TIME career

We Should Always Have Three-Day Weekends

Working less is the basis for a better standard of life

As we approach a three-day weekend, it is worth reassessing the amount of time we devote to work. What if all weekends could last for three or even four days? What if the majority of the week could be given over to activities other than work? What if most of our time could be devoted to non-work activities of our own choosing?

To even pose these questions is to invite the criticism of Utopian thinking. While a fine idea in principle, working fewer hours is not feasible in practice. Indeed, its achievement would come at the expense of lower consumption and increased economic hardship.

For some advocates of the work ethic, the route to health and happiness lies with the perpetuation of work, not with its reduction. Work makes us healthier and happier. Such pro-work ideology is used to legitimate welfare reforms that seek to coerce the non-employed into work, whatever its rates of pay and qualitative features. It also offers an ideological barrier to the case for spending less time at work. Working less is presented as a threat to our health and happiness, not a means to improve it.

Yet, the idea of working less is not only feasible, it is also the basis for a better standard of life. It is a mark of how we have come to accept work and its dominant influence in our lives that we do not grasp this idea more readily.

The costs of working more

A growing number of studies show the human costs of longer working hours. These include lower physical and mental health. Working long hours can add to the risk of having a stroke, coronary heart disease and developing type 2 diabetes.

By working most of the time, we also lose time with family and friends. And more than this we lose the ability to be and do things that make life valuable and worth living. Our lives are often too much tied up in the work we do that we have little time and energy to find alternative ways of living — in short, our capacity to realize our talents and potential is curtailed by the work we do. Work does not set us free, rather it hems us in and makes it more difficult to realise ourselves.

All this speaks to the need to work less. We should challenge the work ethic and promote alternative ways of living that are less work centered. And, if this reduction of time spent at work is focused on eliminating drudge work then we can also better realize the internal benefits of work itself. Working less may be a means not only to work better but also to enjoy life more.

Barriers to less work

Technological progress has advanced continuously over the past century, pushing up productivity. But not all the gains in productivity have fed through to shorter work hours. At least in modern times, these gains have been used to increase the returns of the owners of capital, often at the cost of flatlining pay for workers.

The lack of progress in reducing time spent at work in modern capitalist economies reflects instead the influence of ideology as well as of power. On the one hand, the effects of consumerism have created powerful forces in favor of longer working hours. Workers are constantly persuaded to buy more and in turn are drawn into working more, to keep up with the latest fad or fashion and to stay ahead of their peers.

On the other hand, the weakened power of labor relative to capital has created an environment that has suited the extension of work time. The recent expose of work practices at Amazon speaks to the power of capital in imposing poor working conditions, including excessive work hours, on workers. The effects of rising inequality has also fed a long work hours culture by increasing the economic necessity to work more.

David Graeber makes the provocative claim that technology has advanced at the same time as what he calls “bullshit” or pointless jobs have multiplied. This is why we have not realized Keynes’ prediction that we’d all be working 15-hour weeks in the 21st century, as a result of technological progress.

Instead, we are living in a society where work gets created that is of no social value. The reason for this, according to Graeber, is the need of the ruling class to keep workers in work. While technology with the potential to reduce work time exists, the political challenge of a working population with time on its hands makes the ruling class unwilling to realize this potential. Working less, while feasible and desirable, is blocked by political factors.

Working for change

The costs of long work hours, as mentioned above, are poorer health and lower well-being for workers. But for employers too there are costs in terms of lower productivity and lower profitability. Yet these costs seem to go unnoticed despite evidence pointing to their existence. Here again politics may explain why shorter work time has not been embraced by many employers.

Experiments in shorter working exist, to be sure. Uniqlo, a Japanese clothing retailer, is to allow its employees to work a four day week. This has been widely reported in a positive way. Workers will benefit from a better work-life balance, while the firm will reap the benefits of lower labor costs due to lower turnover costs.

Yet, on closer inspection, the new scheme to be introduced by Uniqlo has its downsides. In return for a four-day working week, workers will be expected to work ten-hour shifts during the days they work (a 40-hour working week will be squeezed into four days).

This is not only an extension to the normal length of the working day; it also puts at risk the potential rewards of working four days in the week. Workers may be so exhausted after working a four-day work week they need a full day to recover from their previous exertions. In this case, their quality of work and life may not be enhanced at all; indeed it may be diminished, if they suffer the ill-effects of overwork.

Ironically, schemes such as the one to be introduced by Uniqlo illustrate the obstacles that remain in achieving less work. Only a reduction in the working week to 30 hours or less can be seen as genuine progress in the achievement of shorter work time.

For us to reach – and enjoy – a three or ideally a four-day weekend, we need to reimagine society in ways that subvert the prevailing work ethic. We need to embrace the idea of working less as a means to a life well lived. We need to reject the way of living that sees work as the be all and end all of life.

So enjoy the bank holiday while you can. See it as a reminder of a life that could be – a life that we should seek to achieve, by resolving to overcome the barriers, economic as well as ideological and political, to working less.The Conversation

David Spencer is Professor of Economics and Political Economy at University of Leeds.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Business

How to Have Fewer but More Productive Meetings

Always end with a recap email

We’ve all been there. Five o’clock nears and we ask ourselves: what did I actually get done today? We feel busy, but not productive.

It happens because we’re targets of weapons of mass distraction. We subject ourselves to meetings that run long or shouldn’t happen in the first place. In this edition of Every Vowel’s top 3, we’ll discuss:

  • Why Americans spend nine hours a week planning (let alone attending) meetings
  • How a simple email can make your meetings more efficient
  • How to schedule your calendar so you don’t get distracted

1. And So We Meet, Again: Why The Workday Is So Filled With Meetings

Author: Yuki Noguchi

TL;DR: Nine hours. It’s not how long I spend listening to Ariana Grande songs each week (OK, maybe it is).

