TIME advice

13 Highly Useful Skills You Can Learn in a Minute

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Know which side the gas tank is on without getting out of the car

Everyone loves a good life hack, especially if it’s super quick to pick up.

While one minute may not seem like a lot of time to master a useful skill, you’d be surprised just how much you can actually accomplish in 60 seconds or less.

With the help of a Quora thread on the matter, here are are several handy life skills you can pick up almost instantly:

1. Start everything with ‘why?’ in mind

“Always! Not only when it comes to business plans,” says user Charles Faraone. “Start with why for every decision impacting on your life, health, and happiness. Ask yourself why you’re eating foods that might not be healthy for you. Why you’re doing things the way you’re doing them. Why you’re avoiding doing what you know you should be doing. It’s an amazingly simple approach with huge potential payoffs.”

2. Save ink when printing

When printing documents, user Veijay Jain suggests simply changing the text from black to gray. This will make little difference to the quality of what you’re printing, and will not only reduce the amount of ink used, but it’ll also increase the printing speed. “Needless to say that by using less ink, you will be slowing down the process filling the mother earth with used cartridges, helping our earth remain greener.”

3. Stop an impending sneeze

User Alexander Freiherr offers a few methods for stopping a sneeze. “Squeeze your nose. Catch the part of your nose above the tip and stretch it out as if you are removing your nose out of your face. It should not be painful, but simply stretch out your cartilage, stopping the sneeze.

“Blow your nose. Use tissue and blow your nose when you feel a sneeze coming on. It should clear your sinuses of what caused the sneeze in the first place.

“Pinch your upper lip. Using your thumb and forefinger, pinch your upper lip lightly and press it upward toward your nostrils. Your thumb should head toward one nostril and your forefinger toward the other, bunching up your upper lip slightly.

“Use your tongue. Press your tongue behind your two front teeth, where the roof of your mouth meets the gum palate or alveolar ridge. Press hard with your most powerful muscles against your teeth until the tickling sensation dissipates.”

4. Build muscle at your desk

Press your hands together as hard as you can, says user Ashwin D. Kini. You should feel pressure in your pectoral, shoulder, and arm muscles. This kind of isometric exercise requires minimal movement, but strengthens muscles.

5. Save time with computer shortcuts

User Jhasketan Sahu suggests the following for smoother web browsing:

To open a new Tab: <Ctrl><T>.
To close any open Tab: <Ctrl><W>.
To move from one Tab to another: <Ctrl><Page Up> or<Ctrl><Page Down>.
To reopen a recently closed tab: <Ctrl><Shift><T>.
To find specific text in a web page: <Ctrl><F>.
To increase or decrease the size of the text: Hold <Ctrl> and press “+” or “-” respectively.
To open a link in a new tab: Hold <Ctrl> and click the link.

6. Easily change text case in Word

Highlight the text you want to change the case of and press Shift+F3, writes Suvam Behera. Doing this once will convert the highlighted text to all upper case, twice will convert the text to all lowercase, and three times will capitalize the first letter of each word.

7. Never prematurely send an email again

“When you’re writing an email, fill in the addressee last,” says David Spencer. “This way, you will never accidentally click and send a premature email.”

8. Make anonymous phone calls

According to an anonymous reader who clearly values his privacy, to make an anonymous phone call on a cell phone in the United States, dial *69, the country code you’re calling — if you’re calling someone in the US, that’s 1 — and then dial the phone number. The call recipient will see a message like “unavailable” or “private number” on his caller ID.

9. Declutter your mind before bed

“At the end of the day for one minute summarize your day,” writes Mihalache Catalin. “What you did, what you could do but didn’t because fear or laziness stopped you. Why you did everything in that day. How to improve what you do. Do this always before you sleep and you will have a good night sleep.”

10. Always know if you’ve taken your daily medication

For medications you take twice a day, user Madhu Mita suggests flipping the bottle upside-down after you take it in the evening and flipping it right-side up after the morning dose.

For medications you take three times a day, place the bottle on the left side of you (you can do this with a bathroom sink or your desk) in the morning, in front of you at noon, and to the right of you after dinner.

“The pattern doesn’t matter, as long as you’re consistent: move the bottle after you take the dose, and you’ll be able to look back later and see if you’ve taken it.”

