compared to other materials, it offers excellent drainage.

At best, a gravel patio recalls English cottage-style gardens and Tuscan courtyards. At worst, a gravel patio is high-maintenance, plagued by stones that are difficult to keep level and in place. Some folks also complain that gravel is uncomfortable to walk on with bare feet, and other materials provide superior support for outdoor furniture.

Note: Round, pebble-like gravel stones are more likely to shift than angular, crushed gravel stones; in a high-traffic area like the patio, it may be wise to insist on the latter.

 

Blog Source: Bob Villa | Patio Materials 101

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Tips for Running an Effective Meeting

What is an effective meeting?

It’s important to distinguish between effective and efficient.

An efficient meeting starts promptly, stays on track due to good time management, includes a few people as possible, and achieves the stated objective. Job has done, right? Wrong. Efficiency is a superficial quality. It says nothing about whether the right people were in the room for the right reason, or whether the meeting generated any value for the business.

Efficiency is a superficial quality. It says nothing about whether you are effective.

An effective meeting brings a thoughtfully selected group of people together for a specific purpose, provides a forum for open discussion, and delivers a tangible result: a decision, a plan, a list of great ideas to pursue, a shared understanding of the work ahead. Not only that, but the result is then shared with others whose work may be affected.

Effective meetings have a clear purpose

Let’s face it: most of us have too many meetings on our calendars. And few things are a bigger waste of time than recurring meetings that no longer provide any value to attendees (or the business). It’s easy to fall into the trap of viewing meetings like the one and only way to collaborate. That knee-jerk tendency is what gets us into trouble and what gives meetings a bad name.

Determine whether you really need a meeting

Some types of meetings are legit, others aren’t. Meetings should never be held for the sole purpose of sharing information. That’s what email, chat, and company intranets (e.g., Confluence) are forDepartment and company all-hands meetings are a notable exception. They provide a unique chance for people at all levels of the business to hear directly from executives and other leaders – and, if you include time for Q&A, vice-versa.

At the very least, a meeting should center on a discussion that will be more effective in real-time than asynchronously via emails or comment threads. Examples include team or project retrospectives, brainstorming, and 1-on-1 meetings between managers and their direct reports.

In the best case scenario, a meeting’s purpose is to make a decision or create something collaboratively. Project planning, mapping out customer journeys, setting goals, solving a problem, choosing X vs. Y… all these are situations where holding a meeting is probably the most effective way to get it done.

Choose meeting attendees who can make a unique contribution

Meetings are expensive, so be thoughtful about who you invite. To be sure, you want to invite the minimum number of people needed to achieve your goal. But you also want the group to bring diverse perspectives and knowledge, especially if the purpose of the meeting is to solve a tough problem or brainstorm. Sadly, there’s no magic formula for balancing cost against the potential for creativity. Use your best judgment.

Craft and share an agenda

Few things are more irksome than the person who sends a meeting invite with no indication whatsoever of what will happen in the meeting, and therefore, no clue as to why you’re being invited. Don’t be that person. Include your agenda in the invitation so people can determine whether they really need to be there and if not, decline the meeting or suggest someone else.

Your meeting agenda might have just one item. That’s fine! The point is to have an agenda that speaks to the result you want – e.g., “Brainstorm 10 or more ways we could reduce customer churn 10% by the end of the year”. If you can’t describe what you’ll be doing in actionable, results-oriented terms, that’s a sign holding the meeting would be a waste of time.

Effective meetings keep attendees engaged

It’s ok to start the meeting by setting the expectation that everyone is 100% focused on what’s going on in the room. Let the group know that if someone has work that is so pressing they’d be tempted to multi-task, they have permission to go do that work and catch up on what happened in the meeting later. They’ll produce better work, and you’ll have more engaged participants. Win-win.

Schedule for maximum engagement

In our age of globally-distributed companies, a bit of thought around timing goes a long way in maximizing your meeting’s effectiveness. As much as possible, avoid scheduling your meeting during someone else’s lunch hour, or at a time when they’d otherwise be reading their kids a bedtime story. When that can’t be avoided, at least check in with the people who’ll be inconvenienced to get their buy-in in advance. (Depending on your company culture, that might not be strictly necessary, but it’s always polite.)

