Why the baby boomer generation is the real problem, according to 21 millennials

These millennials tell us about the problems they now face because of baby boomers.

  • Millennials are accused by some of being whiny, narcissistic, and too politically passive.
  • A number of them suggest, however, that the real problem isn’t them; it’s baby boomers.
  • 21 millennials told Insider why baby boomers are responsible for many problems millennials now face.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Whiny, self-obsessed, not politically engaged enough – the accusations directed at millennials by older generations seem endless.

Millennials, or anyone born between 1980 and 2000, often get painted as pampered do-gooders with a naive worldview, whose priorities extend only to getting sabbaticals and being allowed to work from home.

That said, decades of disregard for the climate, unfair policies and structures being implemented between the generations, and questionable ideas concerning success in the workplace have left 18 to 38-year-olds with a heavy weight to bear.

Twenty-one young people from Germany told Insider of the problems the baby boomers have created and perpetuated in Germany and how they can be solved:

‘Let’s stop talking about what’s gone wrong.’

Felix Finkbeiner (20), environmental activist millennial
Felix Finkbeiner, 20, environmental activist.

We’re hurtling towards the edge of a cliff at full pelt – it isn’t for the sake of science that we’re trying to figure out the quantity by which sea levels are set to rise; it’s about survival.

Together, with more than 67,000 other children and young people from our Plant for the Planet initiative, I’ve committed myself to combat the climate crisis. And yes, perhaps the older generation is listening to us but are they doing enough?

The climate crisis is the greatest challenge of our time. The CO2 clock is ticking. What must we do and what can we do right now? Well, we can massively reduce our CO2 emissions. And we can plant 1,000 billion trees to absorb a quarter of man-made CO2. I’d say to the older generations, to company bosses, and to politicians: “Let’s stop talking about what’s gone wrong or what’s going wrong – let’s plant trees together and save our future.”

‘It’s older people who get to call the shots on pensions – yet they no longer have to cough up.’

Sarna Röser (30), Chairwoman of Young Entrepreneurs
Sarna Röser, 30, chairwoman of Junger Unternehmer (Young Entrepreneurs).

Most baby boomers will be retiring soon, which will put considerable pressure on our pension system. There’s a massive disparity between the number of working people and the increasing number of pensioners for whom those working people are footing the bill.

I think a simple and logical solution would be if everyone had to work for a period of time during their later years. And retirement should be linked to life expectancy. I’m skeptical about who decides what’s what when it comes to pensions. You only find older people sitting on the Pensions Commission, who no longer foot the bill themselves. We younger people have to hand out payments but aren’t given a say.

‘The biggest problem the baby boomers have left us isn’t that they haven’t grown out of their crap.’

Kevin Kühnert (28), national chairman of the Jusos
Kevin Kühnert, 28, national chairman of the youth organisation of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, Jusos.

The biggest problem the baby boomers have dumped on us isn’t that they haven’t grown out of their crappy habits: it’s the state they’ve in which they’ve left the future of our pension system. Pay-as-you-go financing, which has been successfully practiced for decades, will come under increasing pressure as more baby boomers leave the workforce and begin receiving benefits from the pension fund. This news comes as no surprise but politics has, so far, failed to make provisions for that day, when it comes.

Fewer contributors and more beneficiaries mean great challenges will be posed for the statutory pension for a good 15 years. How these challenges will be managed isn’t just a technical question. In fact, some are taking the opportunity – through scandalous inaction – to slowly chip away at the principle of solidarity when it comes to pensions and to privatize them. If all employees became contributors, we could increase contributions slightly and, if necessary, avoid shying away from tax subsidies.

‘We’ve inherited the baby boomers’ workaholic attitude and taken it to the next level.

Stefanie Laufs, 31, Senior Communications Consultant at a PR agency  millennial
Stefanie Laufs, 31, senior communications consultant at a PR agency.

The notion that Generation Y has no interest in professional success and thinks of the home office as synonymous with doing nothing is certainly not new – and unfortunately, it’s firmly rooted in the minds of many among the older generation. I actually believe we’ve inherited their workaholic attitude – always better, always more, always higher – and that we’ve taken what the baby boomers did and pushed it much further.

Whether among friends, colleagues, or in reports in the media – no other generation linked with topics such as burnout or partly unpaid overtime as often as ours. The demands on our generation when it comes to starting a career are enormous. You’re expected to have five years of professional experience after completing your studies as well as to nearly have finished your Ph.D. Of course, you can’t solely blame the baby boomers, but they’ve always stressed the importance of establishing a career and reinforced that it was the key to a successful and happy life. Although we’ve taken on this attitude, we’d actually do a lot better to leave it behind. Generation Y continues to work a lot, but having a private life is much more important than money: leisure and downtime shouldn’t be overlooked.

Our generation is on its way to achieving the ideal work-leisure balance and to putting the baby boomers’ workaholic madness to rest.

‘Too much emphasis on progress and performance is a key problem we’ve inherited from the older generation.’

Jonathan Sierck, 24, author of the book "Junge Überflieger" millennial
Jonathan Sierck, 24, author of the book ‘Junge Überflieger’.

A serious problem we’ve inherited from the older generation is this fixation on progress and performance. In our tireless efforts to push boundaries, whatever the cost, there’s usually little room to address the often serious consequences. There’s no doubt about it: constant growth and development do pay off and, as a species, we have to take certain risks every now and then in order to move forward and survive. But pushing boundaries mustn’t become the objective itself nor must it come at the cost that it currently does.

In order to steer us into a desirable future, we need those in decision-making positions to be sharp. They need both the courage to change yet the informed judgment to pick up on warning signs too. To ensure we don’t continue to deplete our resources, we need a clear plan that takes into consideration the effects of our actions. Otherwise, we’ll leave our future generations with more – possibly even more serious – problems than those we have inherited, whether they be nuclear waste, the bees dying off, or climate disasters.

‘Our education systems barely differ to those of the previous generation – and neither has the emphasis on grades and targets in the world of work, unfortunately.’

Magdalena Rogl, 33, Head of Digital Channels Microsoft Germany
Magdalena Rogl, 33, head of digital channels Microsoft Germany.

I’m firm on the notion that we owe much to those who came before us. Especially the generation born in 1968, who revolutionized so much and helped break down so many structures.

But one area in which far too little has happened in recent decades is education. Our education systems have barely changed from those of the previous generation – and neither has the emphasis on grades and targets in the world of work, unfortunately.

At the age of 10, our children are still “sorted” into schools – not based on their individual talents, but purely according to their grades. Applicants are still assessed according to their qualifications on paper far too often, and not by what they actually know. And academic degrees are still worth more than emotional education.

I still remember the look of horror on the faces of my first boyfriend and his parents when I announced I was leaving high school as soon as I legally could, to follow my heart and become a childcare worker.

But I think I learned more life lessons through doing so than I could have ever done at university.

And that’s exactly what our generation so urgently needs: lessons in life. More and more tasks are being taken over by machines and artificial intelligence. The skills Generation Y needs in professional life today are not obedience, authority, and academic knowledge, but empathy, flexibility, and problem-solving.

Our generation must adapt quickly to new circumstances, because the job you did yesterday may look quite different tomorrow. And the office is no longer about sitting at a desk from nine until five; it’s about working at a time and place that maximizes one’s quality of work, based on the individual.

