TIME Careers & Workplace

33 Ways to Fix Being Utterly Bored at Work

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Bob Handelman—Getty Images/Photographer's Choice

Here's how to keep yourself motivated

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

You’ve taken on new projects. You’ve gone above and beyond. You’ve talked to your boss about additional responsibilities and gotten the old “definitely—once we have a position open / more budget / don’t need you to focus on X anymore.”

Frankly, you’re bored with your job.

And while sometimes, that’s a sign that you should hightail it out of there, others it’s a matter of keeping yourself moving forward (and not gouging your eyes out) until the next busy season, new client, or promotion comes along.

If you’re in that boat, you’re in luck: Here’s a roundup of things you can do in the office or during off-hours to up your professional game even when your current job isn’t exactly doing it for you.

If You Want to Network

1. Start a Book Group

Pick books that are related to your field—or a general business read that everyone can get some use out of, like something from the 99U book series orGood to Great. A great cadence is once per month—take over a conference room for your lunch hour or, better yet, meet for happy hour and chat at a bar.

2. Create a Networking Group

Have a few friends in your field you see from time to time at industry events? See if they’d all want to get together every month for an informal networking group, where you all meet to chat (and get advice!) about challenges you’re facing.

3. Go on Lunch Dates

Ever heard of “Let’s Lunch?” It’s a (free!) online network that matches you up with someone in your area for lunch during the workweek. Connect your LinkedIn profile, provide your availability and geographic flexibility, and the site’s algorithm matches you up with a like-minded lunch partner. It’s a great way to grow your network utilizing the free time that’s already built into your day. (Via Allison Stadd)

4. Ask a Co-worker to Join You

Go out to lunch with a co-worker you don’t know well. Not only will you get to know someone new, you’ll learn more about how your company operates—and potentially find new ways to collaborate and get involved.

5. Start a Lunch Club

Grab four other officemates, and assign everyone a day to bring enough lunch for everyone else on a specified day of the week. Cook once, get delicious meals (and team bonding) all five days!

6. Start the Company Softball League

Or frisbee team. Or 5K for charity. Showing some initiative to get everyone out of the office and hanging out with each other on a non-work basis will show the higher-ups you have what it takes to shine in the office, too.

7. Build Your LinkedIn Following

One expert suggests we should be using LinkedIn more like Twitter—finding and engaging with as many followers as possible. So start building your network. Here are a few more things you can do on LinkedIn every month, week, and day.

If You Want to Boost Your Skills

8. Try Morning Pages

Start every day with 15 minutes of creative writing. Entrepreneur Chris Winfield says it has “become an essential way to clear his mind, unleash creative ideas, and quiet his inner critic, reducing his anxiety.”

9. Start a Blog

It can be a place for you to write about happenings in your field, share thoughts on pop culture, or even pursue a hobby—just be clear on what your purpose is and who you want to read it. Then, get started by making a long list of topics you could potentially write about. Commit to pushing something out at least once a week to keep your (obviously avid) followers engaged.

10. Or a Podcast

Blogging not for you? Start a podcast. Better yet, invite industry leaders to be interviewed on your podcast. You’re boosting your personal brand and your professional network at once!

11. Write an Article

Then, try to get it published on an industry website. You’ll hone a new skill—writing and researching—and you’ll start to build your name as a thought leader in your space.

12. Get Your Voice Heard

Look for an upcoming conference or event you could speak at, and pitch yourself as a panel speaker or leader. Here’s exactly how to do it.

13. Look for Hidden Benefits

Browse your company’s benefits page, and make sure you’re taking advantage of all of them. Many companies offer free financial planning services, a professional development budget, or even sabbaticals or trips to other offices. Hey, if it’s cool with HR, it’s bound to be cool with your boss.

14. Learn to Code

No, really—it’ll boost your career no matter what you do (take it from this PR pro).Here’s a cool way to get started.

15. Or Learn Something Else

Pick a class, any class—here are 50 (cheap) ideas.

16. Or Teach Something

Consider developing live or online courses, workshops, or seminars in your areas of expertise. (Platforms like Skillshare make it easy to share what you know.)

17. Build a Personal Website

No matter what field you’re in, it’s a great idea. We have a seven-day plan that makes it super easy, and at the end of it all you’ll have an online presence that shows off who you are and displays your best work.

If You Want to Make Your Office Happier

18. Revamp Your Cubicle

It’s amazing what some fresh photos, some non-fluorescent lighting, and some organization can do for your inspiration (not to mention sanity). Here are a few ideas to get you started.

19. Fix Something

Look for a process, procedure, or meeting that everyone grumbles about, and think of one or two ways to improve upon it. Put together a plan, present it to your boss, and see if you can be the one who turns it into action.

20. Teach the Group

Offer to research and present on something to your team—whether it’s socially responsible business practices or a new project management tool.

