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This Is the Best Way to Make a Hamburger

Easy tips for perfectly grilled, juicy burgers all summer long

 

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TIME Smartphones

15 Tricks For Getting Way Better Smartphone Battery Life

There's no reason your charge should run out before bedtime again

In theory, modern smartphones can last hundreds of hours on a single charge.

Hundreds of hours, that is, until you actually start using the things. In practice, today’s top phones will squeeze out about 20 hours at best. In the chart below, note the more realistic estimates for battery life in popular phones.

While “Talk Time” traditionally means “number of hours you can chat on your phone on a single charge,” the figure doubles as a rough approximation for “any active use,” such as texting and web browsing.

But even these numbers are inflated. Manufacturers love to use pristine laboratory conditions in order to advertise great numbers, most of which won’t match real-world use. This is why your brand new Samsung Galaxy S6 or iPhone 6 might still be running low an hour or two before dinner.

With that in mind, we rounded up research across the web and tested both Android and iOS phones to pin down battery saving tricks that actually work. Along the way, we’ll point out a few myths about smartphone batteries, from ideal charging cycles to the truth about closing apps.

Notes: this list will cover battery saving techniques for both iOS and Android (sorry, Windows Phone). In a few cases, we’ll mark a tip as specific to either iOS and Android, but most apply on both platforms.

This guide is current as of Android Lollipop and iOS 8. If you’re using a previous version of either OS, the menus and options may be a bit different.

1. Start by deleting apps you haven’t used in months

Closing apps

Closing apps on iOS and Android

As we’ll see later on this list, pesky apps that run in the background, track your location or send you push notifications can end up being a big drain on your battery. Each of those problems can be addressed individually, but why not just delete those dozen apps you used once in 2013 and haven’t touched since? It’ll save you a lot of trouble as we move along this list.

On Android, go to Settings —>Apps. Select the app you want to disable, and tap Uninstall.

On iOS, tap and hold any app, then tap the X in the top left corner. (Note that you can’t delete several of the standard, Apple-made apps in iOS.)

2. Disable background app data for all non-essential apps

Background data settings

Background data settings for Android and iOS

Many apps run in the background, even when you’re not using them. This makes sense for things like email and social media, where you might want to know the minute you get a new message or comment, but do you really need your games, notes, and music players gobbling up battery resources 24/7?

With iOS, you can turn off background data on an app-by-app basis. Go to Settings—>General—>Background App Refresh, and select apps to turn off.

With Android, you can “restrict background data” for each app. Go to Settings—>Data usage. Tap on your app of choice, then scroll to the bottom to restrict background data on cellular networks. (Note that this setting can also save you from accidentally going over your data plan threshold.)

3. Don’t obsessively close apps

Don't close apps

Closing apps on Android and iOS

For years, “close all your apps” was the most popular battery saving tip in the world of smartphones. Ironically, it can actually make your battery life worse. When you leave an app open in the background, then access it a little later, your phone is smart enough to let you pick up where you left off, with minimal harm to battery life. However, if you keep closing and re-opening the same apps all day, you end up taxing your phone a whole lot more than necessary. It’s a little like turning off and starting up your car every time you hit a stoplight.

In theory, quitting an app you use only once per week can save you a very small amount of battery. For the dozen apps you use on a near-daily basis, however, you’re only hurting yourself. So don’t worry about it. Your phone will worry about it for you.

4. Disable notifications for most apps

App notifications

Disabling notifications on iOS and Android

Many apps will automatically send you “push notifications,” so-called because the app will notify you of things throughout the day, unsolicited.

It’s time to stop the madness. On iOS, visit Settings—>Notifications, and turn off notifications for all but your most important apps. Sure, you want your text messages to come through on your lock screen, but do you really need every MLB score from across the league? You can even customize your notifications down to where they appear, from banners to sound alerts to the lock screen. The fewer, the better.

On Android, go to Settings—>Sound & notification—>App notifications. From here you can block notifications for individual apps entirely, or set priority filters for receiving fewer notifications overall. Add it all up, and you’ll get more battery life with fewer disturbances.

5. Tell your phone to check for new email less frequently (iOS)

Email fetching on iOS

Email fetching on iOS

One big battery life offender could be email. In the past, email was a real drain, when your phone would have to check to see if you had new mail constantly throughout the day. Fortunately, most modern email clients push messages to your phone, meaning that your device must only expend power when you actually get a new message.

That said, if your email is blowing up throughout the day, or if you’re using a non-standard email service that doesn’t support push email, your phone could still be losing power to a barrage of incoming messages.

The first solution is to tell your phone to check email less frequently—say, only once every 30 minutes. The second solution is to go full manual, only allowing your phone to check for new mail when you manually open the app. Either option can be accessed within the same menu.