That’s why I’m committed to ensuring our future generations get better human and digital education, so they make our world more human and each individual person can be as he or she is – and thus achieve their own best performance.

‘Those who monopolize most of the power are, on average, much too old.’

Daniel Krauss, 35, co founder and CIO of Flixbus millennial
Daniel Krauss, 35, cofounder and chief information officer of Flixbus.

Today’s prosperity is probably the greatest legacy of the previous generation. We should definitely be grateful for it. But it’s not as though it’s being passed down to younger generations without its drawbacks. The downside is that his focus on prosperity means few provisions have been made for the future and we haven’t adapted to our current challenges.

Those who monopolize most of the power are still, on average, far too old. Our generation is still trapped in a gilded cage. At some point, young Germans are going to escape that cage and find that the country is no longer at the top of the list of industrial nations.

This power needs to be handed over to the younger generation at an early stage. We’re ready to take on the responsibility and start restructuring things.

‘The older generation knows little about what constitutes a healthy and balanced diet.’

Jörg Mayer and Nadine Horn (early 30's), vegan bloggers on "Eat this" millennials
Jörg Mayer and Nadine Horn, both in their early thirties, are vegan bloggers on ‘Eat this’.

The abundance in food and convenience have featured heavily in the kitchens of the post-war generation. Where meat had previously featured rarely on the dining table, it was almost a compulsory, everyday part of meals in the 1950s. But it had to be simple, fast, and cheap.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that this kind of practice can’t go on indefinitely for future generations.

Due to this abundance and a lack of true appreciation for food, some among the older generation have little idea about what constitutes a healthy, balanced diet. What’s more, over the years a lot of marketing-driven pseudo-sciences – which, simply put, is often wrong and sometimes even dangerous – have persisted.

Questions like: “Where do vegans get protein from if they don’t eat meat?” or the myth that milk consumption is good for the bones (when the opposite is true) are still firmly anchored in their minds and will only be shifted with a lot of effort.

We try to set a good example and show that vegan life is anything but boring, that we don’t just live off salad or tofu – that the kitchen can be a place to have fun. We’re trying to show that cooking with friends, either alone or in pairs, is not another tedious chore; it’s the best thing you can do.

‘Politicians must take us and our ideas seriously.’

Ria Schröder (26), Federal Chairman of the Young Liberals millennials
Ria Schröder, 26, chairman of Jungen Liberalen (the Young Liberals).

The baby boomers, our parents and theirs, have been instrumental in ensuring we grew up with high living standards. I’m grateful for that but we’ve also inherited a few problems, one of them being the pension situation. Like many in my generation, I don’t assume I’ll be provided for in old age. The level of baby boomers being paid for by us is ever increasing while there are fewer of us to foot the bill. It’s great that people are living longer but the subsidy for the pension system is already the largest item in the German budget.

At the same time, less and less is being invested in the future: for example, in education, and in infrastructure. My generation is outnumbered. But those who focus only on large voter groups are putting the future of our country at risk in favor of short-term electoral success. Politicians must take us and our ideas seriously. Ultimately it will help not only one generation but the whole country.

‘We know humanity has power over the Earth’s biophysical systems, thanks to our predecessors.’

millennial Sina Leipold, 32, Junior Professor of Social Transformation and Circular Economy at the University of Freiburg
Sina Leipold, 32, junior professor of social transformation and circular economy at the University of Freiburg.

For some time, we’ve known humanity affects and has control over the Earth’s biophysical systems more than any other force of nature – knowledge we’ve attained only thanks to our predecessors. It is both a blessing and a curse for our generation.

Never before have so many people been able to inhabit our planet and never before have commodities like regular holiday flights been so easy and readily affordable.

At the same time, hurricanes, floods, and heatwaves have threatened to destroy (and, in many cases, have destroyed) the lives and homes of millions.

My personal goal, through a more responsible approach than previous generations, is to help our generation ensure this power sticks around long term, instead of putting it at risk by inviting irreversible climate disasters.

‘Older generations aren’t prepared to take risks.’

Christopher Obereder, 26, series founder millennial
Christopher Obereder, 26, startup founder.

Setting up a business in Germany is far too complex; it should be more straightforward. Other countries are well ahead and we should be moving on as soon as possible. The tax system in Germany is also massively outdated and makes it extremely difficult for those looking to get started with a business.

Start-ups could be much better supported with tax reforms so the start-ups could focus more on taking care of their business. Singapore has attracted startups from all over the world with its simple control system and has become the hub of the crypto scene. Our political structures are also too slow to change and aren’t able to keep up with innovation. Things have to change on this front.

A survey by U.S. News showed Germany was in first place in the “Entrepreneurship” category, ahead of Japan and the USA. It’s clear Germany is at the forefront despite the clear room for improvement.

Work has also changed: people used to stay in the same job their whole life, which is why it used to be feasible to work without constantly developing and learning. Today we seem to switch jobs every year or two. I think it has a lot to do with the Internet.

We always need to be ready to learn new things and take risks. And many opportunities and possibilities arise with the Internet if you’re open to it – cryptocurrencies are something I’m currently heavily involved in and open to, and I realize older generations aren’t.

There’s a conflict simply because older generations always advocate stability and safety over risk-taking, which they aren’t prepared to do. I can only speak for myself but if I’d never taken risks, I’d never have learned. We have to learn through trial and error that you can’t make money from anything and everything. Failure has become a valid part of working life, even if older generations still don’t want to admit it.

But older generations are starting to accept the start-up scene for what it is: it’s fast-moving, involves risk-taking, and isn’t always lucrative.

‘The older generation has left European peace in a fragile state.’

Lisa Badum, 34, Green Member of the Bundestag
Lisa Badum, 34, Green Party parliament representative.

The rapid rise in greenhouse gases, the dramatically worsening climate crisis, the question of nuclear waste disposal, the irreversible death of countless plant and animal species – these are just some of the many consequences of failed climate and environmental policies from previous generations. Because they haven’t relied on sustainability, they’ve dumped the consequences of and responsibility for their actions onto future generations. We’re now having to face a mammoth challenge together: to keep global warming below two degrees to give future generations the chance to make mistakes.

As for Europe, our younger generation has inherited the task of establishing European peace, a project which the older generation has left in a sorry state. The continually rising rate of youth unemployment within the EU, austerity policies, Brexit – all of these things have greatly weakened the notion of the “European community” and reinforced right-wing nationalist and populist forces in Europe. I myself have close ties with Greece, and over the years I’ve witnessed the destructive effects of austerity there, and have also seen growing disillusionment towards the EU. We have to stop this in its tracks and do it now because lasting peace between us all is the most basic of prerequisites for taking on the many challenges ahead and finding solutions for tomorrow.

Where justice and gender equality are concerned, the older generation has set us on a path of clear progress, particularly as regards legal equality between the sexes. While we have to defend this success, we also have to continue fighting for 100% equality between men and women, whether in family and work, pay or pension, and the end of sexual violence towards women and girls.

‘Digitisation is largely a generational issue.’

Barbara Engels (30), Economist at the Institute of German Economics Cologne (IW) millennial
Barbara Engels, 30, economist at the Institute of German Economics Cologne (IW).