Even for co-located participants, timing can make a differenceOur capacity for creative thinking is the highest right after sleep, so schedule that brainstorming session first thing in the morning. By contrast, we solve problems best later in the day when our minds are a bit tired. Our focus relaxes, so we’re able to see more opportunities and connect more dots. Plus, we’re less likely to be distracted by a looming list of tasks for the day.

Close the lid

Unless you’re acting as the designated scribe, laptops should be closed and phones should be off the table. “Oh, but I can focus on the discussion and check my email at the same time,” some might say. Please allow me to call bullshit on that. Besides, for every person with a laptop open, there’s a person sitting next to them distracted by their typing or peeking to see if they’re actually just cruising Facebook. (There’s a 71% chance it’s Facebook.)

Make it remote-friendly

Even if everyone in the group has a desk in your office, set the meeting up to be accessible and valuable for people joining remotely. Because last-minute business travel and WFH days happen. Video conferencing is the closest thing to being there in person, and fortunately, there are loads of options available: from enterprise systems like BlueJeans and Zoom (both used by teams at Atlassian) to group video chat (may I suggest Stride? 😉).

You might even have the entire group join remotely from their desks. The team at Trellodoes this if even one person is remote. It puts everyone on a level playing field and encourages more balanced participationPlus, nobody likes being the giant head on the TV screen at the front of the room.

Effective meetings provide a safe space for divergent thinking

A bit of divergence goes a long way when you’re looking for creative ideas, puzzling through solutions to a problem, or exploring options. You don’t have to put a specific brainstorming exercise on the agenda, but you do have to make the group feel comfortable expressing non-conforming opinions or offering up off-the-wall ideas.

Build trust in the room

People need assurance that stepping outside the norm won’t be a career-ending move. Known as psychological safety, this is one of the leading indicators of a high-performing team. (And what is a group of people in a meeting, if not a temporary team?) As the meeting organizer and facilitator, you have a chance to lead by example and be the first to offer up a controversial perspective or idea.

You can also build trust by asking questions that prompt a deeper discussion, even when you think you know the answer. Questions like “Why do we think that’s true?” or “Can you expand on that?” or “How could we measure that?” demonstrate humility and curiosity on your part, which sets the tone for the rest of the group.

Be inclusive

If you’ve done a good job gathering a group with diverse knowledge and perspectives, everyone will be “the odd one out” in one way or another. The only introvert… the only person from Finance… the person who just started last week. Your job now is to take advantage of that diversity by making sure everyone is (and feels) heard.

Ask the new hire how things look from their still-fresh point of view. Draw out the introvert toward the end of a discussion by asking whether they see points the group hasn’t considered yet. Encourage the lone representative from Finance to share how the decision would affect her team.

Effective meetings produce real, sharable results

Ok statistics nerds, here are a few gems for you. 47% of workers complain that meetings are where productivity goes to die. Furthermore, workers consider roughly half of their meetings to be a waste of time, and 73% confess to sneaking in some real work during meetings. That’s unfortunate. If you’re doing meetings right, they are where “real work” gets done.

Focus relentlessly on results

You know the meeting’s purpose because you’ve thought it through. You crafted an agenda designed to achieve the goal. Now stay the course! Be mindful not to meander off-topic for too long or dive too deep into technical discussions. (Just how long is “too long” and how deep is “too deep” is up to you as meeting facilitator to decide.)

If the meeting centers on a decision, don’t let the group off the hook and settle for a “maybe”. Push for that decision or recommendation so people can start to take action as soon as they walk out of the room. You might not reach full agreement, but that’s ok. Effective teamwork means agreeing to trust each other enough to rally behind the decision once it’s been made. Consider using the DACI method to clarify each person’s role in the decision: driver, approver, contributor, or informed. (More on DACI in the Atlassian Team Playbook, including a silly video starring yours truly.)

Chances are, your meeting will generate some kind of artifact: a plan, a collection of ideas, a user journey, a list of follow-up items, etc. At Atlassian, we capture all that stuff as a page in Confluence (the wiki-flavored intranet tool we make) and share the page with everyone on the invite list and other relevant people. Sharing via email and Google Docs works fine, too.

