Don’t Give Up Your Gold

Gold is not dead.

Just ask Germany.

Germany’s Bundesbank recently announced that it finished its transfer of $13 billion in gold bars that had been stored in vaults under Lower Manhattan, bringing the metal back home again. The country had started repatriating its gold in 2013 with the goal of storing 50% of its reserves in Frankfurt once again.

When the gold transfer is complete, Germany will have removed all the gold it stored in Paris, left behind only 13% of its reserves in London and approximately one-third of its reserves in New York.

With the rise of cryptocurrencies – such as bitcoin – and digital cash, such as PayPal, Apple Pay and other apps, there has been a steady drop in the use of physical cash, making the yellow metal feel downright archaic.

But gold holds a special status, stronger than even the couple twenties in your wallet right now. The precious metal offers a blanket of safety and security. It is seen as more trustworthy than any government-issued currency.

Just look at the euro – a currency for a union of countries that is threatening to tear apart. (Germany certainly feels better having its gold home again.)

Or even the U.S. dollar – a currency backed by roughly $20 trillion in debt.

Not only is gold alive and kicking, but it needs to play an important role in your portfolio…

Let me just start with this: I’m not a goldbug.

I’m a trader, first and foremost, and usually with a short time frame as my target. I was raised on the versatility of options and the quick trade for nice profits. I don’t care whether the market is bull, bear, or – shudder to think – range-bound. There’s always a way to make a profit if you know where to look.

But gold is a tricky thing.

It doesn’t pay a dividend, so there’s an opportunity cost associated with the metal.

However, when there is uncertainty in the market, shaky economic growth or geopolitical discord, gold shines as a safe haven in the storm. When stocks are getting hammered, investors will run to gold as a safe way to store some of their greenbacks rather than just converting it to cash and stuffing it under their mattresses.

And going by the way gold has been trading, it looks as if many investors aren’t too sure about this market rally.

The Hedge

In 2016, the price of gold rallied more than 8%, nearly keeping pace with the stock market, as the S&P 500 gained 9.5%.

In fact, the World Gold Council reported that gold demand rose 2% in 2016 to 4,309 tons, tagging a new three-year high.

And less than two months into the new year, we have gold up another 8%, beating the S&P’s gain of approximately 5% – which is noteworthy.

When stocks are strong and investors believe in the market rally, they are happy to abandon gold for high-flying stocks that promise a far better return.

For example, during the dot-com bubble, the S&P 500 rallied from January 1995 through September 2000 by more than 200%. In contrast, gold stumbled 27% during that same time period.

Or look at the market’s rally from October 2012 through January 2016, when the S&P 500 gained 37%, while the yellow metal tumbled 35%.

In short, when times are good, gold is the forgotten child left in time-out until he can learn to play well with the other assets.

And when times are bad, gold is the prodigal son offering security and protection.

So if the stock market is trading at all-time highs and regularly setting new records, why is gold still shining as a favorite?

The financial market has its fair share of potential stumbling blocks that could send everything tumbling sharply lower. Let’s look at a quick list:

  • Stocks are overvalued. We recently explained that, according to traditional measures, stocks are painfully overvalued, and we are setting up for a reversion to the mean.
  • Washington in turmoil. Our new president has promised a series of extreme moves that could have significant repercussions for both the U.S. market and the global market that could start with a sharp earnings slowdown.
  • The next exit in Europe. The EU and U.K. are stumbling their way through Brexit as well as major upcoming elections – Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and France. Furthermore, Europe’s growth has been largely overlooked by many investors and could become the next hot trade as they grow weary of drama in the U.S.
  • The derivatives nightmare. The U.S. is facing a collapse that could rival the fallout from the housing sector debacle as America’s top five banks have loaded up on derivatives tied to interest rates.
  • The Fed wild card. The latest transcripts from the Federal Open Market Committee meeting revealed that the Federal Reserve is looking to lift interest rates “fairly soon.” Higher interest rates will suck money out of the economy as it costs more to service our mounting debt. Higher interest rates also have a tendency to crush stock rallies.

