Ditch Multitasking, Embrace Interstitial Time and Get Productive!

For years, multitasking has been a valued skill — one that many folks have become quite adept at and proud of — but scientific analysis is showing more and more that it amounts to being a jack of all trades, master of none.

Scientists say humans don’t actually multitask; the brain switches back and forth quickly from one task to another, which keeps it from operating at full capacity during both activities. Multitasking actually diminishes the focus and general effectiveness of what you’re trying to do compared to giving one task full attention before moving on to another.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “What’s Really Happening in Your Brain When You Multitask,” from The Huffington Post, Feb. 2, 2015.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Multi-tasking: how to survive in the 21st century,” from FT Magazine, Sept. 2, 2015.]

If multitasking can diminish effectiveness, it’s best if the important decisions get undivided attention. With our focus on retirement income strategies, we can help you work toward your monetary goals without a split-screen experience. We are financial professionals so you don’t have to be, so call us when you need a full focus on your retirement income strategy.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “‘There’s No Such Thing As Multitasking,’” from Forbes, Jan. 7, 2015.]

There’s a space of time that could be used to accomplish some of the to-dos that often get multitasked. Instead of flitting between a series of tasks, use your interstitial time. This is when you have intervals during the day when you’re doing absolutely nothing. Most people feel they don’t have any extra time, but consider the time you spend waiting at the checkout line in a store, waiting to pick up your kids or grandkids from school or activities, riding an elevator, or even all that time you spend on hold.

Instead of wasting your valuable time at home or work — or rudely “multitasking” when someone’s trying to have a conversation with you — check your Facebook page or ballgame scores on your cellphone during these interstitial times. You can use these in-between times to return phone calls and respond to emails and texts. When you make better use of interstitial periods, you can free up time throughout your day for other things, other people or even for yourself.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Life’s Work: An Interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson,” from Harvard Business Review, January 2016.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Lawyers, Here’s How to Take Back Your Interstitial Time,” from Legal Practice Pro, June 22, 2015.]

Searching for productivity often strains your creative energies most of all. After all, the new project idea, event title or anniversary gift idea never comes on demand, right? Multitasking and clicking through the never-ending task list — even if you are using interstitial time — doesn’t always leave room for the idea bulb.

When it comes to having creative and inventive ideas, the best time is usually when you’re a little tired, as a relaxed brain is more open to conjuring less obvious ideas. That means if you’re a night bird, you may have better ideas in the morning. If you’re a morning person, your fatigued brain may be more productive later in the day. Who knew?

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “The Best Time of Day to Do Everything at Work,” from FastCompany, June 23, 2015.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “The best time of day to take a break,” from The Washington Post, Sept. 14, 2015.]

New Year a Good Time for New Approach

We frequently resolve to reinvent ourselves in the new year — exercise more, eat healthier, read more or save more.

This concept of reinvention carries over to several aspects of the financial world as well, both personally and in businesses.

At a certain age, it’s common for people to put their materialistic desires behind them and focus on a more personal lifestyle. We grow up learning to want things, but after our income level reaches a comfortable level, we reflect on whether we have what we really want. At that point, our perspective can change.

If we can help you refocus your financial situation to match the type of lifestyle you want to lead going forward, we’re here for you.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Minimalist Living: When a Lot Less Is More,” from Time, March 15, 2015.]

[CLICK HERE to read the news release, “What Psychology Says About Materialism and the Holidays,” from the American Psychological Association, Dec. 16, 2014.]

Companies often find themselves needing to reinvent as a result of rapidly changing surroundings. Not long ago, Yahoo and Barnes & Noble were industry leaders. But, as new technology and competitors emerge, a period of poor sales or stock performance can put once-successful business models in need of a shakeup.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Is It Too Late to Reinvent Yahoo?” from Knowledge@Wharton, Jan. 4, 2016.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “How Can Barnes & Noble Avoid Borders’ Fate?” from Knowledge@Wharton, Dec. 18, 2015.]

An alternative method of reinvention is simply changing the impression presented to consumers through a rebranding. This could mean a new logo, a new look for brick and mortar stores, a new look for the website; basically good branding means creating a cohesive look across all customer touchpoints.

Does a new logo mean the service or product has changed? Perhaps. Sometimes companies rebrand to reflect changes, other times it’s just a new update to their look. While a fresh, new look could attract new customers in the short-term, if the product hasn’t improved, it won’t be long before it’s time for another overhaul.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “When’s the right time to reinvent your brand with a new logo?” from W.P. Carey School of Business, Arizona State University, Jan. 4, 2016.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Three ways Fortune changed in 2015,” from Fortune, Jan. 4, 2016.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Goodbye, Moto(rola): Iconic brand name to be phased out,” from CNET, Jan. 7, 2016.]

The same can be true when it comes to reinventing our own situation. Sometimes we just “rebrand” ourselves, informing friends and family that we’ve joined a gym or started shopping at Whole Foods.

