May 23, 2016

Published May 23, 2016 by with 0 comment

6 Helpful Items to Have in Your Car After an Accident

Each year thousands of new drivers are introduced to our roadways. Unfortunately, there are also a large number of drivers, new and old, that are having car accidents.

Despite testing and training on how to operate a vehicle, there are still some operators that do not have a clue what to do in case of an accident. While some people believe that the moments following a car wreck are the most important from an injury and insurance standpoint, it is also important to prepare yourself for the possibility of an accident before they even occur.

The following items are all important parts of being a prepared driver. Each one of them can potentially come into play in the course of an accident. By having the items in your glove compartment or trunk, you can help to minimize the frustration and confusion that often accompany a car wreck.

Proof of Insurance

In most states, it is already a requirement for a driver to have a copy of his proof of insurance in the automobile. Even for those areas that do not require the document, it is a good idea to keep it in your glove compartment because it contains information you may need in case of an accident.

Most proof of insurance cards have your auto insurance policy number and the contact phone number to your insurance company's claims department on them. Both of these are important because you may need to share the information with the driver of the other vehicle if they plan on making a claim through your insurance company. The responding police officer may also need the information in order to complete his police report.

Contact Phone Numbers

In the case of an accident, you want to make sure that you have your important phone numbers readily accessible to you and your passengers. In addition to 911 to contact emergency rescue personnel, you may also want to keep a contact card with phone numbers for the following people or organizations:
  • Emergency Roadside Assistance/Tow Company
  • Your Insurance Company
  • Car Rental Companies
  • Contact Info for your closest family or friends

Notepad and Pen

While it may seem like a simple set of tools, a notepad and pen can be extremely important in case an accident ever occurs. In many accidents, it is not unusual for drivers to forget exact details of what happened not long after the accident took place. In order to prevent this, use your pen and paper to jot down important notes.

Some of the information you may want to consider is as follows:
  • Name and contact info of the other driver involved
  • Driver's license number of the other driver
  • License plate number of the other vehicle
  • Insurance company and policy number of the other driver
  • Details about what happened in the accident (location, events leading up to the accident, damage both vehicles)
  • Contact info of any witnesses that saw the accident take place
The pen and paper can also come in handy if you are ever in an accident and have to leave a note behind for the owner of an unattended vehicle.

Disposable or Cell Phone Camera

After a car accident takes place, you may want to get photos of the scene of the accident and damages to the vehicles/property involved. You can do this by taking snapshots with your own cell phone, or by keeping a disposable camera in your glove compartment. Good photos can assist insurance claims representatives in getting a better idea of how the accident took place and how badly the vehicles were damaged afterwards.

Having good photos can also prevent disputes and fraud in the following situations:
  • They can verify the positions of vehicles in case the cars are moved before the police arrive at the scene of the accident.
  • They can verify license plate information in case the driver of the other car tries to drive away immediately following the accident.
  • Photos of the damages can isolate the damages due to this accident in case the other driver tries to claim past damages to his car also.
  • Photos of the damages can also protect against the auto body shop enhancing damages to the vehicle in order to make more money from your insurance company.

First Aid/Survival Kit

It is not out of the ordinary for victims of a car accident to come away with scrapes, bumps and bruises due to broken glass and deployed air bags.When you add in the fact that emergency response vehicles may not get to the scene right away, you want to be sure to have a first aid kit handy. This will enable you to manage any injuries until the ambulance arrives or you are able to get to a hospital later for a check-up.

In addition to the traditional first aid kit, you may also want to consider keeping a survival kit in the trunk of your vehicle. The contents of the kit should be items that will keep you comfortable in case you are involved in a wreck that causes you to have to survive on your own for a longer period of time. Some of the more important items of your survival kit are:

Flashlight and Road Flares

Having a car wreck at night can be scary and dangerous. If you ever have an accident after sundown, make sure you not only have a flashlight but also road flares available for use.

The flashlight is a useful tool in case you have to survey the damage to your vehicle without the benefit of having the sun overhead. Without being able to illuminate your vehicle with the flashlight, you may overlook damages and not recognize problems with your vehicle until it is too late.