It’s how long American workers spend preparing for and attending meetings every week, according to this survey. That’s a 14% increase from four years ago. Why do meetings last so long? And why are there so many in the first place?

The answer is Parkinson’s Law: the notion that a task will take as long as the time you allotted for it. The biggest culprit is a silent assassin. It’s not just you or your boss. It’s your Google and Outlook calendar invites. Think about it: your meetings default to 30-minute intervals. Why stick to that? Try a 15-minute meeting next time and see what happens.

University of North Carolina Professor Steven Rogelberg says, “Give the group half as much time … and they finish in half as much time! And the quality of the meeting is just as good.”

But how about meetings that shouldn’t be cut in half, but cut entirely?

They persist because there’s little self-awareness among people who run meetings. The vast majority self-report that they’re running meetings well (“But of course! All these people doodling and tweeting must mean I’m running a splendid meeting!”) but most participants disagree. Yet nobody is willing to tell them. So down the rabbit hole we go.

2. 4 Steps to Fast, Effective Meetings

Author: Christine Comaford

TL;DR: If we can’t tell someone they run terrible meetings, then let’s at least run better ones ourselves.

In her 30 years, Christine has realized that all great meetings involve two things:

  • Requests: Joe asks something specific from Jill: “Can you get me a report of our top 50 advertisers in the USA from the past 5 years in a spreadsheet by 4pm this Friday?”
  • Promises (or “Action Items”): Jill agrees that she’s the best person to complete this request: “No problem, Joe. I’ll get you the report by 4pm on Friday.”

Most important, and most forgotten, is sending out a recap email. This is your contract. As the meeting leader, you should list participants by their respective promises and delivery dates. And don’t forget to include yourself! That way, you have an email thread to hold everyone accountable. Here’s an example:

Hey guys,

Great meeting. I wanted to recap Action Items / Promises moving forward:

Zeke:

  • Design marketing flyer for upcoming event at Dock Street Brewery. Send out to the board for feedback by February 14 at 3 PM.

Beryl:

  • Write alcohol release form for all attendees and get approval from Dock Street Brewery management by February 20 at noon.
  • Print 300 copies and bring to venue on February 30 by 2 PM (30 minutes before attendees arrive)

Jon:

  • Get city permit to close off street for the event. Share update by February 12, 5 PM.

Let me know if I missed anything,

Jon

3. This Thing Will Fix Your Insane Calendar Problem

Author: Shane Snow

TL;DR: Are you a calendar slave? That’s someone who, upon being asked for a meeting, books the first open slot they see.

Most of us are. We’re reactive to scheduling requests instead of being proactive. It causes us to have awkward 30-minute gaps, lose focus, and finish the day saying, “what did I actually get done?” Shane shows how to change that: divide your weekdays into “core” and “explore” days.

  • Core: make Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday your execution days. Only take meetings that help shorten your to-do list.
  • Explore: make Thursday and Friday for exploratory work: take business development meetings, coffee chats, or read articles about your industry.

The beauty of this system is structured serendipity. You have your days to get work done. But you keep the door open for inspiration, which will help you grow even faster.

Want more? Join 400,000 readers by subscribing to Every Vowel, the home for unconventional career ideas, stories & advice.

This article originally appeared on Every Vowel

More from Every Vowel:

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME psychology

11 Psychological Tips to Get People to Help You

Mimic their body language

You don’t need to be the CEO to get people to listen to you.

Psychological research suggests there are plenty of ways to get people to do what you want — without them even realizing you’ve persuaded them.

We’ve rounded up 11 science-backed strategies for getting people to like you, to buy stuff, and to give you what you’re after.

All of them will leave you feeling more powerful.

1. Use a “decoy” option to get people to buy your product

In his TED Talk, behavioral economist Dan Ariely explains the “decoy effect” using an old Economist advertisement as an example.

The ad featured three subscription levels: $59 for online only, $159 for print only, and $159 for online and print. Ariely figured out that the option to pay $159 for print only exists so that it makes the option to pay $159 for online and print look more enticing than it would if it was just paired with the $59 option.

In other words, if you’re having trouble selling the more expensive of two products, consider adding a third option whose only function is to make the “expensive” product look more enticing.

2. Tweak the environment to get people to act less selfish

“Priming” is a powerful psychological phenomenon in which one stimulus produces a particular response to another stimulus, often unconsciously.

One study, cited in the book You Are Not So Smart, found that participants playing the ultimatum game opted to keep more money for themselves when they were seated in a room with a briefcase, a leather portfolio, and a fountain pen than when they sat in a room with neutral items. Even though none of the participants were aware of what had happened, the business-related objects may have elicited competitiveness.

This tactic could potentially work when you’re bargaining with someone — instead of meeting in a conference room, consider convening in a coffee shop so your partner is less inclined toward aggression.

3. Help advance someone’s goals to get them to do you a favor

Psychologist Robert Cialdini says one way to influence people is to invoke the reciprocity norm. Basically, you help someone with something they need so they feel obliged to return the favor.

And when you’re thanked for helping out, Cialdini advises saying something like, “Of course, it’s what partners do for each other,” instead of “no problem,” so they feel like they’re expected to do the same for you.

4. Mimic people’s body language to get them to like you

The next time you’re trying to impress a hiring manager or the object of your affection, try subtly mimicking the way they’re sitting and speaking — they’ll probably like you more.

Scientists call it the “chameleon effect”: We tend to like conversation partners that mimic our postures, mannerisms, and facial expressions.

The strangest part of this phenomenon is that it happens largely unconsciously — most participants in the “chameleon effect” study weren’t even aware that they were being copied.

5. Speak quickly to get an argument opponent to agree with you

How you communicate your ideas can be just as important as the substance of your argument. Research suggests that when someone disagrees with you, you should speak faster so they have less time to process what you’re saying.