21. Launch a Brown Bag Program

Once a month, invite cool speakers in to chat with your team about something in your field.

22. Mentor a Junior Employee

Look to see if your company has an official program you can participate in, or just look for younger co-workers who you could take under your wing.

23. Make a List

Create a list of resources you find helpful, sites you love to read, the best conferences or classes in your field, or anything else you think your co-workers might find useful, and send it out to everyone on your team.

24. Ask for a New Employee

If you don’t already have one, come up with a proposal for getting an intern or other direct report. Having someone to take some work off your plate can open up space for you to work on more inspiring projects—and having someone to mentor can be a great growth experience.

25. Create a Client Survey

Ask your customers and potential customers key questions that could help you better serve them (as well as for their general feedback). At minimum, you’ll get some helpful guidance for future sales or initiatives, and you’ll probably look like a star while you’re at it.

If You Want to Get Out of the Office

26. Plan a Trip

Research shows that just the act of planning a trip makes you happier, as you’re anticipating what’s to come. While we don’t recommend doing the actual planning on company time, daydreaming about your destination will certainly make the day go by faster.

27. Plan a Fundraiser

Or otherwise get involved in a cause you care about. Bonus: It’s a great way to network—reach out to people you haven’t talked to in a while or think are interesting with an invite.

28. Do Something Totally Unrelated to Your Job

Take a bartending class, sign up for a half-marathon, get SCUBA certified. While it might not have anything to do with your job, you’ll definitely be more inspired in your off hours, and that’ll give your life inspiration an overall boost.

29. Learn a New Language

Along similar lines, even if you don’t speak Spanish or German at work, speaking and reading in a new language can get your brain thinking in totally new ways. (Here are five fun ways to give it a whirl.)

If You Want Something Totally New

30. Take on a Side Project

Start that funny Tumblr you’ve always wanted to, sell your wares as a consultant in your field, or start an Etsy store. It’ll give you a good challenge outside of your day job—not to mention some cold, hard cash.

31. Go Pro Bono

Use some of your free time to do some work for a nonprofit or early-stage startup with a mission that you’re really excited about. This will give you a chance to grow your skills (or potentially learn new ones) and remind you why you loved your work in the first place, plus it could even turn into an exciting full-time opportunity down the line.

32. Get a New Job

If you’ve tried everything and are still bored at your current gig, it’s probably time to look for a new one. Start making a list of your favorite companies, polishing up your resume, and getting some informational interviews on the calendar. On that note:

33. Take a Day Off

Hey, if you’re bored at work, you can probably afford it. Try this one-day, 10-hour plan to totally kick start your job search on a day off.

TIME Careers & Workplace

28 Secrets of Exceptionally Productive People

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Cavan Images—Getty Images

Want to work smarter, not harder? Learn from the best

This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.

By Jeff Haden

Occasionally, I stumble on my own productivity tools and strategies, but mostly I borrow them from others.

So does Ryan Holiday, the author of the best-selling The Obstacle Is the Way (a really great book) and the compulsively readable Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator.

He’s also the founder of Brass Check Marketing and somehow finds time to give monthly book recommendations to 30,000 people.

“Like all people, I like to think I am a productive person,” Ryan says. “If I am, though, it’s because I’ve been ruthlessly efficient at one thing: stealing secrets and methods from people a lot smarter than me.

“In my career, I’ve had the fortune of coming in contact with best-selling authors, successfulentrepreneurs, investors, executives, and creative people. Others I didn’t meet but found their thoughts in books. Whether they knew it or not, I cased all of them and took from them what I thought were their best ideas on productivity.”

Here are productivity secrets Ryan has borrowed–and you will, too:

Bryan “Birdman” Williams

Birdman founded Cash Money records and is worth about $500 million. I was shocked the first time I was supposed to meet him at the studio at 1 a.m. on a Sunday. His day was just starting. He works at night and sleeps during the day.

Like I said, at first it was weird, but then I realized: He picked the hours that were most productive for him.

Screw what most people think is normal.

Casey Neistat

From this popular YouTube filmmaker and artist I picked up the trick of keeping a small Moleskine journal I write in every day: thoughts, reminders, notes, lessons. I prefer one that can fit in my back pocket; that way, I always have paper on me.

The past few months have been incredibly difficult, and my journal helped me cope. More important, I learned how to keep track of these journals (and everything else I own) in case I lose them: In big letters, write “If Found Please Return [insert name & number].”

Tim Ferriss

From Tim, I learned the art of the to-do list. A simple, straightforward to-do list: one note card, five to six big items, that’s it. Every day, I cross items off and tear up the card. Simple and extremely effective.

Another from Tim: You don’t have to be the first person to sign up for things. Wait a bit on new apps and social networks. Let things sort themselves out, let other people do all the trial and error, and then when you come into the picture, just be the best.