Investors are closely watching these issues, waiting for one or more of them to kick stocks off their current track.

Your Disaster Insurance

Of course, this doesn’t mean that the market is going to fall off a cliff tomorrow.

I think the one quote that every speculator is beaten over the head with is: “The market can remain irrational for longer than you can remain solvent.”

In short, just because a stock or index has risen to all-time highs doesn’t mean it can’t keep going higher, even if it doesn’t make logical sense to you and me.

But it doesn’t hurt to have a hedge in place to protect yourself when it all comes tumbling down.

Gold remains that perfect hedge: your insurance against the Fed, Washington, reckless banks, Europe and even that black swan that hasn’t even hit our radar yet. That’s why gold is still shining as the favorite even during this year’s stock market highs – investors know they need a safe haven, just in case.

Physical gold is your best option rather than investing in “paper gold” such as exchange-traded funds.

No matter how you choose to add physical gold to your portfolio, the important part is that it is there, ready to be your safe haven when it all falls apart.



Source by Jocelynn Smith

How to Get Your Husband Into Couples Counseling

Although there is a slight change in the trend, women are the primary initiators of counseling. Perhaps it’s because, in our culture, women are raised to be responsible for relationships. Or maybe it’s because men see counseling as a sign of weakness and they don’t want to “talk about their feelings.” Whatever the case may be, women do call to set up more therapy sessions than men.

But, what do you do if your husband or boyfriend doesn’t want to go to couples counseling? You’re unhappy, feel the two of you could improve your communication skills and don’t like the direction the marriage is heading. Maybe you don’t feel he is hearing how serious the situation is. Whatever the reason, he just won’t go to counseling.

Here are a few tips to try and increase your chances of getting him into couples counseling:

1) Write him a letter. Sometimes putting feeling, experiences and desires down on paper helps to organize one’s thoughts and takes the intensity out of the communication. It may help to defuse the power struggle by allowing for time and distance from the initial conflict. Plus, he can read the letter on his own time and as many times as he needs to hopefully come to understand how you are feeling and being affected by the relationship.

2) Ask him at a time of no conflict. Express to him your love and desire to make your relationship with him strong and fulfilling for both of you. He may be in a better place to hear you when you are away from the fighting and not so angry.

3) Allow him to pick the therapist. Perhaps he would feel more comfortable with a male therapist because he feels a man would be more understanding of his experience and therefore not feel ganged up on. Additionally, he may want a therapist within a certain age range or of a certain religious affiliation. If he picks the therapist, he may take more responsibility in the counseling process.

4) Start therapy by yourself: Maybe by working on your own perspective of the problems will help create a better way for you to communicate the negative effect the relationship dissatisfaction is having on you and the marriage. It could also help you to see what you are contributing to the discord and once you explain your role in the struggle, make him feel more comfortable with couples counseling and that it could have real value.

5) Collaborate with a therapist. Perhaps you can find a therapist that will invite your husband into therapy initially as an observer or “Holder of fact”. Have him come into therapy as simply an expert in your life to tell the therapist his experience of you and what he thinks you have to work on. This technique, if worked well by the therapist is an excellent way to expose your husband to what counseling is really like; that it’s a safe place to express one’s experiences and have them validated. Through this initial therapy experience, he may start to see that therapy isn’t so bad and a place he can actually start to get some of his needs met too.

6) Threaten separation or divorce: This technique should only be used as a last ditch effort and can only be used once, maybe twice in a relationship. If you are going to play the divorce card, you better be ready to follow through with your threat. This approach signifies that the marriage is hanging by a thread and that thread is about to break. If you are in a dysfunctional relationship with someone who is unwilling to try and make it better, you must either resign yourself to it and stop complaining or walk away knowing you have tried all you could and that your happiness has value.

A marriage is something worth fighting for. Try everything you can to help save it; even if this means leveraging your mate into counseling. With a well thought out plan of attack and a willing therapist who recognizes the importance and value of couples counseling, you can rescue a troubled marriage. He will be glad you did.