On the contrary, when you’re delivering an argument that your audience agrees with, it helps to speak more slowly, so they have time to evaluate the message.

6. Confuse people to get them to comply with your request

The “disrupt-then-reframe” technique is a sneaky way to get people to cooperate.

One study found that when experimenters went door-to-door selling note cards for charity, DTR helped them make twice as much money as when they simply told people they were selling eight cards for $3. In the DTR scenario, they told people it was 300 pennies for eight cards, “which is a bargain.”

Researchers say that DTR works because it disrupts routine thought processes. While trying to figure out how many dollars 300 pennies comes out to, people are distracted, and so they just accept the idea that the price is a deal.

7. Ask people for favors when they’re tired to get them to cooperate

An alert mind may express some doubt when approached with a request. Yet someone who’s tired or distracted will likely be less critical, and will simply accept what you say as true.

So if you’re planning to ask a coworker to help out with a project that will supposedly only take an hour, it’s best to ask at the end of a workday. That way, they’ll be drained from the day’s tasks and won’t have the mental energy to realize that the project will probably take up more of their time.

8. Display an image of eyes to get people to behave ethically

In one study, people were more likely to clean up after themselves in a cafeteria when they saw an image of eyes than when they saw an image of flowers. The study authors say that eyes typically indicate social scrutiny.

Whether you’re trying to prevent littering or encourage people to return the books they borrow from the office library, it helps to give people the impression that they’re being watched.

9. Use nouns instead of verbs to get people to change their behavior

In one study, people were asked two versions of the same question: “How important is it to you to vote in tomorrow’s election?” and “How important is it to you to be a voter in tomorrow’s election?” Results showed that participants in the “voter” condition were more likely to cast their ballots the next day.

That’s likely because people are driven by the need to belong, and using a noun reinforces their identity as a member of a specific group.

10. Scare people to get them to give you what you need

Research suggests that people who experience anxiety and then a sense of relief usually respond positively to requests afterward. For example, people who heard an invisible policeman’s whistle while crossing the street were more likely to agree to complete a questionnaire than people who didn’t hear anything.

That’s possibly because their cognitive resources were occupied thinking about the potential danger they encountered, so they had fewer resources left to think about the request that was just posed.

11. Focus on what your bargaining partner is gaining to get them to agree to your offer

While negotiating, research suggests you should emphasize to your partner what they’re about to gain as opposed to what they’re losing. For example, if you’re trying to sell a car, you should say, “I’ll give you my car for $1,000,” instead of, “I want $1,000 for the car.”

That way, you’ll persuade your partner to see things from a different perspective, and they’ll probably be more likely to concede.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider

More from Business Insider:

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

MONEY Workplace

How To Be a Work-Life Balance Ninja

Finding autonomy at the office could be a key to finding balance between work and home.

Author Kerry Hannon discusses career topics in her new book, ‘Love Your Job: The New Rules for Career Happiness.’ She sat down with Money’s Susie Poppick to discuss how to be a work-life balance ninja. Workers want to achieve productivity at the office, but they also want to maintain active person lives. Some key pieces of advice: Schedule your own time as well as you schedule your work activities. Try to get flexibility at the office, including greater control over setting your hours.

Read Next:

Neil deGrasse Tyson Thinks Work-Life Balance Is Overrated

Is Work-Life Balance Even Possible?

How Millennials Can Achieve Work-Life Balance

 

TIME Etiquette

11 Tips to Properly Introduce People Over Email

TIME.com stock photos Computer Keyboard Typing
Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

Take the time of each person into account

Answer by Auren Hoffman, CEO of LiveRamp, on Quora.

Email introductions are a poorly-understood art and are often done too hastily without careful thought. Making introductions the right way can be the best way to help two people and create a lot of value. But doing it wrong can make one of the parties look bad and can alienate one or both parties from you.

Before we go through the mechanics, let’s first define your objectives as the introducer. Your goal should be to benefit both people you are introducing. Both parties should be happy you made the introduction, glad they met the other person, and thankful to you. You should not bother making an introduction if it will only benefit one of the parties.

Steps on the proper way to make introductions:

1. Take the time
Good introductions require careful thought and preparation. Take the time to really think why both parties will benefit from each other and spell it out in an email. Hasty introductions can have minimal or even negative impact. I’m sure we’ve all been victims of hastily written email intros. I recently got one that said “Auren/John — you two just HAVE to meet each other. You two take it from here.” I’d like to know who John is and why we should meet.

2. Ask for permission
A good way to start the introduction process is to first email the people and ask them for permission. Make the case of why they should meet the other party and ask them if it would be ok for you to introduce the two. Usually it will work well, but occasionally someone will say that they are too busy. If that’s the case, you just saved both friends a lot of trouble.

3. Make sure there is a quick follow up
You never want to make an introduction where both parties don’t immediately respond to each other. To prevent this from happening, make sure that the weight of your email encourages both people to quickly arrange a time to talk.

4. Take the time of each person into account
Be clear in your email introduction what the next action for the two parties should be. Suggest whether they should meet for lunch, coffee, over the phone or just exchange emails. Often people should just have a quick phone call and you don’t want to waste the time of one or both people by suggesting a lunch.

Rarely introduce your friend to someone just because your friend wants to meet her. There needs to be an exchange of value between the two people and both parties need to come away with more value than their time is worth. To find a worthwhile introduction, you may need to proactively suggest people who your friends might want to meet.

5. Clearly give the location of each person
Location is one detail that is forgotten all too often but can save a lot of back and forth communication. If one person is in L.A. and the other is in N.Y., let them know. If they are going to be the same city in two weeks, they can now meet in person. If they are going to arrange a call, they will now know what time zone they are in.