11. Conserve your smartphone battery

User Ashok Kumar says whenever you are not using internet on your phone through Wifi, turn your Wifi off. When out of range of a network, your phone continually polls for a network, which drains the battery.

12. Have a more productive day

“In the morning, when you get to work or school, the first thing you should do is to prioritize your day,” writes user David Palank. “Most people start by checking emails or phone calls. However, prioritizing is the most draining on the brain and should be done when your brain is fresh! This is the first step to productivity.”

13. Know which side the gas tank is on without getting out of the car

“If you look at the little gas indicator on your dashboard (instrument cluster), you should see a tiny arrow next to it,” says user Bharath Raj. “That arrow actually points to the gas tank (fuel lid) side of your car. Now you’ll never forget where it is again!”

This article originally appeared on Business Insider

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TIME Careers & Workplace

10 Pieces of Career Advice for New Graduates

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There is more than one way to do something

BusinessCollective Logo for Web

My team is amazing. I say it a lot, and it’s true. But even the team at Red Branch Media has its moments. There have been times when I’ve seen the cultural gap well in effect and periods where my employer head has clashed with my leader heart. In the years I’ve been in business, I have hired a lot of new graduates. After I recently read Jack Welch’s LinkedIn piece on new grads, I was compelled to write a candid open letter to them as well.

So here’s my copycat post. Here’s what I would (and do) tell new grads when they walk into Red Branch Media with soul-crushing loans and a desire to change the world with their knowledge. And please know, I don’t tell them these things to discourage them, but to prepare them and make them better than they could be if I simply told them to “find their destiny.”

This Is Not Your Destiny

At least, this isn’t what you thought your destiny would be when you were a kid. I wanted to be a rock star/Miss Universe, and now I lead a merry band of B2B advertising rock stars. And so it goes. I know it’s hard to face up to the fact that you aren’t going to write the great American novel in your first five years out of school. Although my firm is an amazing place to work and you will be a better writer, worker, person and probably dancer when you leave, it probably isn’t your destiny. So don’t expect it to be. Instead, focus on learning skills that will help you when you do sit down to write that novel.

I Am Not Your Mom or Your College Professor

This is a workplace. This means you show up no matter how sick your dog is. This means you don’t forget about conference calls with clients. It means I feel terrible when you and your boyfriend are having a fight but no, it does not qualify as a sick day. Meeting a deadline and turning in a paper are two very different things, and developing you into a great colleague is very different than helping you become a good person.

Want to Work From Home? Earn It

I get that you want to work from home, but very few college grads are equipped to do so right out of the gate. Perhaps you are the exception. Fine. Spend some time earning my trust so I know I can rely on you to do a good job from home, Starbucks or Tahiti.

Your Loans Are on You

Don’t ask me for a raise because you took out loans. I worked several jobs, had two babies, a mortgage and the same loans you did at your age. It is not in me to feel sorry for you that your dad stopped paying your cell phone bill. Save this conversation for your friends, not your boss. I know the system isn’t fair, and I know it’s hard out there for a grad, but trust me.

You Are Replaceable

This one is hard. You never want to say this to people who work for you, because it’s demoralizing and stinky. But that doesn’t make it any less true. For every job I’ve left, I was convinced the company would implode without me. Only one actually did, and that was a bit of a fluke of timing. Look, it’s easy to think you have the roughest, toughest job in the whole company, but please believe me when I say that everyone is replaceable.

Keep Learning

You aren’t done yet. You have to keep learning in life, never more so than those heady, dispiriting years when you realize you learned nothing with a real world application during your four expensive years in school. So many of the people we hire here at Red Branch end up wanting so badly to drop out and work here full-time, just because their final semesters seems so incongruent with their job here. And it’s not because we’re not solving real issues.

Your Naiveté Is Immensely Valuable

Sure, it can be a hindrance, but it’s also a goldmine of completely unbiased market research. It’s quite common for new employees to ask questions about marketing that I never thought of before. Keep questioning until you get an answer that suffices, but keep doing what you’re paid to do in the meantime.

There’s More Than One Way to Do Something

Six plus three equals nine. But so does four plus five, and two plus five plus one plus one. There is more than one way to do something. When you start your first job, or even your first job search, there will be people who train you to think three plus six equals nine, and that’s all right because it does. But don’t lock yourself into just one way of doing things. Keep taking chances and trying different ways to do things.