If you would like more explanation on how to get your man into therapy, please feel free to contact me through my website or blog by clicking on the links provided below.



Source by Mark A. Kaupp, Psy.D.

Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition – 3 Tips for New Dungeon Masters

Your first few games of Dungeons & Dragons can be daunting, and doubly so if you’ve elected to fill the role of the Dungeon Master.

While at the table, the DM will need to fulfill multiple positions including coach, referee, and narrator. The following three tips will ease you into running the game and ensure that you and your players have an unforgettable experience playing the fifth edition of the world’s greatest roleplaying game.

Start Small. Many Dungeon Masters want to create their own worlds and narratives, but crafting elaborate adventures and campaigns is an immense task early on and a rudimentary understanding of the rules can hinder the momentum necessary to drive a complex story and result in a disheartening first experience.

Whether running the introductory adventure The Lost Mine of Phandelver – found in the 5th Edition Starter Set – or an adventure you’ve made yourself, it’s important to start small and allow yourself plenty of room to make mistakes.

Read the rules found in the Player’s Handbook, pick an environment, choose a setting, read up on one or two types of monsters, and send your adventurers on a short quest that requires them to traverse this environment in order to interact with these monsters in this setting. Give them some gold and one or two pieces of equipment if they successfully complete the quest.

Leave Room for Improvisation. It’s impossible to prepare for everything that your players are going to think up. Time spent fleshing out intricate backgrounds for the good people of Daggerford is wasted when your adventurers decide that they don’t want to go to Daggerford, but instead would rather sleep in the woods on the outskirts of town. In order to save yourself from wasting hours, or even days, of preparation, you should avoid going into too much detail when creating non-player characters, locations, monsters, etc.

Give every non-player character you make a name and one or two defining features (such as a big scar on their right eye or six fingers on their left hand) so that players can easily identify them, but let the finer details come out while you’re actually playing the game. Once a character, location, monster, etc. has shown up in your game, keep an index card with their name and key features – as well as what happened to them in the game – on hand for later sessions.

Stop. Collaborate and Listen. Often times new Dungeon Masters confuse their role as a litigator with that of a tyrant, but Dungeons & Dragons is a collaborative storytelling experience, with both the DM and the players contributing to what’s happening in the narrative. Being responsible for creating the entirety of the world that your players inhabit is intimidating, but remember that you are all gathered together to play a game and have fun – yes, even the Dungeon Master.

Get into the habit of asking your players questions about their characters, such as “Having been here before, what’s your impression of Baldur’s Gate?” and “Have you fought bugbears before? If so, how did that go for you?” This gets players in the mindset of thinking about the world from their character’s perspective and allows them to contribute to the world-building, taking some of the load off of you.

If you’re really comfortable with your group, you can even field them questions like “What’s a good name for a nervous shop owner?” and work together at the table to come up with a non-player character’s foundation. The more you include your players in your world, the more invested they will become.

There’s no limit to the number of tools available for a DM to consider, but keeping these three tips in mind will help any new Dungeon Master feel right at home.

If you’re interested in learning more about being a better Dungeon Master, check out Matt Colville’s YouTube series Running the Game here.



Source by Ellis Smith

Symbiosis in Relationships – Why Things Change Psychologically

Abstract:

In this article I want to share the idea of relationship symbiosis and its effects on the future of marriage and breakdowns in couples. Symbiosis is the connection two people find between them at the beginning of relationships that cause initial attraction and the decision making process to marry or cohabitate. Culture plays a significant role in symbiosis along with development issues from the type of parental style experienced in early childhood.

Introduction:

In order to understand symbiosis we have to know what that actually means! It is a term which describes the needs and desires being met by one party to another. For example, if a girl grows up where her parents who are over nurturing, they do her thinking for her and make all the decisions, she may as an adult seek out men who are controlling and demanding – as this supplies the need for her to continue to not think for herself and have her decisions made for her. The man may have had highly critical parents where he learned that control of others is the purpose of relationships and so looks for the girl who is needy, easy to control and allows him to do her thinking for her. This couple will have symbiosis in that structure and will be happy with the role they are playing psychologically. This form of symbiosis is a dominant subdominant arrangement. However to have complete symbiosis there must be many factors of complimentary needs and wants matching in order for a new couple to decide to marry.

