TIME Careers & Workplace

10 Business Leaders on Creating a Productive Lifestyle

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Set one priority for the day

Productivity tips come in all shapes and sizes.

Just look at Warren Buffett, a man considered one of the best investors in the history of human civilization. But what might be more impressive than his track record is his schedule. It is the exact opposite of what you’d expect out of the CEO of a $350 billion company. It has been reported that he generally reads for 80 percent of his day and spends the rest having one-on-one conversations with long-time friends who happen to be CEOs of the companies that Berkshire owns, according to the book The Outsiders. This has been his schedule for decades.

Warren avoids investor events, industry conferences and other activities that take up the time of most CEOs, according to the book. Instead he’s created a lifestyle where he can focus on what he does best and loves to do, control his schedule and work with people he respects and admires.

But this regimen doesn’t work for everyone. So I interviewed 10 leaders and asked them how they stay productive.

 

1. Create a checklist for decision-making matters

It’s very easy to accidentally overcommit. Our brain wiring causes us to have trouble remembering all of our commitments or perceiving how long tasks take. To overcome this, I set up strict checklists for taking on any new projects:

  • Do I have the time, money and resources to get it to completion?
  • Is there an easier or faster way to make it happen?
  • Will it delay anything I’ve currently green lighted?
  • Does it lead to my Vivid Vision? A vivid vision is a strategic, detailed picture of the company in the future.

If all the answers check out, then I go forward. Simple checklists are a proven tool for consistently applying what we already know

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

2. Only have one priority

First thing every morning, I ask myself, ‘What is the one thing I need to do today to help my company’s vision that would make everything else easier or unnecessary?’

When you compound this process over days, months and years, the impact is truly astounding. It is the 80/20 rule on steroids.

Simplifying many priorities to one priority gives you a deeper understanding of what’s really important and increases the odds of completing that one thing. Studies have shown that focus on a singular vision is one of the key themes of successful companies.

Ryan Simonetti, co-founder of Convene

3. Time block your entire day

Similar to Bill Gates, I focus more on my calendar for managing my priorities than my to-do list.

I time block my entire day hour by-hour on my calendar. Most people make the mistake of only time blocking their meetings and phone calls. I also time block my planning, time off, key daily priorities, emails that need longer replies and social media (so it doesn’t creep in other times).

Time blocking works best if you don’t allow the constant barrage of daily interruptions to ruin it. Studies show that the drop in one’s productivity is especially drastic if you’re doing complex tasks. So I let my team members know not to interrupt me by closing my office door, and I have my assistant answer unscheduled phone calls.

Sevetri Wilson, CEO of Solid Ground Innovations

4. Constantly reevaluate what your focus is

I’ve developed a unique approach, one that was inspired by researcher A.J. Burton’s Reflection Model, to constantly staying aware of what’s most important, prioritizing it and saying no to everything else.

Every day when I’m presented with new opportunities or challenging situations that require critical thinking and could have a big impact on how I spend my time and money, I ask myself the following questions:

  • What? What exactly is the opportunity or challenge?
  • So What? What is its potential impact (positive and negative)?
  • Now What? What should I do about it now?

This approach is powerful, because it keeps me focused on what I should do now and helps me plan for the future. Research shows that better, more holistic decisions are made by systematically evaluating the situation one aspect at a time. Also, by having a simple three-step decision-making framework that allows me to immediately simplify my thought process on the spot, I avoid decision fatigue. I make a decision once and then I’m done with it.

Rohit Anabheri, founder of Circa Ventures

5. Say no by default

In 2013, I wrote two bestselling books, made the Inc. 500 list and sold one of my companies for seven figures, all within a 40-hour work week. These were my only big goals, and I blocked out most of my time everyday to make sure I moved toward them.

A key to my approach is being good at saying no to tasks unrelated to my goals, even when they are extremely tempting or easy to do. This took me years of practice. The fastest way to get good at saying no when being pressured to commit is to say something like, ‘If you need an answer from me right now, I’m sorry, but I would have to say no. If you can wait until I have my goal setting time later this week, I may be able to say yes but no promises.’

I then review these decisions bi-weekly in the context of my existing goals and commitments.

Benji Rabhan, founder of AppointmentCore

6. Focus on the clouds and dirt

My company now has more than 350 employees. One of the reasons we’ve grown so large is that I work on the business rather than in it.