Being digital means being online, networking, being open to new business models – and being young. It seems to be a largely generational issue: older people are less likely to be online than younger people, which is a pity because digitization opens up many new possibilities, especially for people who are aging. It can simplify and enrich everyday life. I hope people of all ages will greet digitization with open arms and optimism, but obviously not without a healthy dose of skepticism. Networking is at the heart of the digital world and could contribute to a better level of understanding between young and old. And it would help us learn much more from older people and vice versa.

‘Pension plans are a big disappointment.’

Kristine Lütke, 35, Bundesvorsitzende der Wirtschaftsjunioren Deutschland millennial
Kristine Lütke, 35, president of WirtschaftsjuniorDeutschland (the Junior Chamber Germany).

The subsequent drop in birth rate as a result of the rise of the contraceptive pill among the baby boomers is exacerbating demographic change. This has resulted in a shortage of specialists and labor in all areas of the economy. We young entrepreneurs and managers in particular are suffering from this as employers. Moreover, our country’s pension plans are a huge disappointment for our generation and an attack on intergenerational justice, particularly in view of demographic changes. The question of billions of funding for the “maternal pension” that’s been proposed in Germany remains open.

What can be done to increase employment rates and to mitigate the consequences of demographic change, as well as the pensions package? We need to look at options for flexible retirement. The statutory retirement age should be done away with. And working time law needs to be fundamentally reformed.

‘Climate change presents us with challenges that will dictate the opportunities of future generations.’

Lukas Köhler, 31, FDP Bundestagsabgeordneter
Lukas Köhler, 31, Free Democratic Party Member of Parliament.

We’ve inherited a lot of problems to do with CO2 in the atmosphere. Climate change today presents us with a task – and how we manage this task will directly determine the opportunities available for future generations. That’s why I’m fully committed to limiting climate change as much as possible. We will only succeed with a market-based climate policy in which politicians set clear targets for reducing emissions. Other bans and regulations are unnecessary and provide false incentives. If we succeed in building a global emissions trading scheme with ambitious goals, which is as broad as possible for all economic sectors, I’m convinced we can limit global warming to an acceptable level.

‘We’ve been left with a society that revolves around profit rather than sustainability.’

Sonja Oberbeckmann, 36, environmental microbiologist at the Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research
Sonja Oberbeckmann, 36, environmental microbiologist at the Leibniz Institute for Baltic Sea Research.

We have much to thank the previous generations for: no generation has grown up as carefree and with as many possibilities as ours. However, it’s come at a price: we’ve been left with a society that revolves around profit rather than sustainability, where material prosperity counts more than individual happiness.

My professional field, science, is set up for the short term: there are many temporary contracts, focusing on trendy topics. But this profit-focused society has left its mark everywhere. The environment is riddled with pesticides, exhaust gases, plastics, and much more. People are stressed and it seems they would sooner pop pills than demand the time to live more healthily. Hardly anyone stops to breathe.

We, all generations together, can define new goals and break out of this established cycle, that’s exploiting human and environmental resources. Instead of sitting passively in front of the television and getting worked up about company bosses, we should all be taking responsibility and consuming both more sustainably and consciously. And we should be asking ourselves from time to time what actually makes us truly happy.

‘We’re still teaching as though we’re in the 19th century.’

Nina Toller, Private Teacher millennial
Nina Toller, Private Teacher.

Living in the 21st century, teaching 19th-century style: this is what seems to be at the core of our schooling.

I’ve tried myself to fend this off with learning methods that combine critical thinking and communication with creativity and teamwork, as well as the use of digital media. My students shouldn’t just be learning content and facts; they should be learning how to obtain new facts, how to share work effectively and efficiently, and how best to absorb and apply what they’ve learned. In this way, they develop openness, a willingness to learn, and also a certain degree of independence. The teacher becomes more of a companion for learning and a moderator.

My school is open to digital media and supports me in my creative work. I almost always use QR codes or get foreign-language authors, into the classroom via Skype.

Yet, due to a lack of technical support, training, time, and security, few teachers can organize something like this on their own initiative. On my page “Toller Unterricht” I publish lots of my ideas as well as tried and tested lesson plans, with materials included.

Politicians have made promises to digitize schools. In addition to the lack of qualifications teachers have, there also seems to be a lack of equipment. I’m glad my school has some projectors and smartboards I can use for my lessons, but some don’t even have Internet access.

Data protection is currently being taken to ridiculous extremes: new data protection regulation makes the use of private computers difficult, so some are being advised to use paper and pen. This won’t work within the frame of a digitization strategy for Germany in 2018.

Therefore, comprehensive reform is needed. Only then can we equip all our students with the skills to prepare them for life and learning in the 21st century.

‘It’s as if the parents think schools are responsible for raising children.’

Franziska Hafer, 23, teacher
Franziska Hafer, 23, teacher.

The older generation has paid far too little attention to sustainable development. Sustainable development means empowering children to form their own opinions and encouraging them to act sustainably. Sustainable development means the current generation is developing, not compromising the next generation, but actively considering it. Children haven’t been sensitized to this at all.

I think there’s a very different tone in schools now. I get the sense that kids are becoming less and less respectful. Manners are disappearing and, unfortunately, you rarely see a boy holding the door open for a girl. It’s as if parents think schools are responsible for bringing children up.

Some children are only interested in who has the latest, highest-end mobile. The children who do not have a say in this are outside the picture – and I think that the generation above us is responsible for instilling different values.

‘We’ve inherited a toxic political style from the generation before us.’

Max Lucks, 21, Federal Spokesman of the Green Youth millennials
Max Lucks, 21, spokesman for Grünen Jugend (Green Youth).

We’ve not inherited generational conflicts; we’ve inherited a toxic political style from the generation before us, which has dealt little with political change or shaping the future and has been more focused on how everything can remain as is. One only has to look at how Merkel’s government dealt with a climate crisis and how it’s always been ignored and fought against by one commission or another. This political style has disappointed our generation and rightly so: it’s clear to young people that a little isn’t enough to answer the hard questions. For example, how can we still find well-paid and permanent jobs in 20 years’ time in spite of digitalization?

‘The older ranks of conservative politicians are afraid of change.’

Akilnathan Logeswaren, 29, European Activist
Akilnathan Logeswaren, 29, European Activist.

As an activist for a united Europe, I’m always reminded of how much of the older ranks of conservative politicians fear change. While young people are almost unanimous in their commitment to a united Europe, the older generation is still resistant to it, although though the United States of Europe has been on the agenda of previous German political figures such as Franz Josef Strauss himself.

While old politicians are practicing against the left by remaining on the right, today’s young people are already focusing more on the spirit of the European Parliament, namely by looking for solutions.

In the 21st century, it is no longer about just having ideas, but about collaborating for a shared future. For example, the campaign #FreeInterrail – a free Interrail ticket for all Europeans as soon as they turn 18 – was devised by the youth for the youth. Ideas like these will secure our peace and cohesion in the long term.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Drinking water probably won’t help you avoid a hangover, according to a molecular biologist

nausea vomiting headache
According to molecular biologist Patrick Schmitt, drinking water won’t help you avoid a hangover.