Err on the side of sharing with more people than is strictly necessary. It’s really hard to keep track of exactly what everyone around you is up to, or how the outcome of your meeting will intersect with their work. Sharing broadly reduces the chance you’ll discover conflicts late in the game, and might even lead to an opportunity to join forces with a team doing complementary work.

Don’t waste energy worrying about trivial stuff

Be intentional about where you are and aren’t focusing on energy. For 99% of meetings, you can give yourself a break and skip worrying about…

  • Finding a meeting location outside the office
  • Bringing donuts or having lunch catered
  • Preparing a snazzy slide deck (death to all “consume information” meetings!)

Instead, focus your energy on the real ingredients that make for effective meetings: purpose, engagement, safety, and results. I’d even argue that starting and ending on time isn’t absolutely critical for success. What’s important is how you use the time you have – however long that is.

If the meeting isn’t effective, change it!

The fact that you’re still reading means you’re committed to running the most successful meetings possible. Yay! Turns out, though, you’re not the sole judge of whether the meeting was effective or not.

Thankfully, you can ask attendees for feedback with questions like these:

  • Did this meeting result in something of value to the business?
  • Did we have the right people in the room? If not, who should/be included in the future?
  • Were the meeting’s purpose and agenda clear?
  • Was it easy for you to contribute to the discussion?
  • (for recurring meetings) Are we holding this meeting on the right cadence? If not, how should we adjust?

Even if the meeting was a one-off, this feedback will help you plan even better meetings going forward. Keep an ongoing, open dialogue amongst the people you meet with most frequently, and emphasize progress over perfection. Continuous improvement for the win!

Blog Source: Atlassian Work Life | Running effective meetings: a guide for humans

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Tips for Preparing Your Furniture for Self-Storage

While it may seem silly or tedious to give your items a thorough clean only to store them away, doing so can ensure proper preservation.

You may be thinking—what’s the worst that could happen? Furniture that is simply left alone may contain bacteria or other elements that make these items more prone to mold or mildew accumulation during long-term storage.

To avoid this from happening, give your furniture a proper clean. Below, we outline common cleaning techniques for three types of furniture pieces: upholstered, wooden and plastic.

1. PROTECT UPHOLSTERED ITEMS

Upholstered furniture pieces are those that contain stuffing, springs, and cushions, with fabric that covers it all. To clean, consider the following steps:

  1. Know your fabric. It’s important to note that different fabrics will react differently toward certain chemicals and processes. Knowing the fabric type can help guide you toward the best way to clean and protect.

  2. Brush the dust off. Use your vacuum or a duster to eliminate particles or moveable materials from your furniture. Remove cushions, and look for spare change, food particles or other objects that may have fallen between the cracks.

  3. Work in a cleanser. With a smooth surface and knowledge of your furniture fabric ready, select a cleaner that pairs well with the fabric type. Then, wash your fabric with a fabric cleaning brush. After applying the cleaning solution, let the piece sit and soak in the cleaning chemicals for a few minutes—longer if you are working with tough stains. Wash the cushions separately.

  4. Let it sit. After your work is complete, let it dry completely before reassembling the furniture pieces.

2. SUSTAIN WOODEN OBJECTS

A great piece of wooden furniture can be a real showstopper—an item that pulls a room together with an air of sophistication. You’ll want to keep it that way.

Cleaning methods can be dangerous to temperamental wood, and the wrong method can ruin the entire piece. Select a cleanser of your choice and test a small area before committing to cleaning the whole object. As with upholstered items, four main steps apply to clean:

  1. Know the wood type.

  2. Dust off the item.

  3. Select a cleanser that works best.

  4. Once clean, seal with a protective finish. (This will be a clear coat seal made to help with preservation.)

Cleanser tip: Use the weakest solution you can find and only move on to stronger solutions if dirt or stains remain. The stronger the chemicals are, the greater the risk that the solution will damage your wooden furniture. A simple mineral water solution or water with a light soap solution may be all you need.