Just as Gary Vaynerchuk recommends, I spend as much time as I can in the ‘clouds and dirt’:

Set a clear vision and goals (the clouds). I focus on creating clear, measurable and inspiring goals, so my team is empowered to create their own processes and systems — and I can hold them accountable.

Experience the result for yourself (the dirt). As a business owner, my focus is the result, so I make sure to experience the result first-hand, where it touches customers and employees. For example, once a month, I go on a moving job with the staff and then give feedback to our managers on how to improve the system overall.

Aaron Steed, CEO of Meathead Movers

7. Get in touch with nature

I start just about every day with a 15-minute walk through Central Park in New York City. It is peaceful, beautiful in all seasons and helps to bring focus to the day. My intention on the walks is simply to enjoy nature. I call these walks my ‘pocket vacations.’

In a fascinating study performed in Scotland, researchers read the brainwaves of subjects as they walked through different environments such as busy urban streets or parks. In the urban environment, the subjects were more alert and frustrated. In the parklands, their brainwave readings became more meditative. Nature engages and relaxes the brain, which makes it a great environment for reflection, and it makes it easier to concentrate later in the day.

Kay Koplovitz, founder of USA Network and Syfy

8. Establish a minimum hurdle rate

In a study of the most successful CEOs of the last 50 years, each CEO (including Warren Buffett) knew the minimum return on investment, or hurdle rate, they were willing to accept and never accepted any opportunity that they predicted would not hit their minimum.

When I acquire an asset with my business, I do the same thing. I look for something that I can invest in once and then have it create value perpetually. It’s been an incredible wealth-building strategy, and I think it applies to my time as well.

I recently noticed that my personal life was suffering because I was chasing too many business opportunities, so I increased my hurdle rate in the business, so I’d have more time in my personal life.

Jason Duff, founder and CEO of COMSTOR Outdoor

9. Start your day over

When I struggle with focus in the middle of the day, it’s usually because I’m feeling overwhelmed. To counter this feeling, I mentally start the day over again.

I get out a blank piece of paper, make a list of my commitments and circle the three things that have the biggest impact on driving the business forward. I leave the rest behind, so I don’t feel guilty about not getting stuff done. A psychology study shows that we improve our work performance when we write down tasks, because it frees us from being mentally preoccupied.

Before I jump in, I remove any distractions, especially my number-one distraction: email.

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

10. No more yes: It’s either ‘Hell yeah!’ or no

When deciding whether I should commit to anything, I use my philosophy of ‘HELL YEAH! Or no.’. Facing any potential commitment, if I feel anything less than, ‘Wow, that would be amazing! Absolutely! Hell yeah!’ then my answer is no.

For example, when hiring people, I had a lot of candidates for a long-term project but none blew me away. So I rejected everyone, started a new search and then I came across the ideal candidate. For conferences, instead of obligatorily going to three music conferences that I had said yes to, I realized that I didn’t feel ‘HELL YEAH!’ so ended up with 12 free days on my calendar, which I used to get a new business launched.

I recommend Steve Pavlina’s approach of rating your satisfaction in each area of your life from 1 to 10 and then replacing any areas below 9 with 1s.

Derek Sivers, founder and former president of CD Baby and author of Anything You Want.

Special thanks to Ian Chew, Luke Murray, Sheena Lindahl, and Marc Busko who volunteered their time to edit this article and do research.

This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com

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MONEY Lifestyle

The Most Surprising Thing That Will Make You Happy in Retirement

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While financial security is important, a little sex goes a long way toward increasing happiness in retirement.

Most retirees probably aren’t as “frisky,” shall we say, as Christian Grey in the new film Fifty Shades of Grey. But new research shows that many people well into their 70s and 80s still have active sex lives, some engaging in sex at least twice a month. Tame perhaps, by Mr. Christian’s standards. But more than enough to make for a happier retirement.

We all know that diligent financial planning can lead to a more satisfying post-career life. But while money is important to retirees—especially guaranteed income they know they won’t outlive—financial security alone doesn’t assure well-being in retirement. A number of non-financial factors may also be able to increase your chances of having a more meaningful and joyful retirement, including having more sex.

A paper published last year in the Journals of Gerontology found that older married couples who had sex more frequently had higher levels of marital happiness than couples who had sex less often or had no sex at all. Which wasn’t exactly a revelation, since an earlier study (“Sex and Older Americans: Exploring the Relationship Between Frequency of Sexual Activity and Happiness”) that focused on people 65 and older, both single and married, also showed a relationship between happiness and frequency of sex, even after adjusting for health and finances.

