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Last Updated on February 7, 2018

Spend 50% LESS Effort On Your Plants With These Smarties

Spend 50% LESS Effort On Your Plants With These Smarties

Gardening seems like such a relaxing hobby: retired women and men seem to love it with a passion, and lots of families like to take on gardening projects together. You just have to plant the seeds, water regularly, and wait patiently. What could be easier?

Yet a lot of people fail to grow plants successfully! If you take a closer look, there are actually a lot of things that you have to take care of…the humidity of the soil, the amount of sunlight that the plant takes in – which might impact where you plant it – and how much water the plant does and can actually absorb. This “hobby” is actually extremely time-consuming and very easy to fail if you overlook the small details.

So: here at Lifehack, we’d like to introduce you to 10 smart gardening tools and apps so that you can closely monitor your plants, with half the effort. Below, check out our descriptions and the helpful product reviews we’ve collected.

1. Click & Grow Indoor Smart Fresh Herb Garden Kit

    This reusable herb garden kit is perfect for busy home cooks who just don’t have the time or perhaps the space to keep up a garden. It’s also incredibly easy to use, because there are no fussy pumps, plant food, or extra parts that you have to worry about. Just get convenient plant cartridges to place in the container, fill up the water reservoir, and plug the device in!

    “One word, Amazing!! This plant grower is perfect, it comes with a little app that helps you keep track of your garden. The herbs grew in a question of days and it looks very stylish. Overall, super happy with my purchase and would definitely reccomend!” – Amazon reviewer Andrea Herrera

    2. Coltura LED Sunshelf

      The Coltura LED Sunshelf is the answer for those aspiring gardeners who don’t live in the appropriate climates or have sufficient space to grow a garden. The light panel provides the plant with the exact amount of light it needs to thrive – blue light stimulates root growth and photosynthesis. Not to mention, it looks totally stylish as an end table for your living room!

      “The designer gave me everything I desired for growing plants indoors. It looks like a beautiful piece of furniture but functions exactly as you would want to grow indoor plants. Love the wood accents, the tray to protect the wood are not visible.” – Ginger, a reviewer on www.gardeners.com

      3. LED Grow Light

        This light is perfect for those who business professionals just want to dip their toes into cultivating plants: it’s best for providing light to individual (or just a few) tabletop, indoor plants. This LED Grow Light would work perfectly in an office, in the kitchen, or anywhere else at home! You can clip, screw, or stick the light anywhere for ease of use.

        This is a great product for small plants if you are not looking to spend much money. I have used this now on my Wandering Jew and my African Violets with great success. The Wandering Jew had been badly chewed by my cat and I had to move it to my dimly lit cabinet top where it continued to wither. I purchased this and a few weeks later the Jew had tripled in size and was doing quite nicely. When my violets quit blooming, I can place this light on them for a few weeks and my blooms are back. You are only going to be able to light one plant at a time with this, but the light is very flexible and good for this purpose. I have had no issues leaving it on while sleeping or at work. As others have said, make sure you are m not looking directly at the light and you will be okay! – Amazon reviewer Technically Honest

        4. Parrot Pot – Smart, Connected Flower Pot

          The Parrot Pot is an automatic watering system for anybody who doesn’t have the time to constantly monitor their plants – parents, grandparents, students, and busy workers. As the perfect “Plant Sitter,” it can optimize water consumption unattended for up to a month; in addition, it can take accurate, real-time measurements about your plant’s health.

          “This [pot] doesn’t just notify you when it is time to water, it does it for you, by pumping water up from a reservoir at the bottom and spraying it onto the top of the plant soil. This means all you really have to do on an ongoing basis is fill the water tank every so often. The pot can go up to a month without a refill. This is especially good for people who travel. What do you do when you get notified that you need to water a plant back in North Carolina while you are in a hotel in Wales? That’s right, nothing. This pot waters itself while you are gone.” – Amazon reviewer Sean Logue

          5. Lechuza 13380 Cube Color 14 Self-Watering Garden Planter

            This self-watering garden planter is perfect for students, with its stylish look and affordable price point. You don’t need to repot when you have the Lechuza Cube. Instead, drop the grow pot into the Lechuza planter and fill the water reservoir. Perfect for indoor use, college students and young professionals saving up can still enjoy the benefits of gardening.