  • Many drink a glass of water between drinking alcohol to help avoid the effects of a hangover.
  • The body doesn’t get dehydrated when drinking alcohol, molecular biologist Patrick Schmitt says.
  • He said drinking water won’t help with a hangover, as hangovers aren’t caused by dehydration.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

My phone is vibrating – but I don’t have to look at it. I know exactly what the display says.

Somewhat exasperated, I take a sip of water. I’m one of those people who, if it weren’t for modern technology periodically reminding them to hydrate, would probably end up looking like a prune in a very short space of time. I rarely manage to empty a whole glass in one go.

There is, however, one exception to that rule: at around two o’clock in the morning, after a few too many tipples, I no longer need an alarm to remind me to drink water.

As if by magic, I’m able to knock back glasses of water at an astonishing rate, as if Nestlé might rock up to the local reservoir at any moment.

I’m currently in the middle of a last-ditch attempt to avoid a hangover – because last night, once again, I didn’t follow the recommendation to drink a glass of water with every helping of wine.

Alcohol doesn’t actually dehydrate the body

According to molecular biologist Patrick Schmitt, drinking water wouldn’t have helped anyway. Neither did my sorry attempt to ease the threatening symptoms by drinking copiously after the event.

“It’s a misconception that drinking water helps you avoid a hangover,” said Schmitt.

According to the results of a study published in the 1950s, it’s true that the body excretes more water while drinking alcohol.

If you think logically about it, there’s already water in both wine and beer – they are drinks, after all.

“However, the wrong conclusions were drawn from these results,” said the scientist. “It was thought that, as the body was excreting more water, it would therefore become dehydrated – and this was simply accepted as a conclusive explanation for why we get hangovers.”

However, the hypothesis was never tested, let alone confirmed.

When we metabolize alcohol, our bodies are processing the compound ethanal. Some may lack the enzymes to effectively expel alcohol from their bodies, which scientists think is part of the reason we get hangovers.

According to a report in the Berliner Morgenpost, Schmitt decided to conduct his own study and monitor the hydration of his subjects.

The study found that alcohol consumption doesn’t lead to dehydration, despite increased fluid excretion. “This means that the body does not lose any significant amounts of water,” said Schmitt.

“That recommendation to drink a lot of water when consuming alcohol is based on exactly this misconception,” he explained. “Since the body isn’t actually getting dehydrated, drinking water alongside alcohol has absolutely no effect on whether or not you end up with a hangover.”

Drinking water will have a negligible effect on a hangover at best

If you think logically about it, there’s water in both wine and beer – they are drinks, after all.

Though alcohol is present in both these drinks, you’re also adding liquid to your body when you drink them. “You’re never really ‘dehydrated’. It’s not too dissimilar to the myth surrounding coffee.”

drunk party drinking shots
The alcohol content in your stomach will be high for a very short period of time only if you drink it in a very concentrated form.

Only if you drink the alcohol in a very concentrated form – in other words, if you’re throwing back shots – is the alcohol content in your stomach very high for a very short period of time.

“If you then drink a sip of water, the stomach mucosa may be slightly less affected, for a short while,” said Schmitt. “Though this hasn’t yet been investigated, we know it has no effect on a hangover itself in any case.”

Drink water instead of alcohol – not in addition to it

If you start drinking water the next day, it’s too late by then anyway.

You can drink as much water as you want – it will have little to no effect on your pounding skull.

“At most, it might alleviate the symptoms of having a dry mouth from drinking and cigarettes – but obviously I’m not going to tell anyone not to drink water if they think it makes them feel better,” said Schmitt.

Of course, that also applies to the evening itself. “You can tell yourself your hangover will be less painful if you drink water with every glass of wine but that won’t make it true.”

Drinking Water
At best, drinking water could alleviate the symptoms of a dry mouth from drinking or cigarettes.

That said, to make it abundantly clear, drinking water obviously isn’t going to do any harm – it’s relatively pointless if you’re trying to alleviate a hangover but it’s hardly likely to make it any worse.

“Besides, you can’t drink alcohol if you’re busy drinking water,” said Schmitt.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A startup that made ‘cow-free’ milk and ice-cream will soon launch its own cream cheese

pouring milk
The startup is already seeking regulatory approval in Canada, India, and Europe.

  • Perfect Day, based in California, advocates for animal-free products, free from animal exploitation.
  • They aim to ethically produce milk using a cow’s milk gene and reproducing it using a fungus.
  • The firm is already selling ice cream and cheese. At the end of 2021 it plans to sell cream cheese.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

What if there was an alternative to plant-based milk products and cow’s milk, which was practically the same as the latter – but without having to exploit animals to produce it?

That’s what California-based company Perfect Day has been working on, using mushrooms to produce milk protein that’s “molecularly identical” to that found in cow’s milk.

That means it can be used to make dairy products like cheese and yogurt.

“We were interested in the question of what is in milk … that gives it incredible versatility and nutrition that is somehow missing from the plant-based milks,” co-founder of Perfect Day Ryan Pandya told CNN.

The company isolated the gene for whey protein in cow’s milk and introduced it to a fungus.

When the mushroom is grown in fermentation tanks, it produces whey protein, which is then filtered and dried into a powder that is used in products like cheese and ice cream.

“[It’s for] people who still love dairy, but want to feel better about it for themselves, for the planet, and for the animal,” Pandya explained.

The only catch with this new product is that, though the Perfect Day protein doesn’t contain lactose, hormones, or cholesterol, it’s not suitable for those with dairy allergies.

That said, the product is also better for the environment where greenhouse gases are concerned – by removing cows from the equation, milk production is “much more efficient” according to Pandya.

The production of Perfect Day’s milk results in a 97% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions when compared with conventional dairy products.

Food technology as an engine for positive change

Perfect Day isn’t the only food tech startup making alternative dairy products is the future.

Grounded Foods has been making vegan cheese from hemp and cauliflower that goes unsold in supermarkets for an irregular appearance or for not being quite as fresh, which also helps combat food waste.

Biomedical and chemical engineer Ryan Pandya (left) and biomedical engineer Perumal Gandhi (right) founded Perfect Day in 2014.
Biomedical and chemical engineer Ryan Pandya (left) and biomedical engineer Perumal Gandhi (right) founded Perfect Day in 2014.

According to figures from non-profit organization the Good Food Institute, $590 million were invested in fermented alternative proteins in 2020.

Perfect Day is already reaching an international market, with its protein used in Hong Kong Ice Age ice creams.

The company is currently working on developing cream cheese, estimated to be launched in late 2021 according to Pandya.

The startup is already seeking regulatory approval in Canada, India, and Europe.

“We’re developing the kinder, greener way to make your favorite foods starting in the dairy aisle, and we can’t do that alone,” he said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

How 2 psychologists say to use mindfulness to relieve pre and post-interview stress

migraine screen time headache eyes
Mindfulness is the ability to pay full attention to the present.

  • If you can’t relax while waiting for results after interviews or exams, a mindfulness hack may help.
  • Apple co-founder Steve Jobs found success in mindful meditation after a trip to India.
  • Psychologists say mindfulness makes it easier to deal with nerve-wracking waits.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The post-interview period can be a particularly worrisome and stressful time.

A hundred questions cross your mind: did I make a good impression? Did I say what the interviewer wanted me to? When will they get back to me? Are they even going to call? What happens then?