In relationship research it has been found that couples with similar backgrounds, social status and proximity tend to be attracted to each other and form long term relationships (1. Festinger 1950). However today much of that research may have to be revisited as diversification in relationships is now becoming more likely, particularly with inter-racial marriages, as people travel more and have more opportunities to meet men and women from different cultures. Here symbiosis maybe the determining factor in the relationships continuance. The most quoted research is now also over 30 years ago and subjects were often unmarried American college students not exactly representative of the population as a whole and today statistically dubious. For example the work of Zajonc 1971, Dion 1972, Griffit & Veitch 1974, Bossard, 1931 and Hedier 1958, while much of this research into relationship factors are still relevant today for many they lack the insight into cultural changes of a global society. The single most obvious criticism is that past research focused often on a couple in isolation from other players in the relationship such as mother in laws, friends and ex partners, especially with a divorce rate globally of nearly 37%.

According to enrichment journal on the divorce rate in America:

• The divorce rate in America for first marriage is 41%

• The divorce rate in America for second marriage is 60%

• The divorce rate in America for third marriage is 73%

Symbiosis:

If then we accept that in the beginning of the relationship symbiosis is evident and both parties are happy with the arrangement, how does it go wrong? From counselling couples and individuals some common patterns emerge. First that people change over time, particularly women, who may have needed a dependent situation in their early years, but as education and maturity play their role, the woman becomes more self confident than in the past, starts demanding to be heard, that her opinion counts now. The husband often sees this rebellion against the symbiosis as damaging the marriage as he is still very happy to be the dominant decision maker. Once the husband loses control of the once sub dominant wife he turns to seek the satisfaction for his dominance to a third party, looking for a young girl he can dominate again. Leaving the marriage in an unbalanced symbiosis as now both parties needs is not being met. For example, the wife needing more independence of thought while he is seeking to re-establish the symbiosis that existed before and suited his need for control. The inevitable outcome of such an unbalance is often divorce, however many woman claim that they stay in unhappy marriages for the sake of the children or their own personal security. Having found the need for independence of thought does not mean independence economically! Here a woman may try to find new outlets for their feelings through the children or outside interests. Although we are using only one example it is the most common one seen amongst married couples. A second area of symbiosis is the person’s life view. Your life view is how you see the world, for example, as dangerous, wondrous or futile. This life position again can me symbiotic in the beginning with a shared vision of the world. Experience over time may change this for example like becoming vegetarian for animal welfare reasons and the partner continuing to want to eat meat. This shift of a general view of life and the world can have profound effects particularly with mixed cultural marriages. A Muslim married to a Christian could become a fiery relationship after the passion of the initial attraction wears off! Diversity is now a much more common arrangement in marriages than in the past and a challenge to modern counsellors trying to settle the couple’s fundamental differences in life views, especially as the counsellor will have their life view too.

Change to Symbiosis:

What are the positive aspects of the change in symbiosis to a couple? Here couples need to make a readjustment to their long term arrangements. First to accept that people can change and that new needs can be found, even a sense of purpose in living. If the partners can adapt to the change and be more accepting many marriages could be revitalised into a new symbiosis for both. For example, if the dominant husband accepts his wife can think for herself now, he can be proud of her maturation and encourage her to take more risks in what she decides for herself. He could become more democratic in the marriage by agreeing to talk more before decisions are reached that both feel is good and not just one. Of course in many marriages these roles are reversed. Secondly, a lack of symbiosis is one of the main causes of many trivial arguments that then catastrophes into major arguments about the relationship itself.

Many clients say that once the symbiosis has changed so has the intimacy of the relationship and sex is usually the first casualty of the new positions. There are many reasons that the symbiosis can change, loss of work, economic slowdowns, caring of elderly relatives all can put a strain on the dynamics of a relationship. In our example if our dominant man lost his job and was unemployable for some reason, then the wife may start to worry that the dependable man she relied on is now depressed and in doing so becomes less certain, less dominate and less sure of the future. Here the symbiosis is affected not by the internal arrangement but by external elements that are out of their control.