On iOS, go to Settings—>Mail, Contacts, Calendars—>Fetch New Data. Turn off “Push” and select your preferred frequency at the bottom of the menu. (Remember, if you don’t get that much email as it stands, it’s probably best just to leave “Push” on.)

6. Turn off location services / reporting

Location services

Location settings on Android and iOS

Like background data and push notifications, location services can be a quiet killer, draining your smartphone battery behind the scenes. You’ve probably already realized that GPS navigation sucks the juice right out of your device, but this makes sense: after all, your phone is working constantly to track your spot on the map.

Less obvious are location services in apps like Facebook and Instagram. These social media apps keep your exact position in mind so they can tag every post, status or photo with the corresponding city or neighborhood. If you value battery life more than geo-tagged posts (or better yet, if you find geo-tagged posts a little creepy), turn off location services.

On iOS, go to Settings—>Privacy—>Location Services. You can either turn them all off at once, or turn them off individually. For instance, you might only leave location services on for utility apps like Maps, Passbook and Weather.

On Android, go to Settings—>General–>Location. Then use the big switch to turn location reporting off. (Just keep in mind that Maps will have to ask you permission to temporarily turn Location Reporting back on whenever you use navigation features.)

7. Turn off auto brightness and dim the screen

Brightness settings

Brightness settings on Android and iOS

If the first six steps haven’t solved your battery issue, it’s time to get a little more serious. You might like to view your 5.5-inch, multi-million-pixel display at full brightness, but that’s a guaranteed recipe for draining your battery fast. Even your phone’s auto-brightness feature will sometimes overdo it on luminance, meaning you could be losing precious hours of battery life.

Try dimming your display just a bit and living with the change for an hour. You’ll be surprised how quickly your eyes adjust.

On iOS, go to Settings—>Display & Brightness. Turn off Auto-Brightness, and then dim the display using the slider.

On Android, go to Setting—>Display, and turn off Adaptive Brightness. Then tap on Brightness level and adjust to your preference.

8. Turn off vibrations

Vibration settings

Vibration settings on Android and iOS

We tend to think of a vibrating phone as a low-key alternative to a noisy ring, but when it comes to battery life, ringing is a lot less taxing than rumbling. If you want to squeeze out a bit more battery life, consider turning off vibrations entirely.

On iOS, go to Settings—>Sounds, and then switch off the two vibrate toggles at the top of the menu.

On Android, use the volume toggle to turn down the ringer, and you’ll see a menu pop up at the top of your screen. Here, you can either turn off all notifications for a custom period of time, or only receive “priority notifications,” based on your personal preferences. Either one will end up having a positive effect on battery.

9. Turn down sleep / auto-lock duration

Sleep settings

Sleep and auto-lock settings on Android and iOS

Your phone’s single biggest battery drain is the display. Ideally, you want your display off whenever you’re not looking at the screen. The problem is that we often leave our phones’ displays on accidentally, in little moments throughout the day, even when we’re done using them. No matter how conscientious we are with your sleep/wake button, we’re going to forget from time to time.

The solution is a low screen timeout. Set your device to turn off its display after just one minute (or on Android, 30 seconds) and you can save a whole hour of wasted screen time per day.

On iOS, go to Settings—>General—>Auto-Lock.

On Android, go to Settings—>Display—>Sleep.

10. Turn off Bluetooth

Bluetooth settings

Bluetooth settings on Android and iOS

Bluetooth is a short-range wireless technology that allows your smartphone to connect with other devices. It’s great for quickly sending files (ex: Apple’s AirDrop), connecting to your car’s sound system, or other close-range applications (ex: using your smartphone as a remote for a TV). While Bluetooth isn’t quite the battery hog today that it was two years ago, it’s still a drain on juice.

If you’re not using your smartphone for sending files, connecting to your car, or interacting with other devices, consider flipping Bluetooth off. There’s a good chance you’re hardly ever using it anyway.

On iOS, swipe up from the bottom of your screen and tap the Bluetooth icon in the middle.

On Android, go to Settings—>Bluetooth and toggle it off.

11. Use dark backgrounds on Samsung or Motorola phones (Android)

If your phone has an AMOLED display, using primarily black backgrounds can save you a solid hour of battery life per day. Instead of rendering black pixels, AMOLED displays are smart enough to simply leave black pixels off altogether, meaning that your phone’s display must power fewer pixels throughout a day of use.

Most of Samsung and Motorola’s most popular phones use AMOLED displays, while most other manufacturers do not.

12. Don’t worry so much about fully charging and fully depleting your battery

Empty battery

Empty battery symbol

You’ve probably heard the classic advice about charging batteries: let your battery drain all the way, then charge to 100%, and repeat. The idea is that you are teaching your battery to ‘remember’ its full charge capacity, rather than confusing it with periodic, inconsistent charges.