3. PRESERVE PLASTIC PIECES

Plastic furniture items can be simple, auxiliary or unique touches to a room. When it comes to cleaning plastic furniture, there are a variety of solutions available.

Did you know that some of these common household items can actually be used as a solution to clean your plastic furniture?

  • Baking soda

  • Common tub or tile cleaners

  • Vinegar or apple cider vinegar

As with other furniture items, dust the item off, give it a good clean using the solution of your choice, and let the item dry.

4. CONSIDER COMPLETE COVERAGE

Once your items are clean and ready for a self-storage solution, we recommend investing in furniture covers as an added layer of protection.

Want full control over the environment your piece lives in? Consider a climate-controlled storage unit to help prevent warping, distress, discoloring or other kinds of harm that can come from an item being left in a place too warm.

Blog Source: Security Self Storage | Start with Clean: How to Prepare Your Furniture for Self-Storage

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Put An End to Smoking

Deciding that you are now ready to quit smoking is only half the battle. Knowing where to start on your path to becoming smoke-free can help you to take the leap. We have put together some effective ways for you to stop smoking today.

Tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke are responsible for more than 480,000 deaths each year in the United States, according to the American Lung Association.

Most people are aware of the numerous health risks that arise from cigarette smoking and yet, “tobacco use continues to be the leading cause of preventable death and disease” in the U.S.

Quitting smoking is not a single event that happens on one day; it is a journey. By quitting, you will improve your health and the quality and duration of your life, as well as the lives of those around you.

To quit smoking, you not only need to alter your behavior and cope with the withdrawal symptoms experienced from cutting out nicotine, but you also need to find other ways to manage your moods.

With the right game plan, you can break free from nicotine addiction and kick the habit for good. Here are five ways to tackle smoking cessation.

1. Prepare for quit day

Once you have decided to stop smoking, you are ready to set a quit date. Pick a day that is not too far in the future (so that you do not change your mind), but which gives you enough time to prepare.

broken cigarette on a calendar

Choose your quit date and prepare to stop smoking altogether on that day.

There are several ways to stop smoking, but ultimately, you need to decide whether you are going to:

  • quit abruptly, or continue smoking right up until your quit date and then stop
  • quit gradually, or reduce your cigarette intake slowly until your quit date and then stop

Research that compared abrupt quitting with reducing smoking found that neither produced superior quit rates over the other, so choose the method that best suits you.

Here are some tips recommended by the American Cancer Society to help you to prepare for your quit date:

  • Tell friends, family, and co-workers about your quit date.
  • Throw away all cigarettes and ashtrays.
  • Decide whether you are going to go “cold turkey” or use nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) or other medicines.
  • If you plan to attend a stop-smoking group, sign up now.
  • Stock up on oral substitutes, such as hard candy, sugarless gum, carrot sticks, coffee stirrers, straws, and toothpicks.
  • Set up a support system, such as a family member that has successfully quit and is happy to help you.
  • Ask friends and family who smoke to not smoke around you.
  • If you have tried to quit before, think about what worked and what did not.

Daily activities – such as getting up in the morning, finishing a meal, and taking a coffee break – can often trigger your urge to smoke a cigarette. But breaking the association between the trigger and smoking is a good way to help you to fight the urge to smoke.

On your quit day:

You will almost certainly feel the urge to smoke many times during your quit day, but it will pass. The following actions may help you to battle the urge to smoke:

  • Delay until the craving passes. The urge to smoke often comes and goes within 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Deep breathe. Breathe in slowly through your nose for a count of three and exhale through your mouth for a count of three. Visualize your lungs filling with fresh air.
  • Drink water sip by sip to beat the craving.
  • Do something else to distract yourself. Perhaps go for a walk.

Remembering the four Ds can often help you to move beyond your urge to light up.

2. Use NRTs

Going cold turkey, or quitting smoking without the help of NRT, medication, or therapy, is a popular way to give up smoking. However, only around 6 percent of these quit attempts are successful. It is easy to underestimate how powerful nicotine dependence really is.

nicotine gum in a packet

NRTs can help you to fight the withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting smoking.