To get this boost in happiness, the sex didn’t have to be the push-the-envelope variety portrayed in the Fifty Shades movie. Indeed, both studies set the parameters of sexual activity pretty broadly, with the Journals of Gerontology research defining sex as any activity with a partner that was sexually arousing.

But frequency does matter. In the Sex and Older Americans study, for example, only 32% of those who said they’d experienced no sexual activity during the prior 12 months felt very happy with life overall. By contrast, almost 38% who had sex at least once or twice over the previous 12 months reported that they were very happy, while more than half who had engaged in sex more than once a month reported being very happy.

I’m not suggesting that anyone should base their sex habits on these or any other studies. For one thing, it’s possible that frequency of sex isn’t what’s driving happiness. It could be the other way around. Happier people may just have more sex. Besides, how often one has sex or whether one chooses to have it at all is a highly personal matter, and thus a decision each person has to make based on his or her particular circumstances.

That said, intimacy and sex are an integral part of life. So it only makes sense for retirees to consider whether their current sex habits are contributing to a more meaningful and fulfilling life—and if not, whether this is an issue that deserves more attention.

Of course, there are plenty of other lifestyle moves that also have the potential to increase your sense of well-being in retirement. Research shows that people who cultivate a circle of friends they can rely on for companionship and support tend to be happier than those who have fewer ties with friends or family members. Similarly, staying active through occasional work or volunteering can make for a more satisfying retirement, as long as you don’t go too far and effectively turn an avocation into a job. And people who attend religious services also tend to be happier than those who don’t.

So as you’re mapping out your post-career life, by all means give financial issues all the attention they deserve. Make sure you’re saving enough, that you’re investing wisely and have a coherent retirement income plan. But do some retirement lifestyle planning as well, and make your sex life a part of it. As to how big a part, well, that’s entirely up to you.

Walter Updegrave is the editor of RealDealRetirement.com. If you have a question on retirement or investing that you would like Walter to answer online, send it to him at walter@realdealretirement.com.

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TIME psychology

Living Life Without Regret: 3 Secrets From Research

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Eric Barker writes Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

First, what do we regret the most?

And for the big picture: what do people regret the most before they die?

1. “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

2. “I wish I didn’t work so hard.”

3. “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.”

4. “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.”

5. “I wish that I had let myself be happier.”

So what can you do to live a life without regret?

This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

Join over 150,000 readers. Get a free weekly update via email here.

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

TIME psychology

Research Shows These 5 Simple Things Can Help You Live to 100

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Eric Barker writes Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

Join over 150,000 readers. Get a free weekly update via email here.

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How To Stop Being Lazy And Get More Done – 5 Expert Tips

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

TIME Diet/Nutrition

17 Ways Your Job is Making You Fat

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Be on the look out for these work-related waistline expanders

Packing on pounds while climbing the corporate ladder? You’re in good company: in a 2013 Harris Interactive survey of more than 3,000 workers conducted for CareerBuilder, 41% of respondents said they’d gained weight in their current jobs. Workers who spend long hours sitting at a desk (like administrative assistants) and have high stress levels (like engineers and teachers) were more likely to have gained weight.

The truth is, there are lots of reasons your work could be affecting your waistline. “It really has to do with diet, physical activity, and behavior,” says Katherine Tryon, a medical doctor with the Vitality Institute, a global research organization based New York City. Here are some potential factors, and how to steer clear of their consequences.

Hours of sitting

The most obvious cause of work-related weight gain is the lack of physical activity many employees get from (at least) 9 to 5, and in the CareerBuilder survey, workers pointed to “sitting at my desk most of the day” as the number-one reason for their expanding waistlines. Though it’s true that research shows people who stand or walk throughout the day burn more calories, which can translate to fewer pounds gained over time, a 2013 British study failed to find a strong link between time spent sitting and obesity. The authors say that while sedentary behavior certainly doesn’t help, there are clearly other factors fueling weight gain as well.

Your long commute

In addition to time spent at a desk, the average American spends 25.4 minutes commuting to work and then again to get home, according to the US Census Bureau, and the American Community Survey shows that 86% of workers commute by car. Those who take public transportation to and from work tend to have lower BMIs than those who drive or ride in a car, found a 2014 study published in the British Medical Journal, as do those who walk or ride their bikes. “Businesses need to think about ways to turn commuting into a healthy activity, like offering bike racks and showers to their employees,” says Dr. Tryon.