Debate Is Fine; Excuses Aren’t

I love when someone on my team challenges an assumption I’ve had forever. Not that it’s fun being reminded that what you thought you knew is increasingly unreliable, but it makes me realize that I do have buy-in. What frustrates me are excuses. I know you didn’t mean to mess up, that it was an accident, that you didn’t know, that you were confused, that you got sick, and that you thought someone else was handling it, but none of those are solutions. So, don’t offer me excuses until you have a solution. Fix it first, then analyze what went wrong. Don’t confuse justification with debate.

Don’t Let Anyone (Not Even Me) Define What You Are Worth

A job (even a cool one) at a desk (even a standing one) working for the boss man (even a woman one) isn’t for everyone. It wasn’t for me and it might not be for you. Define your own dreams, salary and path. It may not happen overnight, but it will happen.

Maren Hogan is a seasoned marketer and community builder in the HR and Recruiting industry. She leads Red Branch Media, an agency offering marketing strategy and content development. A consistent advocate of next generation marketing techniques, Hogan has built successful online communities, deployed brand strategies in both the B2B and B2C sectors, and been a prolific contributor of thought leadership in the global recruitment and talent space.

BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.

This article originally appeared on BusinessCollective.

TIME Careers & Workplace

6 Life Hacks Learned in Prison That Will Maximize Your Productivity

A life hack is defined as a strategy or technique to more efficiently manage one’s time and daily activities.

After I quickly shook off the shock of being sentenced to two to five years in prison for a bar fight that took place seven years prior, I proactively made the decision to make my time behind bars the most productive time of my life. Have I mentioned prison has parallels to startups? Yes, I have (How My Life As An Entrepreneur Shaped My Time In Prison and 3 Entrepreneurial Skills Inmates Perfect).

Tim Ferriss thinks his life is an experiment, but give a natural born entrepreneur two years in prison and you’ll see real life experiments.

As you can imagine, there’s little to do in a 6-foot-by-8-inch gray cell. Just like any Chuck Norris movie, I had to take a quick inventory check of my resources to figure out how to maximize my time.

Inventory check:

  • Endless supply of notepad paper (purchase on commissary)
  • Trusty number-two golf pencil
  • No Internet or computers
  • Typewriter in law library
  • 16 magazine subscriptions
  • Blog articles printed and sent via USPS
  • Continued flow of books
  • Abundance of time
  • Few distractions

As you can see from the above list, prison has somewhat limited resources, and you’re forced to become a MacGyver entrepreneur if you want to be productive. Here’s a list of strategies I adopted to be more productive with my time in prison that I still use today. I recommend these strategies for all entrepreneurs:

1. Be an early riser.

Chow comes between 4:45 to 5 a.m. every morning. If you miss that meal you don’t eat again until noon. Needless to say, I missed that meal one time, and never again. I quickly adopted the early morning routine, and rather than go back to bed like all my fellow inmates, I stayed up and used the quiet time for my daily reading and writing regimens.

I still use this technique today (although my start time is not quite so early). My tip is to commit to something very important early in the morning. For example, client calls, user demos, investor calls, breakfast with mom, run with cofounder, etc.

If it’s important enough, you’ll get up and be able to create a habit. (Research shows it takes 21 days to create a habit).

2. Write every day.

Where I was an prisoner, there are four phones for every wing, and roughly 80 dudes. I never enjoyed writing as much as I do now until I went to prison. The thing is, if you want to be heard on the outside, you have to write because your voice is heard through your written word.

I wrote every day for two years straight. I hand wrote articles to Entrepreneur. I wrote my first book. I wrote letters to friends. I wrote ideas in my journal. I wrote, wrote and wrote.

You should commit to a daily time to write (for me it was 5:30 to 8 a.m.) For starters, read and summarize what you read, or write down how you feel that day.

Write an outline on paper to organize your thoughts. Write your notes by hand on paper to get them out of your head. Just write.

3. Write to communicate effectively.

The most advanced piece of technology that prison inmates have access to is the coveted number-two golf pencil (besides the typewriter that typically resides in the law library, which actually comes in handy when writing a book). Writing out my thoughts during my time in prison has allowed me to be a better communicator.