The road flares are an important safety feature when it comes to nighttime accidents. The first benefit of having the flares is that they can help emergency crews and policemen find out exactly where you are located. Another positive use of flares is to put them around your disabled vehicle in order to prevent other cars from running into it and causing more damage or injury.

If you've never had to use a road flare in the past, make sure that you know what you are doing being attempting to light one. The following video will guide you on some safety tips:

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May 20, 2016

Published May 20, 2016 by with 0 comment

How to Stop Being Bored at Work

Job satisfaction is the term used to explain how meaningful a person's occupation is to them over the course of time.

No matter how long you have worked somewhere, there is always the chance that one day your job will not be as fulfilling as it used to be. You may not get the same thrill from your daily tasks that you once did. It may even feel like you are just going through the motions.

Your first thought may be to see how everyone else is doing, but your co-workers are still plugging away as usual. At that point, you start to wonder what is wrong with you and how did it get to this point. Where did everything go wrong?

If you find yourself in this position, the following tips could help to re-light your career flame.

Be Passionate About Your Job

The Chinese philosopher Confucius once said, "Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life."

The first step in being satisfied with your occupation is being in a position that you enjoy doing. Sure there will be good days and bad days, but nothing is worse than waking up each day to go to a job you cannot stand. The daily frustration not only leads to stress and anger, but can also lead one to give up on the hope that happiness and work can co-exist.

For some people, finding passion is nothing more than taking a deep look at their current position and figuring out the job duties they enjoy the most. Once these are apparent, the person can focus on becoming an expert at these tasks and may eventually be called upon to mentor others on how to do them better. Paying more attention to the things you love about your job will eventually overshadow the things that you do not enjoy doing on a daily basis.

However, there are some people that go to work each day and have absolutely no joy in anything they do. If you are in a situation similar to this, it is up to you to find out not only what field of work you are interested in but also what types of tasks you enjoy doing. Taking a career or personality test at your local career center or community college may help you figure out what types of jobs align with your personality. Books, such as What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard Bolles, can also help you determine your talents with concerns to your passions in life.

Set Long-Term and Short-Term Goals

Once you have found the job you love doing, the best way to stay in love with it is to continue setting goals for yourself. These can be formal goals that you and your manager come up with during your annual review process, or informal ones that you decide upon for yourself. Whatever the situation may be, nothing beats the feeling of clearing a benchmark that you set for yourself.

When setting up your career goals and aspirations, make sure that you create a mix of long-term and short-term ones. People who only have long-term aspirations tend to lose motivation over the long haul because it can take so long to reach their achievements. If possible, break apart a long-term goal into the steps it takes to get there, and celebrate each time you achieve one of those steps.

Another thing to consider is making sure that your intents are realistic. Nothing is more discouraging than setting the bar unrealistically high and falling extremely short in accomplishing a task. This not only leads to a feeling of frustration and failure, but could also prevent you from wanting to challenge yourself again.

Continue Your Self-Development

Whether you have been in your career for two months or twenty years, you should never stop looking for ways to improve your skills. It is easy to become discouraged with a job once it becomes routine, and the best way to keep it from becoming monotonous is by continuously seeking to improve yourself.

Depending on your profession, this self-improvement can come in the form of taking additional certification courses or just asking your supervisor what else you can do to be more effective at your job. As you start to build upon your initial talents and knowledge, you will generally become more confident in what you do. You may even be moved into a position of higher authority or asked to become a mentor for less experienced co-workers.

Ultimately by working on bettering yourself as an employee, your increased knowledge and skill-set will better your company or organization. Your employer will also see that you are invested in your occupation, and may eventually begin to give you more satisfying responsibilities as a result of your ambition.

Here are a few ways you can work on improving yourself:
  • Take additional courses related to your field of work
  • Get a mentor in a position you would like to be in one day
  • Take on additional work responsibilities
  • Read professional journals and articles related to your job
  • Network with other professionals in your line of work

Focus on Building Relationships With Co-Workers

Many times when people are unhappy with a situation, they look within themselves for the reason why. When it comes to your job, the reason for not feeling fulfilled may be from not looking outside of yourself enough. Finding a way to build stronger, more meaningful relationships with your co-workers could ultimately change the way that you view your job.