Robert Greene

Robert Greene, renowned author of The 48 Laws of Power, showed me how he creates books.

His note-card system has changed my life. Every book I read I fold key pages and later go back through and transfer the information to note cards I organize by theme in card boxes. I now have hundreds of thousands of these cards, which I always turn to if I need an anecdote, a fact, inspiration, a strategy, a story, or an example.

From Robert I also learned that swimming is a great productivity tool. Why? Because it requires total isolation: no music, no phone, no possible interruptions–just quiet, strenuous exercise.

I’ve had some of my most productive brainstorming sessions in the pool.

Dov Charney

The first time I called Dov, I got his voice mail. It said: “I don’t use voice mail; email me.”

I’ve taken it a step further; I don’t even have a voice mail message. If it’s important, they’ll call back. If I have time, I’ll return the missed call. Either way, having “6 new voice messages” is something I haven’t worried about in years, because they don’t exist.

Ramit Sethi

Ramit has built a 40-plus employee, multimillion-dollar education business right before our eyes (he and I grew up in the same small town).

One trick I learned from Ramit–after first ignoring his advice several times–is that if you’re going to hire an assistant, make sure the person you hire is older and more responsible than you are.

Too many people make the mistake of hiring someone young and cheap, which is ridiculous, because it’s impossible for the person to understand the value of time and organization and he or she will wind up making you less productive, not more. If you’re going to have an assistant, do it right.

Another from Ramit: You don’t have to answer every email you get. The Delete key is a superquick way to get to inbox zero.

Tobias Wolff

In his book Old School, Tobias Wolf’s semi-autobiographical character takes the time to type out quotes and passages from great books. I do this almost every weekend.

It’s made me a) a faster typist, b) a much better writer, and c) a wiser person.

David Allen and Merlin Mann

Inbox zero.

Never touch paper twice.

Let these two phrases sink in, and follow them.

Napoleon Bonaparte

There’s a great quote from Napoleon about how he would delay opening letters so that by the time he did unimportant issues would have resolved themselves.

I try to do the same thing with email and issues from staff.

Marco Arment

Instapaper changed my life. I don’t play games on my phone; I read smart articles I queued up for myself earlier in the day. I don’t get distracted with articles while I am working at my desk–because I can easily put them in the queue.

James Altucher

No is a powerful, productive word (James also wrote a book about it). We think we’re obligated to say yes to everything, and then we wonder why we never have enough time. Learning to say no–more specifically, “No, thank you”–will energize you and excite you.

Use it–as much as you can.

Another from James: Entrepreneurs (and writers) are nuts. To save yourself many wasted hours of time and insanity, find a spouse who is better adjusted and balanced than you. James and his wife, Claudia, are an inspiring example of this important pairing.

Montaigne

From Montaigne I also learned the importance of keeping a commonplace book. If something catches your eye, write it down and record it. Use it later. Simple as that.

Andrew Carnegie

Carnegie has a great line about “being introduced to the broom” at an early age. In other words, intimately know even the most “lowly” tasks.

That doesn’t mean you still have to do the grunt work, but you should know how.

Aaron Ray

Aaron Ray was my mentor in Hollywood. He’s a hugely successful movie producer and manager, but I noticed one thing: He was never in the office. And he always had a ridiculous excuse why he wasn’t.

Eventually, I realized why: He was avoiding the office BS that sucks up most peoples’ time. By staying away, he got way more done. He could see the big picture.

And as an extra bonus, everyone was always talking about him: “Where’s Aaron?” “Has anyone seen Aaron?”

Tucker Max

You may be surprised, but Tucker has the biggest library you’ve ever seen. Why? He buys every book he wants.

So now I don’t waste time thinking about which books I want or where to get them cheapest. I buy them, read them, recommend them, benefit from them–end of story. (See my library here.)

I’m never without something to read, and I’m always driven to read more–because the shelves are looking down on me as a reminder of what I have left to do.

I also think Tucker was the guy from whom I learned the practice of listening to the same song over and over. It lets you space out and get into the zone (or flow state). My iTunes playlist is embarrassing, but I don’t care. Listening to the same song hundreds of times is how I get so much done.

Nassim Taleb

Speaking of books, from Nassim Taleb I learned about the “anti-library.” Don’t just collect books you have read; collect the books you haven’t read. It’s a testament to what you don’t know–and an on-hand resource whenever you need it.

Samantha Hoover

From my fiancée I learned a nice little trick: Delete Facebook from your phone. Just do it. Trust me. (Note: Pretty sure she’s relapsed, but I haven’t.)

Samuel Zemurray

The entrepreneur behind United Fruit (and one of my favorite books) said, “Don’t trust the report.”

We waste a lot of time trusting numbers and opinions we’ve never verified. Going backwards and doing something over ends up costing us far more than we saved by skipping over the work in the first place.