I’ve learned to think diligently about my thoughts, and use them to communicate more effectively. Writing can help you organize your thoughts better and actually helps you to be a better verbal communicator.

Start with communicating to your team via email, send emails to partners about discussions and/or send emails to your spouse when working through tough decisions.

4. Read every day.

I read 197 books in two years. As you can imagine, there’s ample time to read while in prison. However, it is still a decision that has to be made. There are plenty of other ways to distract your mind vs. feeding it knowledge.

Reading is vital to building successful startups. We can gain new knowledge, new perspective and learn from others.

To adopt this habit, commit to a regular schedule. Highlight important points of the book, then upon finishing it, go back through and write notes from the highlighted sections. Finally, keep a running log of all of the books you’ve read.

5. Bootstrapping like an inmate.

Prison is expensive. State food rations will leave you starving, and commissary can cost you a small fortune every week. Your outside savings won’t last long, and you have no way to make money in the real world to support your prison lifestyle. Yikes.

Fortunately for me, I had been bootstrapping startups since high school. Even more so in prison, I learned how to maximize every dollar. I used to buy coffee for cheap on commissary because it sold out quickly and I would sell it to people looking for it once it was gone. I sold my meals and traded them for books.

I build businesses by leveraging my resources, being scrappy with my time (working all hours of the day) and working with people as partners rather than outsourcing the projects.

You can do this by first figuring out how to decrease your large expenses by scrutinizing every dollar spent. Look for discount codes when applicable. And be sure to test everything.

6. Beating the system in the system.

As entrepreneurs, we see the world differently, and successful entrepreneurs bend the world to make it more like the way they envision it.

I figured out how to bend the rules in prison. I found out that if you claim adrenal issues you get better food. I got a doctor’s note that said I couldn’t work, which allowed me to read and write all day. I found out that working in the kitchen allowed me to eat better, and visiting the law library allowed me to use the typewriter to type up my notes rather than write them by hand.

As entrepreneurs, we need to release the bondage society puts on us. If we’re trying to change the world, we need to be comfortable with living the lives we all envision without the guilty feeling of not working nine to five.

So bend the rules, learn from others who have the success you envision, design your own life and go against the norm as often as possible. (I go to the movies during the day to get rid of the feeling of needing to be at work from nine to five.)

Just for the record, Tim, there’s no “4-Hour Prison Term.” I’ve learned that when life hands you lemons, you figure out how to hack those dang lemons and be hyper productive, even in the face of a prison riot.

On another note, today, June 26, is my birthday. I welcome all gifts, tweets and Facebook cards.

This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com

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TIME Food & Drink

7 Practical Cooking Tips I Learned From Barefoot Contessa

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Chocolate tastes better with a touch of coffee powder

I’ll start by saying this: I’m not athletic, nor do I particularly like working out. But after graduating from college, I discovered a motivating factor that got me to the gym: Barefoot Contessa. I don’t have a TV at home, so I’ve been timing my gym workouts for the past five years with episodes of my favorite cooking show.

After all those years and all those episodes (which I’ve seen multiple times), I’ve learned some surprising but practical tips from the inimitable Ina. While I originally went to the gym to lose a few pounds, I ended up gaining a whole lot of knowledge from Barefoot Contessa.

Now, I’ve learned a lot from Ina Garten over the years about food and entertaining in general — keep things simple (with the volume turned up a notch), use good-quality ingredients, shop local when you can, make items ahead of time — but these are the more nitty-gritty tips I’ve gleaned over the course of watching Barefoot Contessa for so many years; the little hidden nuggets of wisdom that weave their way into her narrative as she effortlessly pulls a roast chicken out of the oven or frosts a three-layer cake.

1. Add coffee to chocolate.

This is a recurring tip mentioned throughout many Barefoot Contessa episodes. Whenever Ina is making a chocolate ganache or cake, she adds some freshly brewed coffee or instant coffee powder (or both!) to enhance the flavor of the chocolate.

2. Use a sharp knife to “mash” guacamole.

Before seeing this tip, I used to mash my guacamole with a fork, eliminating almost all the chunks. Now, though, I’ve seen the light: Ina uses a sharp knife to cut through all the guacamole ingredients until everything is combined but still chunky in texture.