Symbiosis can be affected by third parties, such as the mother in law, who may influence her daughter or son to take certain stands in the marriage and sway the carefully managed symbiosis into a crisis point. In some cultures such as China, the men are heavily influenced by their mothers after marriage, particularly in the man wanted a mother replacement in his wife (very common). This can lead to the three way symbiosis where accommodation is being allowed for in three peoples needs. The Chinese husband often defers to his mothers power and leaves the wife feeling powerless.

Traditional, Custom, Culture in Symbiosis:

People often misunderstand the words, traditional, custom and culture in terms of right and wrong behaviour and standards of conduct. Tradition is something we have always done but have often forgotten its original purpose and continue the practices with a – we have always done it this way – attitude. Custom is the preferred way of carrying out daily life that is acceptable to the majority of a class of people. For example greetings and offering to pay for a meal with the intention of knowing the offer will be refused. Culture however is very different as it constantly changes according to the pressures of modern living, economics and now technology. An iPhone is as much part of a modern culture as high speed trains. The change in culture puts a strain on tradition and custom as they are not always compatible. In symbiosis the generation gap between traditions followed and customs played out can be in direct competition with the changing culture. Here arguments between parents, young married couples and single adults can differ greatly in their symbiotic needs. Symbiosis may be sought traditionally in marriage according to the parent’s idea of the correct way and needs of the future care for themselves even to the point of practically selling their daughter for money disguised as a traditional custom. Young couples struggling to find a place in a harsh economic climate may decide to cohabitate as a way to avoid tradition and fall into line with a more modern cultural approach to economic realities. Therefore the symbiosis between the generations is not maintained and even governments try to enact legislation to enforce traditional values with tax incentives and penalties. (2. Myler 2011)

Summery:

You can see from our overview of symbiosis that many factors can interfere with and damage the original symbiosis of a marriage that starts out as a balanced happy arrangement only to fall into discord later in life according to the changes to that symbiosis. Symbiosis is then the cornerstone of a successful marriage or a future divorce. Symbiosis can only be maintained through constant vigilance to changing times and the growth of the individual’s personality, skills and change in their life views. If you are going to have a long term relationship then both parties need to understand change happens and embrace that change positively. While most couples in psychotherapy can when given insight make positive changes to their outlook and life view many of course cannot and look for a third party to bring back the symbiosis to their psychological well-being either through affairs or divorce with remarriage to a partner that offers that symbiosis they wanted from the old partner.

References:

1. Festinger 1950, Advanced Psychology through Diagrams – G. Hill

2. Myler 2011, The China Papers

Words: 1780



Source by Stephen F. Myler

Relationship: Financial Woes

A good relationship is all about balance and harmony between the partner, the environment and finance. Financial matters are a part of our daily life. In a perfect relationship too, money does matter.

There are always debates as to what is important Love or Money. The debate ends in conclusion that both are equally important. For a practical person money has a very significant role to play as life as it is difficult to move forward without money.

When you start with a new relationship it is important to know the financial backgrounds about each other. You can’t have a happy relationship unless you make clear to each other about your individual financial conditions. The partners should be aware about each others spending habits and know if they are into any kind of debts. Couples are seen fighting and even ending a relationship as they weren’t clear about their mate’s habits and financial condition. Never make false statement about your financial state. When coming into a relationship you talk about love, romance and togetherness but very few couples talk about each others financial conditions. You should also make clear about your financial conditions honestly so as not to end a relationship in disappointment. You should let your partner know about both the good and the bad things about your life. If you are financially well off then it does not make much of a difference but when your economical condition is not well it becomes an obligation to let your partner know about it as you have to spend your life together ever after. It is here when love will play its role. If your partner really loves you he or she will accept you as you are otherwise it is better to have a relationship broken that has its root based on your financial gains.

