Showing posts with label Top Lists. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Top Lists. Show all posts

18 March 2021

How To Make Quicker And Better Decisions [Video Included]

by

How To Make Quicker And Better Decisions [Video Included]
How To Make Quicker And Better Decisions

Many professionals seek to become more efficient decision-makers. Being a good decision-maker is a sought after skill. It can often be the difference between a promotion or a pink slip. In today’s uncertain times this skill lets you stand out on the team with quicker and better decisions. How do you become more accurate and effective at making decisions when it counts?

What is the objective of the mission? 

  • Know the objective of the decision and know your mission on the team.
  • Ask yourself: What are we really trying to do here?
  • Write it out, brainstorm, and discuss. Is it your role to solve this problem? Do you have the tools needed?

How To Make Quicker And Better Decisions [Video Included]
How To Make Quicker And Better Decisions (Photo by Sora Shimazaki)

Seek Out Wisdom And Knowledge

Seek out, wise counsel. Really. If you are surrounded by more experienced professionals who have done what you are about to do, ask questions, and inform yourself. Do needed research. Don’t let pride or proving that you have it all under control” blind you to great resources all around you.

It Does Not Have To Be Perfect

Don’t overthink - just start. Make a plan. An imperfect, real plan. Start doing the work that is deciding and solving. Take note of the effects and response to your action. This way you can adjust if needed.

Adjust Early

Be humble - make the adjustment early if needed. Don’t run the train off the track because you are unwilling to admit that you made a mistake. If your choice was wrong, own up to it in a professional way and make things right to the best of your ability. It’s better to win the fight after a change of tactics than to get knocked out by your own ego and pride.

How To Make Quicker And Better Decisions [Video Included]
How To Make Quicker And Better Decisions

Control What You Can Control

It is important when making decisions to know what you truly have power over. If it’s not your decision to make, stay out of the control room. Also - use this adage to relieve stress. Only focus on what you have the ability to decide on. This means staying focused and being able to take action without becoming overwhelmed by the details.

Decision making does not have to be a tedious and stressful process. With the right attitude, planning, and strategy you can become a faster, more efficient, and competent decision-maker. This is a great tool for the corporate world and for everyday life. 

The Video:


10 March 2021

After a Year of Pain, Here's How The COVID-19 Pandemic Could Play Out in 2021 and Beyond

by
After a Year of Pain, Here's How The COVID-19 Pandemic Could Play Out in 2021 and Beyond
After a Year of Pain, Here's How The COVID-19 Pandemic Could Play Out in 2021 and Beyond (image from shutterstock.com)

One year ago today, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic, the first caused by a coronavirus.

As we enter year two of the pandemic, let’s remind ourselves of some sobering statistics. So far, there have been more than 117.4 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 around the world; more than 2.6 million people have died. A total of 221 countries and territories have been affected. Some 12 of the 14 countries and territories reporting no cases are small Pacific or Atlantic islands.

Whether the race to end the pandemic will be a sprint or a marathon remains to be seen, as does the extent of the gap between rich and poor contestants. However, as vaccines roll out across the world, it seems we are collectively just out of the starting blocks.

Here are the challenges we face over the next 12 months if we are to ever begin to reduce COVID-19 to a sporadic or endemic disease.

Vaccines are like walking on the Moon

Developing safe and effective vaccines in such a short time frame was a mission as ambitious, and with as many potential pitfalls, as walking on the Moon.

Miraculously, 12 months since a pandemic was declared, eight vaccines against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, have been approved by at least one country. A ninth, Novavax, is very promising. So far, more than 312 million people have been vaccinated with at least one dose.

While most high-income countries will have vaccinated their populations by early 2022, 85 poor countries will have to wait until 2023.

This implies the world won’t be back to normal travel, trade and supply chains until 2024 unless rich countries take actions — such as waiving vaccine patents, diversifying production of vaccines and supporting vaccine delivery — to help poor countries catch up.

The vaccines have been shown to be safe and effective in preventing symptomatic and severe COVID-19. However, we need to continue to study the vaccines after being rolled out (conducting so-called post-implementation studies) in 2021 and beyond. This is to determine how long protection lasts, whether we need booster doses, how well vaccines work in children and the impact of vaccines on viral transmission.

What should make us feel optimistic is that in countries that rolled out the vaccines early, such as the UK and Israel, there are signs the rate of new infections is in decline.

What are the potential barriers to overcome?

One of the most salutary lessons we have learnt in the pandemic’s first year is how dangerous it is to let COVID-19 transmission go unchecked. The result is the emergence of more transmissible variants that escape our immune responses, high rates of excess mortality and a stalled economy.

Until we achieve high levels of population immunity via vaccination, in 2021 we must maintain individual and societal measures, such as masks, physical distancing, and hand hygiene; improve indoor ventilation; and strengthen outbreak responses — testing, contact tracing and isolation.