6. Be sure to give their first and last name and a quick bio of the person
I often get intros from people to jim@company.com – so I know the first name of the person is “Jim” but don’t know their last name and it makes it difficult to save the person’s contact information. And a quick bio will go a long way in giving context. If you can, include their LinkedIn profile (or at least enough information for either party to get the information).

7. Mention if two people have met before
If you know the two parties have met before, even if only briefly, be sure to mention it in the introduction. Often people forget brief meetings so you can save them from embarrassment.

8. Include all necessary parties
If the people use their assistants, then copy the assistants of both parties if appropriate.

9. Only forward emails that make the originator look good
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been introduced to someone by an introducer who forwards me a semi-confidential email chain that I probably shouldn’t see. Forward only positive emails and, if you have to, edit the email before forwarding to make both sides look good.

10. Make intentions of your introduction clear
If you are introducing two single people, make sure that the purpose of your introduction is clear and that there is no misunderstanding. Being clear about whether the introduction is a business or a personal one will preclude embarrassing situations where people have misaligned intentions.

11. Keep the intro concise
Like all emails, be sure the keep the email short so it can be consumed quickly. The longer the email, the longer it will take to process (and the less the likelihood it will of being read.)

As an introducer, your goal should be for both parties to be glad that you made the intro. If only party one gets value from the meeting, you have failed. But when you succeed, you have the potential to massively increase the happiness of both people.

This question originally appeared on Quora:

More from Quora: What is the protocol for doing an introduction over email?

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Careers & Workplace

7 Life Hacks From Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson, Elon Musk and Other Billionaires

Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder and chief executive officer of Facebook Inc., at a Bloomberg television interview in Menlo Park, Calif. on Dec. 2, 2014.
Paul Morris—Bloomberg via Getty Images Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder and chief executive officer of Facebook Inc., at a Bloomberg television interview in Menlo Park, Calif. on Dec. 2, 2014.

Pay it forward

With just shy of 2,000 billionaires on earth, the odds of joining that rarefied club is about one in 4 million. To put that in perspective, you are 24 times more likely to be killed by lightning than you are to become a billionaire.

If you hope to be a billionaire, despite the odds, it stands to reason that taking a radically different approach to life could shift things in your favor. Who better to show us how to rebel against an average life than rebel billionaires themselves? Here are seven life hacks from this rare group:

1. Work hard, play harder

Sir Richard Branson is the perfect example of prospering fantastically while truly enjoying life. While Branson certainly works hard, he is much better known for playing hard. From hot-air-balloon trips around the world to bungee jumping off buildings, Branson understands the value of living life to its fullest.

Lesson: Working hard is fine, but always take time away from work to have fun and recharge.

2. Follow your passions

When it comes to building a business around something you love, I can’t think of a better example than Nick Woodman, the founder of GoPro. Woodman’s adrenaline-fueled action-camera company was built on the backs (and helmets) of extreme athletes and adventure seekers around the world, and helps them to showcase and share their passions with the more risk-averse among us.

Lesson: If you love doing something, and others share your passion, you can make money doing it.

3. Hedge your bets

One of the smartest financial moves made around the time of the dot-com bust was by Mark Cuban. Cuban’s company, Broadcast.com, was acquired by Yahoo in 1999 for $5.7 billion in Yahoo stock. Not too long after that, Cuban, believing a crash was likely but unable to sell his stock due to lockup agreements, made the call to short an index fund that had a sizable stake in Yahoo to help balance out his overexposure. It cost him $20 million do this, but prevented him from losing an even larger amount.

Lesson: Take smart risks, but always look for ways to mitigate the risk and to avoid overexposure.

4. Be a connector

When it comes to success, one of the most critical components really is who you know. Mark Zuckerberg is a billionaire many, many times over because of his efforts to connect people. He grasped early on the power of connections, and set out on a mission to bring everyone on Earth closer together. Considering roughly two out of three people with Internet access are now on Facebook, he has done an incredible job.

Lesson: Be the hub at the center of your network, and connect people together as often as you can.

5. Rock the boat

While I don’t agree with everything Travis Kalanick, Uber’s CEO, has done, I absolutely agree with his unrelenting crusade to displace the status quo. Kalanick entered a stale industry known for a terrible user experience, and has kicked and battered his way through mountains of bureaucracy and legal red tape to make the on-demand transportation industry much more pleasant for consumers.

Lesson: Question everything, rock the boat and fight for change if you believe things should change.

6. Be yourself

After listening to Chris Sacca of LOWERCASE capital on a recent Tim Ferriss podcast, I think he’s an incredible example of someone who is unapologetically himself. He has strong opinions, wears crazy shirts and makes decisions based off his own system of values. He doesn’t invest if he doesn’t believe he’ll add value, and he only invests in companies that he can be proud of.

Lesson: Decide who you want to be, and be that person, regardless of what others think or say.

7. Leave things better than you found them

Nobody on the planet today embodies this philosophy better than Elon Musk. From SpaceX and Tesla to Solar City and beyond, Musk has dedicated his fortune and his life to making the world, and the chances of humanity surviving and prospering, better than they are now. If you’re not familiar with Musk’s story, read this. The things that he has done, and that he is trying to accomplish, are truly incredible.

Lesson: Pay it forward. Make the world, and the people around you, better. Think beyond your lifetime.

As Albert Einstein purportedly said, the definition of insanity “is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.” Billionaires don’t become billionaires by taking the common path through life, so if you’re hoping to join their ranks, then you’ll need to get in touch with your inner-rebel and explore alternate paths.

This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com

More from Entrepreneur.com:

TIME Careers & Workplace

5 Templates for Overdue Email Response

TIME.com stock photos Computer Keyboard Typing
Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

Get your message across without damaging your reputation

The Muse logo

Raise your hand if, at this very moment, you have at least one email you should’ve already sent—a day ago, a week ago, even (eek!) a month ago.