There are very few situations in which people work alone. Even those that do tend to have a certain set of people they interact with or do business with on a daily basis. Taking the time to build a stronger bond with your fellow workers gives you a greater reason to do well at your position.

Once you realize that the organization is made up of people you are familiar with, you can set out to achieve company-wide goals for everyone's benefit. For many people, the only thing better than achieving individual glory is accomplishing a group goal. The sense of team pride and joy is contagious, and keeps everyone motivated to make it happen again.

Give and Receive Feedback

Lack of effective communication is one of the major reasons why people become and stay frustrated with their jobs. This problem can work in one of two ways. First, workers may not receive adequate feedback from their management which can lead to a stressful, unappreciated feeling. For many, the only time they receive feedback from management is when something has gone wrong.

However, employees are also to blame when it comes to communicating with management. Many times, workers may have a concern but never bring it to the attention of their supervisor. This could lead to a situation where frustration builds over time until it eventually reaches a breaking point. In many cases, the negative situation could have been avoided if both employee and employer took the time to talk about how to make improvements.

Taking the time to talk to your manager or supervisor about how things are going with your job can help build a positive relationship and prevent job stress. It will also assure that your upper management has a better understanding of where you are coming from, and can lead to increased feelings of mutual respect.

Take Control of the Situation

Staying satisfied with your job is not a difficult thing, but it does take initiative. Whether it be re-discovering your passion in life, signing up for work-related courses, or taking the time to talk more with co-workers and management, the amount of success always falls back on how willing you are to improve your current situation. It may take a while to notice the changes, but you will feel better knowing you tried.
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April 25, 2016

Published April 25, 2016 by with 1 comment

Undergraduates: Advice for New Students from Experienced Graduates

During the month of April, I'll be participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Each day during the month (except Sundays), I'll be posting about a topic that corresponds with a different letter of the alphabet. Thanks for stopping by!

Are you a current college freshman or recent high school graduate wondering what it takes to survive in college? Former college students are often filled with words of wisdom that can help you avoid many of the mistakes they made and put you on the road to success after graduation.

A while back it dawned on me that my girlfriend's daughter would be graduating from high school and starting her newest journey as a college freshman. This set my mind on a whirlwind of old memories and experiences that I had during my college years, some positive and others negative. Luckily, I had an older sister that was able to give me advice before I even started college, and I was still able to call on her for help once I started school. It made me wonder how many people head off to college for the first time and have nobody to lean on for important answers and guidance.

As a result of this, I had planned to write a book for my girlfriend's daughter before she headed off to school. I was going to include little lessons and things to consider for when she got on campus. Then I figured it would be fun to get advice from a wide variety of my friends and family who had also been in college at some point in their lives. The wide array of pointers would cover areas that I may not have had to experience myself, and provide a bigger selection of life lessons than I could do on my own.

This article is a compilation of a few of those tips that I received from my friends and family. I hope that they are as helpful to other students as they were to me when I was in your shoes.

Academic Advice

Go to class

Ultimately, you are in school to learn and get your degree. As hard as it may be to wake up on your own without your parents pushing you out of bed, find a way to go to as many of your classes as possible. Take good notes because you tend to remember more information when you have already written it down once. Don't miss out on a great experience by failing to handle your business in the classroom.

Cut class at least once a semester

I know it sounds stupid coming right after the tip advising you to go to class, but life is all about having a little bit of balance. I only advise you to do this once because excessive absences are the kiss of death in college. And if you do skip, make sure that one of your friends is in class to take notes for you. Skip days only get harder when you hit the real world, so you better take advantage of a few now.

Take your easiest classes during your first two years

This may be debated depending on who you ask. I usually think this is easier because most people are not prepared for difficult college courses right after graduating from high school. It takes a moment to learn how to study and to perfect a good college writing style. It may be easier to ease your way into these things in order to prevent yourself from getting discouraged. Not to mention, it can also help to pad your GPA early on and give you opportunities at scholarships that may be available on campus.