On-the-job stress

Boss on your case again? Try not to freak out: High levels of the stress hormone cortisol can trigger fat and sugar cravings, and can also cause the body to hang onto fat and store it around the midsection. And a 2014 German study found that work-related stress is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes.

You may also feel like you need to forget healthy habits in order to get ahead, says Frances Largeman-Roth, RD, author of Eating in Color. “Maybe you used to go for a walk at lunch but then you change jobs or get a promotion, and suddenly all eyes are on you,” she says. “You may feel like your daily break from the office is no longer acceptable, so you put in the extra time and your weight suffers.”

HEALTH.COM: 11 Reasons Why You’re Not Losing Belly Fat

Late nights

Employees who burn the midnight oil to meet deadlines or keep up with heavy workloads may also blame their restricted sleep schedule for excess weight gain. In a 2013 University of Pennsylvania study, adults who got only four hours of shuteye a night for five nights in a row gained more weight than those who got eight hours, thanks to the extra meals (and higher-calorie foods) they consumed during late-night hours.

Adults who work multiple jobs, who start work early in the morning, or who commute longer distances are more likely to go without full nights’ sleep, according to a 2014 study also by University of Pennsylvania researchers. The authors suggest that flexible start times may help workers get more sleep overall.

Your lunch options

People who work in or commute through neighborhoods with a lot of drive-thrus are more likely to stop at them, and they’re also more likely to have higher BMIs, according to a 2014 British study. In fact, the study group with the most exposure to takeout joints on the way to and from work was almost twice as likely to be obese, compared to those with who were least exposed. “If you don’t have healthy lunch options nearby, you may need to make a real effort to prepare and pack your own food ahead of time,” says Largeman-Roth.

Lack of wellness programs

Dr. Tryon’s own research suggests that employers have a unique opportunity to improve public health by offering incentives and tools, like reduced insurance premiums and weight-loss support groups. But a 2014 research review from Hampshire College found that only 25% of large companies, and only 5% of small businesses, offer comprehensive wellness programs. Why? Companies say the programs cost too much and that they don’t want to meddle in their employees’ business.

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Candy jars and freebie tables

In any office, there’s someone who always keeps a bowl of candy out, says Largeman-Roth, and if you’re a dieter or a binger or a stress eater, that person is the enemy. “We know that when you put something delicious out on prominent display, people are going to eat much more of it than if it was tucked away in a desk drawer out of sight.” The same goes for the leftover desserts or doughnuts lurking in the kitchen, she adds. “If there’s a common area for sweets and you know it’s a weakness, you may need to steer clear and not let yourself be tempted.”

Coworkers’ eating habits

If you frequently go to lunch with your colleagues, their unhealthy dietary choices may rub off on you. A 2014 review study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that people tend to conform to “eating norms” in social settings. In other words, if you know other people are ordering high-fat foods, you’re more likely to do the same. This makes sense, especially in a work setting, says Largeman-Roth. “You want to fit in—no one wants to be known as the girl who only eats tofu or drinks green smoothies, so you go along with the crowd even if it’s not what you’d normally order,” she says.

Constant office parties

If your workplace is the type that marks every single birthday, anniversary, and promotion with cake and cookies, watch out: Nearly one in five respondents to the CareerBuilder survey said that these celebrations contributed to their weight gain.

“Employers may see these events as fun perks that boost company morale, so it can be quite controversial to suggest that they may not be so good for their health,” says Dr. Tryon. “The challenge here is in finding ways to celebrate and reward workers that doesn’t necessarily involve forcing sugary foods on them.”

HEALTH.COM: 11 Foods That Make You Hungrier

The vending machines

When you’ve got back-to-back meetings and even the cafeteria is too far away, the vending machine can be your savior—at least temporarily. But most of those packaged snack options are high in calories and low in nutrients, says Largeman-Roth.

Instead, try to keep healthy snacks like apples or fruit-and-nut bars at your desk. Before you give into a soda craving, drink a glass of cold water. (Chances are you don’t actually need the caffeine, not to mention the calories.) And if you must visit the vending machine, opt for a small pack of unsalted nuts or trail mix, which has protein and healthy fats to fill you up.

The elevator

When’s the last time you took the stairs at work? Taking the stairs, even if that means changing into sneakers on your lunch break or getting off the elevator a flight or two early in an office high-rise, can add valuable calorie-burning steps to your day, says Dr. Tryon. Employers should take note, too. “Simple environmental changes, like lighting stairwells to make them more appealing for people to use, can create a healthier environment and healthier workers,” Dr. Tryon says.