There was some truth to this…in 2007. In 2015, most smartphone battery technology is advanced enough not to need special treatment. So instead of running out the door with 50% juice, consider plugging in for 15 minutes before you leave. We promise your battery won’t forget what a full charge is.

13. Pay attention to signal strength

Signal strength

iPhone searching for a signal

When you have a strong LTE connection or (especially) a great Wi-Fi connection, your phone will cruise along as it was intended to—without straining the battery. On the other hand, if you’ve got a single bar, weak 4G and no Wi-Fi in range, your phone will expend tons of juice simply trying to connect with a weak signal.

So if you notice your phone is barely holding on, consider moving (physically) to get closer to a source, or if nothing else, just turn on Airplane Mode. Give your phone a break.

14. Use battery saver (Android)

Battery saver

Battery saver on Android

Most of the recent Android flagship phones—like the Galaxy S6, Nexus 6 and HTC One M9—have battery saving modes that can extend the life of your device by another dozen hours, even if you’re already under 20%.

Go to Settings—>Battery and click on the three dots in the upper right corner.

Battery saver performs several of the earlier tips on this list all at once, by limiting vibrations, location services and background data. Email and other apps will also sync less frequently.

Airplane mode

Airplane Mode on Android and iOS

15. Airplane mode

If all else fails, there’s still good old Airplane Mode. It might render all your phone’s best features useless, but it’s guaranteed to stop the bleeding. After all, a smartphone gone dumb is still better than a smartphone gone dead.

Read next: 3 Things You Really Should Know About Mobile Payments

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TIME psychology

How to Get Smarter

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Eric Barker writes Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

Wouldn’t you like to know how to get smarter? Of course.

I’ve looked at the science on the subject many times in the past and there are some simple methods — like, believe it or not, exercise and even chewing gum.

But is that really going to move the needle over the long haul? Research shows that IQ isn’t all that valuable without a little discipline behind it.

So what’s going to really make a difference? Learning.

Cool. But learning new stuff takes time. And you’re busy. But what if you could pick up new skills super fast?

Ah-ha. Now we’re on to something. However, I’m no expert at this. But, luckily, I know a guy who is.

Tim Ferriss is the bestselling author of The 4-Hour Workweek. And he’s also an expert at learning new stuff fast. In fact, his new TV show, The Tim Ferriss Experiment, is about just that.

In the various episodes Tim tackles all kinds of skills from poker to rally car racing to chess — and then puts his new talents to the test. (He picks up the language Tagalog in 4 days and then does an interview in Tagalog on Filipino TV.)

So what can Tim teach you about accelerated learning? A lot. And all you have to remember is a simple acronym:

“DiSSS”

Those are the four steps: Deconstruction, Selection, Sequencing, and Stakes. Tim explains in this video:

I’ll break down the steps for you below. Okay, let’s get learnin’.

1) Deconstruction

Picking up a language? Oh god, that takes forever… Wrong.

Every skill has parts. To learn effectively you need to break it down into the key elements. This makes something that may seem overwhelming and divides it into manageable chunks. Here’s Tim:

The D is deconstruction. You’re taking a complex skill like learning a language, tactical shooting, or swimming and breaking it down into components. For swimming you would have arm movement, leg movement, different strokes, etc. Try to break a skill down into 5-10 pieces.

(For more on the 8 things successful people do that make them great, click here.)

That’s pretty straightforward. But here’s where Tim’s expertise really helps…

2) Selection

Most classes or books start you out from the beginning and gradually build you up. That’s nice if you have a lot of time. You don’t.

We need to be smart about where we put our energy and focus if we want to make progress quickly. Forget what is fundamental and ask yourself what is most important to get to competency. Here’s Tim:

The first S is selection. That’s doing an 80-20 analysis and asking yourself, “Which 20% of these things I need to learn will get me 80% of the results that I want?”

So when learning a language, Tim doesn’t bother with the typical basics. He looks at what the most frequently used words are and studies those first.

That Spanish class taught you the word “Father” in the first week. But how often do you really talk about Dad? Here’s Tim:

You can become functionally fluent in any language, in my opinion, in 6-12 months. But you can do it in more like 8-12 weeks just by choosing the 1500 highest frequency words. What you study is more important than how you study it. Rosetta Stone is not going to help you if you’re studying the wrong words.

This jibes with the research. When I spoke to Sports Gene author David Epstein about how world class athletes train, he said the same thing: “The hallmark of expertise is figuring out what information is important.”

And what’s the first thing academic research shows helps undergraduates get better grades? Yup:

Learning occurs best when important information is selected from less important ideas, when selected information is organized graphically, when associations are built among ideas and when understanding is regulated through self-testing…

(For more of what top athletes can teach you about being the best at anything, click here.)