Even the perfect relationships fall apart due to financial problems. There is discord and disharmony among couples. When a relationship faces problems of finances there are fights, arguments, frustration and anger. You are not able to solve the problems as everything seems impossible and you take up with regular drinking and fighting thus creating an unhealthy atmosphere. It is even worse when you are parents. Children have a very bad effect when their family is facing financial problems. They get complexes and at times indulge into bad habits such as fighting with their school mates and stealing.

Couples should actually sit and try to solve the problems than creating an unhealthy atmosphere. Generally economical problems do not crop up immediately. As a family increase in number, you have children and your requirements expand you start facing economical problems if your source of income remains is not enough and nearly the same. It is here that you should start planning to increase your source of income. You have to find ways for monetary gains. Both the partners have to work out over it.

Moreover you should not increase your expenses beyond your income. Learn to control your desires. It is true that we all want the best in life but we have to be practical and make moves according to our financial condition. It is how you will be able to restore this balance, and consequently improve your life. Patience and sacrifice are very important factors in a relationship. At times you have to sacrifice certain thing you loved to have which you could not due to economic condition. You can always get a chance in near future to buy it. You should not go for it at the extent of creating problems as it costs you a hell of money.

Financial issues should be dealt with great care and thinking as it is easy to spend and difficult to earn. Learn to save money and invest money so as to increase your financial condition.

Find more information visit: Relationship: Financial Woes [http://www.keepcondom.com/articles/relationship/relationship-financial-woes.htm]



Source by Julia Jones

How to Manage Ethics in the Workplace

The effective management of ethics is sound business practice. Employees’ morale is raised; bottom-line performance is improved, your corporate image is enhanced; and customers choose to form business relationships with companies that adhere to high standards of ethical conduct. One of your key management tasks is to persuade employees to accept your organization’s ethical values. Here are some points to consider…

1. Understand the benefits of ethical conduct.

All key parties benefit from ethical conduct within the organization. Employees who have confidence in their management contribute to their organization’s prosperity. Conversely, in an unethical climate, employee productivity declines, creativity is channeled into seeking ways to profit personally from the business, loyalty diminishes, and absenteeism and staff turnover increase. Customers prefer to be associated with and remain loyal to companies that adhere to codes of ethical behavior. Shareholders derive up to fifteen times greater return from companies with a dedicated commitment to ethical conduct. US research in the 1990s identified companies across industry sectors that had outperformed their peers. The one common quality among those companies was a demonstrated commitment to their stated values.

2. Focus on ethical conduct.

When referring to codes of behavior, the term ‘ethical conduct’ is more comprehensive and more meaningful than ‘ethics’. The best ethical values and intentions are relatively meaningless unless they generate fair, just, and observable behaviors in the workplace. Ethical conduct focuses on demonstrated behavior-doing, not just saying.

3. Develop a code of ethical conduct.

The best way to handle ethical dilemmas is to avoid their occurrence in the first place. The process involved in developing a code of ethical conduct helps to sensitize employees to ethical considerations and minimizes the likelihood that unethical behavior will occur. A process is outlined in How to develop a code of ethical conduct on page 18 of the e-Book Ethics.

4. Promote process.

When it comes to managing ethics and, in particular, developing a code of ethical conduct, the journey is just as important as the destination. Codes, policies, procedures, and budgets are important. So, too, is the process of reflection and dialogue that produces those deliverables. Where possible use group decision making to actively involve participation in, and ownership of, the final outcome.

5. Link ethics to other management practices.

The development of a code of ethical conduct should not occur in isolation. The creation of a values statement, for example, should occur as part of a strategic planning process. A link to ethical conduct fits ideally with this process. Similarly, any discussion about personnel policies could also reflect ethical values as they apply to the organization’s culture.

6. Demonstrate ethical practices.

The best way for you and your organization to gain a reputation for operating ethically is to demonstrate that behavior-the most important way to remain ethical is to be ethical. And the best advertisement your ethics management program can have is everyone’s commitment to it. Be prepared for an increase in the number of ethical issues to be dealt with. As staff become increasingly aware of the importance of ethics management, it is to be expected that more issues will be identified. As Helen Vines says in ‘The Core of Good Business’ (HR Monthly, June 1999): ‘The most damaging thing is for management to come out with a code of ethics, or a value statement, and model a different type of behavior.’