Lack of sunlight

If you work in a windowless cubicle and you arrive at work before the sun comes up, you could be missing out on a powerful, all-natural weapon against obesity. A 2014 Northwestern University study found that exposure to the sun was associated with BMI, and that getting bright light in the morning hours seemed to have a slimming effect. Light helps to regulate circadian rhythms, which in turn regulate energy balance and expenditure, say the study authors. They suggest getting 20 to 30 minutes of sunlight between 8 a.m. and noon each day to avoid unwanted weight gain—yet another argument for walking to work or taking that mid-morning break!

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Business trips

All the wining-and-dining on business trips can add up: dinners on the company tab, lavish meals with clients or associates, and the lure of regional cuisine are all likely to trigger overeating, even for someone who’s normally very healthy at home, says Largeman-Roth. Plus, traveling for work two weeks or more a month was linked to higher BMI, higher rates of obesity, and lower self-reported health in a 2011 Columbia University study. The authors note that 81% of business trips are taken in cars, and that travelers are likely sitting for long hours and making poor food choices.

Overnight shifts

Night-shift workers may be at an even higher risk of obesity than daytime desk jockeys, according to a 2014 University of Colorado at Boulder study. Researchers found that participants burned fewer calories over a three-day period when they slept during the day and stayed up (and ate) through the night than when they followed a normal schedule. The body’s circadian clock can shift over time, the researchers say, but because shift-workers tend to revert to a normal schedule on their days off, their bodies never fully adapt to their work schedules.

Distracted eating

Eating at your desk every day works against your waistline in more ways than one. Not only do you miss out the exercise you would have gotten by walking a few blocks to the sandwich shop, but you’re likely missing out on the full experience of eating. “You’re multitasking—answering emails, making phone calls, doing online shopping—and you’re not focusing on the enjoyment or the fulfillment of your food,” says Largeman-Roth. “And an hour later, you’ve almost forgotten you ate lunch and you’re already grabbing something else, not realizing you just had a full meal.”

HEALTH.COM: 13 Comfort Foods That Burn Fat

Your digital devices

Job-related obesity triggers don’t always disappear when you leave the office. In an ever-connected society, many employees find themselves tied to a mobile phone even in their so-called off hours, making it harder for them to escape work stress and demands.

Frequent use of these devices has also been linked to increased rates of sedentary behavior, which can in turn lead to unwanted weight gain. In a 2013 Kent State University study, people who used their cell phones most often were also most likely to forego opportunities for physical activity.

Happy hours and networking events

In many offices, after-work drinks are an expected part of the job—it’s where you bond with your coworkers, earn points with your boss, or blow off steam when a project doesn’t go your way. “You feel like you can’t say no, because you don’t want to be the person who’s killing the party,” says Largeman-Roth.

But calories from alcohol—and from those appetizers Susie in accounting just ordered for the table—can add up quickly. And because booze lowers inhibitions and stimulates appetite, the more you drink, the harder it will be to resist those pre-dinner snacks.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

TIME Cancer

Most Types of Cancer Just ‘Bad Luck,’ Researchers Say

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JUAN GARTNER—Getty Images/Science Photo Library RF Lymphocytes and cancer cell

Two thirds of cancers could be explained as biological misfortune

Researchers have found that bad luck plays a major role in determining most types of cancer, rather than genetics or risky lifestyle choices such as smoking.

The results, published in the journal Science on Thursday, found that random DNA mutations that amass in the body when stem cells divide into various tissues cause two thirds of cancers.

After examining 31 cancer types, researchers found 22 were from mutations in stem cells that could not be prevented.

Cancers that could be explained with biological bad luck included pancreatic, leukemia, bone, testicular, ovarian and brain cancer.

But the researchers say lifestyle choices such as avoiding smoking, eating healthily and staying out of the sun will help to prevent certain cancers, just not all of them.

Read next: Medicine Is About to Get Personal

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TIME Innovation

Big Idea 2015: Technology Can Save Us Time, But Are We Spending Those Extra Hours Well?

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Maynard Webb is Chairman of the Board at Yahoo! and founder of Webb Investment Network. Webb is also the author of "Rebooting Work: Transform How You Work in the Age of Entrepreneurship".

in the midst of all of the productivity hacks and exciting advances we must remember to retain our humanity

Everyone starts with the same number of hours in the day. But what differentiates us is how much we get out of those hours. The most successful people achieve things in less than a third of the time it would take an average person to complete the same task.