Anonymous

I forget who gave me the idea, but never buy in-flight Wi-Fi. Go off the grid for the whole flight. Catch up on stuff. Think. Read.

Adam Corolla

When he was doing Loveline, Adam would complain about how the producers wanted him to arrive 15 minutes before the show started. His refusal was simple: Every week that added up to an extra show–for free.

Important people can get a lot done in “just” 15 minutes, so they don’t give that time away. And they don’t mind looking bad in order to protect their time.

Niki Papadopoulos

My editor always says, “OK, well, try writing it then.” In other words, she means, get started. She usually says this right after I explain a big sweeping idea for a book or a chapter or an article.

Planning is great, but productive people get moving.

Frederick Douglass

“A man is worked on by what he works on.”

Steer clear of quagmires, toxic work environments, busywork, and unsolvable problems.

Aaron Ray

One more from Aaron: As a talent manager, Aaron showed me why you never waste your time, or your own money, doing your own negotiating.

His lesson has served me well. I pass incoming inquiries to a speaking agent, book projects to a book agent, interview requests to an assistant, movie or TV stuff to Aaron, etc. Yes, that means I pay them a fee, but guess what? All valuable services have a cost.

Only a fool represents himself or herself.

TIME Careers & Workplace

40 Inspiring Motivational Quotes About Gratitude

Sometimes, a totally different perspective can be found in a few simple words

This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.

By Jeff Haden

Whatever your definition of success (everyone’s definition of success is and should be different), we all want more. That desire for more can blind us to what we already have–and should be grateful for.

Here are 40 quotes about gratitude that will not only remind you that what you have is pretty awesome, but will also, I hope, spur you to express that gratitude to the people who deserve it most.

  1. “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”William Arthur Ward
  2. “I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” G.K. Chesterton
  3. “‘Enough’ is a feast. Buddhist proverb
  4. “If you count all your assets, you always show a profit.” Robert Quillen
  5. “Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” Robert Brault
  6. “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.” John F. Kennedy
  7. “Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” Charles Dickens
  8. “Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” Eckhart Tolle
  9. “If a fellow isn’t thankful for what he’s got, he isn’t likely to be thankful for what he’s going to get.” Frank A. Clark
  10. “If you want to turn your life around, try thankfulness. It will change your life mightily.” Gerald Good
  11. “Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” Melody Beattie
  12. “The world has enough beautiful mountains and meadows, spectacular skies and serene lakes. It has enough lush forests, flowered fields, and sandy beaches. It has plenty of stars and the promise of a new sunrise and sunset every day. What the world needs more of is people to appreciate and enjoy it.” Michael Josephson
  13. “Gratitude is a currency that we can mint for ourselves, and spend without fear of bankruptcy.” Fred De Witt Van Amburgh
  14. “The way to develop the best that is in a person is by appreciation and encouragement.” Charles Schwab
  15. “He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” Epictetus
  16. “At times, our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” Albert Schweitzer
  17. “The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated.” William James
  18. “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” Oprah Winfrey
  19. “Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.” Buddha
  20. “Silent gratitude isn’t very much to anyone.” Gertrude Stein
  21. “Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts.” Henri Frederic Amiel
  22. “You cannot do a kindness too soon because you never know how soon it will be too late.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
  23. “When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.” Willie Nelson
  24. “It is impossible to feel grateful and depressed in the same moment.” Naomi Williams
  25. “One can never pay in gratitude; one can only pay ‘in kind’ somewhere else in life.”Anne Morrow Lindbergh
  26. “Things turn out best for people who make the best of the way things turn out.” John Wooden
  27. “No one who achieves success does so without the help of others. The wise and confident acknowledge this help with gratitude.” Alfred North Whitehead
  28. “Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” A.A. Milne
  29. “Forget yesterday–it has already forgotten you. Don’t sweat tomorrow–you haven’t even met. Instead, open your eyes and your heart to a truly precious gift–today.”Steve Maraboli
  30. “We should certainly count our blessings, but we should also make our blessings count.” Neal A. Maxwell
  31. “In ordinary life, we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  32. “The only people with whom you should try to get even are those who have helped you.” John E. Southard
  33. “I truly believe we can either see the connections, celebrate them, and express gratitude for our blessings, or we can see life as a string of coincidences that have no meaning or connection. For me, I’m going to believe in miracles, celebrate life, rejoice in the views of eternity, and hope my choices will create a positive ripple effect in the lives of others. This is my choice.” Mike Ericksen
  34. “Gratitude also opens your eyes to the limitless potential of the universe, while dissatisfaction closes your eyes to it.” Stephen Richards
  35. “Gratitude and attitude are not challenges; they are choices.” Robert Braathe
  36. “They both seemed to understand that describing it was beyond their powers, the gratitude that spreads through your body when a burden gets lifted, and the sense of homecoming that follows, when you suddenly remember what it feels like to be yourself.” Tom Perrotta
  37. “Gratitude is more of a compliment to yourself than someone else.” Raheel Farooq
  38. “Keep your eyes open and try to catch people in your company doing something right, then praise them for it.” Tom Hopkins
  39. “In life, one has a choice to take one of two paths: to wait for some special day–or to celebrate each special day.” Rasheed Ogunlaru
  40. “This a wonderful day. I’ve never seen this one before.” Maya Angelou
MONEY office etiquette