I know there’s several messages I’m currently late in sending. Yet, they always conveniently slip my mind until right before I go to sleep—at which point I promise myself that I’ll send them first thing tomorrow morning.

Then time passes, and passes some more, and before I know it, I’m facing a situation where it’s almost embarrassing to respond. Isn’t it just better to pretend that it got caught in spam?

No. And to make finally sending that email a little easier, I’ve created a couple templates that will both salvage your professional reputation and make your recipient more understanding of the delay.

1. For “Friendly” Emails That Don’t Technically Require a Response

It’s really easy to procrastinate on replying to these types of emails, because your daily responsibilities usually take precedence. But trust me, it’s better to send a late response than never send one at all. Just make sure to extend a heartfelt apology and prove that despite your tardy response, you’re interested in the other person’s life.

Hi Amy,

Thanks so much for your kind note last month! Yep, it was definitely exciting for our team to get theWall Street Journal mention—things have been crazy here ever since, which is why I’m so late in answering your email. (I apologize!)

I saw your company recently announced its launching a new marketing division. That’s so awesome, congratulations! How’s everything been going over there?

Thank you again, and I hope to see you at another meet-up in the future.

Best,

Aja

2. For Request Emails

When someone asks you for information or help and you forget to respond (or put it off because it’s never the right time), you can feel pretty guilty. Show the person who reached out that you’re not a jerk by doing the best you can to help him or her now.

Dear James,

Last month, you asked me if I knew anyone who worked at Carol Smith Agency, and I apologize for not answering sooner! Are you still hoping to find a contact there? I just looked through my connections and discovered a couple people who might be helpful. Let me know if you want me to make some introductions.

And if there’s anything else I can do for you, just ask. I promise I’ll try to be quicker next time!

Aja

3. For Bad News Emails

It’s incredibly easy to put off breaking bad news (and find one million reasons to do it). However, you have to rip that Band-Aid off eventually. First, apologize, then try to explain the situation, and finally, actually make an effort to help!

Hi Maren,

I hope you’re doing well and that your last semester at Colgate is off to a great start. My sincerest apologies for not getting back to you about the remote internship sooner.

After thinking it over, our team doesn’t think this will work out—so much of our communication happens in person, and we’d hate for you to miss that. However, you’re clearly talented and motivated, and I’d be more than happy to see if I know anyone at another company who could use a remote intern. Let me know if you’re interested.

Sincerely,

Aja

4. For Every Other Email

For all those miscellaneous, oh-gosh-I-really-have-to-reply emails, you can use this template as a starter.

Dear Sam,

As I was looking through my drafts, I realized I had never [emailed/responded to] you about [subject]. I am sincerely sorry for letting the ball drop on this one—in the future, I’ll double-check that I’ve sent my messages to you so it doesn’t happen again.

After meeting with the Dev Ops team, we’ve decided to move forward with the original plan discussed at our March meeting.

Apologies again,

Aja

Answering a late email always requires a little willpower. But you know you’ll feel better once you do—and now that you have these templates, there’s no excuse not to push “send.”

This post is in partnership with The Muse. The article above was originally published on The Muse

More from The Muse:

TIME Careers & Workplace

5 Marketing Lessons From Donald Trump’s Presidential Campaign

Donald Trump during a news conference ahead of a rally in Dubuque, Iowa on Aug. 25, 2015.
Daniel Acker—Bloomberg via Getty Images Donald Trump during a news conference ahead of a rally in Dubuque, Iowa on Aug. 25, 2015.

What you see is what you get

Donald Trump has taken over the 2016 Republican presidential primary campaign. Whether you agree or disagree with him, there’s no denying that his candidacy has been a powerful force in the race and has commanded a great deal of media attention.

Time will tell whether Trump’s campaign will be successful in winning the nomination, but he’s already been very successful at generating headlines. Despite his brash demeanor and highly questionable (some would say “hateful” or “stupid”) statements, as of this writing, Trump just keeps rising in the polls.

Regardless of what happens with Trump’s presidential campaign, he’s already a winner in the constant battle for public attention. Here are a few marketing lessons from Trump that any brand or political cause can emulate:

1. Know your audience

Donald Trump doesn’t care if you love him or hate him. He’s playing to a very select crowd of voters who believe in his message and who want to support him. There’s something about Trump’s tough-talking “I don’t care what the experts think” attitude that appeals to Republican primary voters in 2015. Lots of Republican primary voters are feeling frustrated and are passionate to take back the White House. Trump is giving voice to feelings that are widely shared in that political party.

In the same way, your brand doesn’t have to appeal to “everyone.” Know your target market and speak to their concerns in a relevant way.

2. Know your brand

Love him or hate him, Donald Trump knows who he is. The Trump that we’re seeing on the campaign trail is well known to New Yorkers (I’m a native New Yorker myself). We have watched him for decades become famous as a New York real estate developer, bestselling author and TV reality-show contest business mogul on “The Apprentice.” Trump hasn’t changed. He’s just talking about politics now instead of business deals. But he’s always been bold and brassy, with a take-no-prisoners attitude.

The lesson: Your brand needs to stand for something. Lots of people are not fans of Trump, but even people who oppose his candidacy find themselves grudgingly admiring the consistency of his brand message. What you see is what you get.

3. Be audacious

Trump has said a lot of outrageous things during the campaign, from inflammatory remarks about Mexican immigrants to accusing John McCain of not being a “war hero,” but every new media gaffe or media whirlwind just seems to boost his performance in the polls. The reason: Trump’s core supporters respect him for speaking his truth, even if he’s not saying it in a polite, genteel way.