Wait as long as possible to choose a major

Do this if you can because chances are that you are going to change your mind quite a few times. Not many of us went to college knowing exactly what we wanted to be, and those of us that did usually switched to something else before they graduated. Of course there are certain programs that you have to start right away (engineering, pre-med, etc), and if that is you then I just wish you the best from the start.

College Social Life Advice

Drink in moderation

It's going to be real easy to get caught up in drinking and partying. By all means have a good time, but know what your limits are. You do not want to be the person that ends up getting wasted and ruining a good time for your friends. You also do not want to be the person to develop a drinking or drug problem that has to go to rehab instead of graduation. Just be careful and know how much liquor you can handle. And trust me, it's never cool to drink so much that you end up throwing up or blacking out.

Know your surroundings and have a good reliable group of friends to hang out with: In the cases where you do end up drinking until you are puking or you do black out at the club, you are going to want to have good friends to watch your back and take care of you. Always let them know if you are planning on leaving a party or bar early or with someone else, and just keep an eye on each other while drinking. There are just too many bad people out there to try doing this stuff on your own nowadays.

Date freely

College is the best time to find out what you like about yourself and what you like in other people. There is no other time in your life when the dating pool will be so large. You don't have to commit yourself to anyone right away. Just have a good time and who knows what may come of it. And of course if dating freely leads into doing other things freely, be safe.

Overall Advice

Remember why you are in college

During the first couple of semesters, it is going to be so easy to get caught up in the amount of freedom that you suddenly have. While this is a great life lesson in itself, it can also be the recipe for disaster if you fail to maintain your studies. Do not lose sight of your goals, and definitely do not let others pull you away from your dreams and aspirations just because they may not be on the same path.

Take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself to you

This could range from internships to teaching assistantships to community service projects. The best way to grow as a person and meet new people is to get involved in new things. You will find that most of the people that truly enjoy college are the ones that have made connections within their campus community. Once you graduate depending on where you live, it may not be as easy to find a group of people with similar interests as you have.

Study abroad if you have the chance

In the real world, people would kill for a chance to spend a week in another country. When you are in college, you may have the chance to spend a semester or even a full year in another country. Find out what the requirements are, and if you are interested then go for it. Yet another example of what could be a once in a lifetime experience that you will not want to miss out on.

Try something new

This pertains to activities, food, and meeting new people. If you wanted to be the same person and talk to the same people, you would just stay at home after high school. College is a place where you can expand your comfort zones and be exposed to people that may have grown up in different cultures than you are used to. Embrace this opportunity to grow as a person, and you won't regret it. By the time you graduate, people will notice the difference in you and you'll be happy that you opened up your mind to new things.

The best years of your life

Finally, the ultimate piece of advice that I can give is to enjoy each year to the fullest. You will find that each year goes by faster than the one before it, and before you know it the real world will be knocking at your door. Don't just be in such a hurry to graduate that you lose sight of all the fun experiences around you. You don't want to have regret for anything when it is all over.

My sister wanted me to leave you with one final piece of wisdom. Don't go to law school. I'll just save that article for another day. Good luck in school...

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April 19, 2016

Published April 19, 2016 by with 0 comment

Phone: Answering Your Work Telephone Correctly

During the month of April, I'll be participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Each day during the month (except Sundays), I'll be posting about a topic that corresponds with a different letter of the alphabet. Thanks for stopping by!

Have you ever called a business or organization and had to deal with an unprofessional employee? Maybe they spoke to you as if you were a friend instead of a valued customer, or put you on hold and never came back to finish the call. No matter what the circumstances, it is a frustrating experience having to deal with someone in a professional setting who does not have good phone manners.

On the flip side, you may be a new employee and you are not sure how you should answer the phone at your new job. Maybe the thought of someone calling you at your desk is giving you ulcers, and you just want some idea of how you should approach the call.

The following tips should give a basic guideline of how to answer a phone in a professional manner. Whether you keep them as a reminder for yourself or send them as a subtle hint to someone else, it never hurts to have a game plan beyond saying "Hello".