Germans Say “Nein!” to Late-Night Work Email. Here’s How You Can, Too

Mariella Ahrens attends the Dresscoded Hippie Wiesn 2014 at Golfclub Gut Thailing on August 28, 2014 in Steinhoering near Ebersberg, Germany.
Turns out Germans may have us beat when it comes to balancing work and play. Gisela Schober—Getty Images

Sick of your boss's 3 a.m. emails? Maybe you should move to Germany—where support is growing for a law banning late-night work communication.

Despite their reputation for industriousness, it turns out Germans have a thing or two to teach us about work-life balance.

The country has shaved nearly 1,000 hours from the annual schedule of its average worker (compared with 200 hours in the U.S.) in the last half-century. And now a movement is growing there to make after-hours work emails verboten.

A newly initiated study on worker stress led by the German labor minister is expected to lead to legislation preventing employers from reaching out to employees outside of normal office hours. (That might surprise those who’d expect such a thing only from the French.)

Though the law wouldn’t come to fruition until 2016, Germans—and Europeans in general—are still slightly better off than Americans in the meantime. While the average work week in major developed countries is 47 hours, that number balloons to about 90 hours per week for U.S. workers (vs. 80 for Europeans) if you include time that people are checking email and staying available outside of the office.

“We have become such an instantaneous society,” says Peggy Post, a director of The Emily Post Institute and expert on business etiquette. “We’re expected to be on call 24/7.”

And all this late-night work isn’t without consequences: Studies have found that staying up checking work emails on smartphones actually makes workers less productive the next day because of effects on sleep. Other downsides include more mistakes and miscommunications.

In lieu of practicing your Deutsch and moving your whole life overseas, take back your “offline” time by doing the following:

1. Become an email whiz while at work.

One major reason we’re forced to take to our phones late at night and on weekends? Because it’s so hard to get actual work done during work these days, due to smaller staffs, long meetings, floods of email, and noisy open floor plans.

At least in some jobs, the more you get done during regular hours, the less you’ll be penalized if you aren’t available during evenings or weekends. Some experts suggest giving yourself a specific window during the day to handle emails. See nine specific tips on more efficient emailing from former Google CEO Eric Schmidt here. With smart rules, like “last in, first out,” you can become a speed demon.

And if you just can’t pack it all in, you might also think about a quick end-of-day meeting (preferably at the scheduled end of day) to check in with whomever you’re most likely to get emails from later on.

2. Make sure you understand the expectations.

You assume your boss wants an immediate response to that late-night brainstorm, but are you sure? It’s worth finding out.

Alison Green, who blogs at AskaManager.org has suggested phrasing your question as follows: “Hey, I’m assuming that it’s fine for me to wait to reply to emails sent over the weekend until I’m back at work on Monday, unless it’s an emergency. Let me know if that’s not the case.”

But what if the boss says that you really are expected to be at the ready? You might need to communicate your dissatisfaction with these terms—rather than succumbing to burnout.

Again, the words you choose are important. Green suggested the following: “I don’t mind responding occasionally if it’s an emergency, but I wonder if there’s a way to save everything else for when I’m back at work. I use the weekends to recharge so that I’m refreshed on Monday, and I’m often somewhere where I can’t easily answer work emails.”

Post agrees that how you speak up goes a long way toward getting the result you want. “Without whining, try to share specific constructive solutions,” says Post. “For example, you could suggest having employees take on separate after-hours times to be on call for different days of the week.”

3. Stop the cycle.

Remember, you’re perpetuating the expectation when you engage in these email chains. Should you write back once at 10 p.m., those above you will likely begin to assume that you’ll be available at that time (even if they didn’t initially expect you to be).

Likewise, if your boss emails you, you might feel that you’re in the clear to contact those below you in their free time. But that’s a no-no, according to many experts.

While you may simply be trying to send something while you remember it, you are actually putting someone else in the same predicament you’re in. Some suggest limiting yourself to answering or writing emails to between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., unless there’s a particularly urgent need or project—though the right window for you probably depends upon your company and office culture.

And if you do have your most brilliant thought at 2 a.m.? Go ahead and write it, but then use a tool like Boomerang that lets you schedule it for a more reasonable post-shower hour.

MONEY workplace etiquette

What to Say to a Colleague Who’s Been Fired

Robert A. Di Ieso, Jr.