After a Year of Pain, Here's How The COVID-19 Pandemic Could Play Out in 2021 and Beyond
In 2021, we still need to wear masks, physically distance, clean our hands, and improve indoor ventilation. (image from shutterstock.com)

However, there are already signs of complacency and much misinformation to counter, especially for vaccine uptake. So we must continue to address both these barriers.

The outcomes of even momentary complacency are evident as global numbers of new cases once again increase after a steady two month decline. This recent uptick reflects surges in many European countries, such as Italy, and Latin American countries like Brazil and Cuba. New infections in Papua New Guinea have also risen alarmingly in the past few weeks.

Some fundamental questions also remain unanswered. We don’t know how long either natural or vaccine-induced immunity will last. However, encouraging news from the US reveals 92-98% of COVID-19 survivors had adequate immune protection six to eight months after infection. In 2021, we will continue to learn more about how long natural and vaccine-induced immunity lasts.

New variants may be the greatest threat

The longer the coronavirus circulates widely, the higher the risk of more variants of concern emerging. We are aware of B.1.1.7 (the variant first detected in the UK), B.1.351 (South Africa), and P.1 (Brazil).

But other variants have been identified. These include B.1.427, which is now the dominant, more infectious, strain in California and one identified recently in New York, named B.1.526.

Variants may transmit more readily than the original Wuhan strain of the virus and may lead to more cases. Some variants may also be resistant to vaccines, as has already been demonstrated with the B.1.351 strain. We will continue to learn more about the impact of variants on disease and vaccines in 2021 and beyond.

A year from now

Given so many unknowns, how the world will be in March 2022 would be an educated guess. However, what is increasingly clear is there will be no “mission accomplished” moment. We are at a crossroads with two end games.

In the most likely scenario, rich countries will return to their new normal. Businesses and schools will reopen and internal travel will resume. Travel corridors will be established between countries with low transmission and high vaccine coverage. This might be between Singapore and Taiwan, between Australia and Vietnam, and maybe between all four, and more countries.

In low- and middle-income countries, there may be a reduction in severe cases, freeing them to rehabilitate health services that have suffered in the past 12 months. These include maternal, newborn, and child health services, including reproductive health; tuberculosis, HIV and malaria programs; and nutrition. However, reviving these services will need rich countries to commit generous and sustained aid.

The second scenario, which sadly is unlikely to occur, is unprecedented global cooperation with a focus on science and solidarity to halt transmission everywhere.

This is a fragile moment in modern world history. But, in record time, we have developed effective tools to eventually control this pandemic. The path to a post-COVID-19 future can perhaps now be characterised as a hurdle race but one that presents severe handicaps to the world’s poorest nations. As an international community, we have the capacity to make it a level playing field.

About Today's Contributor:

Michael Toole, Professor of International Health, Burnet Institute

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

85% Of Women Have Witnessed Harassment & Online Violence, Finds New Research From The Economist Intelligence Unit

by
85% Of Women Have Witnessed Harassment & Online Violence, Finds New Research From The Economist Intelligence Unit
85% Of Women Have Witnessed Harassment & Online Violence, Finds New Research From The Economist Intelligence Unit (PRNewsfoto/The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU))
The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has released a new study supported by Jigsaw, a unit within Google that forecasts and confronts emerging digital threats, delving into the prevalence and impact of online violence against women on a global scale. "Measuring the prevalence of online violence against women" reveals that nearly 40% of women surveyed have been harassed online whilst the vast majority (85%) have witnessed harassment or other forms of online violence.
Undertaken to enable informed decision-making on the issue of online violence, to better understand women's experiences online, and to measure the tactics and trends of online violence, the research also demonstrates the impact of online violence in silencing female voices. 

  • Half of women surveyed said that the internet is not a safe place for them to express their thoughts and opinions. 32% of women reconsidered posting a comment online, 30% reduced their online presence, and 20% stopped using that online platform entirely.
"Measuring the prevalence of online violence against women" further found that online violence against women should be seen on the same continuum as offline violence, with more than half of women (54%) knowing their online attackers, and nearly three-quarters (74%) expressing particular concern about online abuse escalating to offline threats.

According to the results, underreporting likely hides the real numbers with only 1 in 4 women reporting abuse to the platform(s) on which it occurred and only 14% reporting it to an offline protective agency. 78% are often unaware that options exist to report harmful online behaviors. This trend is underpinned by the fact that 6 in 10 women surveyed indicated a sense of helplessness, as little is done to combat the issue. The evidence base supports this, in 64 of 86 countries studied in The Web Index, law enforcement agencies and courts appear to be failing to take appropriate corrective actions to address online violence against women.