So you know what’s important. What’s next?

3) Sequencing

This is the thing most teachers, classes and books get wrong.

Not only do they not focus on what’s important but they don’t work on that stuff first. Here’s Tim:

The next S is sequencing. That’s just putting things in the right order. Putting things in the right progression, that’s really the secret sauce that is missing from almost any instructional book, DVD, video, class, etc.

When Tim was learning chess from champion Josh Waitzkin (whose life was the basis for the film “Searching for Bobby Fischer“) they did things the opposite from how most chess instruction works.

They didn’t start with the beginning of a chess game. They jumped straight to key moves that are applicable to the majority of interactions on the board. This allowed Tim to hang with top players after only a few days of practice. Here’s Tim:

Josh would basically do things in reverse. He took all the pieces off the board and started training me with King and Pawn versus King. By doing that he was teaching me not rote memorization of openings, but really powerful principles that can apply to the entire game in many different circumstances. Just by giving me a very short tutorial on a few principles with three pieces on the board, I went to Washington Square Park, and I was able to survive three or four times longer than I should have against a really savvy speed chess street hustler.

(To learn how to develop a photographic memory in four steps, click here.)

So you’ve broken your area of study into parts, figured out what is important, and you’re focusing on that first. What’s the final step?

4) Stakes

You won’t get fired from your job if you don’t learn to speak Russian. Your family won’t starve if you don’t master the guitar. And this is why you quit. Because you can.

You need an incentive to keep practicing. Or, even better: a penalty if you don’t practice. Here’s Tim:

Stakes is arguably the most important piece. By stakes, I mean consequences. Some type of reward or punishment to keep you on track and accountable. To prevent yourself from quitting, you need incentives.

So Tim recommends using what researchers call a “commitment device.”

Write a check for $100 to a political party you hate or a cause you are actively against. Give it to a friend. If you don’t achieve your goal or put in the hours, your friend mails the check. Boom. You’re now motivated.

(For more on how to conquer procrastination once and for all, click here.)

Okay, Tim has given us some powerful tools for learning. Let’s round them up.

Sum Up

Just remember this… actually, just remember “DiSSS”:

  1. Deconstruction: Break a skill down into its key elements.
  2. Selection: Figure out what’s important and what gets used most often.
  3. Sequencing: Work on the important stuff, not what chronologically comes first.
  4. Stakes: Use a “commitment device” to make sure you have skin in the game and don’t quit.

And hang out with smart people. Research shows it helps. (In fact, studies show stupidity is contagious.)

So what’s the best way to get started? This is no magic trick. It comes from the heart. The first step is to believe that you can become smarter:

Thinking about intelligence as changeable and malleable, rather than stable and fixed, results in greater academic achievement, especially for people whose groups bear the burden of negative stereotypes about their intelligence.

And learning doesn’t have to be a solitary activity. In fact, it shouldn’t be. Wanna be smarter? Surround yourself with people who believe in you.

Via The Heart of Social Psychology: A Backstage View of a Passionate Science:

…Rosenthal and Lenore Jacobson (1968) did the same study in a classroom, telling elementary school teachers that they had certain students in their class who were “academic spurters.” In fact, these students were selected at random. Absolutely nothing else was done by the researchers to single out these children. Yet by the end of the school year, 30 percent of the the children arbitrarily named as spurters had gained an average of 22 IQ points, and almost all had gained at least 10 IQ points.

Want even more accelerated learning secrets?

In my next weekly email I’ll have powerful insights from Tim including his counterintuitive advice on how to retain skills and the one question he always asks experts so he gets their most valuable lessons quickly. Get it all by joining here.

Join over 185,000 readers. Get a free weekly update via email here.

This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

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TIME Careers & Workplace

How to Network When You’re an Introvert

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Connecting with people online before you meet them can be really helpful

In today’s workplace environment, we use more technology than ever before. As new businesses become more technology and information driven, the quieter an office becomes. How do we set ourselves apart in a world full of successful and smart introverts?

We become great at networking.

The advice to reach out to others in order to improve the outlook of your business is well-known, but for those who are introverted, it’s much easier said than done. Even if you feel that your strengths lie in being a player behind the scenes, you can still benefit from networking. Here’s how to do it as painlessly as possible:

Network and make connections online

Connecting with people online before you meet them can be really helpful. Connect with other event attendees on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and social media platforms before an event. Connecting prior to meeting allows for you to feel less alone when you arrive. Familiar faces, even if they belong to a stranger, can be really comforting. You can also use this to find new events by connecting with people who are a part of or work at organizations that you belong to.