Q: What should I say to a colleague who has just been fired?

A: People often don’t know what to say, so they say nothing at all, says Judith Martin, the Miss Manners etiquette columnist and author of Miss Manners Minds Your Business.

No doubt it’s awkward, but by not acknowledging the situation you’re actually making it more awkward. “Getting fired is a traumatic experience but it’s even worse if your colleagues suddenly shun you,” says Martin.

Instead, offer your support with a simple “I’m sorry” or “Let me know how I can help.”

Don’t try to make light of the situation. Gratuitous statements such as ‘you’ll find something terrific’ or ‘you’re better off—we have to stay and now we’ll all have extra work’ aren’t helpful, says Martin.

You should also refrain from bad-mouthing the person who fired your co-worker or gossiping in the office about what happened. That won’t help your ex-colleague – or you. There may be a very good reason the person was fired, and you’ll only hear one side of the story.

If you had a good relationship with your former colleague, make plans to take her out to lunch and give her an opportunity to vent. If you feel confident in her work, offer to be a reference or write a letter of recommendation. Share names of contacts or recruiters who may be helpful.

“Who knows,” says Martin, “maybe the person will land a fabulous job and be able to help you down the road.”

MONEY Millennials

10 Places Millennials Are Moving For Bigger Paychecks

140918_CAR_MillennialsMove_NewOrleans
With 5.1% unemployment and low-priced homes, New Orleans is a top town for millennials. John Coletti—Getty Images

Over the past five years, Gen Yers have decamped for some surprisingly pricey cities in search of a higher-paying job.

Millennials are on the hunt for high-paying jobs, and they’re moving to some unexpected places to find them, according to a new report out today.

Bruised by the rough post-recession job market, Gen-Yers are moving from lower-cost cities to places with a higher cost of living but more plentiful and lucrative jobs, a RealtyTrac analysis of Census data from 2007 through 2013 found.

“Millennials are attracted to markets with good job prospects and low unemployment, but that tend to have higher rental rates and high home-price appreciation,” says Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac. “It’s a tradeoff.”

In the 10 U.S. counties with the biggest increase in millennials, the average unemployment rate is 5.2%, well below the national average of 6.1%. The average household income is $62,496, vs. $51,058 nationally. The median home price is $406,800 (nearly double the U.S. median of $222,900), while a three-bedroom apartment rents for $1,619 a month on average, just over the national average of $1,550.

Riding the robust job market in the D.C. area, two counties in Northern Virginia with unemployment rates below 3.7% top the list. But not all places that the 69-million-strong millennial generation are flocking to are expensive. New Orleans, where the median home price is $140,000, edged out San Francisco, where tech jobs may be plentiful but the median home price is nearly $1 million.

New Orleans, where the unemployment rate is 5.1%, is a transportation center with one of the busiest and largest ports in the world, as well as tons of jobs related to the local oil refineries. Denver, Nashville, and Portland, Ore., all top 10 areas, offer median home prices below $300,000 and a diversity of jobs in technology, health care, and education.

Perhaps the most surprising millennial magnet: Clarksville, Tenn, the fifth largest city in the state behind Nashville, Memphis, Knoxville, and Chattanooga. Forty five miles north of Nashville, it benefits from spillover from that city’s strong job market, but Clarksville also has its own industrial base, plus nearby Ft. Campbell and Austin Peay State University. The unemployment rate: 4.7%.

Here are RealtyTrac’s top 10 destinations for millennials on the move:

Rank County State Metro Area % Increase in Millennial Population, 2007-2013 Milennials % of Total Population, 2013 Median Home Price, April 2014 Average Monthly Apartment Rent (3 beds), 2014
1 Arlington County Va. Washington, DC 82% 39% $505,000 $1,996
2 Alexandria City Va. Washington, DC 81% 34% $465,000 $1,966
3 Orleans Parish La. New Orleans 71% 30% $140,000 $1,190
4 San Francisco County Calif. San Francisco 68% 32% $950,000 $2,657
5 Denver County Colo. Denver 57% 33% $270,000 $1,409
6 Montgomery County Tenn. Clarksville 46% 31% $128,000 $1,016
7 Hudson County N.J. New York 44% 31% $330,000 $1,643
8 New York County N.Y. New York 43% 32% $850,000 $1,852
9 Multnomah County Ore. Portland 41% 28% $270,000 $1,359
10 Davidson County Tenn. Nashville 37% 29% $160,000 $1,131
TIME Family

Five of the Best Companies for Working Moms

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Tara Moore—Getty Images

Working Mother magazine finds which firms are best to raise a family while leading a career

Correction appended: Sept. 17.

Working Mother magazine, a publication “committed to helping moms balance their personal and professional lives,” has crunched the numbers to find out which companies are the best places for career-oriented moms to work in 2014.