3. Add fruit liqueur to fruit.

Similar to the coffee-chocolate trick, Ina adds a splash of various fruit liqueurs to enhance the flavors of fruit dishes. Crème de cassis — a blackcurrant liqueur — is added to the filling of a plum crunch, framboise — a raspberry liqueur — is used in everything from raspberry sauce to a berry trifle, and limoncello — an Italian lemon liqueur — is used in a light fruit salad.

4. Use a saucer to cut tarts out of puff pastry.

Ina is a woman after my own heart, in that she doesn’t like to use unitasker kitchen tools. Instead of buying a tart pan that she’ll only use every once in a while, she traces a sharp knife around a six-inch saucer — placed over a sheet of puff pastry — to cut out circles of puff pastry for tomato-goat cheese tarts.

5. Keep vanilla beans intact when making vanilla extract.

Where many recipes for homemade vanilla extract call for splitting the vanilla bean first, Ina tells you to just drop the whole beans in the jar, pour vodka over them, and wait for the magic to happen. The best part? Pulling out the vanilla beans after they’ve sufficiently infused (or marinated, as she says) and squeezing out those beautiful seeds to use in everything from vanilla ice cream to vanilla sugar.

6. Roast your shrimp.

There’s an episode of Barefoot Contessa, where Ina is making lemon pasta with shrimp, that completely changed the way I cook shrimp. Instead of standing over a pan while the shrimp cook on the stovetop, I now just roast them in the oven. Ina tosses peeled and deveined shrimp on a baking sheet with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roasts them for six to eight minutes at 400°F. No fussing over whether or not the shrimp are ready to be flipped — just throw them in the oven and they’ll come out perfectly cooked every time.

7. Grate cheese in the food processor.

Before seeing this tip, I used to buy containers of pre-grated Parmesan cheese at the grocery store; I was too lazy to grate it myself on a box grater. But on multiple episodes of Barefoot Contessa, Ina makes mention of the fact that you lose a lot of flavor when you buy pre-grated cheese; it’s at its best when you grate a hunk of cheese right before you plan to eat it. Her quick solution? The food processor. She cuts off the rind, cuts the cheese into chunks, and grinds it right in the food processor. To borrow her signature line: “How easy is that?”

This article originally appeared on The Kitchn

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TIME Food & Drink

This Is the Best Way to Cook Bacon

James Ransom, Food52

It only takes 15 minutes

No, we’re not trying to deprive you of one of life’s greatest pleasures: cooking bacon in a hot cast iron skillet, watching it curl into crimped little ribbons, smelling it waft up in fierce, meaty clouds, and hearing it sputter and stutter like a seventh grade boy asking a girl to the movies.

We’re trying to help you cook bacon better.

Because as glorious as cooking bacon on the stove can be, it’s also a mess. There’s grease all over the kitchen, and all over you. And because a pan is only so big, making a heaping plate of bacon is something that takes a while—and will leave you smelling like a high-end dog toy. Instead, you should bake your bacon.

James Ransom, Food52

Here’s how: heat your oven to 400° F, put slices of bacon on a baking sheet—as many as you’d like, just make sure they fit in one layer—and slide it into the oven. The bacon will sizzle in its own rendered fat, cooking evenly. Just 15 minutes or so later, you’ll have those perfect little pork ribbons—with minimal cleanup.

Bonus points: Carefully pour the hot bacon fat into a jar, and store in the fridge. Use as you would lard or butter. Expect awesome, bacon-y flavor.

This article originally appeared on Food52

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TIME apps

6 Must-Know Tricks for Mastering Apple Music

A guide to Apple's powerful but somewhat confusing new app

Apple Music, Apple’s new streaming service, is finally here. The $9.99-per-month service is trying to beat competitors like Spotify and Google Play Music by cramming in as many features as possible: access to 30 million songs on demand, playlists curated by music experts, algorithmically powered radio stations and a live radio station like the ones you hear on the classic FM dial.

All those features add up to make Apple Music an incredibly powerful app, but also one that can be pretty challenging to navigate. Here are five quick tips to make the experience a bit more seamless:

Understanding Apple Music’s Tabs

Apple Music is divided into five main sections, and it’s not exactly obvious what each one does. Here’s a quick breakdown:

  • For You shows you personalized playlists and albums based on the genre and artist preferences you pick out when you first open the app, as well as your play history.
  • New shows a list of new songs and albums, currently popular content, videos and thematic playlists.
  • Radio features Beats 1, Apple’s 24/7 live radio station, and algorithmically driven stations based on genre.
  • Connect is a social network that lets artists connect directly to fans.
  • My Music shows the songs you have in your library, as well as any playlists you’ve built.