Truly reinventing ourselves requires commitment and discipline. We can’t just say we’ve made a change; we have to take the often painstaking steps to get there. If any of your reinvention plans involve your financial situation, remember that we’re here to help you develop a strategy and stick to it.

Brain Power Translates to Staying Power

We keep hearing about how life expectancy has increased, and today’s retirees are living longer than ever. However, longevity behooves that we (1) take measures to retain good health and mental acumen as we get older and (2) develop a long-term financial strategy to provide for ourselves and our loved ones in retirement.

We can help you with the latter, and here are some new studies that may help you with the former.

Recent research has found that the brain can actually grow new nerve cells through a process called neurogenesis. The hippocampus section of the brain — which is responsible for learning, memory, mood and emotion — generates up to 700 new neurons per day. In fact, scientists have discovered a clear link that patients given anti-depressants generate a higher level of new neurons, which are directly responsible for improving mood.

While neuron production tends to decrease as we age, there are factors we can control to help increase production: learning, physical activity and specific factors related to diet, such as restricted caloric intake, intermittent fasting, consuming flavonoids (found in blueberries and dark chocolate) and omega-3 fatty acids (found in salmon). Soft foods (as opposed to crunchy foods) also have been found to promote neurogenesis.

[CLICK HERE to view the Ted Talk, “You Can Grow New Brain Cells. Here’s How,” from BCG Perspectives, October 2015.]

Other studies have demonstrated positive brain changes associated with higher levels of daily physical activity and fitness. In addition to keeping muscles and joints fit, exercise also improves oxygen circulation and the nerve processes that improve memory and brain functions as people age.

Scientists say it doesn’t take much; simply that we continue to be active throughout the day. For example, get up and move around every hour that you’re awake.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Getting closer to understanding how exercise keeps brains young,” from Harvard Health Publications, Sept. 4, 2015.]

Another phenomenon that impedes brain functionality is sleep deprivation, which is common among adults at every age. A sleep-deprived brain thinks slower, reacts slower and is prone to poorer decision making. Furthermore, lack of sleep can impact mood, and people who consistently lose sleep are more likely to experience depression.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Sleep and Melatonin,” from National Sleep Foundation, 2015.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Sleep and Sound,” from National Sleep Foundation, 2015.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Have Insomnia? Researchers Identify Brain Circuit Responsible for Wakefulness, Sleep,” from MedicalDaily.com, Dec. 26, 2015.]

Finally, you can help optimize your brainpower by cutting down on refined sugar consumption. While it’s well known sweets aren’t good for our waistlines, they can also be detrimental to mental sharpness and the ability to get a good night’s sleep.

Let’s face it: If we’re going to live a long time, we want to maintain a high quality of life. The decisions you make regarding health and nutrition are in your hands, but if you ever have questions about keeping your finances in good shape, feel free to give us a call.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “How Giving up Refined Sugar Changed My Brain,” from Fast Company, Sept. 1, 2015.]

Splitting Up Doesn’t Have to Mean Parting with Your Money

Sadly, January is the biggest month of the year for divorces.

Troubled couples stay together through the holidays, then, seeking a fresh start in the new year, make the decision to separate. Nobody plans on getting a divorce, but those who decide it’s necessary should lay down the groundwork to ensure the process is as smooth as possible.

This may start with the hiring of a divorce lawyer, and perhaps a psychologist, but it’s just as important to talk things through with your financial professional.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Divorcing in 2016? Get your affairs in order first,” from MarketWatch, Dec. 12, 2015.]

Everyone has their own concerns and priorities when it comes to divorce, but one nationally recognized entrepreneur and finance author shared an unorthodox, yet effective, method of divvying up assets.

Because divorce often leads to court battles and financial disputes, the author and his wife decided to take their money completely out of the equation by putting it in a corporation they co-owned equally. Then, they agreed to a one-page divorce agreement focused solely on their children’s best interests and paid an attorney a small fee to file the decree.

Two years later, after they were past the emotional chaos that accompanies the breakup of a family, they figured out an equitable financial situation — also a one-page agreement that did not involve attorneys.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Financial Fridays: Divorce Sucks. A How-To,” from LinkedIn, Sept. 18, 2015.]

Too often in marriages, one spouse trusts all the financial matters to the other without an understanding of where their money is being invested. This could explain why a recent survey showed divorced women can have more financial peace of mind than those who are married.

Even though divorced women typically end up with less household income than when they were married, the fact that they become more in control of how their money flows in and out of the budget, and can exercise their own brand of financial thrift and savvy, gives them a greater sense of confidence.

[CLICK HERE to read the blog, “A Surprising Finding about Divorced Women and Money,” from The Wall Street Journal, Dec. 16, 2015.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Marrying Before Age 32 May Reduce Risk of Divorce: Study,” from DivorceMagazine.com, July 21, 2015.]

Regardless of whether we’re working with divorced or married couples, it’s our hope that both parties understand their financial situation. If you ever want a walkthrough on where your money is going, give us a call.