NRT can reduce the cravings and withdrawal symptoms you experience that may hinder your attempt to give up smoking. NRTs are designed to wean your body off cigarettes and supply you with a controlled dose of nicotine while sparing you from exposure to other chemicals found in tobacco.

The U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved five types of NRT:

  • skin patches
  • chewing gum
  • lozenges
  • nasal spray (prescription only)
  • inhaler (prescription only)

If you have decided to go down the NRT route, discuss your dose with a healthcare professional before you quit smoking. Remember that while you will be more likely to quit smoking using NRT, the goal is to end your addiction to nicotine altogether, and not just to quit tobacco.

Contact your healthcare professional if you experience dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, fast or irregular heartbeat, mouth problems, or skin swelling while using these products.

3. Consider non-nicotine medications

The FDA have approved two non-nicotine-containing drugs to help smokers quit. These are bupropion (Zyban) and varenicline (Chantix).

white tablets falling from a container

Bupropion and varenicline are non-nicotine medications that may help to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

Talk to your healthcare provider if you feel that you would like to try one of these to help you to stop smoking, as you will need a prescription.

Bupropion acts on chemicals in the brain that play a role in nicotine craving and reduces cravings and symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. Bupropion is taken in tablet form for 12 weeks, but if you have successfully quit smoking in that time, you can use it for a further 3 to 6 months to reduce the risk of smoking relapse.

Varenicline interferes with the nicotine receptors in the brain, which results in reducing the pleasure that you get from tobacco use, and decreases nicotine withdrawal symptoms. Varenicline is used for 12 weeks, but again, if you have successfully kicked the habit, then you can use the drug for another 12 weeks to reduce smoking relapse risk.

Risks involved with using these drugs include behavioral changes, depressed mood, aggression, hostility, and suicidal thoughts or actions.

4. Seek behavioral support

The emotional and physical dependence you have on smoking makes it challenging to stay away from nicotine after your quit day. To quit, you need to tackle this dependence. Trying counseling services, self-help materials, and support services can help you to get through this time. As your physical symptoms get better over time, so will your emotional ones.

group of people at support meeting

Individual counseling or support groups can improve your chances of long-term smoking cessation.

Combining medication – such as NRT, bupropion, and varenicline – with behavioral support has been demonstrated to increase the chances of long-term smoking cessation by up to 25 percent.

Behavioral support can range from written information and advice to group therapy or individual counseling in person, by phone, or online. Self-help materials likely increase quit rates compared with no support at all, but overall, individual counseling is the most effective behavioral support method.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) provides help to anyone who wants to stop smoking through their support services:

  • smoking helpline: 1-877-44U-QUIT (1-877-448-7848)
  • local and state quitlines: 1- 800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669)
  • LiveHelp online chat
  • Smoke-free website
  • SmokefreeTXT text messaging service
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Instagram

Support groups, such as Nicotine Anonymous (NicA), can prove useful too. NicA applies the 12-step process of Alcoholics Anonymous to tobacco addiction. You can find your nearest NicA group using their website or by calling 1-877-TRY-NICA (1-877-879-6422).

5. Try alternative therapies

Some people find alternative therapies useful to help them to quit smoking, but there is currently no strong evidence that any of these will improve your chances of becoming smoke-free, and, in some cases, these methods may actually cause the person to smoke more.

Some alternative methods to help you to stop smoking might include:

man comparing e-cigarette and cigarettes

E-cigarettes have had some promising research results in helping with smoking cessation.

  • filters
  • smoking deterrents
  • electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes)
  • tobacco strips and sticks
  • nicotine drinks, lollipops, straws, and lip balms
  • hypnosis
  • acupuncture
  • magnet therapy
  • cold laser therapy
  • herbs and supplements
  • yoga, mindfulness, and meditation

E-cigarettes

E-cigarettes are not supposed to be sold as a quit smoking aid, but many people who smoke view them as a method to give up the habit.

E-cigarettes are a hot research topic at the moment. Studies have found that e-cigarettes are less addictive than cigarettes, that the rise in e-cigarette use has been linked with a significant increase in smoking cessation, and that established smokers who use e-cigarettes daily are more likely to quit smoking than people who have not tried e-cigarettes.

