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Solutions for 7 Annoying Modern Day Problems

Solutions for 7 Annoying Modern Day Problems
Cellphone

    Modern life has been made easier with technology, but for every advancement there is a corresponding increase in complexity that seems to outweigh those benefits. When modern day problems occur, we usually don’t have the time or energy to figure out how to solve them. So here is a reference on how to handle some of these pesky problems.

    1) Change Cell Phone Contracts with No Penalty!

    Did you ever get mad because you wanted to ditch your cell phone company for a new one, but you couldn’t because of the huge termination fees? Well there are a few services now that connect people who want to swap contracts. According to The Week Magazine, most cell phone companies are willing to process a swap. Here are the companies who provide this swap brokering service. Fees range from $9.95- $14.95.

    2) Avoid the Rebate Runaround

    Rebates can be pretty sizable, and unfortunately retailers sometimes give customers the runaround when it comes to fulfilling these rebates. Here are the steps you can take to ensure you get your rebate:

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    1. Understand the terms of the rebate before purchasing.
    2. Make copies of all paperwork before mailing. Tip: use your digital camera for this.
    3. Fill in all field on the rebate form. Leaving any field blank can void the rebate. Write something even if it is something like “I don’t have a fax number.”
    4. Send in the rebate ASAP. Many rebates have short time frames today. Don’t be late or you’ll lose out.
    5. Handwrite your forms so mass-mailing rebate fraud is not suspected.
    6. Use certified mail and get your receipt.
    7. Buy at stores that can handle the rebates in-store or online such as: Staples, Cosco, and Cingular.
    8. If you have problems: Write directly to the manufacturer’s CEO and the retailer’s CEO. You can also call the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) 877-382-4357 or www.ftc.gov. Lastly, you can call your local Better Business Bureau or your state attorney general’s office.

    3) Don’t Pay for Technical Support

    Don’t you hate paying for technical support. Well here are a list of sites that offer free tech support online. These were reviewed by Tech Support Alert as either “Outstanding” or “Highly Recommended.” For other free tech support recommendations, visit their site.

    More:

    4) What to Do with Unused Airline Miles and Reward Points

    According to most airline miles programs, selling your miles will make them null and void. There are places that broker these miles for selling, but if you want to go by the rules you can head over to Points.com where you can “TRACK,BOOK HOTELS,SWAP,EARN,BUY,GIFT,SHARE,and REDEEM miles and points.”

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    5) Get a Live Person on the Phone

    Sick of listening to automated menus when you need to ask someone a question over the phone? Well here is the ultimate resource on how to reach a live person:
    Get Human
    or take a look at the tips in this article, 6 Tips to Reach a Human Operator.

    6)Spyware and Viruses

    I had a real problem over a year ago with a virus I couldn’t shake. I tried everything. What finally worked for me was SpySweeper by Webroot. This along with a Norton protection package has worked well for me.

    7) Identity Theft

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    This one can be a real bugaboo. The first thing to do if you discover this is to report it to the credit bureaus:

    EQUIFAX—www.equifax.com
    To order your credit report: Call: (800) 685-1111
    To report fraud: Call: (800) 525-6285

    EXPERIAN—www.experian.com
    To order your credit report: Call: (888) EXPERIAN (397-3742)
    To report fraud: Call: (888) EXPERIAN (397-3742)

    TRANS UNION—www.tuc.com
    To order your credit report: Call: (800) 916-8800
    To report fraud: Call: (800) 680-7289

    For more information here is the United States Department of Justice’s official information on how to handle identity theft:

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    Additional websites that contain general information about identity theft as cited by the USDoJ website:

    These sites also have good guidelines for preventing identity fraud in the first place, so it is worth checking out even if you haven’t had this problem.

    8 ) Keeping Track of Online Passwords

    I didn’t see this as a problem until I read the following article. It points out the vulnerabilities of weak passwords and of not having a secure place to store them. The article lists links to 10 cool password generators and trackers that are all free: 10 Free Ways to Track All Your Passwords.

    What solutions have you found to modern life’s annoying problems? Please Share!

    K. Stone is author of Life Learning Today, a blog about daily life improvements. A few of her most popular articles are Ultimate Goal Setting Guide, 5 Big Secrets “They” Don’t Want You to Know About Investing, Maximum Energy in 10 Simple Steps, and Cool GTD Applications – The Ultimate Resource List.

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    K. Stone

    The founder of Life Learning Today, a blog that's dedicated to life improvement tips.