Clear Your Mouth

The first thing you should do before answering a call at work is make sure that your mouth is clear of any food or drink. We have all had those nightmare calls where the person trying to help us sounds as if they have just taken a bite out of a sub sandwich. Try not to put someone else through that experience.

If possible, save your snack or lunch for a designated break time so you will not have to choke down your food before answering a call. If you are unable to take a break, make sure that you have completely swallowed your food before answering the phone.

Be Prepared for the Call

Have you ever called someone and immediately been put on hold because they were not ready to help you? It is a frustrating experience because we always expect a person to be ready when they answer the phone.

The best way to be prepared to help someone is to have your work-space in order. Make sure that you have any necessary papers in order and within reach. Also make sure that your computer screen is within sight range with necessary computer applications up and running.

Having your materials in order beforehand will save you valuable time, and allow you to jump right into helping your customer when they call.

Limit Distractions and Side Conversations

If you are answering the phone at work, your entire focus should be on the person you have on the phone. If you deflect your attention to people and conversations around you, you stand a chance of missing out on important details that you may need to assist your customer.

If something is going on around you that you must take part in, politely ask the person on the line if they could hold or if you can call them right back. Avoid starting a side conversation while the person on the phone is still able to hear you on the phone. Not only is it confusing, but it is also rude.

Don't Make Noises While Thinking

This is a habit that many of us have without being completely aware of it. One moment someone asks a question, and the next moment we are making a "Hmmmm" noise or clicking our tongue while thinking of an answer. The problem is that noise is way more audible than we think it is. The person on the other end of the line is forced to "listen" to us think.

Another thing to avoid is chewing gum while on the phone. While it may seem quiet, it is not hard to hear someone vigorously chewing and popping gum through a phone.

Use a Proper Introduction

The minute you pick up the phone, you should eliminate any confusion about who you are and what you can do for the customer. Your opening often sets the tone for how the call will proceed. If you have a friendly, helpful tone, people will usually be more willing to work with you than if you answer sounding grumpy.

When you answer the phone, try to include the following elements in your introduction:
  • Your company's name
  • Your name
  • The department you work in
  • Ask how you can help
By doing this, people will have a general idea who they are talking to and whether or not they may need to be transferred. It also extends the idea that you are ready and willing to help them out.

Listen to Your Caller

A huge part of taking a call at work is actually listening to what the caller has to say to you. Take a moment at the beginning of the call to ask for the caller's name, and use it from time to time in your conversation. Not only does it show that you paid attention when they told you, but it also builds a bond between you and your customer.

On top of getting your caller's name, you should also identify what issue they are calling about. After getting the problem, be sure to ask how you can help them resolve it. Make sure that you do not cut off the customer while they are describing the issue, even if you think you know what they are going to say. Give them a chance to speak and then work on a resolution.

Ask for Permission Before Using Hold

It is inevitable that there are going to be phone calls where you will have to put people on hold to try getting a resolution. There is nothing wrong with using hold as long as it is done in a responsible manner.

The first thing you should do is ask the caller if it is OK for you to put them on hold. Usually this is also a good time to explain exactly why you need the extra time. In many cases, people do not mind waiting as long as they know why they are waiting.

Another thing to monitor is your hold times. There are going to be cases where an extended hold is necessary to get a correct answer. In these cases, be sure to check in with the customer to let them know that you are still working on their issue and you have not forgotten them. You may also want to see if they want to continue holding or if they would prefer a call back.

Be Careful When Transferring a Call

There are going to be times when people reach your desk in error. If you end up needing to transfer a call, advise the caller exactly why you are going to have to transfer them to another person. If you are able to help the person without transferring them, by all means accept responsibility for the call and get things taken care of.

If you need to transfer the call, be sure that you give the caller the extension you are transferring to in case the call is accidentally disconnected. Also make sure that you warm transfer the call, meaning you introduce the caller to the person taking over the call. This will assure that everyone is on the same page when the new call begins.

Provide a Suitable Resolution

At the end of your phone call, make sure that the caller has been given a reasonable solution for the issue they called about. While it is not always possible to please every caller, do your best to explain the resolution given and any alternatives that may be available.