Key highlights:

  • 38% reported personal experiences with online harassment
  • 65% reported knowing women in their network who had been targeted online
  • 85% have witnessed online violence against other women (including from outside their networks)
  • Younger women are more likely to have experienced online violence: 45% Generation Z and Millennials versus 31% for Generation X and Baby Boomers
  • Only 1 in 4 women reported online abuse to the platform(s) on which it occurred, and only 14% reported it to an offline protective agency
  • 54% of women who experienced online abuse knew their attackers, and nearly 74% expressed particular concern about online abuse escalating to offline threats
  • 6 in 10 women surveyed indicated a sense of helplessness as little is done to combat the issue
  • 35% of women reported mental health issues as a result of experiencing online violence
  • 92% of women reported that online violence harms their sense of wellbeing
"The internet can provide a vital space for women seeking expression and opportunity but this report shows that the high prevalence of online violence against women is forcing self-censorship, and limiting women's representation in societal, political and economic discussions and decisions. The covid-19 pandemic has led to significant increases in internet use, further exacerbating the situation. Through this granular measurement of the prevalence of online violence against women, we aim to enable timely, synchronised multi-stakeholder action on the issue" said Vaibhav Sahgal, senior manager, The Economist Intelligence Unit.
85% Of Women Have Witnessed Harassment & Online Violence, Finds New Research From The Economist Intelligence Unit
85% Of Women Have Witnessed Harassment & Online Violence, Finds New Research From The Economist Intelligence Unit
The results were compiled from a survey undertaken by The EIU in the year between May 2019 to May 2020. It included 4,561 women, across 51 countries, using an innovative prevalence-estimation modelling methodology. The complete methodology can be downloaded here. The study assessed prevalence across nine threat tactics often used in combination by online attackers: misinformation and defamation, cyber-harassment, hate speech, impersonation, hacking and stalking, video- and image-based abuse, doxing, violent threats, and astroturfing. The prevalence of each tactic was measured at three levels: personal, community and witnessed.

About The Economist Intelligence Unit (The EIU):

The Economist Intelligence Unit (The EIU) is the world's leading resource for economic and business research, forecasting and analysis. It provides accurate and impartial intelligence for companies, government agencies, financial institutions and academic organisations around the globe, inspiring business leaders to act with confidence since 1946. The EIU products include its flagship Country Reports service, providing political and economic analysis for 199 countries, and a portfolio of subscription-based data and forecasting services. The company also undertakes bespoke research and analysis projects on individual markets and business sectors. 

SOURCE: The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU)

7 March 2021

3 Truths About Being Kind We Need to Re-Remember

by
3 Truths About Being Kind We Need to Re-Remember
3 Truths About Being Kind We Need to Re-Remember
It might surprise you to hear that being kind isn’t just good for the other person, it’s good for you too! Skeptical? There is good scientific evidence to show that living up to the adage of doing unto others as you would have them do to you is one of the best things you can do for yourself! It lowers your blood pressure, improves your mood, and acts as a natural anti-depressant by boosting the serotonin levels in your brain.

So, what can you do to stay in the right frame of mind to be kind? After all, being kind isn’t always easy. Some days you want to grit your teeth and just grouse at the world. And there are some people it’s tough to be kind to. How can you change your approach to life to be as kind as you can? Here are three truths to remember when you’re tempted to be unkind.

Remember what you can control and what you can’t

It’s a fact of life that other people can be rude, thoughtless, irritating, and even mean. They have opinions you don’t agree with. You can’t change or control any of that. But you can control how you react. Kindness is always the best option for you and the other guy. Take a deep breath, count to ten, and bite back that retort or putdown. Practice being kind, and soon it will be second nature.

Anger doesn’t help

Reacting with anger doesn’t do anything to resolve a bad situation. Anger makes you feel terrible. It’s likely to escalate things and won’t get you the result you want. Even worse, anger can lead to all sorts of physical problems, from headaches to high blood pressure, sleep problems, and digestive issues. A lifetime habit of anger can even lead to a stroke or a heart attack. Recognize the potential to get angry and take a step back.

Kindness is always the right option

Whatever the situation, you will never go wrong if you’re kind. Kindness also makes you an inspiring leader, a role model for others. Making the choice to be kind in the face of frustration, even provocation, shows that conflict is not inevitable. Giving in to childish feelings of needing to be right or get what you want all the time is easy. But it breeds discontent and won’t win you any friends.
Kindness breeds a more detached attitude to life, it encourages positive emotions and will help to make you and the people around you calmer, happier, and more energized.

2 March 2021

How To Transform Your Covid-19 Start-Up Into A Viable Business

by
As the adage goes, 'necessity is the mother of invention,' and with the peculiar issues with the ongoing Covid-19, more and more people are becoming innovative. Some people have even become entrepreneurs overnight, finding solutions to new problems that have arisen—and making profits from their solutions. However, the question is, can such startups be transformed into viable businesses? How will government affairs impact your business? The future may be favorable, but how can these budding entrepreneurs sustain their businesses. Here are some vital things to seriously consider if you want to make your business viable.

Innovate and adapt

How To Transform Your Covid-19 Start-Up Into A Viable Business
How To Transform Your Covid-19 Start-Up Into A Viable Business (Image Credit)
Experts in the business industry will confirm that although consumers buy your products, it is the solution that you offer that they really care about. So the first thing to do here is to determine if your product is solving a long-term problem. The best solutions are direct responses to pressing, particular and significant problems. The ability to provide solutions in this Covid-19 times makes this assertion even truer.