7. Allocate roles and responsibilities.

The approach will vary according to the organization, but an appropriate structure could include the following:

• An ethics management committee, representing the entire organization, with responsibilities to include implementing and administering an ethics management program. The creation and monitoring of a code of ethical conduct would be part of that overall program.

• An ethics officer who ideally should be a senior executive but not from HR or the Legal Department. He or she must be trained in matters of ethics in the workplace and have ultimate responsibility for managing the program.

• Demonstrated involvement and support of top management. Staff and Board must see that senior management takes ethical conduct seriously.

8. Identify and model industry benchmarks.

An increasing number of companies strive to match practices with espoused values. The Soul of a Business (Bantam, 1993), for example, is an account of the way in which ethical considerations guided the day-to-day operations of the American company, Tom’s of Maine. One of the company’s stated values was its commitment to the health of the environment. The company, therefore, used glass containers instead of plastic, even though plastic was cheaper to purchase, label, and ship. Tom’s of Maine was also committed to supporting its regional economy. Only when it couldn’t purchase a resource in its local area would Tom’s go farther afield. This demonstrated commitment to espoused values contributed to the company’s growth and profitability and inspired others to follow its lead.



Source by Dr Neil Flanagan

Tips on Managing Your Workforce Remotely

So many people are now working from home (WFH) 100% of the time. Hopefully if this is the case for you, you can maintain productivity and stay positive during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While a lot of us are used to living the entrepreneur life from a home office, it’s still a big adjustment to have to self-isolate and stop all face-to-face interactions with coworkers and clients.

I encourage you to use this time to take a closer look at your overall business goals, focus on your health (both physical and mental) and self-care, and enjoy some family time at home.

I think many small business owners are having to pivot their marketing strategy, and what they do when the coronavirus passes could look quite different from what they did before.

I wanted to share some useful tech tools that can make your day-to-day WFH life much easier.

Team Communication Tools

This is probably the biggest WFH product decision you’ll have to make. Your team needs a reliable and easy-to-use tool that lets them instantly message coworkers. The right one for you depends on your business needs and challenges, team size and budget.

1. You may have heard of Slack. This tool gives you the ability to create channels around multiple topics and invite users. From marketing content ideas to social media tactics to office dog photos, your team can create relevant channels for easy chat and collaboration.

It also integrates with many useful tools, including Outlook Calendar, Twitter, HubSpot and Salesforce, so you can see what’s going on at all times right in the Slack app (no need to click in and out of your daily calendar or Twitter feed, for example). There are SO MANY fun and creative emojis you can use too, making remote messaging in a challenging time like this a little more lighthearted.

2. Another popular platform is Discord. Popular with gamers, this voice, video and text tool isn’t just for talking to coworkers, but for finding like-minded communities and new friends. You can create “servers” and “channels” for specific topics, similarly like you do for Slack channels. While Slack has more business integrations, Discord has voice channels, so you can easily chat with team members. Discord also lets you set user roles and permissions.

3. Flock is a cloud-based team communication tool with video and audio calling, screen sharing, text chat, integration with other business applications and more. You can tag colleagues in comments and to-do lists, upload documents, images and videos and set reminders and due dates. Polls, code snippet sharing and group discussions are available, and it integrates with other apps such as Trello, Github, Google Drive and Asana.

Team Collaboration Tools

Your employees need to be able to share their work, whether they’re creating on a marketing strategy or editing a press release. Here are a few that might fit your small business needs.

1. G Suite is a Google product that’s made up of cloud computing, productivity and collaboration tools, software and products. In one suite of tools, it offers email, word processing, spreadsheets, presentation decks, shared calendars, cloud storage, and more.

You can comment and make suggestions on specific documents through Google Sheets and Docs, edit documents online simultaneously and collaborate on projects and documents. It’s easy to give users permission to specific files.