            “I buy Lechuza all the time for their quality. I will buy again!” – Amazon reviewer T

            6. Covery 3 in 1 Soil Tester Moisture Meter

              The Covery soil tester is a must-have for every gardener, especially those beginning gardeners who want to move into a more regular habit. For its modest $10.99 price, this product will help you determine: when you need to water, whether your plant is getting enough sunlight, and whether the pH of the soil is ideal for plant growth. No batteries needed!

              “I really thought my husband was throwing money out the window by purchasing the less expensive soil tester. I was proven wrong. The Covery is accurate along side a professional who came and told us the very information this inexpensive meter told us.” – Analiese Nunamaker, Amazon reviewer.

              7. ThermoPro TP55 Digital Hygrometer Indoor Thermometer Humidity Gauge

                This digital thermometer doubles as a humidity gauge, giving every indoor plant owner the information they need for successful plant growth. Powered by AAA batteries (included), ThermoPro’s digitial hygrometer and thermometer has a backlight and touchscreen for easy reading. It also displays the trend of each reading, which is useful so you can adjust temperature and humidity ahead of time. Switch between Celsius and Fahrenheit readings, depending on what you prefer!

                Many people use ThermoPro for purposes beyond gardening!

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                “This product is great. Love the accuracy that it gives. Needed it for my baby’s room as well as for my room to know the temp of the room and the humidity. So far so good…I can actually tell when the room is dry and then I use the thermo pro to confirm and it does so accurately! Wonderful product at a reasonable price. I brought three of them.” – KiaCam, Amazon reviewer

                8. Honeywell HCM350W Germ Free Cool Mist Humidifier

                  The Honeywell humidifier is beloved widely by people with dry homes! And it’s just as useful for dry homes where plants could use a greater level of humidity to thrive. With QuietCare Performance, this humidifier is extremely quiet and works hard in the background at three possible levels. It runs up to 24 hours before you have to change the filter.

                  “I finally find a humidifier I can use. At medium speed, it brings up the humidity (from 16 to 25%) in my room and the noise is not too loud so I can sleep.” – NANNAN N LEE, Amazon reviewer

                  9. House of Plants: Living with Succulents, Air Plants, and Cacti

                    House of Plants is the perfect example of total plant newbies and urban hipsters alike, written by Rose Ray and Caro Langton and beautiful photography by Erika Rax. In this wonderfully practical guide, you will learn exactly how to take care of succulents, cacti, and air plants, which are very fashionable now. The authors explain how to nurture and enjoy your plants, as well as how to arrange them in an aesthetically pleasing way in your home.

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                    “Useful book to a beginner of indoor gardening. Fun ideas and with instructions on how to make them. Would recommend if someone has seen enough inspirations online and wants to get a book for trusted information.” – Review by an Amazon customer

                    Featured photo credit: Photo by Rachel Lees on Unsplash via unsplash.com

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                    Last Updated on December 5, 2018

                    How to Lead a Team More Effectively and Be a True Leader at Work

                    How to Lead a Team More Effectively and Be a True Leader at Work

                    Being an efficient manager and a charismatic boss at the same time can seem like an impossible task. Is there a way to deliver the desired results for your business while remaining liked and respected by your staff?

                    We all know bad examples of team leaders who seem to fail at one aspect or the other, or even at both. But we’ve also heard of awesome managers who seem to juggle both things well enough.

                    How do they do it?

                    By sticking to few proven ways that let them maintain a positive karma score while remaining efficient. In this article, we’ll guide you through 11 smart management tips on how to lead a team and become something more than a boss – a leader.

                    1. Find a Management Strategy and Stick to It

                    There’s nothing worse than a boss that keeps changing his or her opinions and assignments depending on their mood or a book they read this week. Chaotic decisions increase the insecurity and frustration of your team, so you better find your strategy and stick to it.

                    If you do find some new methods you want your staff to follow, make sure they don’t contradict the general direction you are taking. Otherwise, you risk making your team take one step forward and two steps back.

                    2. Set Goals​ and Track Progress in Reaching Them

                    Set individual and collective goals​ for your team and track the progress in reaching them. This might sound obvious at first, but too often we find ourselves stuck between daily customer requests and monthly reports, and the bigger goal or vision seems to fade away.