For example, there was a need for many quality face masks and other PPE at the beginning of the pandemic, and many organizations and individuals rose to the occasion. Indeed, factories that were shut down were reopened to meet this need. However, will the problem exist in the next five years? You will have to answer this question to make sure your business doesn’t become redundant after a few years.

Building on existing trends

Some startups that started during the pandemic have leveraged existing trends that have been intensified and hastened due to the current prevailing conditions. Areas such as wellness, food supplements, DIY, social media, contactless deliveries, and others have seen exponential growth because they are things people want. Such businesses are not doing anything new but are doing them in new ways. Indeed, keeping a customer loyal means adapting to their needs as they evolve.

Do your research

To really understand the solutions you provide, you need to take a look into the past. Consumer behavior and patterns during such times have to be critically analyzed. Market trends from the past years should provide you with useful insight that should inform your business strategy for the future. If your solution is short-term, how long can you remain relevant? Put yourself in the consumers' minds and try to predict their needs. Then use the prevailing market conditions to guide you when coming up with solutions for their future needs. If your solution is a long-term one, you have to keep improving the solution, delivery, and customer satisfaction.

Identify the long-term market

The next major step to consider is to identify the long-term market. This refers to the group of people who will continue patronizing your solutions after things have returned to normal. According to CB Insights research, the most common reason startups failed was because of a lack of market. Not identifying your long-term market is not good for business. So please get to know your customers, understand their needs for your solutions. What is the potential market size? What is the actual market size? What can be done to increase the market size? Where are your customers found online and geographically? These are pertinent questions that need to be addressed.

Focus on the customer

How To Transform Your Covid-19 Start-Up Into A Viable Business
How To Transform Your Covid-19 Start-Up Into A Viable Business (Image Credit)
Always focus on the customer; the product or solution will not buy itself. Once you can figure out what the customer wants, you can always offer them a solution. To accomplish this, you should consider reading and researching the user-centered design. It will teach you how to stay in business for a long time by placing the customer above your solutions or products.

Be proactive

One of the hallmarks of successful businesses is the ability to pivot. Pivoting means tweaking your products or solutions to serve a bigger market. So, you should have enough information from your market trends and consumer patterns to know if you will need to pivot soon or much later. A lot of fortune 500 companies had to pivot at one point in time or the other. A strategic pivot could put you way ahead of the competition, who are slow to adapt. This can either make you a trendsetter or secure a sizeable amount of the market share, setting you up quite nicely financially.

Refine and define your business model

During these unpredictable times, a lot of solutions are being created for the goodwill of mankind. And as a solutions provider, you should really consider refining your business model when necessary. This will allow you to play an active role in making peoples' lives easier, better, and safer. This may set you up to even be eligible for some contributions. Indeed, running a business at full-throttle during Covid-19 may be unrealistic without some form of aid.

Consider social entrepreneurship

To make the most out of this situation, switch to a social entrepreneurship business model. Be a positive highlight in society, make a social impact and still make profits. There are several ways to do this. For example, you could donate a percentage of your profits to a recognized NGO helping fight against Covid-19. Or you could decrease prices or add more packages at no extra cost.

Mapping your business

How To Transform Your Covid-19 Start-Up Into A Viable Business
How To Transform Your Covid-19 Start-Up Into A Viable Business (Image Credit)
To securely map your business, look to the past and note how other great economic disruptions led businesses of the time to redefine their operating models without going under. The stock market crash in 1987 and the global recession of 2007 to 2009 are a few to look at. Mark Johnson, Clayton Christensen, and Henning Kagermann present a useful framework to reinvent your business model.
The current economic climate indeed validates the maxim that crisis breeds innovation and opportunity. There are many businesses out there that started because of Covid-19; the fact is a lot will go on to fold up. But unless you don’t plan on keeping the business long term, try not to become part of that statistic. The trick is to focus on the customer's needs and fashion your solutions to meet them. Also, remain relevant by identifying your market and pivot where necessary.

How to Reach Your Potential at University

by
How to Reach Your Potential at University
How to Reach Your Potential at University (Image by Anastasia Gepp)
No one wants to waste the opportunity to attend university, but how do you achieve your full potential while studying? This article will discuss everything that you need to know to make the most of your higher education.

Find the Right University

Choosing the best university is a crucial part of your journey to success at college. But when deciding which university to apply for, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. While the Ivy League universities are the ones that enjoy a prestigious reputation, if they don't suit your individual needs and interests, you won't get the most from your education.

When choosing which universities to apply for, you will need to consider practicalities such as cost and location. Your choice of subject and the university's facilities for your area of interest are also vital considerations.

Another point to consider is the ethos of the university. During your time at college, you will associate yourself with these values, so it is worth researching universities you are interested in to ensure that your ethos matches the university. For example, Bashar Hanna, president of Bloomsburg University, hopes to "inspire and transform today's students into tomorrow's leaders." Visiting the universities in person is the next step to ensure that the university's culture and values align with your own.