But now — and in a trend that will grow in 2015 — we are seeing more tools and hacks that will allow everyone to gain an edge on Father Time, allowing us to complete more, achieve more, and enjoy more in less time than ever before.

There are several advances in technology that will rapidly increase productivity:

Electronic Payments: Apple Pay and Visa Checkout enable us to save time from filling out information and making payments simpler and more secure than ever before.

Working Idle Assets: Airbnb and Relay Rides allow us to leverage our assets when we are not using them, and make money when we are not working, allowing us freedom do more in other areas.

Automobiles: Incredible advances are being made with cars, and I know my investment in a Tesla not only saves me money — I charge it at home overnight, when I get better rates and get credits for the solar panels I put in — but it also saves me time. I’m never wasting cycles of productivity sitting at a gas station. In the future, we will have driverless cars, allowing us to accomplish other things while we are in transit.

On Demand: I no longer wait to see the news in the morning paper, but get my updates from Yahoo! News Digest, an amazing tool that culls the biggest headlines curated just for me. I read all of my news on my sports teams on my phone and when I am waiting in line at Starbucks. Twitter is another example of an increasingly popular platform for scanning real-time news. I used to spend my mornings searching for that news; now I use that extra time I get back to work with the entrepreneurs we invest in and help more people make their ideas a reality.

Wearables: No question that there’s been a lot of hype around IoT, especially as it relates to high-tech wearables. Wearable devices are now at the heart of just about every discussion related to IoT, and I believe that 2015 will see us continue to move from viewing these as fun novelties and interesting gadgets, to a game-changing influence with the potential to not only disrupt the modern business world (i.e. Salesforce Wear), but also help us to be more productive in our personal lives.

In 2015 we will all have the opportunity to save more time than ever. But in the midst of all of these productivity hacks and exciting advances we must remember to retain our humanity. We must not spend meals with loved ones on our smartphones. We must not squander this saved time scouring Facebook or binge-watching seasons of TV shows. Too often we get savings in one area, and we waste it in another. Let’s not do that.

This coming year we should think about how to spend our newly gained time and resolve to give it back to the world. The people who learn how to harness time for good will be the most successful and make the biggest impact.

This Influencer post originally appeared on LinkedIn. Maynard Webb shares his thoughts as part of LinkedIn’s Influencer series, “Big Ideas 2015” in which the brightest minds in business blog on LinkedIn about their predictions on ideas and trends that will shape 2015. LinkedIn Editor Amy Chen provides an overview of the 70+ Influencers that tackled this subject as part of the package. Follow Maynard Webb and insights from other top minds in business on LinkedIn.

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

TIME Mental Health/Psychology

5 Email Habits of Very Productive People

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Here's how to practice good email hygiene

Ping! Check email. Ping. Check email again. Ping. Check. Ping. Check. Ping. Check.

If you’re like most people who sit in front of a computer all day, this probably sounds like you: When you’re not currently replying to an email, you’re looking to see if you have any new ones. Then when something new does come in, you read it, debate how to respond, then deem it too time-consuming for the moment. “I’ll get to that later,” you think. And if there’s nothing new, you’re nervously wondering why. “Is it because my inbox is full?!” So you keep checking back every 15 seconds until something pops up—in the meantime deleting all the junk mail that has since clogged your inbox.

HEALTH.COM: 12 Reasons to Stop Multitasking Now!

But a life tethered to your email means those other projects you want and need to do—be they big reports or personal tasks—can get postponed by days, weeks, or months. Not to mention, a new Canadian study found hyperchecking your email can make you (surprise!) more stressed. So we asked five people who have a barrage of emails to answer to tell us how they tame their inbox.

Read on for their strategies to deal with the deep, dark email crevasse.

Set designated “reply times”

“I do many quick checks of email throughout the day to see if there’s something high priority and urgent that has come in, but I only allocate two times a day to fully deal with the email that has accumulated. By batching all of the heavy duty email processing into bigger chunks, I can be much more efficient and reduce the feeling of constantly switching tasks.”

—Jacob Bank, computer scientist and co-founder and CEO of the Timeful calendar app

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Pick and choose what’s key

“I respond to priorities as soon as possible, and keep correspondence clear and super positive. Knowing that I’ll still never get through all the emails, I prioritize people who are asking for help and opportunities that support my intention. I’m also not afraid to use the “!” for high priorities or dramatic effect.”

