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10 Reasons Gift Certificates Make Horrible Gifts

10 Reasons Gift Certificates Make Horrible Gifts

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    I don’t know who came up with gift certificates, but they should receive an award for one of the best marketing jobs ever pulled on the unsuspecting public. How else can you explain how people are willing to trade money, for a less useful and more restrictive form of money at a one-to-one ratio?

    For those of you who can’t think of what to buy your miserly Aunt Josie who doesn’t seem to enjoy any material possessions or your nephew, John, who is involved in the next cult-like fad of card-collecting, baggy clothes or earsplitting music, avoid the temptation to get a gift certificate. Here’s why:

    1) Gift certificates are like money, except less useful.

    Money can be used everywhere. Gift certificates can only be used with specific stores. If the gift certificate offers some kind of special service or discount, this tradeoff might be reasonable. However most gift certificates can’t be redeemed for cash, nor do they offer special treatment so buying one is essentially buying less useful money.

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    2) Gift certificates are a mark of defeat.

    When I’ve given gift certificates in the past, the unstated words are, “I give up.” A gift certificate is basically a sign that you couldn’t think of an actual gift to give the person, so you will just let them pick it out for themselves. If you want a gift that says, “I don’t know you well enough to pick out a gift, but I thought cash was tacky,” get a gift certificate.

    3) Gift certificates have expiry dates.

    Not only are gift certificates a more restricted form of money, now some companies have the nerve to put an expiry date on them. As if trading your money for less valuable money wasn’t enough, now you get the bonus of having money that only lasts for a year or two. Most stores won’t tell you about the expiry dates, but if you check the back most tell you that your less-valuable money will become completely useless after several months.

    4) Gift certificates can backfire.

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    The main argument for a gift certificate over cash, is that it shows at least some thought into preparation. However, this can backfire if you get someone a certificate for a store they never shop at. I’m sure we’ve all had the joy of running over to a store to use a gift certificate to buy an item we don’t need, just to feel like we aren’t wasting it.

    5) Gift certificates can cost your friends and family money.

    When you give a gift certificate, often you are forcing them to pay some of their own money to use it. A twenty-five dollar gift certificate isn’t a whole lot at some fancy outlets and technology stores. You may be forcing your recipient to spend another ten or twenty dollars in order to use your wonderful gift. How thoughtful!

    6) Gift certificates get lost.

    Many stores have started using gift cards instead of certificates. These little devices magnetically store info about the dollar value they hold. Despite the tracking of the gift certificate money electronically, you still need to have the card in order to use it. That means that if your certificate gets lost, the money is gone forever. At least you can deposit cash in the bank.

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    7) Gift certificates have leftovers.

    What actually costs exactly twenty-five or fifty dollars? Usually your lucky gift-card recipient will be left with a couple dollars on their card after buying a gift they probably didn’t really want for themselves. This means your tradeoff for less valuable, expiring money loses an additional dollar or two.

    8 ) Gift certificates mean a trip to the store.

    Buying a real gift for someone says: “I know you don’t like to treat yourself, but I went to the trouble of getting something I know you’ll like at a store to save you the visit.” A gift certificate is the do-it-yourself version of a gift, forcing the receiver to make a trip to whatever store you happened upon and spend hours driving, browsing and fumbling with the card.

    9) Gift certificates don’t earn interest.

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    Okay, so twenty dollars in cash isn’t going to appreciate much in your 1-2% annual interest savings account, but it’s still more than your certificate. Slowly losing the battle against inflation you can be happy knowing your gift becomes less and less valuable each day before it eventually gets lost or expires.

    10) Gift certificates… aren’t all that bad.

    I’ve been giving gift certificates a hard time. Despite their many flaws, sending cash is still a faux pas by many peoples standards. And despite the lack of logic in preferring one to money, many people still do. Many people actually prefer the colorful little cards to gifts if it means they don’t have a choice at all.

    Besides, when it is Christmas Eve and you still need to buy for a half-dozen more relatives, that card at the checkout counter starts to look a little more attractive. Sure it isn’t as thoughtful as a hand wrapped gift complete with ribbon, but Hallmark cards aren’t as romantic as hand-written poetry, but nobody does that either. You might just have to throw up your hands and give in to the brilliant marketing scheme that are gift certificates.

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    Scott H Young

    Scott is obsessed with personal development. For the last ten years, he's been experimenting to find out how to learn and think better.

    15 Ways to Cultivate Continuous Learning for a Sharper Brain 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines How to Motivate Yourself: 13 Simple Ways You Can Try Right Now 18 Tricks to Make New Habits Stick 18 Tips for Killer Presentations

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    Last Updated on August 6, 2019

    Why Do I Procrastinate? 5 Root Causes And How To Tackle Them

    Why Do I Procrastinate? 5 Root Causes And How To Tackle Them

    Procrastination is something many people can relate to and I, myself, have been there and done that. Yes, I write all about productivity now, but when I first started out on my career path, I would often put off work I didn’t want to do. And most of the time I didn’t even realize I was doing it.

    So what changed?

    I thought to myself, “why do I procrastinate?” And I started to read a lot of books on productivity, learning a great deal and shifting my mind to the reasons why people procrastinate.

    My understanding brought me a new perspective on how to put an end to the action of procrastination.