Maximize Your Study Time

When you begin your university course, the amount of work involved can feel a little intimidating. However, try not to allow this to become a barrier to completing your assignments. When there is so much work to be done and many deadlines are approaching, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. For some students, the feeling of being overwhelmed can impact their ability even to get started. Procrastinating and panicking about how much work you have can be a natural response, but try not to let it stand in your way.

You may find that it is helpful to plan and allocate set time slots to work on each task to ensure that it is completed ahead of the deadline. Getting started on the assignments is the most important and hardest step. Once you have started, you should gain momentum and find that completing your work on time becomes so much easier.

Beware of Distractions

Attending university is a life-changing experience, and you may feel like you are entering a whole new world. It is essential to remember that many distractions on and off-campus could entice you away from your studies. Enjoying the student experience is a vital part of attending university, but don't let this stand in the way of your future success and scupper your study plans.

Make the Most of Opportunities

One of the best parts of attending university is all of the opportunities that are available to you. Staying on the look-out for opportunities that will look great on your resum├ę in the future is a perfect way to make the most of your time at university and to gain rich experiences as well as a highly-regarded academic achievement.

23 February 2021

Phone Call Anxiety: Why So Many Of Us Have It, And How To Get Over It

by
Phone Call Anxiety: Why So Many Of Us Have It, And How To Get Over It
Many people feel anxious when receiving a phone call. (Photo: Sergey Mironov)

Staying in touch with loved ones without seeing them in person has become even more important during the pandemic. But for some people, making or receiving calls is a stressful experience. Phone anxiety – or telephobia – is the fear and avoidance of phone conversations and it’s common among those with social anxiety disorder.

Having a hatred of your phone doesn’t necessarily mean you have phone anxiety, although the two can be related. There are, of course, many people who dislike making or receiving calls. But if this dislike causes you to experience certain symptoms, you may have phone anxiety.

Some emotional symptoms of phone anxiety include delaying or avoiding making calls because of heightened anxiety, feeling extremely nervous or anxious before, during and after the call and obsessing or worrying about what you’ll say. Physical symptoms include nausea, increase in heart rate, shortness of breath, dizziness and muscular tension.

If you feel like this, you’re not alone. A 2019 survey of UK office workers found 76% of millennials and 40% of baby boomers have anxious thoughts when their phone rings. Because of this, 61% of millennials would completely avoid calls, compared with 42% of baby boomers. If you suffer from these symptoms, there are some things you can do to make it easier.

Avoiding phone calls

Talking on the phone can be daunting because we’re limited to just the sounds of our voices. In the absence of all other social cues – including gestures, body language and eye contact – we can often feel self-conscious of the sound of our own voices and our choice of words.

Thanks to technology, we can often go days, weeks or even months without directly speaking to others on the phone. One study found anxious people prefer texting over phone calls, rating it a superior medium for expressive and intimate contact.

Some people opt for texting because it gives them time to think about the wording of their messages, providing the opportunity to be informal. In some cases, they develop a different personality separate and in contrast to their real-life, more reticent, self.

Phone Call Anxiety: Why So Many Of Us Have It, And How To Get Over It
Many people prefer texting to phone calls. (Photo: Tero Vesalainen)

Research also suggests phone anxiety is related to a preoccupation with what the other person thinks of them. By eliminating the immediate reaction of others in spoken conversations, text messaging may offer those with phone anxiety a way of making social contact without the fear of rejection or disapproval.

Another reason phone calls can sometimes feel overwhelming is the pressure that comes with being someone else’s focus. In face-to-face conversations, we have several distractions in our environment; like gazing out of the window or, ironically, checking the missed call notifications on our phones. This can make the interaction feel more casual and the conversation flow naturally. On a call, there are no external distractions, so it can feel like the spotlight is on us to answer questions straight away.

Pauses can feel extremely uncomfortable too. In person, you can see when someone is distracted or thinking but on the phone brief silences can feel awkward. We’re also becoming accustomed to being able to review emails, texts and social media posts before hitting the send button, so a phone conversation can feel impulsive and risky.

It’s easy to put off or completely avoid calls when you’re feeling anxious, but the more you procrastinate, the worse the anxiety is likely to get. The good news is you don’t need to suffer in silence, or over text messages. There are several useful techniques that may help you break the pattern.

Pick up the phone

One of the most effective ways to overcome phone anxiety is to expose yourself to more phone calls. The more you do it, the less overwhelming it becomes. It’s also likely that your phone anxiety is linked to a lack of experience. The more practice you have, the less anxious and more confident you’ll feel.

You can start this process by making a list of the people you need to speak to on the phone, such as friends or colleagues, and go through each one by reflecting on what it is about the call that makes you anxious. For example, it might be making a mistake or feeling judged. When the call is over, acknowledging your success will help you stay motivated for the next call.