—Tara Stiles, yoga instructor, author of the Make Your Own Rules Diet ($25, amazon.com), and W Hotels’ fitness partner

Email only the quick things

“Email works for quick day-to-day correspondence, but when I have something important to discuss or decisions to be made, I pick up the phone. It is always better to hear the person on the other end—the inflection in their voice. Emails can often be misunderstood.”

Bobbi Brown, makeup artist and Health‘s contributing beauty and lifestyle editor

HEALTH.COM: 13 Ways to Beat Stress in 15 Minutes or Less

Sort all your stuff

“I have found that treating my online mail just like post office mail works wonders. I created folders: Everything from mom folder, workout class folder, celebrity clientele folder, house folder, summer cottage folder, medical folder, kid folders, etc. With emails organized into categories, I can easily do my three steps…find, take action, or delete. You’ll also need to unsubscribe from junk. The volume of junk email is tremendous and spending time deleting each one is taking precious time away from you. Finally, prioritize emails that need attention that particular day. I hit reply and drag them to the corner of my desktop if I can’t get to them at that moment, otherwise I use my other rule, don’t leave an email request—answer asap.”

—Kathy Kaehler, celebrity trainer, author, and founder of Sunday Set-Up, a healthy eating club

Respond—don’t mull

“I try to respond to emails as soon as I see them because otherwise they can get pushed further down the inbox and may be ignored. I recommend you be responsive but not superfluous. By responding quickly and writing short, non-flowery emails, you can create an image of efficiency and attentiveness. Even short words like “Thanks” or “Got it” will help you build a culture of trust and signal that you are on top of your inbox.”

—Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine, Health’s contributing medical editor, and cofounder of Tula Skincare

HEALTH.COM: 10 Nervous Habits That Hurt Your Health

This article originally appeared on Health.com

TIME astrology

Astrologer Susan Miller On Why You Should Pay Attention to the Lunar Eclipse

Blood Moon China
Guo Chen—Xinhua/Sipa Through multiple exposures, the blood moon is shown in Hefei, China on Oct. 8, 2014.

The author of AstrologyZone.com's popular horoscopes explains October's 'Blood Moon'

Early Wednesday morning, at about 5:15am ET, the moon will turn an ominous shade of red as the earth passes between it and the sun. This is the second total eclipse in an unusual series of four consecutive total eclipses that began in April of 2014 and will continue through April of next year.

“It’s called a blood moon, but I don’t want people to be agitated by that,” popular astrologer Susan Miller tells TIME. And while the April 15 lunar eclipse signaled a time of conflict and even tragedy — Miller notes that was the day day Boko Haram kidnapped 276 schoolgirls in Nigeria and the day before a South Korean ferry capsized leaving 300 dead and missing — “this one is much more gentle.”

In fact, Miller says the change that the Oct. 8 lunar eclipse brings, although shocking at first, will even be good, at least according to the stars. To understand why, we asked her all the questions you’d want to ask a famous astrologer.

What does a lunar eclipse signify?

“This eclipse is a full moon so something is coming from to an ending or culmination,” she explains.

“Eclipses are non-negotiable,” Miller says. “They end something and they brings something else. But it really needed to end… There’s a shock factor first, and then a solution that turns out to be so good that you realize, wait a minute, this is a blessing.

Miller recalls when she had a houseguest who “spent the whole year crying on my couch,” coincidentally over the course of a series of five eclipses. On the first eclipse, her husband asked for a divorce. On the second, he told her that he wanted to sell the house. Come the third the house was sold, fourth the property was split, and on the final eclipse the divorce was finalized.

So what do you do after that initial jolt of the eclipse?

Miller sees an eclipse as a dog pulling at your skirt, leading in a particular direction. Like Lassie. Or an aggressive French bull dog determined to be taken on a walk.

“They demand action,” she says. “If your mindset is, ‘It’s not convenient for me to be thinking about this,’ the universe laughs at you.”

So if you feel sick, go to the doctor. Even if you’re scared. Whatever the diagnosis, it needs to be treated. Furthermore, if you lose a job, don’t ask for it back. If a relationship ends, accept the breakup. “Just keep your dignity,” Miller advises. “We have to realize some people aren’t buying what you’re selling. ”

And don’t panic.

“Even though initially all things look lost, take a breath, wait a few days, a gold triangle will kick in,” she says. (A gold triangle is a good thing.)

Who will feel this month’s eclipse the most?