 

Blog Source: Medical News Today | Five ways to quit smoking

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Quit Smoking for Good with these 10 Tips

Crushing cigarettes

There are countless reasons to quit smoking: doing so will lower your risk of cancer, heart attack, and stroke, and—let’s be honest—make your breath smell better. Unfortunately, millions of people continue to smoke simply because quitting is incredibly hard. Hard, but doable: According to the CDC, the number of former smokers has exceeded the number of current smokers since 2002.

Just a week after quitting, you’ll find that your energy levels, breathing, and sense of smell and taste have improved. Long term, you’ll be less susceptible to colds and cases of flu, you’ll experience less smoking-related anxiety, your risk of heart attack, stroke, and colon cancer will drop significantly, and for men, erectile dysfunction issues can improve. After 15 years of smoke-free living, your risk for smoking-related illnesses (such as heart disease) will be the same as a nonsmoker.

It’s time to stop smoking now. Increase your odds of success with these 10 tips.

1. Mentally Prepare

First and foremost, you need to want to quit. Most people make multiple attempts to quit and fail because they’re not psychologically ready. Think about your reasons: Did you just become a new parent? Did you lose someone to a smoking-related illness? Are you just tired of letting cigarettes control your life? There’s no question that smoking is bad, but what does that mean to you? Identifying real reasons can help you stick to your plan and hold yourself accountable.

2. Get a Buddy

Like having a training partner increases your likelihood of adhering to your fitness goals, finding someone with a similar health goal like quitting smoking can help you stick with it. Partner up with someone else who wants to quit and support one another. Talk to everyone in your social circle and make your intention to quite clear. Did you know that quitting is contagious? A Harvard study found that people quit smoking in groups, sometimes creating a “quitting cascade” that spreads from person-to-person within a social network.

3. Set a Date

Set a quit date that’s not too far in the future and stick to it. Setting a start date marks the authentic initiation of an action plan. It’s a tangible, immediate goal as opposed to tapering your smoking over the course of several months.

4. Get Counseling

Talk to your health care provider about quitting. He or she can refer you to licensed counselors who can coach you through the process from recognizing the habits and triggers around your smoking patterns to offering support when you’re tempted to give up or fall off the wagon. Several studies have found that counseling and follow-up from a doctor improve quit rates.

5. Stress Less

Stress is one of the most common triggers for cigarette cravings. Finding alternate ways to cope with stress is a good first line of defense against nicotine pangs. Start a practice such as meditation, yoga, or counseling to build long-term coping mechanisms. When you feel anxiety or stress coming on at the moment, try 4/7/8 breathing—focus on your breath and breathe in for four counts, hold for seven, and exhale for eight counts. Repeat for a total of 10 breaths. This can help level your mood when you’re overwhelmed.

6. Demotivate Yourself from Smoking

A study found that graphic cigarette warnings had a positive impact on quit rates. Utilize this demotivational technique by printing out images and facts about the dangers of smoking and placing them in places you’d usually smoke, such as your car or on your front porch.

7. Find Nicotine Replacements

Nicotine replacements have proved time and again to increase the likelihood of success. Nicotine gum, lozenges, patches, sprays, and even lip balms can help curb your cigarette cravings and offer distractions from the oral fixation that comes with smoking. The jury’s still out on electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes, and research doesn’t point to them being an effective way to quit smoking. However, they can be an alternative if you aren’t quite ready to quit but want to make a transition. From an overall health perspective, e-cigarettes may be less harmful than cigarettes, but there still isn’t enough research to say definitively.

8. Keep Your Hands (and Mouth) Busy

Disrupt the oral aspect of your smoking habit by chewing gum or eating mints. Something as simple as drinking water can be a useful tool in breaking the habit as well. Bringing the glass to your mouth provides a way to keep your hands and mouth busy. It can also combat any weight gain associated with quitting smoking. Nicotine is an appetite suppressant, and quitting can lead to an increased appetite. Drinking water can keep both food and cigarette cravings at bay.