If you’ve tried to combat your phone anxiety or you think you might benefit from seeking professional help, counselling is a great option and there are a number of talking therapies available. Cognitive behavioural therapy is a very effective treatment for social anxiety, and there’s an online option that might be a suitable alternative if you feel a bit nervous about speaking to someone in person.

About Today's Contributor:

Ilham Sebah, Teaching Fellow in Psychology, Royal Holloway

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. 

22 February 2021

3 Great Ideas for a Children's Party

by
3 Great Ideas for a Children's Party
3 Great Ideas for a Children's Party (Image by Adina Voicu)
Children's parties have a long history of being underwhelming and generally the same. Whether you go swing so far into the cliche that you hire a party clown or let the kids run free in laser tag instead of partying, many options have been played out. Instead of leaning into the cliches, here are some of the best party ideas for any kid event that will have even the pickiest parents impressed with you!

Go Retro Fabulous

This plan doesn't mean you have to throw the sixties themed party for kids born in the 2010s! Instead, think about classic party themes and how you can make them fresh and exciting for children. In the 90s, roller-skating parties were all the rage. Because it's fallen in and out of style ever since then, you can rent out a roller skating rink for relatively cheap for an hour or two! Pump up this party by hiring entertainment that can skate or get the most fun themed food ever. If most kids don't yet know how to skate, this can be a fun learning opportunity for them! Keep in mind that you should keep a first aid kit on hand, or check and ensure that the roller rink has reasonable safety procedures. A skating party is only fun if nobody gets seriously hurt. You can also lean into other classic party themes, but it’s good to pick one that your kid will enjoy and want.

Hire Amazing Performers

Children still believe in magic and love to be dazzled and amazed by excellent performances. You can lean into the party clown idea by instead hiring some real circus performers to put on a show! These performers can do anything from acrobatics to magic; you have to consider how large your venue is and what your child would find most exciting.

You can take this another route by hiring Disney princess performers or even Paw Patrol performers to entertain the kids and their guests. If the party has any theme, you should have fun with it. This theme could mean pirate impersonators for a day on the beach or fantasy cosplayers for a fun day faking raiding a castle. Give yourself the chance to have fun and be creative.

Give Them Some Magic

If your child loves mermaids, the beach, or the ocean: lean into it! This is the time to go over the top and show them how much you love them. Add a little whimsy by hiring live mermaids to perform, throw the party at an aquarium or a small boardwalk theme park ride. Some theme parks have a rate where you can rent out rides, or areas of the park, for parties. Ensure that for parties where kids are running around, you have escorts on hand who can make sure everyone stays safe and happy. Although it may feel tempting to let the kids have the run of the park, every single accident or problem will come down on you. Be careful, and be safe.

12 February 2021

3 Strategies for Confidently and Professionally Expressing Your Feelings at Work

by

3 Strategies for Confidently and Professionally Expressing Your Feelings at Work
3 Strategies for Confidently and Professionally Expressing Your Feelings at Work (Photo by Anna Shvets)
Mixing feelings with work? Never! Society usually tells us to keep our work problems and home problems totally separate, which ends up making a lot of people feel like they can’t bring their feelings with them to work situations.

Here’s the reality: Feelings are inevitable at work. Just like any situation in life, you’re going to experience feelings and emotions in your work environment. You can’t always act on these, but you can embrace them and know when and how you can express them. Start with these three strategies!

Go Directly to the Source

If you need to have a difficult or uncomfortable conversation with somebody, your best bet is to cut to the chase. Go directly to the source and ask to have a mature discussion. Office politics tend to confuse and exacerbate the situation, and it’s much better to involve yourself directly with someone rather than engage in gossip beforehand. Because you’re in an office environment, you can always set up a meeting with your coworker or boss to hash things out. Otherwise, if you prefer a more casual setting, ask to get coffee or go for a walk outside of work.

Be Calm and Know Your Stance

Work environments can be stressful, but don’t let that disrupt your calm disposition. Going into a discussion with a sense of calm is really important. You may be taking a bold stance, and that’s perfectly fine. But you should make sure you stay calm about it and don’t get heated. Be confident that you know what you’re doing, and don’t let that change as the conversation begins to take form.

Remember Your “Why”

At the end of the day, you and all of your coworkers are there for the same reason. You’re not trying to disrupt the structure or success of the company, nor are you trying to stir up unnecessary drama. You all have a “why” or a reason to be there. Your job is important to you, so try to remember this throughout your conversation. You’re trying to work through this and talk it out because you want to improve things, not make anything worse. Don’t forget that!

3 Strategies for Confidently and Professionally Expressing Your Feelings at Work
3 Strategies for Confidently and Professionally Expressing Your Feelings at Work (Photo by Sora Shimazaki)

We’ve covered three big strategies for expressing your feelings at work, but you’re not limited to these three. Every situation is different, so take some time to think about yours and create your strategy accordingly. Good luck!