Show Only Songs You’ve Downloaded

Apple Music doesn’t do much to help denote which songs are downloaded to your phone and which are floating in the cloud. On the “My Music” tab, you can select the drop-down menu that begins with “Artists” in the middle of the screen and activate the “Music Available Offline” option at the bottom of the menu. That will make it so only songs on your iPhone show up.

Turn Off Your Subscription’s Auto-Renewal

Apple Music comes with a free three-month subscription, but be careful—Apple has already “helpfully” signed you up to begin paying the $9.99 monthly fee via your iTunes account when the trial ends. To make sure you don’t get charged, press the human silhouette icon in the top left corner of Apple Muisc, select “View Apple ID,” then select “Manage” under the Subcriptions header. Select “Apple Music Membership” and then select “Free Trial.” The app should then show you the date your trial is set to end, and it won’t charge you after that time expires.


Download Songs Using Cellular Data

By default, the iPhone only downloads songs over Wi-Fi to help prevent large data bills. If you want to be able to download Apple Music songs to your phone via wireless data, go to the Settings menu and then select “iTunes & App Store.” Toggle the “Use Cellular Data” option on, and Apple Music will be able to download songs whenever you have an Internet connection.

See the Upcoming Schedule for Beats 1

Beats 1, Apple Music’s live radio station, is a new twist for music streaming, but presents an age-old problem for music listeners: how do you know what the radio station is going to play next? If you simply click on the “Beats 1” art at the top of the “Radio” tab, you’ll be presented with a schedule of the upcoming shows over the next several hours. Bonus protip: you can add any song playing on Beats 1 to your library by selecting the three periods to the right of the song’s name and clicking “Add to My Music.”

Adjust Your Genre/Artist Preferences

When you first boot up Apple Music, the app will ask you to pick a few favorite genres to help it show you songs catered to your tastes. Later on, if you realize the app is serving you a bit too much death metal, you can change these preferences easily. Click the human silhouette icon in the top left corner, select “Choose Artists for You” and you’ll be taken to the same selection screen for genres and artists that you saw when you first used the app.

TIME Gadgets

6 Secret Tricks You Didn’t Know Your iPhone Could Do

Apple's I Phone  : Launch at Apple Opera Store In Paris
Chesnot—Getty Images A Woman checks the iPhone 6, on the day of its launch at the Apple Store Opera on September 19, 2014, in Paris, France.

Your phone is about to get way more useful

The iPhone always seems to have a new trick up its sleeve. Tucked away in the device’s myriad menus, there’s probably a setting or two you’ve never played with that could make the device even more useful. That’s to say nothing of the numerous gesture-based controls Apple tucks away in its mobile operating system, many of which may not be readily apparent. Chances are you could be typing faster, taking better pictures and noticing more texts with these hidden wonders.

Here, we uncover six lesser-known iPhone tricks that you can use every day:

Take Pictures Using Your Headphones

Pressing the volume-up button on Apple’s official headphones will snap a picture with the iPhone’s camera app. This is a useful trick if you’re setting up your phone on a tripod or want to ensure your shot is steady, as you won’t have to press a button on the screen to take a photo. You can also take a picture by hitting the volume buttons on the side of the iPhone itself.

Shake to Undo

Typed an error into a text or email? Simply shake the iPhone to bring up the option to Undo your last action. The gesture works in iMessage, Mail and other default apps, but developers can also implement the feature, so try it in all kinds of different apps.

Take High-Quality Photos

There’s an easy way to automatically make your iPhone camera take better pictures. With the Camera app open, select HDR On at the top of the screen to take a high dynamic range picture. An HDR photo takes three pictures of a scene and combines the best parts of each to make an image that best captures what the human eye sees.

It’s especially useful for landscapes, pictures in sunlight and photos in low light. If you’re not sure when an HDR photo is appropriate, select HDR Auto at the top of the Camera app, and the iPhone will automatically determine when to use the feature.