The 450-question survey includes questions about leave policies, benefit, child care and more with special emphasis on advancement programs, workplace flexibility and representation of women in the company. Here are five of the best companies for working moms.

T. Kearney (Management and consulting firm in Chicago, IL)

Abbott (Health care company in Abbott Park, IL)

AbbVie (Biopharmaceutical company based in North Chicago, IL)

Accenture (Management consulting, tec services and outsourcing firm based in New York, NY)

The Advisory Board Company (Technology, research and consulting firm in Washington, DC)

Working Mother’s full 2014 list of the 100 Best Companies can be browsed here.

Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly described the above five companies. The Working Mother’s 2014 list does not rank companies.

MONEY workplace etiquette

How to Work With a Boss You Can’t Trust

Trophy with "Best" in "Best Boss" engraving crossed out
Scott M. Lacey

Q: My EVP is a serial liar. He never takes the blame when something is wrong, and instead, he completely throws people under the bus. If something goes right, he takes the majority of the credit. What can I do? – Brad, Atlanta

A: As infuriating as your boss’ behavior is, you want to be measured and strategic in your response.

“There are people like this in every company,” says Stacey Hawley, founder of Credo, a compensation and talent management firm and author of Rise to the Top. “If you complain about your boss to someone else, you just look like you can’t handle the situation. If you want to be in leadership position, you have to know how to deal with people like this.”

Four tactics that can help:

Make it tougher for your boss to lie

When sending emails or memos with important updates and accomplishments related to a project, copy all of the key people involved. Let everyone know that if there are questions, you’d be happy to be the point person. Ask other team members to submit updates, too.

“It’ll be harder for your boss to take credit if everyone is in the loop on what’s going on,” says Hawley.

Address mistakes head on

When a problem crops up—and your boss complains to a higher up, or blames you or a team member for the mistake—avoid the temptation to clear your name.

“The boss has egg on his face and is trying to manage his reputation by casting blame elsewhere, ” says Hawley. “You’re not going to improve things if you make an accusation. Some things you just have to let go.”

She suggests scheduling a meeting with your boss for the sole purpose of discussing the error: how it happened, how you can fix it, and how you can keep it from happening again. Your boss may have legitimate reasons for thinking you caused the error and you can clear that up, says Hawley.

The key thing, no matter who caused the error, is to make sure that you focus on solutions.

Play to the boss’s ego

Should your supervisor take credit for your work in a meeting or in front of others, speak up. “You need to make it clear you played a role, but be sure to give him credit, too,” says Hawley. “Your boss may be acting this way because he perceives you as a threat, so you want to take the threat off the table.”

You might say something like, “Bill, that was a great idea you had to do X. I was glad that it gave myself and the team an opportunity to do Y.” This also allows you to acknowledge other people who contributed to the project, so that you don’t end up being perceived as a credit thief by those who report to you!

Make friends in high places

Your boss shouldn’t be the only one who knows about your work. “You need to develop relationships with other higher-ups who can advocate for you,” says Hawley.

Build these relationships by asking senior people for advice on a project you are working on, sharing with them positive feedback from clients and customers, or inviting them to lunch or for a coffee to discuss ideas you have to advance your company’s goals.

Best case scenario, you’ll be on the corner office’s radar when it comes time to replace your slimy supervisor. But at the very least, you’re ensuring that your bad boss doesn’t sink your future prospects at the company. “You can turn this situation around and make it a chance to grow your own career,” Hawley says.

MONEY Jobs

The 15 Highest-Paying Jobs That Don’t Require a College Degree

A bush plane performs take off in Alaska with Chugach Mountains in the Background.
You don't need a college degree to make this your workplace. Chris Boswell—Alamy

Not every lucrative job demands years of study. For these, a high school diploma (and some training) will do.

Conventional wisdom holds that earning a bachelor’s degree is the best path to a stable job that provides a livable income, but not every high-paying job requires a four-year college education.

In fact, 345 out of the 787 occupations listed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in their 2012 to 2022 employment projections report require only a high school diploma. In 45 of the fields, the median wage is above the national median of $51,058 a year, according to an analysis by the research engine FindTheBest.

However, while many jobs don’t demand a bachelor’s degree, a number of the best-paying ones call for additional training. Elevator installers and repairers, for example, earn a median income of $76,650 a year but have to complete an apprenticeship before entering the field full-time. Commercial pilots who handle charters, rescue operations, and aerial photography flights need a license from the Federal Aviation Administration. Nuclear power reactor operators must be licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

What’s more, many of the best-paid positions are growing more slowly than the average 11% growth rate for all occupations for 2012 to 2022—or even shrinking. Postal workers, for example, earn a median of $53,100 a year, but the number of mail carriers, mail sorters, and clerks is forecast to decline by 28% by 2022.