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    Last Updated on April 8, 2019

    22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    Unless you’re infinitely rich or prepared to rack up major debt, you need to budget your income. Setting limits on how much you are willing to spend helps control expenses. But what about your time? Do you budget your time or spend it carelessly?

    Deadlines are the chronological equivalent of a budget. By setting aside a portion of time to complete a task, goal or project in advance you avoid over-spending. Deadlines can be helpful but they can also be a source of frustration if set improperly. Here are some tips for making deadlines work:

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    1. Use Parkinson’s Law – Parkinson’s Law states that tasks expand to fill the time given to them. By setting a strict deadline in advance you can cut off this expansion and focus on what is most important.
    2. Timebox – Set small deadlines of 60-90 minutes to work on a specific task. After the time is up you finish. This cuts procrastinating and forces you to use your time wisely.
    3. 80/20 – The Pareto Principle suggests that 80% of the value is contained in 20% of the input. Apply this rule to projects to focus on that critical 20% first and fill out the other 80% if you still have time.
    4. Project VS Deadline – The more flexible your project, the stricter your deadline. If a task has relatively little flexibility in completion a softer deadline will keep you sane. If the task can grow easily, keep a tight deadline to prevent waste.
    5. Break it Down – Any deadline over one day should be broken down into smaller units. Long deadlines fail to motivate if they aren’t applied to manageable units.
    6. Hofstadter’s Law – Basically this law states that it always takes longer than you think. A rule I’ve heard in software development is to double the time you think you need. Then add six months. Be patient and give yourself ample time for complex projects.
    7. Backwards Planning – Set the deadline first and then decide how you will achieve it. This approach is great when choices are abundant and projects could go on indefinitely.
    8. Prototype – If you are attempting something new, test out smaller versions of a project to help you decide on a final deadline. Write a 10 page e-book before your 300 page novel or try to increase your income by 10% before aiming to double it.
    9. Find the Weak Link – Figure out what could ruin your plans and accomplish it first. Knowing the unknown can help you format your deadlines.
    10. No Robot Deadlines – Robots can work without sleep, relaxation or distractions. You aren’t a robot. Don’t schedule your deadline with the expectation you can work sixteen hour days to complete it. Deathmarches aren’t healthy.
    11. Get Feedback – Get a realistic picture from people working with you. Giving impossible deadlines to contractors or employees will only build resentment.
    12. Continuous Planning – If you use a backwards planning model, you need to constantly be updating plans to fit your deadline. This means making cuts, additions or refinements so the project will fit into the expected timeframe.
    13. Mark Excess Baggage – Identify areas of a task or project that will be ignored if time grows short. What e-mails will you have to delete if it takes too long to empty your inbox? What features will your product lack if you need a rapid finish?
    14. Review – For deadlines over a month long take a weekly review to track your progress. This will help you identify methods you can use to speed up work and help you plan more efficiently for the future.
    15. Find Shortcuts – Almost any task or project has shortcuts you can use to save time. Is there a premade library you can use instead of building your own functions? An autoresponder to answer similar e-mails? An expert you can call to help solve a problem?
    16. Churn then Polish – Set a strict deadline for basic completion and then set a more comfortable deadline to enhance and polish afterwards. Often churning out the basics of a task quickly will require no more polishing afterwards than doing it slowly.
    17. Reminders – Post reminders of your deadlines everywhere. Creating a sense of urgency with your deadlines is necessary to keep them from getting pushed aside by distractions.
    18. Forward Planning – Not mutually exclusive with backwards planning, this involves planning the details of a project out before setting a deadline. Great for achieving clarity about what you are trying to accomplish before making arbitrary time limits.
    19. Set a Timer – Get one that beeps. Somehow the countdown of a timer appears more realistic for a ninety minute timebox than just glancing at your clock.
    20. Write them Down – Any deadline over a few hours needs to be written down. Otherwise it is an inclination not a goal. Having written deadlines makes them more tangible than internal decisions alone.
    21. Cheap/Fast/Good – Ben Casnocha in My Start Up Life mentions that you can have only have two of the three. Pick two of the cheap/fast/good dimensions before starting a project to help you prioritize.
    22. Be Patient – Using a deadline may seem to be the complete opposite of patience. But being patient with inflexible tasks is necessary to focus on their completion. The paradox is that the more patient you are, the more you can focus. The more you can focus the quicker the results will come!

    Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

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