Most political candidates are so polished and focus-grouped that it’s almost impossible for their real feelings and emotions to come out. Trump is in your face, every day, with unvarnished depictions of life as he sees it. He’s not afraid of what anyone thinks about him, and it shows.

The lesson: Don’t be afraid to really stand for something as a brand, even if it’s controversial. Too many companies try to be blandly inoffensive in a failed attempt to be “mainstream” and appeal to “everyone.” It’s better to be memorable, even if you lose some customers who don’t “get it,” as long as you keep appealing to the niche market of customers who love you the most.

4. Trust yourself

Trump doesn’t follow focus groups. All candidates these days test out their message, trying to find the right combination of words and issues to appeal to the right demographic segments of voters. But often, candidates end up sounding excessively “focus-grouped.” The real human connection of the candidate gets lost in trying to appeal to too many people. Trump seems to be resonating with conservative Republican voters because he’s so unrehearsed and unpolished — he’s not afraid to speak off the cuff. Every day on the campaign seems like he’s just really talking about whatever is most urgently on his mind at that moment.

The same goes with your product. It’s good to do some market research to find out whether a new product is viable, but it’s even more important to trust that you have a good idea. If you feel that way, trust that others will feel the same. I’ve seen so many great ideas become convoluted and watered down, when there are too many cooks in the kitchen. If you try to make your product appealing to everyone, you’ll ultimately end up appealing to no one.

5. No apologies

Trump is like no one else we’ve seen in presidential politics in recent years. He seems to have absolutely no sense of regret or shame. He says what he says, he calls it like he sees it, and then he moves on, ignoring the critics. Has Trump ever apologized for anything? He seems incapable of admitting to mistakes or being wrong.

This raises an interesting question for your brand: when should you apologize? If a customer has a bad experience with your product, should you apologize? Or should you just give them a refund and move on, writing it off as “Well, they’re not the right kind of customer for us?” If someone is offended by or misunderstands something your company posts on Twitter, should you apologize? Should you ignore the critics, or try to learn from them?

It’s hard to know when to draw the line. If you apologize too often, you’ll find yourself catering too much to customers who really don’t understand the value of what you offer. But if you don’t apologize when an apology was really warranted, you might damage your brand. You have to toe the line between maintaining your brand reputation and doing the right thing. Don’t spend all of your energy on trying to make bad customers happy.

Trump embodies the purity of a certain kind of bold, no-apologies approach to doing business. He’s almost Zen-like in his clear-headed refusal to get bogged down in details of saying “sorry.” He just keeps moving forward and on to the next deal. There’s something so refreshing about that, but not all brands can pull it off.

Whether you’re voting for Trump or not, there’s no denying that he’s a fascinating one-of-a-kind figure in American politics and business. You don’t have to become like Trump to learn from how he’s marketed himself and built his brand.

This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com

More from Entrepreneur.com:

TIME Careers & Workplace

10 Ways to Make Your Afternoons As Productive As Mornings

business-man-using-laptop
Getty Images

Leave mindless tasks and easy decision for your final hours of work

Inc. logo

Our society is collectively obsessed with morning routines.

What is just as important, but often neglected, is how we manage what happens in the middle of the day.

When we wake up, our minds are clear, our bodies are rested. High willpower gives us the energy to take on the day.

The problem is that no matter how much energy we start with, it can only sustain us for so long. Without good midday habits, we fall prey to distraction (hello Facebook!), impulsivity, irritability, and fatigue. Or even worse, we crash and make bad decisions we regret. According to renowned willpower researcher Roy Baumeister, “Most things go bad in the evening. Diets are broken at the evening snack, not at breakfast… Impulsive crimes are mostly committed after midnight.”

To help you nail your afternoon routine, here is some practical and science-backed advice from successful entrepreneurs who have built multimillion-dollar companies.

1. Move around and take a fidgeting break

Lindsay Gaskins, CEO of Marbles: The Brain Store

When most people think about health and energy, they primarily focus on exercise.While exercise is incredibly important, our nonexercise activities (known as NEAT in the academic world) actually take up more time and burn more energy throughout the day.

Changes to these NEAT activities are easier to make since they require less willpower; yet they are still incredibly impactful.

“We also found that when sitting for prolonged periods of time, any movement is good movement, and was also associated with better fitness,” says Dr. Jacquelyn Kulinski, who has studied the link between health and physical activity. “So if you are stuck at your desk for a while, shift positions frequently, get up and stretch in the middle of a thought, pace while on a phone call, or even fidget.”

Lindsay Gaskins, CEO of Marbles: The Brain Store, is a big fan of fidgeting with a desk toy. She takes multiple fidget breaks every day to reduce stress and help her think more clearly.

“Anything I can press, bend, or manipulate makes my hands and brain happy,” Gaskins says. She recommends desk toys like wooden puzzles, Ball of Whacks, or Flingons (a flingable, flexible magnetic fidget set).

Katherine Isbister, research director of NYU’s Game Innovation Lab, affirms the importance of desk toys in reducing stress. Isbister says that being able to squish something really hard, or knock it on the table “is a great way to overcome negative emotions such as stress or boredom.” Isbister and her team are currently studying how workers use desktop toys to increase mental clarity.

2. Never eat alone

Elizabeth Zaborowska, founder and CEO of Bhava Communications

According to one research-backed book on the impact of face-to-face relationships,The Village Effect, spending time directly with other people and having active social lives can increase our likelihood of surviving cancer by 66 percent. As noted in The Village Effect, and also discussed by National Geographic researcher Dan Buettner and his team, the right social circle is an essential part of why centenarians live past 100 years old.

Elizabeth Zaborowska, founder and CEO of Bhava Communications (revenue: $5 Million ), organizes an amazing 15-plus informal meals per week (750 meals per year) with her employees, clients, venture capitalists, industry colleagues, and more. She invites one or two people to join her for lunch and dinner, and occasionally sets up breakfasts and weekend brunches.