Talk about your accomplishments

This one is hard for introverts. By definition, introverts often stay in the shadows and seldom celebrate their achievements publicly. It’s not a bad thing to let people know what you’ve done and what you’ve accomplished – and talking about these achievements can help you to make connections that you are able to help.

Discuss your goals and ideas

There’s no need to prattle on about 100 different ideas that are floating through your head, but if you’re looking for something to talk about when you meet someone in the industry, bring up an opinion that you have or an idea that is specific to your industry to jumpstart the conversation. Ask the person what their goals are and take time to see if you know anyone that could help them. Sharing your connections is a great way to gain new strong connections.

Don’t overthink it

When you go home, leave your interactions and networking attempts alone emotionally. No need to go over and over what you said, how the other person responded, or whether or not you were well received. Even if you feel like you made a few social blunders, don’t dwell on it. Concentrate your energy on the positive things that came out of your networking attempt and let your mistakes inform your choices next time.

Maintain strong relationships

Every so often, you’ll make a strong connection, and when that happens, it will help you with your networking to maintain that connection and create a solid relationship. This person may be likely to speak up on your behalf, introduce you to others, and make your networking easier. This goes both ways. Make sure to speak for your other connections and listen for opportunities for them as well.

Takes notes

It’s important to remember the faces and names of the people you meet after attending a networking event. When someone hands you their card, look at the card and then at them. When they walk away, type a small note into your phone or on a notepad so that you can remember them later. After the event, send an email to them and let them know that you enjoyed meeting them.

Networking is difficult for anyone and for introverts, it can be painful. However, as you start to make connections, the benefit will soon outweigh the work.

This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com.

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TIME

This Is the Quickest Way to Add Events to Google Calendar

You can text them to yourself using this trick

If you’ve ever fumbled around with your phone while trying to add an upcoming event to your calendar, this tip should be a lifesaver.

If This Then That, a popular trigger-based service, can help you add events to Google Calendar by sending a text message to a dedicated number. This was incredibly useful before Google released a dedicated iOS Calendar app, but it can still be easier than opening that app on its own.

First, go to My Recipes on the top bar of IFTTT. Then select Create a Recipe. You’ll be prompted to set up your trigger. In this case, select SMS. You’ll then be asked to active your phone, and IFTTT will send your phone an activation pin from a designated number (think of this as your digital butler’s number).

IFTTT will then ask you to set up a trigger phrase. For this purpose, you should select something like GCal, which means every time you text #Gcal to this number, you’ll be setting off the Gcal trigger you’re about to set up.

Then you’ll be asked to pick your Then trigger, for which you’ll select the Google Calendar thumbnail. IFTTT will ask to access your Google account, which you should activate. Once this trigger is good to go, you can text any jumbled phrase, like “#Gcal Dinner with Anna May 7 8pm,” and IFTTT will put the event into your Google Calendar.

Read more: How to Automatically Post Instagram Photos to Twitter

TIME Careers & Workplace

8 Life-Changing Lessons on How to Be Happy

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Start by smiling

Inc. logo

What makes us happy? Thirteen happiness experts, including psychologists, researchers, monks, and the inimitable Malcolm Gladwell, try to shed light on this surprisingly difficult question in a series of TED Talks about happiness.

Over and over, the same two themes emerge. First, we’re usually wrong about what will make us happy—or unhappy, for that matter. For example, research has demonstrated that people who win the lottery are no happier about that event one year later than if they’d lost the use of their legs instead. And second, happiness is largely a matter of choice. Which is good news, because it means we can pretty much all be happier if we want to be.

How can we make this happen? Here’s some of what the TED speakers advise:

1. Don’t expect happiness to be one-size-fits-all.

In a fascinating bit of product history, Gladwell recounts how the food industry discovered to its astonishment that some people like chunky tomato sauce. And what that discovery means in a broader context–that what makes me happy won’t necessarily do it for you, and vice versa.

2. Stop chasing things like success, fame, and money.

Or at least, keep chasing them but don’t expect them to make you substantially happier than you are right now. As psychologist Dan Gilbert explains, our brains have a defense mechanism that’s hard-wired to make us happy with the lives we have, whatever those may be. Even Pete Best, a drummer best known for getting fired by the Beatles just before they hit it big, now says he wouldn’t want it any other way.

3. Keep challenging yourself.

If you love your work, you’re good at it, and you’ve been doing it for a while, you probably have experienced “flow,” that state where you get so lost in what you’re doing that you forget yourself and everything else. That state of flow is where true happiness lies, says psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, and we can also find it when doing something creative, or even something recreational. But only so long as we keep challenging ourselves. Boredom is the opposite of flow.