Enable Read Receipts

If you want to receive a text from a friend, not reply for a while, but let her know you read it, read receipts are the feature for you. The iMessage function lets other iPhone users know exactly what time you read their texts, similar to how BlackBerry’s BBM worked. To enable the feature, go to Settings, scroll down to Messages and toggle on “Send Read Receipts.” Rumor has it that the upcoming iOS 9 will also let people tailor which friends receive read receipts and which don’t.

Create Keyboard Shortcuts

You can create custom text shortcuts for long words or phrases you often use, like an email address. In the Settings menu, select General, then select Keyboard, then Add New Shortcut. The first field will ask for the long phrase you want to use and the second field will ask for the shortcut you want to stand in for the longer phrase. After the shortcut has been saved, if you type it into iMessage and press the space bar, it will automatically transform into the longer phrase.

Make your phone flash for text message alerts

Sometimes a phone vibration or chime isn’t enough to alert you to a new text message. You can use the iPhone’s LED flash as another alert signal. Simply open the Settings menu, select General, Select Accessibility, then toggle LED Flash for Alerts on.

TIME Careers & Workplace

How to Track Down Anyone’s Email Address Using Your Gmail

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Use the guess-and-verify technique

The Muse logo

Most of us associate networking with industry events, shaking hands with a friend of a friend of a former co-worker, and grabbing coffee with someone you’d like to get to know better. But it’s 2015, and building a relationship can happen just as easily through email. And, yes, I’m talking about the slightly nerve-racking, but potentially very rewarding, act of sending cold emails to professionals you don’t personally know.

Taking the initiative to message influential people in your industry can reap huge benefits. You can ask for advice based on their career path, secure partnerships for your company or side project, or eventually even get a foot in the door with someone who works at your dream company.

No matter what your request is, however, there’s no way to make it unless you have this person’s email. That’s why I’ve used—and will share with you—the guess-and-verify strategy that has helped me find and connect with successful entrepreneurs like Mashable’s CEO, Spoon University’s founders, and Arianna Huffington.

I will say upfront, though, that this strategy usually doesn’t work if you’re trying to contact someone who’s Beyoncé-level famous, or if his or her email is arranged in an uncommon format (more on this later). (Also, the app required for this technique is currently made only for Gmail.)

With that said, I’ve used this strategy for two years now, and it has worked more than 90% of the time. Follow these simple steps and you, too, can contact the inspiring professionals you’ve been dying to connect with.

Your first task is to download Rapportive, an extension that shows you everything you need to know about your contacts. Once it’s downloaded, you can start guessing possible formats for the contact’s email address.

To do this, you only have to know the contact’s full name and company domain. With this information, you can arrange (and re-arrange) these elements until you find a real email address.

Let’s say, for example, that you’re trying to connect with Kevin Systrom, CEO and co-founder of Instagram.

Here are some potential arrangements for his email. (Pro tip: The larger the company, the higher the chances that the email will use both the first and last name.)

  • kevin@instagram.com
  • kevins@instagram.com
  • ksystrom@instagram.com
  • kevinsystrom@instagram.com
  • kevin.systrom@instagram.com
  • k.systrom@instagram.com

With these guesses in mind, you can start the verification process. Open up a new message in Gmail, and insert a potential email address in the recipient slot. If your contact’s LinkedIn profile shows up to the right—congratulations! The email you guessed is active, and you can move on to messaging him or her.

Kat Moon—The Muse

And how can you tell if you’ve inserted an incorrect email? Let’s suppose that I guessed ksystrom@instagram.com and pasted that in. As you can see in the below image, nothing appeared in Rapportive—meaning I can eliminate that address from my list.

Kat Moon—The Muse

Now, not every company’s domain is as straightforward as @instagram.com. If you can’t verify a contact’s email after trying different first and last name arrangements, it’s possible that you don’t have the correct company domain.

When this happens, I go to CrunchBase—the world’s most comprehensive dataset of company activity, covering every organization from Microsoft and Amazon to the newest startups. CrunchBase gives you the most updated domain of whichever company your contact works at. For instance, I had to contact the founder of London-based startup Deliveroo. All of my email guesses ended with @deliveroo.com, but CrunchBase showed me the company domain is actually @deliveroo.co.uk. Sure enough, I verified the correct contact information moments later.