If you’re not the sort who can sit back, relax, and wait for an answer after sitting through an interview, there’s a psychological tool to help stave off the temptation to check your inbox every five minutes: mindfulness.

Why mindfulness helps with your application

University of California psychologists Kate Sweeny and Jennifer Howell have discovered that mindfulness can make it easier to deal with nerve-wracking waits, according to psychology journal Psychologie Heute.

As part of their study, the researchers asked 240 law students waiting on news of their admission to the bar to complete a questionnaire.

In the first part of the questionnaire, participants were instructed to complete the so-called “Freiburg Mindfulness Inventory.”

This enabled the researchers to assess which of the students tended to lead a mindful life. “These ‘mindful’ participants were basically less concerned about the results,” the study said.

There was one thing that particularly struck the psychologists: mindful people prepare themselves for a potentially negative outcome but only towards the end of the waiting period.

It’s counterproductive to assume directly after an interview that the results may be negative. Basically, if you keep running through your mind what may have gone wrong during the interview, you’re not doing yourself any favors.

In the second part of the questionnaire, participants were told to do mindfulness exercises at least once a week for 15 minutes or to meditate with “Loving Kindness Meditation.”

“Participants who struggled the most during the waiting period experienced an improvement specifically through mindfulness exercises,” according to the study.

Steps for mindfulness

Mindfulness is the ability to pay full attention to the present. This means avoiding worries, doubts, fears, and uncertainties.

Meditation can be a helpful tool, and its uses aren’t restricted to interviews and exams.

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs found out about the technique on a trip to India. There, he learned to be mindful through meditation, changing his view of the world, of design and creativity, and shaping his success.

You can read author and entrepreneur Faisal Hoque’s 4 steps to learn the art of mindfulness, including focusing on good thoughts and lessons learned from mistakes.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Scientists made a spongy ‘smart foam’ that could help prosthetics heal like skin

The smart foam is artificially innervated.
The smart foam is artificially innervated.

  • AiFoam is a smart foam developed by the National University of Singapore.
  • It allows robotic hands to self-heal and recognize nearby objects with changes in electric fields.
  • The new design is a breakthrough in robotics and prosthetics research towards ever smarter tools.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Robots aren’t just becoming more graceful, sophisticated, and precise; they’re becoming more autonomous, too.

From serving coffee or cocktails, designing tattoos, and keeping people company to exploring the rocky cavities of Mars and the Mariana trench, the list of tasks robots can perform is constantly growing.

And now, robotic hands may also be able to self-repair with a new intelligent foam called AiFoam.

The smart foam is artificially innervated.

This means that – similarly to how human skin can heal itself when bumped or wounded – if used within robotic hands, they could heal themselves or recognize nearby objects by detecting their electric fields, Reuters reported.

AiFoam is a highly elastic polymer created by mixing fluoropolymer with a compound that reduces surface tension.

When the robot hand is cut, the spongy material fuses into a single piece.

To replicate the human sense of touch, the researchers embedded microscopic metal particles and added tiny electrodes under the foamy surface.

When pressure is applied, the metal particles move closer inside the polymer and change their electrical properties.

Electrodes connected to a computer detect these changes and tell the robot what to do.

“There are many different applications for this material, especially in robotics and prosthetic devices, where robots need to be much smarter when working with humans,” explained lead researcher Benjamin Tee of the National University of Singapore.

“When I move my finger close to the sensor, you can see that the sensor is measuring changes in my electric field and responds accordingly to my touch,” explained the researcher.

Hands can measure not only the amount but also the direction of the force.

This is a huge breakthrough towards smarter, more interactive robots, which could benefit users of connected prostheses, enabling them to use robotic arms and hands in a more intuitive way to grasp objects.

AiFoam is the first material that combines self-healing properties with proximity and pressure sensing.

After a couple of years of development, the developers hope to have it on the market and applied to robots within the next five years.

In recent years, robotic arms and legs have taken off: MIT developed a technique in 2018 to connect gestures and brainwaves to prostheses, while the market for medical exoskeletons has been growing steadily.

Other new products include the Luke arm created by Deka for the military agency DARPA, and Hero Arm, ‘ a 3D printed, electrically coded myoelectric prosthesis made by Open Bionics.

The prosthesis has already been tested in clinical trials with children in the UK.

There is also YouBionic’s Arm, which uses 3D printing to cut costs.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Losing sleep could be making you unpopular, lonely, and ruining your relationships

bloodshot eyes tired sleepy
The past few decades have seen a marked increase in loneliness and an equally dramatic decrease in sleep duration.

  • Sleep loss can badly impact your social life, a team at University of California at Berkeley found.
  • It can lead to antisocial and reclusive behavior but it can also affect how others treat you.
  • If you’re sleep-deprived, it may also cause others around you to shy away from you too.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Whether it’s crying babies, loud neighbors, or simply endless thoughts running through your head, sometimes you just can’t fall asleep.

Regardless of how hard you try, the consequences the following day are always unforgiving: crippling fatigue, poor concentration, and – above all – struggling to think of anything other than your bed.

However, as researchers from the University of California at Berkeley found, sleep deprivation can have serious social consequences, and they aren’t just limited to how you perform at work or throughout the day.

It isn’t just your health that suffers from night-time restlessness; you can end up completely sabotaging your social life too.

Sleeping too little leads to reclusive behavior

Led by postdoctoral fellow at the Walker’s Center for Human Sleep Science Eti Ben-Simon, the team found that a lack of sleep can lead to unsociable and reclusive behavior – and that it can have the same effect on the people around you.

According to the researchers’ findings, published in Nature Communications, people who sleep badly more often are lonelier as a result.

While it’s already a well-known fact that social isolation can cause sleep disorders, it hasn’t been clear whether a lack of sleep could also lead to people feeling lonely.

The less you sleep, the more physical distance you need from others

To conduct their study, the scientists performed an experiment in which one group of subjects didn’t sleep for a night, while another group was allowed to sleep in.

Both groups received a video the following day in which they were faced with people approaching them, where they had to gauge how close was “too close”.

The results were pretty clear: those who hadn’t slept felt their space was invaded between 18% to 60% faster than those of the group who had.

This led participants to create more of a social distance between themselves and others if they missed sleep on a given night, according to the researchers.

Too little sleep leads to unsociable tendencies

The researchers used magnetic resonance imaging to prove that the results weren’t accidental.

While the “near space” networks in the brains of well-rested participants didn’t show any abnormalities, those of the other group were “braced” and on alert for potential threats.

Not only that, but the “theory-of-mind” network, an area of the brain responsible for empathy and sociability, was less pronounced in those with sleep deprivation.

Your own lack of sleep can have a knock-on effect on those around you.

Interestingly, the results showed that those who were suffering from sleep deprivation didn’t just have issues with shying away from those around them.

Another experiment, in which researchers used videos to evaluate people who had slept well and those who hadn’t, showed that those who hadn’t were perceived by viewers as worse in terms of their potential for cooperation and sympathy.

Your own lack of sleep can have a knock-on effect on those around you

“The less sleep you get, the less you want to socially interact,” said Matthew Walker of the University of California.

“In turn, other people perceive you as more socially ‘repulsive’, further increasing the grave social-isolation impact of sleep loss,” he continued, saying: “Sleep deprivation can turn us into social lepers.”

depression anxiety mental health
Just one night of good sleep makes you feel more outgoing and socially confident.