Having a meal together connects people in ways that simply working together can’t. A meal creates an informal space where friendships can be formed, and sets the foundation for a deeper working relationship. In one study, employees at a tech company who rated other employees as being “especially good friends” had higher performance ratings from their bosses than those who had fewer numbers of such friendships.

Many well-known entrepreneurs use mealtime as one of the main ways they build relationships. During summers, Martha Stewart regularly entertains guests for dinner at her East Hampton estate. And Keith Ferrazzi proclaimed the power of meals, particularly dinner parties, in his bestselling book Never Eat Alone.

“Today I can safely say my strongest links have been forged at the table,” Ferrazzi says.”The companionable effects of breaking bread — not to mention drinking a few glasses of wine — bring people together.”

3. Set your timer for five minutes in order to break up that big, hard task you’ve been procrastinating on

Brian Scudamore, founder and CEO of 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, You Move Me, and Wow 1 Day Painting

According to Stanford researcher BJ Fogg, the best way to change your behavior is to make the desired change easier. And the simplest way to make something easier is to reduce the amount of time it takes. For example, exercise is much less intimidating when you commit to it for one minute instead of one hour.

The same principle holds true in work. Whenever Brian Scudamore, founder and CEO of 1-800-GOT-JUNK?, You Move Me, and Wow 1 Day Painting, feels overwhelmed by a big goal or feels low energy, he sets his iPhone timer for five minutes and commits to focusing for that period of time on the task at hand. “What ends up happening is I build up momentum and want to keep going after the timer goes off,” Scudamore says.

While setting big, hairy, audacious goals is really good for long-term thinking, it is paralyzing when you’re at a low point in your day. Focusing on an easy, small step is powerful because it:

  • Builds momentum and keeps you focused.
  • Increases the odds that you’ll take action.
  • Cements your own identity as someone who gets stuff done.
  • Gives you the feeling of progress, optimism, control, and gratitude.

For more information on how to set easy tasks, watch this 10-minute video by Fogg.

4. Take a “pocket vacation” in nature

Kay Koplovitz, founder of USA Network and Syfy

It turns out that exposure to all that’s green and grows is good for your immune system. Not getting out in natural surroundings can lead to an increase of allergies, asthma, and other illnesses. It even has a name; “Nature Deficit Disorder.”

Kay Koplovitz, founder of USA Network and Syfy takes a daily walk in New York City’s Central Park for 15 minutes, calling her routine her “pocket vacation.” Research indicates that a mere five minutes of walking in nature can produce an immense, immediate benefit of reducing stress, notably on our levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. An even more important effect is that nature restores your ability to focus with a phenomenon called Attention Restoration Theory.

If you don’t have time to take a quick walk, spend 40 seconds looking through a window with greenery outside. That short amount of time is enough to restore your attention span, leading to far fewer errors in your work.

5. Take micro naps like these iconic entrepreneurs, presidents, and artists

Sevetri Wilson, CEO of Solid Ground Innovations

Famous individuals throughout history have sworn by the power of naps; everyone from presidents (Ronald Reagan, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Bill Clinton) to artists (Salvador Dali, Leonardo Da Vinci) to entrepreneurs (Thomas Edison, John D. Rockefeller) have enjoyed midday naps. And it’s no wonder why. According to one study, a 10 minute power nap can reduce fatigue and increase cognitive performance up to two hours. Salvador Dali had a particularly unique approach to naps he called “slumber with a key” that he felt increased his creativity. Essentially, he sat in a chair with a key in his hand. If he fell asleep, the key would drop and he’d immediately wake him up. This approach allow him to stay in a state of deep relaxation while also getting conscious access to his unconscious mind.

Sevetri Wilson, CEO of Solid Ground Innovations, has adopted a schedule where she works in the early morning hours, when other people are sleeping, and takes naps in the early evening, when other people are relaxing.

“This schedule allows me to get a lot more done without being distracted by text messages or TV and while remaining high-energy,” Wilson says.

Larger companies like Google have started embracing the the proven benefits of the power of nap. For example, Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post, andBrian Halligan, CEO of publicly traded Hubspot, have each created employee nap rooms.

6. Play a musical instrument

Joe Apfelbaum, CEO of Ajax Union

According to neuroscientist, Anita Collins, playing music is the cognitive equivalent of “a full-body workout,” and it “engages practically every area of the brain at once.”

More significant, music playing has been highlighted as a powerful long-term strategy to improve brain plasticity, as well as overall brain functioning.

Joe Apfelbaum, CEO of digital marketing agency, Ajax Union, takes this research to heart, and he’s baked it into the culture of his company. “For me to keep my high energy going throughout the day, I need to do things differently,” Apfelbaum says. “When brainstorming I sometimes play guitar or other musical instruments that are in my office at all times.”

Among the most famous of all amateur music players is Albert Einstein, an avid and competent violinist. Einstein often gushed about his love for his hobby, saying “I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music… I get the most joy in life out of music.”

Picking up a musical instrument is not as intimidating as it sounds: Josh Kaufman offers tips on his website for how he learned to play simple chord progressions on a ukulele in less than 20 hours.

7. Shower with your eyes closed

Jason Duff, founder and CEO of COMSTOR Outdoor

Artist Paul Gogan once declared, “I shut my eyes in order to see.”

Recent research on how creative insights happen shows that he might have been on to something. In the book, Eureka Factor, researcher John Kounios shares the importance of inner-directed attention:

“We found that just before viewing a problem that participants would eventually solve with insight, they disengaged from their surroundings and directed their attention inwardly on their own thoughts.”

As soon as he gets back from work at the end of the day, Jason Duff, founder and CEO of COMSTOR Outdoor, takes his second shower of the day. It’s 20 minutes long, and he closes his eyes and lets his mind wander.