Rather than just giving someone a negative answer, think of ways that you may actually be able to help the person on the other end of the phone. Often, a person will lose the anger of being denied something when they realize that you are still trying your hardest to figure out an alternative for them.

Set a Reasonable Time Frame

For those cases when you need extra time to research the issue, make sure that you let the caller know what you are going to be researching and how much time it will take you to call back. Make sure that you are giving a reasonable time frame for when you will be calling back. If the customer has to call back first, it usually does not go very well.

The important thing to remember is that the time-frame should be reasonable. If you tell someone you will call back in 24 hours when you know that your schedule is full, you are just setting yourself up for a difficult situation later.

Wrap It Up with a Smile

After everything else is done, close the call by thanking the caller for calling you. This might also be another good time to drop their name in conversation. This will show that you not only value their business, but you also value the whole customer.

Once you hang up the phone, be ready for the next ring and keep learning from one call to the next.

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April 16, 2016

Published April 16, 2016 by with 1 comment

Negativity: Quick Guide to Improving Your Attitude

During the month of April, I'll be participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Each day during the month (except Sundays), I'll be posting about a topic that corresponds with a different letter of the alphabet. Thanks for stopping by!

Do you wake up every day expecting bad things? Do you find yourself ranting about everything instead of just holding normal conversations? Is it hard to remember the last time you just sat back and smiled about something in your life?

If you said yes to any of these, you may be stuck with a negative outlook on the world around you.

Hopefully the majority of you don't have to worry about this, but for some of you this could be a wake up call. The good thing is it's never too late to become a more positive person. Read on to find out how...

Adopting the right attitude can convert a negative stress into a positive one. — Hans Selye

Stop Making Excuses for Your Behavior

Stop being in denial! If people are constantly avoiding you or telling you that you need to cheer up, you may want to start listening to them. While you might think you're a ray of sunshine, you may actually be the cloud that other people don't want to be around.

One of the hardest things to do is look in the mirror and truly accept the fact that we may be the root cause of our own unhappiness. There may have been events that got you to this point, but maybe you chose to hold on to the negative emotions for too long.

If that's the case, don't sit back and make excuses for why you're so negative. Get up and do something about it!

Surround Yourself with Positive People

The saying "misery loves company" can be so true sometimes. How many times have you been in a bad mood and you ended up spending time with another person in a bad mood? Very rarely do both people end up feeling any happier.

I'm not saying that you have to cut negative people out of your life completely, but you may want to limit your exposure to them when you are feeling your worst.

Find ways to get involved in the community around you. Maybe doing a service project with a local group will bring that spark back into your life. It's possible that just playing a game of Ultimate Frisbee with friends will be enough to turn things around for you.

Whatever works for you, just make it happen. Get around positive people and watch how quickly their mood starts to rub off on you!

Take Notice of the Good Things Around You

When I was younger, I bought a book called Peace Is Every Step written by a Buddhist monk named Thich Nhat Hanh. In it, he described ways to become more mindful of the peace that surrounds us even in the most stressful situations.

Whether it be a beautiful sunrise, a child's laughter, or even the way the wind feels against your face, there are always positive things going on around you. You just have to open yourself up enough to be aware that they are going on.

The next time you feel your mood dropping, take a deep breath and focus on all the happiness around you.

Realize That Bad Things Happen

So much of negative thought has to do with our expectations heading into certain situations. If we go into them hoping for good outcomes but realizing that bad ones are possible, it is so much easier to move on with our lives if something doesn't go according to plan.

When we go into a situation only expecting the worst to happen, the worst is usually what we end up receiving. Rather than ending up in a downward spiral, try wiping the slate clean after a bad event. Just because something went wrong once, doesn't mean it will go wrong every time.

Make the Choice to Be Positive

Ultimately, becoming a more positive person is a personal choice. At the end of the day, we can either make a decision to uplift ourselves and those around us or try to drag ourselves through the mud one step at a time.

That choice may seem obvious to many of us throughout the course of the day, but for some it can be difficult. Hopefully some of the steps above can help to turn their situation around.

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