6 Ways to Work Smarter, Not Harder
It used to be that if you pulled the longest hours, you were practically guaranteed a spot on the executive floor. Now, it’s all about efficiency. It’s been written about by prestigious magazines and famous authors alike, and now start-ups like BetterWorks and WorkBoard are focusing entirely on software that will give companies a more efficient work environment, reducing long meetings and late nights. The idea is appealing to anyone (who doesn’t want to get home to yoga pants and Netflix?), but how do you go about it? Scroll on for our top tips.
1. Protect the time when you do your best work. Some people are more productive in the morning, while others accomplish more at night. “Identify what time of day is most productive for you,” says Hallie Crawford, a certified career coach based in Atlanta, GA. “Think about times when you were working on a project and everything was flowing really well, or when you typically were more alert in classes in college. Then, block off that time each day for the projects that require your focus and creativity, even if that means you have to ask to reschedule a meeting or two.
2. Read emails actively, not passively. Instead of glancing through your inbox and going back to answer everything later, Heather Whaling, CEO of Geben Communication, says to attack each email in real time by taking one of four actions: 1. Trash it. 2. Forward it to the appropriate person (assuming it isn’t you). 3. Respond, if you can do so in four minutes or less. 4. Schedule it, if you know it requires a more thoughtful response. “This way, you’ll get to the elusive ‘inbox zero,’” Whaling says, and you’ll have a better sense of how long it will actually take to hack through your to-do list.
3. Block your blinders. “We live in a world of shiny objects — incessant phone notifications, calendar reminders and 50 computer tabs open at the same time. We think we’re ‘multitasking,’ but really we’re self-interrupting,” says Amanda M. Orson, director of communications at EngineerJobs.com. Gloria Mark, a professor in the department of informatics at The University of California, Irvine, toldFast Company that when you’re interrupted from your work, it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back on task. Practice doing only one thing at a time, resisting the urge to check email, shop online or answer texts until you’re finished with the project at-hand.
4. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize. At the end of the day, take stock of any “to be completed” items and plan your top priorities for the following day by asking yourself, “If I could only accomplish five tasks tomorrow, [which] five would give me the highest payoff?” suggests Frank Buck, who runs a consulting firm in Pell City, AL.
5. Surface your strengths. “Focus on what you do best, and delegate the rest,” says Jan Yager, a business consultant and career coach who has written six books on time management and productivity. “If you’re the idea person, that’s what you should be focusing on. You can find others to do the more administrative parts of your job, but you need to focus the majority of your time on generating ideas,” she says.
6. Take care of yourself (because no one else will!). Work non-stop and you’ll eventually burn out. It’s better to allot small breaks or rewards once you finish a task, whether it’s going outside for a walk or having a cup of tea, says Paula Rizzo, founder of the productivity site ListProducer.com. Having something to work toward will help you finish strong.
Got any tips for us? Tweet us @BritandCo and let us know!
This post was previously published on Levo League.
(Photo via Getty)
Welcome to Selfmade Finance School, our new money series with Block Advisors to help small business owners with their tax, bookkeeping, and payroll needs year-round. This week, we explore the tax implications of bringing family members into your business.
The question for today is this: Does hiring your family members make sense for your business? Let me be clear. This is not a piece about whether hiring your family members makes sense for your relationships with those family members. As someone who is part of a family business, I could fill up a lot more than 600 words on my opinions about that. For today's purposes, we focus on whether it makes sense from an overall "good business and tax implication" perspective. As it turns out, there is a decent amount of tax nuance when it comes to employing your family. Let's break it down based on relationship to the employee:
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Spouses Who Are In Business Together
Personally, if I had to be in business with my husband, it would not go well. However, many couples build viable, strong businesses together and I say, good for them! Depending on how you have your business entity structured, it will make a big difference on the tax treatment of you and your spouse working as partners. Because a business jointly owned and operated by a married couple is generally treated as a partnership for Federal tax purposes, the spouses must comply with filing and record keeping requirements imposed on partnerships and their partners. The election to file two Schedule C (Form 1040) forms, (one for each spouse) permits certain married co-owners to avoid filing partnership returns, provided that each spouse separately reports a share of all the businesses' items of income, gain, loss, deduction, and credit. Under the election, both spouses will be subject to self-employment tax and on net earnings from self-employment and receive credit for Social Security earnings.
One Spouse Employs Another
If you have a dynamic where your spouse is an employee of your business, then your spouse's wages are subject to income tax withholding, Social Security and Medicare taxes. If you are self-employed (not a corporation or a partnership), your spouse's pay does not have to be included in your federal unemployment tax account (FUTA) contributions and payments. However, if your business is a corporation or a partnership you must include that spouse's pay in your unemployment tax contribution calculation.
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You Employ Your Child
First, let's be clear. I work in my family business, but I am an adult, so I am treated just like a normal employee. However, if you, for example, run a family restaurant and want to hire your children under 18 to work for you, there are some tax benefits. But first, you should check with your state for rules on how many hours minors can work (in non-agricultural jobs) and reference the Fair Labor Standards Act for information on limitations on the kinds of work children can perform.
"This is an often overlooked or under-utilized strategy. Paying your children for true services they provide in your business can be a powerful tax-saving tool," says Cathi Reed, Block Advisors Regional Director. "If you are a sole-proprietorship or single member LLC, and the child is less than 18 years of age, the business is not required to withhold FICA or payroll taxes. The child can use his or her standard deduction against income you pay."
You Hire Your Parent
Oh dear. If you are brave enough to do this, know that you will need to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes on your parent's wages and make the appropriate withholdings, but you don't have to pay unemployment taxes. Now all you have to do is convince your parent that you are the boss. Have fun with that!
Is Hiring Family Members Worth It For The Tax Benefits?
"There are some positive tax advantages to hiring family members. It's important to treat a family member like any other employee. Hiring your children can result in substantial savings for businesses. Make sure your child has real, age-appropriate work to do and a reasonable pay rate, comparable to other employees. Consult with a Block Advisors small business certified tax pro to ensure that you are complying with all requirements," advises Reed. "Block Advisors, a team within H&R Block, is dedicated to meeting the tax, bookkeeping and payroll needs of small business owners year-round. To start working with the tax experts at Block Advisors, visit blockadvisors.com."
In my opinion, you should not hire a family member solely because of the tax benefits. You should always hire based on whether that person is right for the job and keep in mind how this hire could materially impact your relationship with that person and others in your family. Finally, as I mentioned, make sure you have a tax professional on your team when making these determinations. As you can see, things can get a little tricky!
*All details were sourced from IRS.gov and blockadvisors.com