Research shows that having your eyes closed increases alpha waves, which is closely associated with relaxation and helps new ideas go from your subconscious mind to your conscious mind.

If you want to add a second shower to your daily routine, but also want to conserve water, consider purchasing a water-efficient showerhead.

8. Create an easy list for the end of the day

Emerson Spartz, founder and CEO of Spartz Inc.

Many articles and books have been written about the beginning of the workday. The predominant principle is to focus on hard, important tasks and decisions that will push your business forward.

“If you save the same activities for the afternoon, you will likely procrastinate, be inefficient, and have lower quality,” says Emerson Spartz, founder and CEO of Spartz Inc., a digital media company that owns a network of sites (like Dose.com and OMG Facts) that collectively reach 45 million visitors per month. Instead, Spartz leaves mindless tasks and easy decisions (i.e., emails that need quick responses, social media, and simple tasks) for his final hours of work.

“I’ll check email periodically throughout the day to respond to anything urgent,” Spartz said. “But I reserve the last hour just for emailing, which is easier for my mind and more likely to distract me.”

9. Exercise with a gym trainer or gym buddy

Cameron Herold, author of Double Double, CEO coach, and globally renowned speaker

Evan Williams, founder of Blogger, Twitter, and Medium, works out in the middle of the day, contradicting the typical advice to workout first thing in the morning:

“My focus is usually great first thing in the morning. So going to the gym first is a trade off of very productive time in the office. Instead, I’ve started going mid-morning or late afternoon (especially on days I work late). It feels weird (at first) to leave the office in the middle of the day, but total time spent is nearly the same, with higher energy and focus across the board.”

Cameron Herold, author of Double Double and a CEO coach to high-growth businesses, also exercises in the middle of the day. He uses a trainer to force himself to follow through.

“I need more help stopping work than I do getting it into it,” Herold says. “If I can force myself to stop my day for a workout, I can sustain quality output much longer. Having a trainer forces me to show up.”

A review of 29 academic studies found that exercise dramatically increases attention, processing speed, and executive function.

10. Save your easy meetings for the afternoon

Benji Rabhan, founder and CEO of Apollo Scheduling

Meetings have built-in accountability, and thus limited procrastination. That makes them perfect to hold your attention during the afternoon when your mind is more likely to wander.

Benji Rabhan, founder & CEO of Apollo Scheduling, uses his AppointmentCore software to open his afternoons to meetings with clients, customers, and team members. Instead of using his precious morning time for meetings, he uses the late afternoon for simple meetings such as answering questions, status checks, or conveying information.

Rabhan still has big meetings that require difficult decisions in the morning, as several studies show that we make worse decisions throughout the day as a result of decision fatigue.

Not convinced? Meeting in the afternoon has another benefit. According to a study of best times to schedule meetings, 3:00 p.m. has the highest acceptance rate!

This article originally appeared on Inc.com

More from Inc.com:

Read next: 9 Tips to Staying Productive Throughout the Week

Download TIME’s mobile app for iOS to have your world explained wherever you go

TIME Careers & Workplace

5 Signs You’re Standing In Your Own Way to Success

hand-stop-sign
Getty Images

Stop micro-managing and learn to trust others

While a lot of the entrepreneurs I’ve met and mentored in the past decade have been successful, I’ve probably met as many, if not more, unsuccessful entrepreneurs. Each of them seemed to make a lot of the same mistakes — ones that could be easily remedied, but when left unaddressed, could mean the difference between success and failure.

Here are five signs you’re getting in your own way to success and how to move over and let yourself be the best you can be:

1. You’re unable to complete a task before starting a new one.

Some entrepreneurs just cannot finish. For whatever reason, it doesn’t matter how much time they have or how many resources are available to them — they can’t focus and get something done. Maybe it’s the fear that their final product could be better, or they’re worried it isn’t perfect and they won’t be able to make changes later.

But Seth Godin got it right in his book Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? when he wrote: “The only purpose of starting is to finish, and while the projects we do are never really finished, they must ship.” If you miss deadlines and are always late, in the end, you’ll have little to show for yourself.

I always say, if it’s 80 percent there, it’s good enough. Because: you must ship.

2. You micro-manage everything.

Unsuccessful entrepreneurs want to do everything themselves. They don’t believe anyone else can get a job done as well as they can. But even if they were actually right about this — which is doubtful since no one is good at everything — it’s an unsustainable business philosophy.

If you want to grow your business and become a leader, you’re going to have to learn to trust others. Everyone needs a support team — even the most competent people.

3. You’re always right.

I’ve noticed that it’s difficult for some entrepreneurs to admit when they’ve made a mistake. But if you fail to acknowledge a mistake, you miss out on a learning opportunity. Mistakes are stepping stones to success.

Ask for advice and admit when you’re wrong, so you can quickly move forward and do better.

4. You ask questions, but don’t really pay attention to the answers.

You know the type of person I’m talking about. They ask for your opinion, but they’re only really interested in what you have to say if it’s exactly what they already believe. That baffles me. These kinds of entrepreneurs surround themselves with people who will only ever agree with them. That’s bad for business. You’ll make better decisions if you abandon your stubbornness, truly weigh different points of view and try to understand other perspectives.

5. You always find reasons not to move forward.

The timing isn’t right. The economy isn’t doing well. You don’t have enough capital. Whatever the excuse, you always have one. But guess what? There will always be reasons to not move forward! You just have to decide to press on. Create options for yourself, be flexible and have courage. That’s really what it is: having the courage to take on risk.

As entrepreneurs, we all make mistakes. That’s part of the fun of being willing to take risks. But over the years I’ve learned that the more humble and receptive you are, the more likely you’ll succeed.

This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com

More from Entrepreneur.com:

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com