While most people will feel it around Wednesday, Miller estimates 5% of TIME readers have already felt the impact of the eclipse, as dates are relatively flux in the astrological world. The degree of an eclipse’s impact, of course, varies depending on one’s birthdate.

Those who will feel it “right on the nose,” says Miller, include people born near October 8, plus or minus five days. January 8, plus or minus five days; April 8, plus or minus five days; and July 8, plus or minus five days.

“That includes the United States,” Miller says.

Say what about the United States?

According to Miller, countries aren’t exempt from the lunar eclipse. So yes, because America’s birthday is July 4th, the nation will also be affected by the eclipse, according to her predictions.

“When you look at Obama’s list of concerns around the world, it keeps growing,” Miller says. “All the astrologists knew that it would be a tough time for America. But we’ve had tough times before, this isn’t the first time we’ve had eclipses there.”

This eclipse in particular relates to reputation. “Edward Snowden had really damaged our reputation, and it looks like we have another little thing to go,” Miller says. “Maybe it’s the secret service? Something may come up later this week. It could be a top person stepping down?”

But Miller says that it is going to get better.

The takeaway?

Just remember to keep on, keeping on. No matter what, there’s a new moon on October 23.

“That one,” Miller says, “is nice.”


TIME health

The Weirdest Stuff We All Do at the Gym

strongman-lifting.
Getty Images

This post originally appeared on Refinery29.com.

A few years ago the media was obsessed with talking about the weird habits of people who live alone. The uninhibited freedom of not cohabitating gives you a free pass to walk around naked, sing to yourself, and leave the bathroom door open 24/7. And, while I currently live with a roommate, I don’t curb any of my quirkiness — except maybe the bathroom-door thing.

But, since the gym is my second home, it’s only natural that I have a second set of weird quirks specific to the sweat-friendly atmosphere. They may be a bit unconventional, but they’re never annoying or disrespectful — no loud conversations or equipment hogging. I proudly display my eccentric gym habits as any true local would — like a badge of honor. From treadmill racing to yawning while exercising to giving my muscles a mental “pat on the back,” here are some oddities I’m definitely guilty of doing.

(MORE: How to Actually Enjoy Your Workout)

1. I maximize viewings of my gym clothes by saving my favorite apparel for Monday workouts — as that is when the gym is always the most crowded. I realize occupying a treadmill in the front row of Equinox isn’t the same as sitting front row during Fashion Week, I just happen to love my spandex and want to show it off. And, when you’re in the front, there’s no room for slacking, so it helps me push harder, even if no one is actually paying any attention.

2. There is such a thing as a “better” treadmill, StairMaster, or [insert equipment of choice]. Perhaps it’s the one positioned directly under the AC or away from the mirror so I don’t have to stare at myself for the duration of my three-mile run. Whatever the reason, once I find my favorite, I’ll forever try exercise on that same piece of equipment anytime I’m at that gym.

3. During lunges, I rest my hands on my butt (as discreetly as possible). It’s a reminder to push through my heels, so that I engage my glute muscles, instead of relying on my quads, to return to standing. Plus, when you feel your muscles working, it’s definitely a “go me” moment.

4. I won’t seek you out, but if you choose the treadmill next to me (when there are a few open), I will assume you want to race. And, we will — game on.

(MORE: 5 Reasons to Skip Your Workout)

5. Even when I’m totally pumped up and not remotely tired, sometimes I’ll yawn at the gym. There are a lot of different theories why this happens (one is that yawning helps cool the brain), and I used to be embarrassed, thinking that everyone around me would assume I wasn’t working hard enough. But, then I stopped caring what other people thought and used my yawns to see if anyone was staring — because we all know that yawning is contagious.

6. I pee no less than three times before my CrossFit workout. Whenever I know that I have a tough training session ahead, my bladder goes into overdrive. It’s annoying, but I’ve learned to deal with it and plan for multiple bathroom breaks.

7. I don’t put makeup on, specifically for the purpose of going to the gym, but, if I train after work, I don’t necessarily put any effort into taking it off. I do plan my lip color around my workout schedule though as I have one red lip stain that I love. But, I have to avoid wearing it on days that I plan to train since it’s impossible to remove.

8. When I forget to toss my armband in my gym bag, I’ll attempt to store my phone in weird places (including in my sports bra, tucked under the strap of my tank top, and in a legging pocket that wasn’t meant to hold anything larger than a key), so I can listen to my jams uninterrupted while exercising. It almost never works, but I keep trying.

(MORE: How I Balance Drinking and Exercise)

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