9. Go Alternative

If you believe in it, it can work for you. Alternative therapies like hypnosis and acupuncture don’t have substantial proof of efficacy as a cessation aid, but if you’re ready to quit, connecting with a modality that you trust it can be effective. While not a first-line option, these therapies can help keep you on track to hitting your goals.

10. Consider Prescription Smoking Cessation Aids

A Dutch study about the success of different smoking cessation methods found that prescription medications like Zyban (bupropion) and Chantix (varenicline) are highly effective for smoking cessation. If cold turkey or over-the-counter options aren’t working for you, talk to your provider about quitting using one of these medications. Make sure to mention any health issues or other drugs you’re taking to ensure these prescriptions are safe for you.

The decision to quit smoking is an easy one; it’s the follow-through that’s challenging. But outlining an action plan to help you break the habit will improve your chances of success greatly. Stopping smoking is one of the most impactful actions you can take for your health!

 

Blog Source: One Medical | 10 Tips to Quit Smoking for Good

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Guide to Ensure the Safety and Reliability of Your Pallet Racking

Pallet racking failures are among the most catastrophic of the hazards faced daily in your warehouse. However dangerous and expensive the result, the causes can be surprisingly simple. Too often, pallet racking is caused by little more than inaction.

Your pallet racking needs to be reliable day in and day out. Your warehouse and your workers’ safety depend on it. But reliability is not permanent. It must be maintained and preserved with preventative measures and safety practices. Continue reading to learn the best practices for pallet racking safety.

Regularly inspect the condition of your pallet racking

Keep a watchful eye on the physical state of your pallet racking and respond quickly to structural damage or missing assemblage.

  • Installation – Was your pallet racking installed by certified professionals to industry standards? If not, then a professional, third-party assessment of your pallet racking installation can correct vital installation errors.
  • Base plates and protections – Make sure that your pallet racking floor mounts are set to minimum torque to allow for the right amount of flexibility in case of a forklift collision. Additionally, post protectors should be installed at every corner, where forklift collisions are statistically most likely to occur.
  • Signage and labeling – Check that your pallet racking is properly labeled with clear and accurate signage so that your staff knows precisely what they are permitted to do.
  • Locking Pins – Pallet racking supports are held in place by gravity. Quality locking pins that are correctly installed ensure that accidental forklift contact doesn’t lift rack support out of its mount.

Maintain a safe pallet racking environment

The greater state of your warehouse, in general, can also have a significant impact on the reliability of your pallet racking.

  • Lighting – A safe pallet racking environment beings with adequate lighting. Any potential hazards in your warehouse need to be sufficiently illuminated to avoid trouble.
  • Intent – Know that your pallet racking is being used to store what it was intended for.
  • Barriers – Use barriers to clearly demarcate the channels where your forklifts are permitted to operate. Lifting equipment NZ wide needs to be properly guided to avoid impact and ensure smooth warehouse operation.

Implement sound pallet racking safety protocols

Make sure that your warehouse crew knows how to maintain, report, and repair issues with your pallet racking.

  • Periodic, scheduled inspections – The pallet racking in your warehouse will incur daily wear and tear, so inspecting it only once will not be enough. Schedule regular and comprehensive inspections of your pallet racking system and closely monitor its overall state.
  • Don’t let structural issues pile up – Rarely is a pallet racking failure the result of a single, crippling impact. More often, it is the result of numerous minor impacts that went unaddressed until failure became inevitable. Allowing your warehouse staff to become complacent on minor structural deficiencies means they are less likely to recognize and repair further damage. This brings us to the next point.
  • Trained staff – Ensure that your staff is trained to recognize structural deficiencies in pallet racking. Train you, warehouse workers, to properly place and manage pallet rack loads and abide by key forklift safety procedures at all times.

Investing in pallet rack safety is investing in your business

Your pallet racking can be kept safe, reliable, and performing to its peak standard with basic maintenance and care. For as simple as the causes of pallet racking disasters can be, the preventative measures can be just as simple. Contact the leading warehouse experts at Dexter’s today to learn what more you can do to ensure the safety and wellbeing of your warehouse crew and the security of your pallet racking.

 

Blog Source: DEXTERS Warehouse Equipment | How Can You Ensure the Safety and Reliability of Your Pallet Racking?

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