                    According to Elon Musk (and many other successful CEOs around the Globe), it’s crucial to have a clear and motivating aim to where the company is heading. His aim for the space transportation company SpaceX is “to make humankind a multi-planetary species”.[1] That’s a huge goal but the company is slowly moving closer to it by reaching smaller steps and milestones, like launching self-landing rockets. This is also a very inspiring and meaningful goal that helps employees endure the company’s extremely high expectations and 60 to 70-hour work weeks.[2]

                    Even if your goals are not as grand, setting and reaching milestones will give you a clear insight into the team’s overall efficiency and daily progress. With time, you will be able to see the weak spots and improve your results.​

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                    3. Demand Learning from Your Team

                    CEO of print on demand startup Printful, Davis Siksnans, believes that:[3]

                    “The key for a company going through rapid growth is to empower your employees’ self-development.”

                    His company with 500 employees spanning two continents demands a culture of learning and provides all the tools necessary to do it.

                    Their idea is –  as the company scales, people have to grow in their positions too, which means that they have to be constantly learning. Siksnans says:

                    “We try to hire people for what they might become, but they need to have that drive.“

                    Alternatively, you can provide educational courses for your employees or invite informal lecturers to educate and inspire your team. You can also encourage peer-to-peer learning by asking employees to teach their particular experience or skill to co-workers.

                    4. Invest in a Pleasant Work Environment

                    Studies show that a well-designed office environment can increase your team’s overall performance by as much as 20%. You’ll be surprised to see that even very small interior tweaks that don’t require major investments can improve your workers’ performance.

                    Some ideas for a more productive and pleasing work environment:

                    • Invest in modern furniture – offer ergonomic chairs, standing desks, and individually arranged workplaces​.
                    • Start an in-house library – reading for pleasure just 30 minutes a day is proven to be enough to become more effective at work,[4] improve focus, and deal with problems like depression and anxiety.​
                    • Play jazzy office music – rhythmic background music will help workers feel more energetic and enthusiastic while doing everyday tasks.​
                    • Set up entertainment or break rooms – being able to relax and have fun at work creates a strong commitment, helps employees relax and clear their minds, and boosts productivity.​
                    • Bring in uplifting office decor – it’s been found that art in the workplace can boost productivity,[5] lower stress, and even encourage employees to innovate.​
                    • Decorate the office with live plants for freshness and a welcoming feel. Furthermore, plants are found to ensure better air quality and increase workers’ productivity by 15%.[6]

                    5. Be Kind and Sincere to Your Team

                    Did you know that 50% of employees quit because they dislike working with their manager?[7] In fact, most times when people leave their jobs they actually leave their managers. Being friendly and sincere may not be enough to be a successful manager, but it’s a big part of it.

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                    Some ways to show you appreciate and care for your staff:

                    • Celebrate the progress and achievements of your employees. And don’t be shy to simply say thanks.​
                    • Talk to your employees regularly and really listen to what they have to say. Address their concerns, help them reach their goals and do your best to improve their work and daily life.
                    • If you’re having a bad day, don’t pour out your stress and anger on the staff. Instead, try to recharge yourself by appreciating the achievements of your team and setting the next goals.
                    • Try not to overload your team with work. Every company has rush periods when it’s okay to have more work than usual. But remember that people cannot work under prolonged pressure and stress.
                    • Don’t be selfish – it can be very demotivating to see that the manager only focuses on what you can do for him and doesn’t care about your goals and well-being.​ As the CEO of Xerox Anne M. Mulcahy put it,[8]

                      “Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person — not just an employee — are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled.”

                    Whenever you are having doubts about your kind attitude, remember – satisfied employees are productive employees which lead to satisfied customers and eventually – success for your company.

                    6. Offer Flexible Work Hours

                    The traditional Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 job is beginning to slip away. Increasingly more people are working remotely or having flexible work hours, and we can expect this trend to continue. To adapt to these changing habits and remain competitive in the labor market, more employers are offering the chance to choose your own work hours, work from home or even from another city or country.

                    Offering flexible hours is a powerful way to inspire your existing staff and give them intrinsic motivation. Why not let your employees choose their preferred working hours while keeping the 8-hour day? For example, night owls are unhappy and unproductive if they have to come to work before 10 AM, while others might prefer to start at 7 and finish earlier.