4. Be generous.

Connecting with other people and feeling part of something larger than ourselves takes us a long way toward happiness. Social scientist Michael Norton recounts a fascinating experiment that proves–contrary to popular belief–that money can buy happiness, so long as you spend it on someone other than yourself. Not only will you have made someone else happy, you’ll have made yourself happy too, a happiness buy-one-get-one-free special.

5. Be grateful.

We tend to expect that being happy will make us feel grateful, but actually it’s the other way around, explains Benedictine monk David Steindl-Rast–being grateful is what will make us feel happy. And gratitude is a choice, he says. How can we remember to be grateful? By reminding ourselves of all the gifts in our lives. Even something so simple as a water faucet was a true occasion for gratitude for Steindl-Rast after a stint in Africa where drinking water was scarce. When in time it started to seem ordinary again, he put a sticker on the faucet to remind himself what a wonderful thing it was.

6. Train your mind.

The way to do this is by meditating on compassion, says Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard. It takes time, he says, but it’s worth doing. Brain scans show that monks who are practiced at such meditation show happiness activity in their brains that is “off the charts” compared with everyone else.

Though he doesn’t mention it, Ricard himself is the poster child for this approach. According to Google’s happiness guru Chade-Meng Tan, Ricard’s own brain scans show him to be the happiest person on the planet.

7. Smile!

It sounds too simple to be true, but research actually shows that if you smile, you’ll have better health, a better marriage and other relationships, and increased life expectancy, says HealthTap founder Ron Gutman. So if you haven’t smiled yet today, what are you waiting for?

8. Tell the truth.

In a highly personal talk, The Vagina Monologues creator Eve Ensler recounts the epidemic of worldwide violence against women she learned about as a result of her hit show. For a while, these stories threatened to overwhelm her. But then she found herself at the head of a movement to end that violence and give young girls in Africa a refuge from violence she herself had lacked as a child.

And then she says, she learned, “this really simple thing, which is that happiness exists in action; it exists in telling the truth…and giving away what you want the most.” That’s the kind of happiness all of us can reach for.

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

TIME How-To

Here’s How to Spring Clean Your Computer in 7 Steps

Apple Inc. Announces The New iPad Air 2 And iPad Mini 3
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images The 27-inch Apple Inc. iMac computer with 5K retina display is displayed after a product announcement in Cupertino, California, U.S., on Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014.

A periodic polish will keep everything from keys to apps running smoothly

From deadlines to the daily grind, there’s never a good time to drop everything and clean your workspace. But if you keep the term “spring cleaning” in mind, at least there’s one good reminder to schedule that downtime.

But don’t stop at sifting through your inbox or pulling old Post-It notes off your wall. Get down and dirty with your computer, wiping it clean from the screen to the system files, to make sure everything runs smooth the rest of the year. Don’t be daunted. Follow these seven steps to get your entire computer squeaky clean.

1. Clean Your Keyboard: If you realized your computer had a virus, you’d likely drop everything and start patching your software immediately. Guess what — your system probably has dozens of nasty bugs, and that’s just on the surface. Using tracer viruses, Charles Gerba, professor of microbiology and environmental sciences at University of Arizona, Tucson, has studied the spread of contaminants through office buildings, hotels, and healthcare facilities, proving bugs can spread from the front door to your space bar in just two hours.

Thankfully, common disinfectants were between 80 and 99% effective at stopping them — so get wiping. And don’t forget to disinfect your mouse, too.

2. Scrub Your Screen: Most of the time you spend staring at your computer’s screen it’s on, so you can’t see all the dirt and grime caked onto the glass. But power that display down, and a petri dish will materialize before your eyes. Touchscreen PCs will be worse than Macs, but everyone who uses a laptop gets a gunky buildup where your keys meet the glass when the computer is closed.

To see clearly again, all you need is a microfiber cloth and some simple cleaning solution, says PC World. Make sure your display is powered off (if it’s your laptop, power the whole machine down), and try wiping with the dry cloth first. If that’s not enough, spritz some cleaner onto the wipe, and give it a gentle polishing. And then when you’re done, hit your touchpad, too — that thing is nasty.

3. Sort Your Desktop: If you’re anything like me, when your desk is a mess, your life follows suit. Likewise, there’s a psychological effect to keeping a disorganized gaggle of files on your computer’s desktop. But if you’re one of those people who claims to know where everything is even when your hard drive looks like an episode of Hoarders, consider this argument for keeping your computer’s desktop folder clean. According to the author (and several commenters), Macs slow down when users keep too many files on the desktop, because OS X automatically catalogs previews of files located there for quick viewing. So either organize your files now, or get slowed down by them later.

4. Delete The Duplicates: Copies, copies of copies, and copied copies of copies are squeezing you out of your computer. If you don’t believe me, consider what happens when you email a PowerPoint presentation back and forth between yourself and a co-worker. First you create the slides on your computer (file #1, in your Documents folder), then you send it to your colleague via email (file #2, in your sent email), and then she sends it back to you (file #3, in your inbox). Hunt down and eliminate these redundancies to make sure your hard drive doesn’t run out of space before it’s too late.