    Procrastination slows your goals and dreams way down. It can create stress and feelings of frustration. It rears its ugly head on a regular basis for a lot of people. This is particularly apparent at work with day-to-day projects and tasks.

    But, why do people self-sabotage in this way? Essentially, there are 5 reasons behind procrastination. See if you can identify with any of these in your own work life.

    1. The Perfectionist’s Fear

    Procrastination is sometimes a subconscious fear of failure.

    If you put off a task enough, then you can’t face up to the potential (and usually imagined) negative results. If you’re a stickler for minor details, the stress of getting things ‘just right’ may be too much and cause you to delay continuing the task.

    Either way, fear is at the root cause and can sabotage your desire to move forward.

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    How to Tackle It?

    Try visualizing the completion of your task in a positive way.

    For example, you have a presentation that your boss wants you to conduct for a potential client. Visualize yourself standing in the meeting room confident, meeting the eyes of the client and seeing them light up as you explain the concept simply and concisely.

    Imagine your boss telling you how great you did and you were the best person for the job. Think about how it would feel to you and focus on this as you move forward with the task.

    2. A Dreamer’s Lack of Action

    This is a person who is highly creative and has many brilliant ideas but can’t quite seem to bring them to fruition.

    The main reason for this is because there’s usually no structure or goal setting involved once the idea has been created. This aimless approach ends up manifesting as a lack of decision-making and significant delays on a project.

    How to Tackle It?

    Write down a timeline of what you want to achieve and by when. Ideally, do this daily to keep yourself on track and accountable for progression. Creative minds tend to jump from one idea to the next, so cultivating focus is essential.

    If you’re designing and creating a new product at work, set out a task list for the week ahead with the steps you want to focus on each day. Doing this ahead of time will stop your mind from wandering across to different ideas.

    Learn about how to plan your time and take actions from some of the successful people: 8 Ways Highly Successful People Plan Their Time

    3. An Overwhelmed Avoider

    This is one of the most common reasons for procrastination; the sheer overwhelm of a daunting task.

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    The complexity of a task can cause the brain to lose motivation and avoid doing it altogether choosing instead to stay in its comfort zone.

    The search then starts for a more enjoyable task and the harder tasks are put off. This can cause stress and dread when the task inevitably comes up to be completed.

    How to Tackle It?

    Break the challenge down into smaller tasks and tackle each one individually.

    For example, if you have a project that has technical elements to it that you know you’ll find challenging, list each step you need to take in order to complete these difficult elements. Think of ways you can resolve potential hurdles. Perhaps you have a coworker that may have time to help or even consider that the solution may be easier than you initially think. Put each task in order of most daunting to least daunting. Ideally, try to deal with the more challenging parts of each task in the morning so that momentum is created as the tasks get easier through the day.

    A reward system will also help you stay motivated so, once completed, you can enjoy your treat of choice.

    If you want to know how to better handle your feelings and stay motivated, take a look at my other article: Procrastination Is a Matter of Emotion, Here’s How to Stop It

    4. The Busy Bee Who Lacks Prioritization

    Either you have too many tasks or don’t truly acknowledge the differing importance of each task. The result? Getting nothing done.

    Time is spent switching constantly from one task to another or spending too much time deciding what to do.

    How to Tackle It?

    It’s all about priorities and choosing important tasks over urgent ones.

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    Make sure to question the value and purpose of each task and make a list in order of importance.

    For example, throughout your work day, you can waste a lot of time dealing with ‘urgent’ emails from colleagues but, you need to ask yourself if these are more important than working on a task that will affect, say, several office projects at once.

    Help yourself to prioritize and set a goal of working through your list over the next few hours reassessing the situation once the time is up.

    In my other article, I talk about an effective way to prioritze and achieve more in less time: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

    5. The One with Shiny Object Syndrome (Distraction-Prone)

    This is another common cause for procrastination; just simple distraction.

    Our brains aren’t wired to focus for long periods of time and it looks for something else. So throw in a bunch of colleagues equally looking for distractions or checking your phone mindlessly, and you’ve got a recipe for ultimate procrastination.

    However, this type of procrastination may not always be an unconscious decision to sabotage and put off work. It’s simply a result of your work setup or types of coworkers you have. Only you know the answer to that.

    How to Tackle It?

    Be mindful of your workspace and potential distractions. Schedule a specific time to converse with your coworkers, put headphones on to minimize listening to what’s going on around you, and switch your phone off.

    Aim to do this for 20-30 minutes at a time and then take a break. This will be a much more efficient way of working and getting what you need done. This is also why scheduling down time is so important for productivity.

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    Whether this type of procrastination is self-sabotage or being a victim of a distracting environment, either way you can take control.

    If you need a little more guidance on how to stay focus, this guide can help you: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

    Bottom Line

    I’m going to be bold and assume you identified with at least one of these procrastination pitfalls.

    You could be trapped in the endless cycle of procrastination like I was, that is, until I decided to find out my why behind putting off tasks and projects. It was only then that I could implement strategies and move forward in a positive and productive way.

    I killed the procrastination monster and so can you. I now complete my tasks more efficiently and completely killed that feeling of stress and falling behind with work that procrastination brings.

    I know it’s not easy to stop procrastinating right away, so I also have this complete guide to help you stop it once and for all: Procrastination – A Step-By-Step Guide to Stop Procrastinating

    Featured photo credit: Luke Chesser via unsplash.com

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