Business Digest - December, 2010

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Keeping Social Security During a Move   Quick Tips   Poinsettia Care Tips   Theo's Corner   Christmas Riddles for Kids

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 
May God Bless You with Love, Health and Happiness!

 

 

Doing More by Doing Less

It may sound counterintuitive, but you can often find more time in your day to get things done by doing less. Multitasking may seem to be the best way to get through your to-do list, but it can sabotage your efforts. Researchers from the University of Michigan have found that when people multitask, they are diminishing their brain productivity by 20 to 40 percent. This occurs because your brain needs to spend some of its computing power on the switching process itself. Refocusing from one task to another decreases the brain's efficiency.

To combat this, try to establish some new habits for your workflow. Instead of checking email every few minutes, only check it every couple of hours. This lets you focus on answering emails all at once. You can also use a timer when working on an important task. Using a timer helps you regulate how much time you need to spend on a single task. While the timer is going, you should not work on any other project in order to devote enough concentrated time to the task at hand.

Finally, use a to-do list, but with a twist. Instead of simply making a list of things you need to get done, use it to write down things that are distracting you. By placing them on the list, you can give yourself permission to come back to it at a later time, instead of switching away from the job you are doing right now.

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Keeping Social Security During a Move

Moving is one of the bigger causes of stress in our lives. It can be easy to forget some of the smaller tasks when you are concentrating on the larger job of moving a household, whether it is across town or across the country.

If you receive Social Security benefits, it is important to remember to notify them of your change in address. This is critical even if you receive your benefits by direct deposit or Direct Express, or if you are receiving only Medicare benefits. Without your current address, Social Security is unable to notify you of changes that could affect your benefits.

The easiest way to change your address is with their online form at www.socialsecurity.gov/changeofaddress. After submitting the form online, you will receive a confirmation letter in the mail. You can also call 800-772-1213 to change your address using an automated voice system.

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Quick Tips

Safety Tip

The number one thing that convicted burglars say scares them off is a television or radio playing inside the home. This is because they would rather break into a home that they know is unoccupied rather than not being sure. If you are going to be gone for the day or for an extended amount of time, turn on your radio or television before you head out.

Green Living Tip

Using natural cleaning products is a great way to keep unwanted chemicals out of your home. But did you know that you may be tracking harmful chemicals and pesticides into your living space every time you come home? Common shoe hitchhikers include lawn chemicals, lead, toxic cleaners, and week-killers. To help reduce this contamination, invest in a good welcome mat. You can also place a washable rug in your entry way. Finally, the act of removing your shoes before walking around in your home is the best way to reduce this exposure.

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Poinsettia Care Tips

With proper care, your poinsettia plant can last long past the holiday season. Begin by choosing a plant with small, tightly clustered buds in the center. The foliage should be crisp, bright, and undamaged. When bringing your poinsettia home, plan on going straight home, in order to prevent the plant from remaining in your car for a long period of time. To transport your poinsettia from the store to your car, wrap it carefully to protect from any wind and unwrap it as soon as you arrive home.

Poinsettia plants should be watered when the surface soil is dry to the touch. Water until water flows from the drain holes. Any excess water in the drainage saucer should be discarded. To maintain color in the leaves, your poinsettia should be kept close to 60 degrees at night and 70 degrees during the day. These plants also enjoy an environment of high humidity and daily bright, indirect light exposure. If your home is very dry, mist your poinsettia daily. Also remember to keep your plant out of drafts, especially cold winds coming from outdoors or hot air from heater vents.

Your poinsettia can be encouraged to re-bloom next year by following some simple steps. Once the flowers have faded, cut the stems back to about eight inches above the soil line. Continue to water regularly and lightly fertilize once a month. As outdoor temperatures begin to rise, your plant can be placed outdoors. Gradually move your poinsettia from indirect to direct sunlight over several days. In the middle of the summer, you will need to cut back any new growth stems and repot your plant if it has grown substantially. During September, move your plant back indoors, but still provide for six or more hours of direct sunlight each day. Beginning in October, place your plant into complete darkness for fourteen hours each day, allowing it ten hours of natural light each day. This process, which takes about ten weeks to complete, will allow your plant to re-flower and  turn red again.

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Theo's Corner

Holiday Hazards for Your Pets

To ensure a truly happy holiday season this year, don't forget your furry friends. Each year during the holiday season, thousands of pets become ill or are injured. During the rush of activities and visits from family and friends, keep these tips in mind:

  • Remember that human food is not good for pets. Rich gravies and stocks, along with the bones in meat, can be upsetting to your pet's digestive system. Also keep sweets and especially chocolate away from your pet.

  • Ornaments should be hung out of your pet's reach. Chewing on glass, tinsel, and electrical cords is very dangerous for your cat or dog.

  • You should also keep wrapped gifts away from your pet. Some holiday paper is treated with chemicals that are toxic if swallowed. The ribbons and bows on presents can also present a choking hazard if chewed or swallowed.

  • The water in the base of a Christmas tree stand can contain secretions that can cause an upset stomach. Keep the water well covered or consider switching to an artificial tree this year.

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Riddles for Kids: Christmas Fun

Q:  What did Santa say on Christmas Eve?

A:  "That wraps it up for another year!"

 

Q:  What does Santa do when his reindeer make a sloppy landing on a housetop?

A:  He hits the roof!

 

Q:  Which reindeer knows Morse code?

A:  Dasher!

 

Q:  What do you get when you cross Saint Nicholas with a bear?

A:  Santa Claws!

 

Q:  How did the reindeer know that Santa had fallen out of the sleigh?

A:  They felt a rein drop!

 

Q:  Who brings presents to baby sand crabs?

A:  Sandy Claws!

 

Q:  Which reindeer is a ball of fire?

A:  Comet!

 

Q:  What's fast and red and goes, "Oh, oh, oh!"?

A:  Santa Claus flying backward!

 

Q:  What goes, "Ho, ho, ho, OOPS!"?

A:  Santa Claus falling out of his sleigh!

 

Q:  What do you call the fear of getting stuck in a chimney?

A:  Santa Claustrophobia!

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