5. Backup Your Files: When was the last time you backed your files up? If it was this time last year, you’re already at risk of losing sensitive data. (And if you can’t answer that question, you’re really in trouble.) Don’t just make a copy of your files, make three. First, make a daily, system-wide backup using Time Machine on Apple computers or File History on Windows PCs. Secondly, set up a cloud backup so you can access your digital valuables in case your daily backup fails. And finally, make an off-site, offline backup using an external drive that’s stored somewhere else, off property. This last one is your in-case-of-earthquake backup. Hopefully you’ll never need any of these copies (especially the last one), but you’ll only find out how valuable they are when you do.

6. Install Your Updates: Many computer users think since their systems work well, there’s no sense in messing them up by installing unnecessary updates. But that’s flawed logic, because it doesn’t take into account all the external forces, from viruses to wear and tear, that will cause your computer to break down. Staying current on updates will not only keep your computer running well today, it will fend off unforeseen problems tomorrow. So, take this spring cleaning opportunity to update your operating system as well as all your software — and to delete old programs that you’re no longer using.

7. Run Your Utilities: Put a coat of polish on your freshly cleaned computer by running the system utilities designed to make it run more efficiently. On Windows, pressing the Disk Cleanup button in your hard drive’s properties window (“general” tab) makes it easy to find and delete stray bits like temporary Internet files and other long-forgotten downloads. Then on the “tools” tab, error checking and defragmenting features keep your disk spinning as good as new. On Macs, the Disk Utility app in the Utilities program will scour your drive looking for and repairing broken permissions. Experts recommend you run that program monthly, but if you start doing it every spring, you’ll be a step ahead of almost everyone else.

TIME Careers & Workplace

How to Be More Productive When Working From Home

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Dress for the job

Many entrepreneurs, especially those in the startup phase of their companies, have a home office. While working from home certainly has its perks – the office space is free and the commute is short – it can also have its downsides. Constant distractions, lack of interaction with coworkers and undetermined working hours can interfere with your productivity.

Follow these tips and don’t let your home office interfere with your business’ success:

Set boundaries.

As much as possible, avoid answering personal phone calls or doing your laundry during the workday. Ask yourself if you would do this activity if you worked in an office. If not, then don’t do it while working at home. Jill Celeste, a work-from-home marketing coach since 2011, had to set boundaries with her mother who used to call during the workday to chat. “[Now], her call goes to voicemail and I return her call in the evening,” says Celeste.

Take a lunch break.

One of the disadvantages of working from home is the lack of a communal space (also known as the “water cooler”) where you can take breaks to recharge and refocus your energies. The good news is you can still get this recharge break while working at home. Take your dog for a walk around the block or go for a short run around lunchtime so you return to work feeling re-energized.

Dress for the job.

Your office may only be steps away from your bedroom, but that doesn’t mean you should show up to your desk in the same clothes you wore to bed. “If I work in my pajamas or sweatpants, I feel less productive and less serious about the work,” says Brian Dear, CEO and cofounder of the online-therapy startup iCouch. “It’s easier to get distracted because there’s not a mental separation between working and just being at home relaxing.”

Have a routine.

Create a workday routine just as you would in an office. “When working from home, I’ll make myself a coffee and small bite to eat before starting work, knowing that I will not stop until lunchtime,” says Simeon G. Howard, director at City Office, a worldwide virtual office and office-space provider, who regularly works from home. When working from home, it’s easy to give in to the temptation to finish work early or take an extra long lunch, but sticking to a routine is key to ensuring your home office doesn’t turn into an excuse for slacking off.

Remove home distractions.

“It’s important that your home workplace is just as serious as an office,” says Dear. Treat your home office as your office – meaning no kids toys on the floor or TV in the room. Find a place for your home office that is removed from family distractions and surround your workspace with work-related things rather than family calendars, recipe books and stacks of laundry – things that remind you of all the personal chores that need to be done. If possible, dedicate a separate room in your house to be your home office and shut the door while you’re working so everyone else in the household knows not to disturb you.

Get out of the office.

Working from home can get lonely. And when you live and work in the within the same four walls, you can easily get bored of your surroundings. Debra M. Cohen, president of Home Remedies, says she tries to devote one hour a day to doing something relaxing outside her office. “The change of scenery and social interaction helps me think more creatively and I’m much more productive when I’m back at work,” she says.

This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com.

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TIME How-To

How to Automatically Post Instagram Photos to Twitter

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Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

Here's an easy fix to a frustrating problem

Once upon a time, it was easy to share your Instagram photos via Twitter. But these days, sharing your Instagram images directly to Twitter just tweets out a boring old link, not that fav-worthy snapshot you just took.