10 February 2021

Turning Your Garden Into Your Own Outdoor Paradise

by
Turning Your Garden Into Your Own Outdoor Paradise
Turning Your Garden Into Your Own Outdoor Paradise (Photo by cottonbro)
With many more people spending much more of their time at home, feeling comfortable and content within the confines of your property is becoming increasingly important. One of the biggest aspects of your home that can be of benefit during lockdown orders is your garden, as it offers the perfect opportunity to get outside and make the most of the sun and fresh air without running the risk of breaching the rules. Turning your garden into your own little slice of heaven is sure to encourage you to get outdoors whenever possible, but how might you be able to begin such a project without any ideas or inspiration? Look no further, as here are some of the most brilliant tips and tricks that you can utilise to transform your outdoor space into an amazing natural paradise in no time at all.

Lay The Best Foundations

If your garden is overgrown with pesky weeds and plants or spotted with junk or unwanted items, the first step that you must take to transform the space is to clear a new foundation. Setting the scene for your new relaxation spot is so vital, as you need to create a blank canvas to see what you are actually working with. Dig out your lawn mower and get to strimming the grass and any other bushes or hedgerows that have decided to take over, cutting back intrusive branches whilst making the largest possible open space to really utilise every inch of your garden.

Section & Set Up

The next step that you should follow to start building your dream garden involves sectioning the space into different areas with different purposes. Each area can be used to host its own set activity, such as a patio housing a table and chairs that can be used for al fresco dining, or a set of outdoor bean bags beneath a tree to chill out in the shade on a hot day. You can physically section out your garden by utilising fences and railings, and this can help to protect your trees at the same time. Even the gardens that house England's oldest trees make the most of such protective measures to keep their plants safe, so it’s a great option to explore to protect any old trees in your garden. If you have children or a young family, setting up a play area should be your next port of call. You can source a full play set that includes swings, a slide and a set of monkey bars for such an affordable price tag, and your little ones are bound to spend hours in the garden having great fun as a result.

Turning Your Garden Into Your Own Outdoor Paradise
Turning Your Garden Into Your Own Outdoor Paradise (Photo by Andrea Piacquadio)
Turning your garden into your own outdoor paradise has never been so simple when you can take the time to make the most of the brilliant tips and ideas that have been carefully detailed above. There’s no time like the present to get outdoors and get some vitamin D, so what are you waiting for?

5 February 2021

6 Beneficial Ways to Deal with Critical People

by
6 Beneficial Ways to Deal with Critical People
6 Beneficial Ways to Deal with Critical People (Photo by cottonbro)
Constructive criticism is fine, but some people who are so relentlessly negative that they can suck the joy out of life. No matter what happy news you might have, they are guaranteed to find the cloud to fit your silver lining.
Here are 6 strategies you can use to deal with hypercritical people.

1. Don’t Take It Personally

It’s a safe bet that it's not you, it's them. Some people just hug their negativity around them like a security blanket, and it colors their view of the world. They criticize everything because that suits them. Watch how they treat other people. It’s guaranteed they criticize everybody, not just you.

2. Listen to The Message

Is the person obscuring the message? Maybe your critical colleague or friend is tactless, or bad at expressing themselves rather than being mean. Try to see past the messenger to understand what is really being said, otherwise you might miss out on some valuable advice.

3. Accept the Feedback

You can decide to take crucial feedback on its own merits. That is, as a source of honest feedback. At least with hypercritical people what you see is what you get! If you can see past the blunt delivery, you may be able to find a kernel of truth that can improve the way you do things.

4. Deal with Your Discomfort

Criticism never feels good. Try to read your own discomfort as another source of information about what is being said. Does the negative feedback trigger a recognition deep within you? Maybe it subconsciously reminds you of a past event, but maybe there’s a ring of truth in the criticism. Sit with your discomfort and see what it’s telling you.

5. If You Can’t Take the Heat, Stay Out of the Kitchen

If you can’t stand being criticized, then it’s up to you not to get into situations with people who are likely to criticize you. Don’t ask for advice or expose yourself to their negativity. They’re not likely to change, so you need to take control and avoid such conversations. Don’t share good news if you know they’ll throw cold water on it, don’t seek their praise if you know you won’t get it.

6. Stay Out of Their Way

You have a choice about how to deal with negative people. You can decide not to engage with their negativity, you can ignore them, or you can just avoid them altogether. If you must have contact with a negative person at work, for example, be helpful but don’t engage with them. Otherwise, it's up to you whether you want to have any contact with such negativity, or not.

6 Beneficial Ways to Deal with Critical People
6 Beneficial Ways to Deal with Critical People (Photo by Sam Lion)

Related Stories:

1 February 2021

We’re Teaching Robots To Evolve Autonomously – So They Can Adapt To Life Alone On Distant Planets

by
We’re Teaching Robots To Evolve Autonomously – So They Can Adapt To Life Alone On Distant Planets
In the future, robots we’ve programmed may evolve and multiply on distant planets.(SquareMotion)

It’s been suggested that an advance party of robots will be needed if humans are ever to settle on other planets. Sent ahead to create conditions favourable for humankind, these robots will need to be tough, adaptable and recyclable if they’re to survive within the inhospitable cosmic climates that await them.