But for a handful of these professions, the outlook is healthy. That includes elevator installers and repairers, who are expected to increase their numbers by nearly 25% by 2022, and transportation inspectors and construction and building inspectors, all fields that are forecast to grow at double-digit rates.

Here are 15 professions you can enter with a high school diploma and still earn above the median U.S. income. You can use FindTheBest’s tool to sort through more jobs by projected growth, median pay, and education required.

Rank Job Category Median Annual Pay Projected Job Growth, 2012 to 2022
1 Supervisors/Managers of Police and Detectives $78,270 4.9%
2 Elevator Installers and Repairers $76,650 24.6%
3 Nuclear Power Reactor Operators $74,990 0.5%
4 Detectives and Criminal Investigators $74,300 2.0%
5 Commercial Pilots $73,280 9.4%
6 Power Distributors and Dispatchers $71,690 -0.9%
7 Supervisors/Managers of Non-Retail Sales Workers $70,060 -0.8%
8 Media and Communication Equipment Workers $68,810 -1.5%
9 Power Plant Operators $66,130 -10.8%
10 Business Operations Specialists $65,120 7.4%
11 Transportation Inspectors $63,680 11.2%
12 Electrical Power Line Installers and Repairers $63,250 8.9%
13 Subway and Streetcar Operators $62,730 6.5%
14 Petroleum, Refinery and Pump System Operators and Gaugers $61,850 -5.1%
15 Gas Plant Operators $61,140 -8.8%

 

MONEY best and worst jobs

The 10 Worst-Paying Jobs that Require a Master’s Degree

Librarian helping patron with book question
Hill Street Studios—Getty Images

Thinking about going back to grad school to pursue one of these careers? You might want to think again.

More education doesn’t always translate into more money.

Research engine FindTheBest recently analyzed median pay for hundreds of jobs in the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics employment projections report, and found that a master’s degree is no guarantee of high pay.

In fact, in a handful of professions that typically require a master’s degree, average salaries are below the U.S. median income of $51,058.

Figuring in the cost of a graduate education, it’s questionable whether entering these low-pay professions that typically require a graduate degree makes economic sense. Here are the 10 worst paying jobs that typically require a master’s degrees, according to FindTheBest:

1. Rehabilitation Counselors

Median Pay: $33,880

What They Do: Help people manage and overcome mental and physical disabilities so they can work and live independently. Counselors work in many settings, including schools, prisons, independent living facilities, rehabilitation agencies and private practice. Note: Though employment of rehabilitation counselors is expected to grow faster than average for all occupations, pay isn’t keeping up.

2. Mental Health Counselors

Median Pay: $40,080

What They Do: Help clients develop strategies to manage emotional disorders and improve their overall wellbeing. In addition to a master’s degree, counselors typically need a license to practice.

3. Survey Researchers

Median Pay: $45,050

What They Do: Design surveys and collect and analyze data to understand people’s opinions and beliefs. Survey researchers work for research firms, polling organizations, nonprofits, corporations, colleges and universities and government agencies. Some survey researchers only have a bachelor’s degree but more technical positions require a master’s.

4. Marriage and Family Therapists

Median Pay: $46,670

What They Do: Provide counseling to couples and families, and treat mental health and substance abuse problems. Most have a master’s degree and must have at least two years of clinical experience and a state license.

5. Curators

Median Pay: $49,590

What They Do: Manage a collection of items for an institution. Most commonly, they work with art or historical items for museums, but curators can also work in galleries, zoos, and botanical gardens. Most curators have an advanced degree in their field of specialty.

6. Archivists

Median Pay: $47,340

What They Do: Collect, organize and manage items that have historical value. Archivists commonly work (not surprisingly) in archives as well as libraries. Most have a master’s degree in the field related to their work.

7. Healthcare Social Workers

Median Pay: $49,830

What They Do: Work with individuals and families to provide support for coping with chronic, acute and terminal illnesses. They work in clinics, hospitals, senior living facilities and mental health institutions. Though most social workers only need a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, at least two years practical experience and state licensing is required to work in a clinical setting.

8. Historians

Median Pay: $52,480

What They Do: Research, analyze and interpret past events by studying historical information. Historians work in government agencies, museums, historical societies, research organizations, nonprofits and even consulting firms. Most positions require a master’s degree, but some research positions also require a doctorate.

9. School and Career Counselors

Median Pay: $53,610

What They Do: Help students develop social skills and succeed in school. Career counselors focus on helping students make career or educational program decision. School counselors work in public and private schools. Career counselors work in colleges, government agencies, career centers and private practices.

10. Librarians

Median Pay: $55,370

What They Do: Help people find information and conduct research for personal and professional use. Librarians work for local government, colleges and universities, companies and elementary and secondary schools. Most librarians have a master’s degree in library science, but some positions require a teaching credential or a degree in the field they specialize in.

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