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Achieving Work-Life Balance #1: How You, Your Family, and Your Employer Can Benefit from It

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Achieving Work-Life Balance #1: How You, Your Family, and Your Employer Can Benefit from It

Everyday the world changes bit by bit. Each day new life is brought into the world, new technology is developed, and more jobs are created. These are just a few of the many changes that occur throughout the world on a daily basis. While it may be occurring at a slow pace there is another aspect that is changing the word. That aspect is a work-life balance.

Work-life balance is what is known as the balance between work and life. Until recently many businesses seemed completely unaware that there was even a connection between the two, but that is slowly beginning to change. All around the world more businesses are realizing the connection between work and life and the impact it may have on their business.

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Many businesses used to focus on the theory that their employees must devote their work time to their work and work alone. It was often unheard of for employers to allow their employees to leave work due to unexpected emergencies without making their unhappiness known. This is because many employers believed that their employees were hired to work; therefore, it the only thing that they should be doing. As the world is changing so is the way that many employers handle life situations with their employees.

A common problem with work-life balance is that many individuals work too much. Many individuals are required to work long hours and others may even hold more than one job. This puts a time restraint on employees who need or wish to complete other activities. For this reason a negative atmosphere may be created in the workplace. To combat that negative atmosphere or attitude there are many employers who are beginning to educate themselves and their employees on work-life balance.

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Many employees working for a business that was previously centered on business ethics and making profits may wonder why there is a newfound interest in work-life balance. Employees who learn successful tools in balancing their work with the rest of their life are likely to be happier. This increased happiness can create positive work environments. Employers know that positive work environments mean better results and better results often translate into profits.

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Understanding and developing a routine centered on work-life balance is not only beneficial to employers. Employees, their family, and their friends can all benefit from a positive work-life balance. Once a balance between work and life has been established a working parent may be able to spend more time with family. Work-life balance is not just for individuals with families. Everyone can benefit from work-life balance because it allows individuals to spend more time with their friends or participate in fun activities.

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For many years now individuals have always known that they needed to balance work with the rest of their life, but employer participation is a fairly new thing. Whether a work-life balance program has been in place for years now or it is just starting up, there are a number of benefits to learning and understanding the connection between work and life.

— Jennifer Foote.
We will continue to discuss work & life balance in the series of Achieving Work-Life Balance. Stay tuned.

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Last Updated on November 25, 2021

Protecting Your Online Life With Secure Passwords

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Protecting Your Online Life With Secure Passwords

With all of the recent online services and companies falling under attack to hackers in the past few months, it seems only fitting to talk about password creation and management. There are a lot of resources out there discussing this, but it never hurts to revisit this topic time and again because of its importance.

Password management isn’t necessarily a difficult thing to do, yet it does seem like a bit of an annoyance to most people. When it comes to password management, you will hear the famous line, “I don’t really care about changing my passwords regularly. I have nothing important online anyways.” Let’s see if you have nothing important online when your PayPal account gets taken over because you thought the password “password” was good enough.

In my opinion, it is an “internet user’s” responsibility to make sure that they keep secure passwords and update them on a regular basis. In this article we will discuss how to make your online presence more secure and keep it secure.

The easy fundamentals

First thing is first; creating a strong password.

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A strong password is a mixture of alpha-numeric characters and symbols, has a good length (hopefully 15 characters or longer), and doesn’t necessarily represent some word or phrase. If the service you are signing up for doesn’t allow passwords over a certain length, like 8 characters, always use the maximum length.

Here are some examples of strong passwords:
* i1?,2,2\1′(:-%Y
* ZQ5t0466VC44PmJ
* mp]K{ dCFKVplGe]PBm1mKdinLSOoa (30 characters)

And not so good examples
* sammy1234
* password123
* christopher

You can check out PC Tools Password Generator here. This is a great way to make up some very strong passwords. Of course the more random passwords are harder to remember, but that is where password management comes into play.

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Managing your passwords

I know some people that keep their passwords in an unencrypted text file. That’s not a good idea. I suppose that if you aren’t doing much online and are decent at avoiding viruses and such, it could be OK, but I would never recommend it.

So, where do you keep your strong passwords for all the services that you visit on a daily basis?

There are a ton of password safes out there including KeePass, RoboForm, Passpack, Password Safe, LastPass, and 1Password. If and when I recommend any of these I always count on LastPass and 1Password.

Both LastPass and 1Password offer different entry types for online services logins (PayPal, Twitter, Facebook, Gmail, etc.), credit cards and bank accounts, online identities, and other types of sensitive information. Both have excellent reviews and only differ in a few subtle ways. One of the ways that is more notable is that LastPass keeps your encrypted password Vault online where 1Password allows you to keep it locally or shared through Dropbox. Either way, you are the holder of the encryption keys and both ways are very secure.

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LastPass and 1Password both offer cross-platform support as well as support for Android and iOS (LastPass even has BlackBerry support). 1Password is a little pricey ($39.99 for either Windows or Mac) where LastPass has free options as well as premium upgrades that allow for mobile syncing.

Upkeep

You should probably change your passwords for your “important” accounts at least every 6 weeks. When I say “important” accounts I am referring to ones that you just couldn’t imagine losing access to. For me that would be Gmail, PayPal, eBay, Amazon, all my FTP accounts and hosting accounts, Namecheap, etc. Basically these include any account where financial information could be lost or accessed as well as accounts that could be totally screwed up (like my webserver).

There is no hard and fast rule to how often you should change your passwords, but 6 to 8 weeks should be pretty good.

Alternatives

You may think that all of this is just too much to manage on a daily basis. I will admit it is kind of annoying to have to change your passwords and use a password manager on a daily basis. For those people out there that don’t want to go through all of the hub-bub of super-secure, encrypted, password management, here are a few tips to keep you safe:

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  1. Create a unique and hard to guess “base password” and then a pattern to use for each site you logon onto. For instance a base password could be “Ih2BaSwAa” (this stands for “I have two brothers and sisters who are annoying”). Then you would add something “site specific” to the end of it. For Twitter Ih2BaSwAaTWTTR, Facebook Ih2BaSwAaFCBK, etc. This is sort of unsecure, but probably more secure than 99% of the passwords out there.
  2. Don’t write your passwords down in public places. If you want to keep track of passwords on something written, keep it on you at least. The problem is that if you get your wallet stolen you are still out of luck.
  3. Don’t use the same passwords for every service. I’m not even going to explain this; just don’t do it.

These are just a few things that can be done rather than keeping your passwords in a management system. Personally, with over 100 entries in my password management system, I couldn’t even dream of doing any other way. But those out there with only a few passwords, having a simpler system may be beneficial.

So, if you want to be a “responsible internet citizen” or you just don’t want to lose your precious account data, then creating and maintaining strong passwords for your online accounts is a must.

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