No worries — there’s an easy fix.

IFTTT, short for “If This Then That,” is a program that lets you create “triggers” for your various apps. IFTTT has lots of great applications, but one of them is sharing Instagram images natively on Twitter once again.

To do so, you can create a recipe—IFTTT’s name for its triggers—for posting an image to Twitter every time you take a photo with Instagram.

First, visit IFTTT’s website and create an account. Then, visit this link and activate the recipe. You’ll then be asked to activate your Twitter and Instagram accounts, which you should go ahead and do. Then, the service will essentially link those two accounts, sending out a tweet every time you post a new photo to Instagram.

A few caveats: This setup can be a little slow, so fret not if your photos don’t show up on Twitter immediately after you post them on Instagram. And if you want to temporarily turn off the auto-posting, download IFTTT’s mobile app, which lets you turn recipes on and off on a whim.

 

TIME How-To

How to Avoid Getting Hacked Next Time You Leave Home

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Hero Images—Getty Images/Hero Images

The world is a dangerous place — especially if you’re not careful with your gadgets

How times have changed. It used to be that when you packed for a trip, you wanted to be sure not to forget vitals like your toothpaste, swimsuit, or even travelers’ checks. But if forgotten, those things can be replaced on the road.

Instead, these days, we obsess about packing our smartphones, tablets, and even laptops. However, bringing tech on a trip can expose your entire life to hackers and cyber-crooks. So before you book your next vacation, consider these six tips on how to stay cyber-safe while traveling:

1. Don’t check your device: Make sure you keep your smartphone, tablet, or computer with you, rather than placing it in your checked luggage. “There’s a number of things that could happen to it — getting damaged or stolen — once it’s out of your sight,” says Stacey Vogler, managing director for Protect Your Bubble, a company that provides insurance for everything from cell phones to identity theft. In addition, RFID-blocking products like those made by Silent Pocket can protect everything from your tablet to your passport from digital snoops using over-the-air technology to get at your data.

2. Keep it encased: While keeping your smartphone in a case is great advice for everyday life, it’s especially appropriate when you’re traveling. Firstly, when you’re moving around the world and out of your comfort zone, your phone is especially susceptible to being dropped. Also, thieves eye well-heeled tourists with high-priced handsets whom may not know where to turn if their phone gets lifted. Cases can help camouflage your top-of-the-line model. And finally, you’re more likely to use GPS and other memory-intensive features when you’re out and about, so a battery case is especially helpful on the road.

Incipio makes a line of rugged, battery-boosting cases for a wide range of smartphones that make for great travel partners. Also, if you’re going someplace warm and watery, get a protector that can shield your device from liquids as well as drops. According to data from Protect Your Bubble, water damage claims rise in the summer months.

3. Watch your Wi-Fi: It’s tempting to tap into local wireless networks to cut back on data charges when you’re traveling, especially when you’re abroad. “Be careful which Wi-Fi network that you access,” says Vogler. “Make sure that it’s a secure one, and one that you’ve been given a password for.” If the network you’re connecting to doesn’t require a password, anyone could be on it, and have access to the information you’re sending or receiving. So the rule of thumb is if it doesn’t ask for a password, it’s not secure.

This primer on using public Wi-Fi from Internet security company Kaspersky Labs can help you protect down your phone or tablet if you must use these networks, but the safest bet is to get your access from a trusted, secure source, like your hotel.

4. Password protect your device: Sure, it might be a pain, but password protecting your phone, tablet, and PC is a goal-line defense for keeping cyber-thieves from your personal information. If you think about it, while your phone or tablet may fetch a crook hundreds of dollars; your identity can be worth thousands more. Make sure to enable every safety mechanism available for your device, from iOS’s Find My iPhone to the Android Device Manager used to locate Google-compatible phones. These apps also work for tablets as well, so make sure your slate is set up to be detected, too.

5. Bank the old-fashioned way: More than ever, people need access to and information about their money when traveling. That makes tourists and business travelers alike great targets for data theft. The best way not to expose your financial information is to bank the old-fashioned way: use cash if you can, hit a teller for balance inquiries if possible, or call into your institution’s telephone services if you need remote access. Using the app, as secure as banks make them out to be, only makes you a possible target for identity theft.

6. Stay off social media: Everyone loves sharing vacation photos, but consider showing off your sunset selfie after you touch back down in your hometown. That’s because posting your on-location photos tells people that your home is left unattended. You might think your friends would never use that against you, but if your privacy settings are public (or friends of friends) on Facebook, or if you don’t have a locked-down Twitter account, you’re basically telling the world that you’re not home.

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