Worse still, those who have to deal with people suffering from a lack of sleep – or even, in the case of this study, those who watched videos of them – also end up being “infected”, leading to an almost viral transmission of the feeling of social isolation wherever there’s a lack of sleep.

“It’s perhaps no coincidence that the past few decades have seen a marked increase in loneliness and an equally dramatic decrease in sleep duration,” said Ben-Simon.

“On a positive note, just one night of good sleep makes you feel more outgoing and socially confident, and furthermore, will attract others to you,” said Walker.

Read the original article on Business Insider

I went to a McDonald’s meat-processing factory to see how their hamburgers are really made

mcdonalds nederland netherlands
This blender grinds the meat.

  • McDonald’s attracts plenty of customers but many express concern over its burgers’ ingredients.
  • I took a tour of a McDonald’s factory in Germany to find out how their burgers are really made.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Nowadays, it seems we’re getting more and more critical when it comes to ingredients. From organic ingredients and excess sugar to “E numbers” (or food additives) and salt, the list of contents to worry about seems to be growing exponentially.

McDonald’s attracts plenty of customers – it said in its operations manual years ago that it sold 75 hamburgers a second – but the fast-food giant is by no means off the hook when it comes to this sort of scrutiny.

In 1999, a man named David Whipple started an experiment to see how many preservatives there were in a McDonald’s burger. In 2013, he showed the world his burger 14 years after putting it in a kitchen cupboard – and it still looked almost exactly the same.

But Keith Warriner, the program director at the University of Guelph’s Department of Food Science, said McDonald’s hamburgers’ not rotting had little to do with preservatives.

“The reality is that McDonald’s hamburgers, french fries, and chicken are like all foods and do rot if kept under certain conditions,” he said. “Essentially, the microbes that cause rotting are a lot like ourselves, in that they need water, nutrients, warmth, and time to grow. If we take one or more of these elements away, then microbes cannot grow or spoil food.”

Many are still fixated on the notion that a McDonald’s burger is pumped full of preservatives.

To see how the burgers are made, Insider toured a McDonald’s factory in Günzburg, Germany, where an average of five million burgers, from the Big Mac to the Quarter Pounder, are produced every day.

This is how they’re made.

The Günzburg factory is one of the largest of OSI, one of the biggest suppliers of hamburgers for McDonald’s.

McDonalds factory Netherlands Germany
The German factory is about the same size as a soccer field.

OSI is the American company first supplied McDonald’s hamburgers. You’ll find few factories that are bigger, and if you do, they’ll probably be in the US.

When McDonald’s was starting out in Europe, OSI set up in the German village of Günzburg.

The factory isn’t officially part of McDonald’s, but there are important agreements between the two companies.

“About 90% of the production of this factory is for McDonald’s,” said Eunice Koekkoek, a McDonald’s representative.

It’s immediately apparent from the smell when you enter the factory that it produces masses of hamburgers — even the reception area smells of beef.

Hygiene is incredibly important within the factory.

McDonalds burger factory
Before entering, you have to put on protective clothing and wash your hands thoroughly.

Employees who have had a stomach bug aren’t allowed to work until they’ve investigated the cause with their doctor, in order to prevent bacteria and viruses coming into contact with the meat.

There are no preservatives in the meat, so the quality requirements that apply at the factory are very strict.

To prevent objects from ending up in the meat, nothing is allowed to go loose in the factory — that means jewelry must be removed, and plastic pens are also out of the question.

Before entering, you have to put on protective clothing and wash your hands thoroughly. As I wanted to make notes, I was given a clipboard and a pen. They were both made of metal because in the final phase of the production process the burgers go through a metal detector — so if that pen were to end up in the meat, it wouldn’t go unnoticed.

The meat is checked to ensure there are no bones.

McDonald's burger factory netherlands nederland
The first thing you see in the factory is where the incoming meat is checked.

At the factory, it’s mainly large pieces of meat coming in. McDonald’s requests this from slaughterhouses, as larger pieces of meat reduce the risk of contamination because they have a smaller surface area that could be contaminated by bacteria.

After being checked, the meat is put in containers of about 500 kilograms (about 1,100 pounds) each.

McDonald's burger factory netherlands nederland
One cow can produce about 100 kilograms of meat, so you could find meat from five or six cows in one container.

This space is filled to the brim with these kinds of containers, yet all that meat is processed within a day.

Forklift trucks are constantly driving to and fro to collect new containers of meat.

Almost 500 containers a day are needed to make enough burgers, so a lot of work is required to get them to the right place on time.

The meat is then minced.

mcdonalds nederland netherlands
After being removed from storage, the meat is taken to the blenders.

While the blenders grind the meat, the machine ensures that any small pieces of bone are eliminated.

A total of eight containers of meat weighing 500 kilograms each (that’s 40 to 50 cows) can be processed at the same time — so if you eat a McDonald’s hamburger, it’s actually not from one cow, but dozens.

The minced meat ends up in a separate container to be used for the burgers.

Only when the minced meat looks like spaghetti is it perfect.

Another machine shapes the minced meat into burger patties.

McDonald's burger factory netherlands nederland
A mix of fresh and frozen beef is used to quickly bring the burgers to a temperature of -18 degrees Celsius.

A mix of fresh and frozen beef means the burgers can be brought to the correct temperature more quickly. That way, they also hold their shape more easily — there’s no binding agent in the meat.

These machines can also produce vegetarian burgers. “This has even been done here for another McDonald’s country,” Koekkoek said.

Right now, the factory is seeing an increase in production. But should the demand for meat decrease in the future, OSI could easily turn over its earnings model, it said.

These machines are incredibly cold.

McDonald's burger factory netherlands nederland
Though the room is about 12 degrees Celsius, the machines are much colder.

Ice forms on the machines, and water vapor in the air condenses.

On average, about 5 million hamburgers roll off the belt each day.

McDonald's burger factory netherlands nederland
Making the burgers is an incredibly fast process.

Fewer people than you might imagine are required to keep the production process going.

A total of 200 people work at the factory, but about 45 to 60 people are present per shift.

The factory can make about 30 million hamburgers a week — its actual output is just slightly below that at the moment.

McDonald’s and OSI normally don’t use this full capacity, mostly to ensure they can use the extra in case demand suddenly increases.

A few burgers are always tested.

McDonald's burger factory netherlands nederland
The reason that burgers are tested is to ensure the fat content is right, for safety reasons.

For McDonald’s hamburgers, the fat content has to be 20%. For comparison, minced beef available in supermarkets can contain a maximum of 25% fat.

Hamburgers at the factory are grilled and tasted to see whether the taste, structure, and texture are up to McDonald’s standards.

To grill the burgers, the factory has an exact replica of the kitchen you’d find in a McDonald’s outlet. It’s essential for food safety that the burgers reach a temperature of at least 69 degrees Celsius (156 degrees Fahrenheit). That’s why a burger at McDonald’s can never be cooked “medium rare.”

Once frozen, the hamburgers disappear into blue plastic bags and then into boxes.

McDonald's burger factory netherlands nederland
McDonald’s can say with reasonable certainty that nothing will be inside the burgers that shouldn’t be, as the hamburgers go through a metal detector once packed.