2. Evernote: This is more than a note-taking app. Evernote helps you capture, prioritize and share ideas, track projects and to-do lists. I find it super helpful for note-taking, obviously, but also as a sort of “digital filing cabinet” that simplifies organization. There’s a free, basic and business package available.

CRM Tools

CRM stands for “customer relationship management,” and CRM tools help you with things like inbound lead management, sales tracking, social tracking and eNewsletter delivery. Here are three to consider:

1. MailChimp is an all-in-one marketing platform with tools to create everything from emails to postcards. They have a great selection of templates to choose from that can then be further modified to suit your brand. Their intuitive interface and thorough reporting are great, but things can get expensive as your subscriber list or number of emails increase. You can compare their different plans on their website.

2. Constant Contact has always been a big rival with MailChimp to be the brand name in email marketing. It’s a huge company and a great option if Facebook is a big part of your online marketing strategy. Constant Contact has an email option that is designed so users can easily share your newsletter on Facebook.

This option can be considered the most social media-friendly and has all the major features of the others noted. If your online marketing involves Hootsuite (you can integrate this into Hootsuite) and you focus your efforts on gaining traction on social media then this is a great newsletter tool for you.

3. AWeber is an extremely popular option and recommended by many professional marketing companies. It gives you five plans to choose from and a long list of features such as unlimited email marketing campaigns, follow-ups, lists and Auto Responders.

Many people believe their Auto Responder platform is superior to other companies, allowing businesses to automate the process of delivering personalized emails to customers on a schedule.

Project Management Tools

A collaborative task management tool lets everyone track and manage all of their projects. Think of it as an online scheduler, taskmaster, and collaboration tool to manage your team’s workflows.

1. Asana is one of the leading tools and gets a lot of positive feedback. It allows everyone on your team to follow the whole workflow of a project in an easy visual tool. You’ll always know where your team is at and who’s responsible for what and when.

From daily reminders on a task that’s due, to the ability to easily add collaborators or assign teammates a sub-task of a project, Asana makes it simple to see what everyone’s day, week and month looks like (but you can easily move things around if plans change).

2. Monday.com is a pretty simple, intuitive visual team management tool (it’s really a project management platform). It runs processes, workflows, and projects in one digital workspace. Visually, it looks the same as a collection of very customized spreadsheets, in which every team member can log their tasks and update them with status reports and other relevant information.

That means that every person can see all active tasks and keep count on their progress. Team members can work on multiple projects without getting lost by using Monday’s weekly overview. The workflow can be customized just about any way you want it to communicate priority, what’s done, not done and so on. The colourful designs and big buttons don’t hurt either!

Social Media Management Tools

Many small businesses will already have a social media management tool set up. A social media management tool allows you to manage all of your accounts from one dashboard, which saves you both time and frustration. These tools share your content at the best possible times throughout the day, so your followers and fans see your updates more often. It’s a smarter and more efficient way to schedule and share your social media posts.

The best part about these tools is the built-in analytics system, which will give you a glimpse into what’s performing well, and when your social media posts are making the most impact.

Here are two social media management tools I personally use:

1. Buffer shows your scheduled posts and analytics (how in-depth those analytics get depends on the plan you choose). Many small business owners choose Buffer because of its sleek, clean interface that’s easy for beginners to get the hang of.

2. I find that while Buffer is great for less demanding social media needs, Hootsuite is where it’s at if you want to see your timelines, replies, and more across all your social networks.

Both Buffer and Hootsuite offer free and paid plans, so you can always try them out and see which one feels like a better fit for your small business.

***

And while it’s not a tool your entire workforce might use, I’m liking MoneyMinderOnline during these uncertain times. It not only gives you a place to track your spending, but you also get insights into your spending habits, and you can look ahead to improve your cash flow, clear your debt, and start saving for your big goals.

I hope I’ve given you an overview of some tools that will help boost your team’s productivity and morale while you’re all working from home. You may also benefit from our article on boosting business efficiency on our website.



Source by Susan Friesen