                    You can go even farther and hire remote workers – this way you’ll be able to recruit from a global talent pool and even save money on office expenses like desks, stationery, electricity, etc.[9]

                    7. Track Your Team’s Productive Time

                    Not monitoring your employees’ progress and efficiency can result in poor performance and slacking. Instead of letting things go with the flow, you should consider installing time-tracking software on your employees’ computers and see who’s doing great and who might need a productivity boost.

                    But don’t get it wrong – there’s no need to become big brother and watch every step your employees take. If you use the time-tracker as a spying tool, you will only see increasing suspicion and insecurity around you, and your employees’ happiness levels will drop.

                    On the contrary, choose software that allows employees to mark private time that won’t be tracked. In addition, consider these time-management tactics:

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                    • Allow flexible work hours. (see Tip No 6)
                    • Encourage breaks – studies show that employees who take regular breaks are more productive than those who don’t.[10]
                    • Enable remote work to show your employees that you trust them and that they can work from home or even from another country (if they can maintain sufficient productivity).
                    • Consider offering bonuses to your most productive employees (those who show productivity levels above 90 or 95%).

                    8. Use Only Constructive Criticism

                    Constructive criticism means offering valid and rational opinions about the work of others, involving both positive comments and remarks about what should be improved. Constructive criticism is usually expressed in a friendly manner rather than an oppositional one.

                    When you evaluate your team’s work, give them feedback that’s helpful, specific, and sincere. Don’t be shy to praise, but also be direct and even strict when necessary.

                    9. Don’t Give Special Treatment to Yourself

                    The boss’s actions are – directly or indirectly – observed by your team. This means that your employees look up to you and often mimic your attitude towards your work and the company – especially if your actions don’t show commitment. Nobody wants to work for a leader who doesn’t go all in or inspire motivation.

                    What you should do is lead by example. If you expect your employees to arrive at work on time and work 8 hours, do the same yourself. If you want them to show initiative, show it yourself and encourage others to do the same.

                    Jeff Weiner is the CEO of LinkedIn – a company of 3,000 employees that consistently ranks as one of the best workplaces with a 92 percent employee-approval rating.[11] Weiner’s workdays are reported to be equally long or even longer than those of his employees, allowing him to stay “extremely credible as a leader.”

                    10. Empower Your Employees

                    Here’s a common mistake many managers make:

                    They don’t motivate their staff and assume they simply love to work for their company.​ Such belief can result in painful losses for the company – especially these days when many companies are in desperate need of a reliable workforce.

                    Instead of directly thinking about bonuses and perks, consider intrinsic motivation. For example, enable flat organization in your team and listen to your employees’ ideas when they come up with opinions and suggestions. Your company might actually benefit a great deal from the feedback, and the unique ideas employees come up with.

                    You can also start an initiative where employees can freely share or pitch their business ideas to you or the founders of the company. If the idea is accepted by the management, the project can be developed, and the employee can have equity options.

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                    If people feel they have an impact in the company, they become more motivated, engaged and interested in the company’s growth.

                    11. Nurture Your Company Culture

                    Company culture is the personality of a company that defines the overall work environment and relationships between teammates. It also includes company mission, values, ethics, and goals.

                    Some examples of company cultures are the Horizontal corporate culture (collaborative and equal; popular among startups and free-spirited businesses) and Conventional corporate culture (a more risk-averse and hierarchy-based approach common in traditional companies).

                    However, you don’t have to stick to pre-existing boxes when creating your corporate culture. You might think of your team as a family, a sports team, or even a hippie camp if it fits your business and purpose. But keep in mind that by the time a company’s size reaches 20 employees, the company culture is set,[12] and any changes will need to be implemented in smaller teams.

                    Whichever personality you choose for your company, make sure to live by it and nurture it. Some things that might help:

                    Team building events, relevant books in your office library and proper on-boarding for the new employees to get everyone on the same page from the very beginning.

                    Be a Leader, Not a Boss

                    Using the words of Printful’s CEO Davis Siksnans, the ultimate goal is to “Hire great people who don’t have to be managed.”

                    However, when you do need to demonstrate some initiative and control, act as a leader rather than as a boss.

                    In other words, don’t be afraid to show the personality behind your role. And keep these 11 tips close to your heart.

                    Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

                    Reference

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