One of the 40 quality checks is a metal detector. No plastic objects are allowed in the factory — so if an employee needs a pen, for example, it must be made of metal. That’s so that any loose objects in the factory that accidentally end up in the burgers will be immediately noticeable before they leave.

If a customer complains that they’ve found something in their burger, McDonald’s first question is where and when the burger was bought.

“We first check whether we’ve received similar complaints within the same time frame at the same location, and we investigate what may have happened during the production process,” Koekkoek said.

“After this investigation, the complaint is often resolved. Due to numerous quality checks at OSI, it’s almost impossible for anything to turn up in the meat. In the event of a serious complaint regarding food safety, we immediately examine the entire chain — but that rarely happens.”

The boxes show exactly when a burger was produced, where the meat came from, and where the burgers are headed. So if there’s something wrong with the meat, it’s easy for McDonald’s to know within a few hours which slaughterhouse and farm the meat came from.

The boxes show exactly when and where each hamburger was made.

McDonald's burger factory netherlands nederland
This box shows that the cows came from Denmark.

Because cows are registered at birth, everything that happens to them is recorded, and every change of owner is registered. Using a special code on the box, you can even find the exact cow the meat came from.

“We make sure cows are always slaughtered in their country of origin,” Koekkoek said, “so they don’t need to be transported far.”

For German hamburgers, 60% of the beef comes from Germany, 35% is Dutch, and 5% is from Poland.

“In the Netherlands, for example, we don’t supply enough beef to produce hamburgers that are purely Dutch,” Koekkoek said. “That’s why we use some meat from Germany and Poland. But if we use the word ‘Dutch’ in a name for a limited-edition burger like the Dutch Deluxe, for example, we guarantee that all the meat comes from the Netherlands.”

The meat used for the hamburgers complies with European and national standards, McDonald’s said.

“We take animal welfare into account, but we can’t decide on our own to switch to organic meat, for example,” Koekkoek said. “That said, every step McDonald’s takes towards sustainability has a huge impact on the 37,000 restaurants we have around the world.”

Once boxed, hamburgers are stacked by another machine and wrapped in plastic.

McDonald's burger factory netherlands nederland
A machine picks up the boxes to move them to the distribution center.

Before the boxes disappear, another sticker is placed on them saying where the burgers came from and where they’re going.

The distribution center is conveniently next door to the factory.

McDonald's burger factory netherlands nederland
The McDonald’s factory is on the right, and the distribution center is on the left.

On the same industrial estate, you’ll also find the factory where the buns for Germany’s hamburgers are made.

The village of Günzburg is an important area for McDonald’s.

The burgers are taken to from the distribution center to McDonald’s restaurants.

burger mcdonalds
During transit, the burgers are kept at -18 degrees Celsius.

The burgers remain at -18 degrees Celsius until they’re unpacked in the restaurant.

A hamburger is typically on your plate within three weeks of the cow’s slaughter, McDonald’s said.

Koekkoek said it was largely a myth that McDonald’s burgers taste different all over the world.

“The meat, of course, derives from cows from all over the world, and real connoisseurs will taste that difference,” Koekkoek said. “But the consumer is unlikely to be able to taste the difference in the beef’s origin, due to the other flavors of the burger bun and the sauce.”

Koekkoek added: “That said, the taste experience of hamburgers all over the world may be slightly different because of the amount of salt and pepper used — some countries like more salt than others. But that’s the only difference, apart from the origin of the beef.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 3 worst habits that are making you burn out, according to a psychologist

stress migraine
“Our way of working demands energy and it’s unnecessarily draining,” said Leons.

  • Ulrika Leons says our daily habits in and out the office put us at serious risk of burning out.
  • There are some surprising activities that can up your risk of feeling tired, low, and stressed out.
  • Some include reading or watching a movie when we get home to engaging too much with our coworkers.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Every now and then, when health care psychologist Ulrika Leons has a lot of work to get done, she’ll sneak into her office in the morning without anyone noticing.

She won’t say hello to anyone, won’t get any coffee, and just goes straight into her office.

As no one knows that she’s there, she can finally get a good few hours of work in uninterrupted – and that’s not the only unusual work practice she’s adopted; she often opens a meeting with a mindfulness exercise. She makes sure no one has their phone on their desk and if a meeting is going to take a long time, she always suggests taking a break – sometimes in silence.

While it may all sound a little strange, Leons thinks everyone should adopt the same practices she does.

“We don’t treat our brains well at work,” she told Business Insider. “We busy and distract ourselves all day long with our phones and smartwatches, all while trying to work efficiently in a busy office. We just end up exhausting our brains.”

Leons went on to explain that, at the end of the day, we end up bombarding our brains with even more new information through social media or music on the way home.

“We go home and watch a film or a series,” she said, “and we don’t give our brains a second’s rest.”

“Our way of working demands energy and it’s unnecessarily draining,” said Leons. “You don’t store information and you end up working inefficiently. If you don’t allow yourself a moment to catch your breath, you end up risking burnout.”

Burnout has started to become a bigger concern in recent years. Now it’s officially classed as a mental health issue, we should start taking steps either to combat it or to prevent it entirely.

Leons gave Business Insider three tips to take better care of your brain while you’re at work.

1. Not switching off those notifications

Many of us work in jobs that require us to use our heads, all day – this means you have to concentrate on certain tasks.

This can be hard in an office because you’re surrounded by colleagues who’ll occasionally want to quip in and or ask you a question. “What about that client?” or “Can you take a look at that email?”

While it might seem harmless, it’s disastrous for your concentration, explained Leons: “If someone distracts you, it can take somewhere between five and 25 minutes for you to fully focus your attention on your task again. It takes energy to switch between tasks all the time. If this happens all day long, you’ll be exhausted by the time you go home.”

Though colleagues asking each other questions is a part of most people’s work life, it can be a huge distraction.

That’s why Leons advises that you to shut yourself off from your colleagues if you want to focus: “This can be done very easily, for example, by putting in headphones. You can then agree with colleagues, for example, that if someone is wearing headphones, you really can’t reasonably disturb them for a while.”

There are other ways to ensure you’re not continuously distracted. For example, together with your employer, you could visually block work stations in your office from communal or social spaces, for example, so you don’t end up seeing everyone going for coffee.

“You can arrange for people to go into a meeting room if they want to make a phone call,” said Leons, “so they don’t disturb others.”

2. Disregarding your “attention curve”

If you know in advance that you need to work on a task that will require intense concentration for an hour, you need to think very carefully about the time of day at which you choose to execute it.

“Everyone has an ‘attention curve’ – there are times at which it’s easier to focus and times when it’s harder to. In the afternoon, most people have more trouble focusing, but in the morning it’s better,” said Leons.

Different organizations also have different day-to-day schedules.

“Sometimes, for example, there’s a meeting every morning or the office is a little busier in the afternoon. Organize your day around that,” said Leons. “If you have a number of fairly simple tasks that require only a few minutes of focus, you can often do them while the office is busy. But if you want to concentrate on something, try to do it when it’s quiet in the office and preferably in the morning.”

people at work conference meeting
Organizing your days around meetings can be a useful way of upping your productivity.

It may sound simple, but it does require some adjustments to your daily schedule. “If it works well, it will allow you to work a lot more efficiently and quietly in the long run.”