Guess and verify with Rapportive—it’s really as simple as that! Once you have an inspiring professional’s email, be bold and reach out. But before shooting off your message, check out my piece on effective elements that will increase the chances of your cold email getting a reply. No, you probably won’t receive a response for every single email you send. But you know what they say—you’ll never know until you try.

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

More from The Muse:


The 1 Unexpected Trick to Selling Your Stuff on Ebay

Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images The ebay Inc. logo and website are arranged for a photograph in Tiskilwa, Illinois, U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2015.

Using eBay's mobile app can save you time while you still make big bucks

It’s that time of year again. Folding tables are sprouting up in driveways all over the U.S., because yard sale season has arrived once more. But selling your old junk on the side of the road is no way to maximize your returns — that’s best done online. And when it comes to second-hand sales, eBay is still first-rate in a crowded marketplace of e-commerce sites.

“EBay is great to sell used products, one-of-a kind items, antiques, or items that are broken,” says Jordan Malik, author of The Free eBay Products Worth Thousands That You Can Sell Today.

Wait, broken items? Yes indeed — even your junk can rake in dough online, says the award-winning Amazon merchant who’s also been selling on eBay for more than 15 years. “Believe it or not, there’s a huge marketplace for broken electronics for spare parts,” says Malik.

But there’s one key difference between power-sellers like Malik and poor packrats like the rest of us: they don’t hesitate when posting a product for sale.

“People are hesitant to use eBay because of the complexity of putting up a product,” says Malik, adding that sitting down at a computer, picking out a design template, and typing up snappy copy can be a drag. Instead, Malik uses eBay’s mobile app to advertise his goods for sale. “That has made it so much easier to take a photo and list a product,” he says. “They really dumbed down the process.”

The popularity of eBay’s app is changing the game for sellers like Malik. Last year, sales from mobile devices accounted for around one-fifth of the e-commerce site’s total. And, crucially, eBay’s mobile users don’t see the bolded fonts or color-shaded listings that desktop buyers do. That’s why Malik doesn’t bother with these window-dressing details.

“They need to read a description and see the photos clearly to make the buying decision,” he says.

When selling his stuff, Malik uses his smartphone to take photos of the product, uploading the pictures through the eBay app where he also dictates a description of the gear using the voice-to-text feature. From the smartphone’s camera to its microphone, handheld technology has dramatically eliminated the barriers to posting products online.

“In five minutes or less, I’ve got the listing live,” he says. Malik admits that later on, he may fire up the laptop to edit or add more to the description, but that’s not necessary to closing a sale. “There’s plenty of people who just do mobile period and they do just fine,” he says.

As for what sells best on eBay, that’s similarly surprising. You might expect big ticket items in demand by everyone — like cellphones or electronics — to start bidding wars on the auction website. But Malik says niche products tend to sell just as well. For instance, if you have size 15 shoes, get them posted, because someone with big feet will likely come across your listing before they stroll up your front walk.

“If you have 20 used men’s shirts that are 18 1/2s with 35/36 sleeves, selling them together in a bundle will bring you a lot more than they will at a yard sale,” says Malik. And if you’re undecided about what’s more important — freeing yourself from clutter or weighing down your pockets with a chunk of change — this method will have you covered on both.

TIME Business

Why Abolishing Tipping Failed in 1950

TIME.com stock photos Money Dollar Bills
Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad reported customers lacked the courage to kick the habit

The idea of putting an end to tipping has been gaining some traction the United States recently, with some restaurants deciding to ban the practice and restaurant experts also speaking up, especially as momentum builds for increasing the minimum that tipped servers would take home. But this isn’t the first time a business has tried to make that change.

For example, in the late 1940s, the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad declared that tipping in its dining cars was “unworthy of American labor” and “an imposition on the customer.” But the change didn’t stick. In 1950, the company went back to the old way. It turned out that not tipping was just too darn awkward.

Here what happened, as TIME explained back then:

Waiters, though they got a raise, had proved incapable of purging their features of all hope. And most customers had been plain miserable —uncomfortable if they slipped a clandestine coin under a saucer, more uncomfortable if they didn’t. Said the C. & O. sternly: “Too many persons lack the courage to participate in an experiment that breaks with custom.”

Read more about the minimum-wage debate, here in TIME: The Real Meaning of $9 an Hour

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