Collaborating with roboticists and computer scientists, my team and I have been working on just such a set of robots. Produced via 3D printer – and assembled autonomously – the robots we’re creating continually evolve in order to rapidly optimise for the conditions they find themselves in.

Our work represents the latest progress towards the kind of autonomous robot ecosystems that could help build humanity’s future homes, far away from Earth and far away from human oversight.

Robots rising

Robots have come a long way since our first clumsy forays into artificial movement many decades ago. Today, companies such as Boston Dynamics produce ultra-efficient robots which load trucks, build pallets, and move boxes around factories, undertaking tasks you might think only humans could perform.

Despite these advances, designing robots to work in unknown or inhospitable environments – like exoplanets or deep ocean trenches – still poses a considerable challenge for scientists and engineers. Out in the cosmos, what shape and size should the ideal robot be? Should it crawl or walk? What tools will it need to manipulate its environment – and how will it survive extremes of pressure, temperature and chemical corrosion?

An impossible brainteaser for humans, nature has already solved this problem. Darwinian evolution has resulted in millions of species that are perfectly adapted to their environment. Although biological evolution takes millions of years, artificial evolution – modelling evolutionary processes inside a computer – can take place in hours, or even minutes. Computer scientists have been harnessing its power for decades, resulting in gas nozzles to satellite antennas that are ideally suited to their function, for instance.

But current artificial evolution of moving, physical objects still requires a great deal of human oversight, requiring a tight feedback loop between robot and human. If artificial evolution is to design a useful robot for exoplanetary exploration, we’ll need to remove the human from the loop. In essence, evolved robot designs must manufacture, assemble and test themselves autonomously – untethered from human oversight.

Unnatural selection

Any evolved robots will need to be capable of sensing their environment and have diverse means of moving – for example using wheels, jointed legs or even mixtures of the two. And to address the inevitable reality gap that occurs when transferring a design from software to hardware, it is also desirable for at least some evolution to take place in hardware – within an ecosystem of robots that evolve in real time and real space.

The Autonomous Robot Evolution (ARE) project addresses exactly this, bringing together scientists and engineers from four universities in an ambitious four-year project to develop this radical new technology.

We’re Teaching Robots To Evolve Autonomously – So They Can Adapt To Life Alone On Distant Planets
Robotic hardware will undergo natural selection in this cradle-to-grave facility. (Emma Hart, Author provided)

As depicted above, robots will be “born” through the use of 3D manufacturing. We use a new kind of hybrid hardware-software evolutionary architecture for design. That means that every physical robot has a digital clone. Physical robots are performance-tested in real-world environments, while their digital clones enter a software programme, where they undergo rapid simulated evolution. This hybrid system introduces a novel type of evolution: new generations can be produced from a union of the most successful traits from a virtual “mother” and a physical “father”.

As well as being rendered in our simulator, “child” robots produced via our hybrid evolution are also 3D-printed and introduced into a real-world, creche-like environment. The most successful individuals within this physical training centre make their “genetic code” available for reproduction and for the improvement of future generations, while less “fit” robots can simply be hoisted away and recycled into new ones as part of an ongoing evolutionary cycle.

Two years into the project, significant advances have been made. From a scientific perspective, we have designed new artificial evolutionary algorithms that have produced a diverse set of robots that drive or crawl, and can learn to navigate through complex mazes. These algorithms evolve both the body-plan and brain of the robot.

The brain contains a controller that determines how the robot moves, interpreting sensory information from the environment and translating this into motor controls. Once the robot is built, a learning algorithm quickly refines the child brain to account for any potential mismatch between its new body and its inherited brain.

From an engineering perspective, we have designed the “RoboFab” to fully automate manufacturing. This robotic arm attaches wires, sensors and other “organs” chosen by evolution to the robot’s 3D-printed chassis. We designed these components to facilitate swift assembly, giving the RoboFab access to a big toolbox of robot limbs and organs.

Waste disposal

The first major use case we plan to address is deploying this technology to design robots to undertake clean-up of legacy waste in a nuclear reactor – like that seen in the TV miniseries Chernobyl. Using humans for this task is both dangerous and expensive, and necessary robotic solutions remain to be developed.

Looking forward, the long-term vision is to develop the technology sufficiently to enable the evolution of entire autonomous robotic ecosystems that live and work for long periods in challenging and dynamic environments without the need for direct human oversight.

In this radical new paradigm, robots are conceived and born, rather than designed and manufactured. Such robots will fundamentally change the concept of machines, showcasing a new breed that can change their form and behaviour over time – just like us.

About Today's Contributor:

Emma Hart, Chair in Natural Computation, Edinburgh Napier University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license

We’re Teaching Robots To Evolve Autonomously – So They Can Adapt To Life Alone On Distant Planets
We’re Teaching Robots To Evolve Autonomously – So They Can Adapt To Life Alone On Distant Planets (Photo via Pixabay)

You Might Also Like