It also makes sense to agree with the entire company on a fixed time (or several times) during the week where everyone can work in a focused way. “If, for example, there are never any meetings on Thursday mornings, you could agree that Thursday mornings will be a time when everyone can work for a few hours without being disturbed.

3. Stop overstimulating your brain

Do you ever allow yourself to just be bored, or do you always end up reading the news while you’re waiting for the bus?

Do you ever find yourself taking your phone to the bathroom with you?

Leons explained that it’s vital to give your brain that chance to catch its breath every now and then. “If you fill every minute of every day with stimuli and entertainment, your brain never gets the chance to recover and you may be at risk of burn-out,” she said Leons.

depressed sad looking out window
Leons says it’s important to really just do nothing.

“In the past, empty lulls during the day were a natural phenomenon,” she went on. “You’d have nothing to do while you were waiting for a bus or a train; now, we fill those moments with Candy Crush or scrolling through Instagram – and yet boredom and daydreaming are moments of recovery for the brain. People mix peace and pleasure, watching a movie might feel like you’re relaxing, but your brain doesn’t actually get a rest as a result.”

The brain must also be able to cope with the day once in a while, says Leons: “You can’t do that by coming home after working all day only to start reading or watching a movie. You really have to do just nothing – you can daydream or look out the window but you really have to do nothing.”

If you struggle with that approach, there are other ways you can approach effective resting a little more consciously. “For example, you can meditate, take a walk, or simply look around you.”

“The most important thing is to be kind to yourself from time to time and to do so in a way that works for you.”

How does Leons prefer to do this?

“Start by simply looking out the window now and then just doing nothing. Then you remember what it feels like to daydream and to be in an unfocused state. From there, you can find an activity that suits you and offers that same feeling.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 5 habits ruining your efficiency and productivity while working from home

dad working from home with two children in kitchen
You need to have your work hours and spare time organized in advance.

  • More and more companies are working towards remote and hybrid work models.
  • While working from home has its perks, bad habits can take a toll on your concentration.
  • Creating schedules and a quiet workspace are just two ways to ensure you work efficiently.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Working from home can take a lot of discipline – from the bed and the TV to just taking a quick break to go to the gym or take a shower, it can feel like there are endless distractions.

You’d think little breaks might help you reboot but they could have an impact on your performance if done to excess.

When you throw into the mix the fact that you have to work from home with kids, a partner, or flatmates, you may find yourself being interrupted even more, which obviously hinders productivity.

To be able to work from home effectively, you need to be able to concentrate and have your work hours and spare time organized in advance, particularly if you’re sharing space.

Here are five habits to avoid to ensure you can work from home more efficiently.

1. Different ‘work hours’ for the whole household

One of the biggest challenges when working from home is staying focused in the face of the myriad of distractions around you.

Many of them come from other household members.

To avoid this, all the members of your household should agree on work schedules and a common break time for everyone.

If everyone is working at the same time – including schoolwork if children are involved – it’s more likely that occasional interruptions can be avoided.

2. Choosing the wrong work space

A key part of being able to work from home effectively is making sure you choose the most appropriate place for your office.

Look for a space in the house that’s more private, especially if you have to make a lot of calls or do video conferences.

Having a door is ideal as, by keeping it closed, you’re indicating to others that you don’t want to be interrupted, making it more likely that you can go on about your day as you would in your office.

3. Not planning your day out properly

Planning your day in advance is a basic tool for increasing productivity.

“Planning your day before it starts each morning doesn’t mean there won’t be any unforeseen events, but it will help you stay focused on your goals and give you a good chance of achieving them,” neurosurgeon Mark McLaughlin told Insider.

You can make use of digital apps, but don’t dismiss using a traditional paper planner, some research suggests that writing by hand helps you retain information better.

4. Not prioritizing and saying ‘no’

To be more productive, you need to know how to correctly define what you’re going to spend your time on.

In other words, you need to know how to prioritize tasks so you can manage your day properly.

When organizing your tasks in order of priority, start with the most complex ones and leave the simplest for later.

The obvious reason for this is that you can put in the time on the more complex tasks when you have the most energy; when you’re tired, you’ll have the simpler tasks left.

Improving your work performance entails accurately defining your priorities and rejecting anything that won’t help you get them done, according to Google productivity expert Laura Mae Martin. That means you need to know how to knock back other tasks or unforeseen events that may divert your attention away from your main goals.

5. Not taking breaks

Exhaustion is productivity’s worst enemy.

Unfortunately, no one is immune to needing rest.

If you don’t take the time you need to disconnect and recharge, you’ll get tired and it will have a direct impact on your performance.

To avoid this, schedule breaks so you don’t forget to take them.

Taking breaks will allow you to switch off for a bit and return to the tasks feeling more refreshed, so don’t use them to answer emails or anything else work-related. It’s best to use these breaks to interact with others in your house or to go out to the balcony to get some sun or fresh air.

It’s best to organize your day so that you dedicate short periods of time of around an hour to fully focusing on what you’re doing and alternating these with breaks of about 15 to 30 minutes.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 4 essential skills to put on your resume to find remote work in 2021

interview zoom
New skills are needed to work efficiently with remote teams and to be as productive as possible.

  • Finding a job this year is a very different ballgame from what it was pre-pandemic.
  • Digitization has accelerated, tech is more advanced, and remote work is more common.
  • Here are the skills job advice blog Infoempleo says you need to include on your resume to find work.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

If you’re looking for work, finding a job this year is a very different ballgame from what it was pre-pandemic.

A lot has changed – digitization has accelerated, tech is more advanced than ever, and remote work has become the norm for many.

All these changes mean new skills are needed to work efficiently with remote teams and to be as productive as possible.

You need to make sure not only that you’ve brushed up on the skills that are most sought-after by recruiters but that your resume is up-to-date as well, according to job advice blog Infoempleo.

These are the top four skillsets Infoempleo says you should include if you’re looking for a job while working from home.

1. Digital and programming skills

Since the pandemic started, people with skills in ​​digital marketing, web development, web design, and programming have become even more pivotal to companies than they were previously.

With a growing number of companies moving towards remote working or hybrid working models, it’s crucial to have an understanding of digital tools and programs needed for remote work.

2. Social network skills

Being able to navigate and manage social networks is a professional skill that has been growing in demand for some time, but demand has skyrocketed since the start of the pandemic.

Many companies may not have the budget to allocate an entire role to a social media manager.

As a result, social media skills that complement your core areas of expertise are greatly attractive to recruiters.

3. Tech skills

Tech skills in fields like robotics, augmented reality, the internet of things, or AI can be invaluable to companies in the context of the changes brought about by the pandemic.

Infoempleo stresses, that demand for staff “with knowledge of specific cloud software and collaborative work tools has increased.”

As companies are relying on this tech more and more so, make sure to include any pertinent skills on your resume.

4. Soft skills

Self-discipline, communication skills, and initiative are generally considered to be very sought-after traits but are particularly so if you’re looking to work from home.

These skills are even more essential now that, often, your colleagues and those to whom you report are at a physical distance.

As a result, you need to make it clear on your resume that you’re able to put these skills and qualities to use.

“It’s important that resilience, improved digital skills, and the ability to adapt to change stand out on your resume,” says Infoempleo.

Read the original article on Business Insider