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Hacks for Shipping Holiday Gifts

Hacks for Shipping Holiday Gifts

The holiday season is a time when you are shopping around for the best deals on gifts. However, not all of your gifts can be given in person, and not all of your deals are always found online. This turns into you having to make sure of shipping services to ensure that your gifts are sent and received in a timely manner.  Today, let’s go a bit over how to find the most affordable provider, how to stay on top of deadlines, and ways on how to track your shipments effectively.

Shipping Providers: Compared

For this article, we will focus on American shipping providers. The main providers are FedEx, UPS, and USPS. In terms of price, USPS is a good choice for individuals who don’t have an issue with size. If you item is able to fit into USPS’s flat rate boxes, you will be able to pay a specified price, as long as it’s under 7 pounds.

This is perfect for individuals who aren’t frequent shippers and want to take the guess work out of shipping. So, when is UPS or FedEx a good choice? The holiday season is a unique time when timing is of the essence. You may send a card or gift throughout the year for birthdays or anniversaries, and if they come a couple of days later than expected, then it’s not a problem.

However, during the holidays individuals are more serious about delivery times, something USPS isn’t as good at holding on to. FedEx and UPS aren’t apart of the postal service, these shipping companies are focused solely on shipments, and in turn they have been more reliable in terms of arrival times and dates. If price and delivery timing is an issue, you best bet would be FedEx.

Affordable Supplies for Shipping

If you are price conscious, USPS is a provider that provides individuals with free flat rate shipping items by request. These boxes, usually arriving at your door step a week after request, allows you to not only skip having to rush out for shipping supplies relative to your item’s size, but you can also ensure that you’ll pay a certain price. If you are shipping with USPS or considering this option, here’s how to get your boxes.

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    Deadlines: Closer than you Think

    You can choose a provider with the best deals or the fastest delivery times, but all of these titles become empty if you don’t put in the effort to ship on time. Providers love when we ship late because this gives them a promise to hike up prices.

    Don’t become victim to last minute shipping price gouging by making sure you know the deadlines for your basic ground shipment dates. As follows, USPS’s deadline is December 20th, three days earlier on the 17th (ten days from today) is FedEx’s deadline on Ground shipments, and finally, UPS is the most attractive in that you can ship anytime up till December 24th, they will be shipping on Christmas Eve.

    Of course, in the end, everything comes at a price. FedEx is moderately priced, USPS is one of the cheapest, but UPS is the most expensive. This, of course, isn’t taking into consideration if you miss the aforementioned dates, which means you’ll have to pay even more for next day or two day shipping.

    Amazon shoppers: more on specific deadlines are found here.

      Tracking the Package

      Apps for tracking your packages are available on almost every system that you use. First, let’s look out for our iOS users and list a couple of applications that help with tracking packages:

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        Slice for iOS – Focused not just on package tracking, but also your online spending habits, Slice automatically adds packages to track based on what you purchase online through your connected email accounts. Also, track how much you are spending and more. (Free)

          Delivery Status Touch – Resembling Parcels for Android, Delivery Status Touch makes use of visuals (including color scheme) as a way for you to quickly tell the provider. You can also get a high quality map view on the right side and up-to-date parcel information at the very bottom. ($2.99)

          Next up, Android users. Here are a couple of applications available to ensure that you know the status of your package.

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            Parcels for Android – This free application ensures that you stay updated on your shipment. even without having to lift another finger after first setting up. Package statuses are viewable in the application’s Google Maps view. (Free)

              TrackChecker – This basic barebones tracker application is perfect for our international shipping readers out there. (Free)

                Package Tracker Pro – Along with package tracking, Package Tracker Pro also allows you to receive up-to-date notifications and the ability through the sync site to automatically add/remove shipment tracking. ($1.99)

                An IFTTT Hack: Shipment Tracking

                If you aren’t familiar with IFTTT (no pun intended), the website allows you to create your own online algorithms allowing different websites to connect with each other to perform novel tasks, allowing the “Internet to work for you”.

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                  One quick example would be “If I take an Instagram photo, automatically add the photo to a specific folder in Dropbox”. Get it now? Well, there’s an algorithms (or recipe as they are called) for package tracking that can be sent as a text message to your phone, perfect for the non-smartphone owners. Simply edit the XXXXs with your tracking number, and there you go! Here’s the link to the recipe.

                  Holiday shopping can be stressful, but shipping your items don’t have to be. Let us know in the comments which tip was most helpful for you and which tips you have for our other readers.

                  Featured photo credit:  Tug boat taking out the ship from the harbor via Shutterstock

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                  Last Updated on October 16, 2018

                  The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

                  The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

                  It’s well past midnight and you’ve got to get up in less than six hours. You toss and turn all night. Before you know it, another hour passes by and you start panicking.

                  If I don’t get to sleep in the next 30 minutes, I’m going to be exhausted tomorrow!”

                  One thing is for sure, you’re not alone. Over 70M+ Americans have stated that they don’t get the proper sleep they need at night.[1] So what could possibly be causing this insomnia epidemic?

                  Throughout my entrepreneurial journey of building my language learning company, I have experimented and researched dozens of best sleep practices. Some have flopped but a few have dramatically improved the quality of my life and work.

                  In this article, I’ll look into the reason why you’re sleep deprived and how to sleep through the night tonight.

                  Why you can’t sleep through the night

                  The first step to improving anything is getting to the bottom of the root problem. Different studies have shown the reasons why most people cannot sleep well at night.[2] Here are the main ones that the average person faces:

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                  Stress

                  If you’ve ever stayed up at night worrying about something, know that it’s a major sleep inhibitor. When you’re feeling stress, your mind and body becomes more activated, making it incredibly difficult to fall asleep. Even when you do manage to sleep, it won’t be deep enough to help you feel rested the next day.

                  Exposure to blue light before sleep time

                  We’re exposed to harmful blue light on a daily basis through the use of our digital screens. If you’ve never heard of blue light, it’s part of the visible light spectrum that suppresses melatonin, our sleep hormones. Other harmful effects include digital eye strains and macular cellular damage.

                  While daytime exposure to blue light is not very harmful, night time exposure tricks our brain into thinking it’s daytime. By keeping your brain alert and suppressing melatonin, your mind is unable to shut down and relax before bedtime.

                  Eating close to bedtime

                  Eating too late can actually be an issue for many people, especially those who are older than 40. The reason is, eating before laying down increases the chances of Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which stomach acid backflows into the esophagus.

                  Another reason not to eat too late is sleep quality. Even if you manage to sleep right after eating, it’s likely that you’ll wake up tired. Instead of letting your body rest during sleep, it has to digest the food that was entered before bedtime.

                  Rule of thumb: eat 3-4 hours before bedtime.

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                  Medical conditions

                  In some cases, it could be medical conditions that cause your sleep problems. If you can’t relate yourself to the above reasons or any of these common sleep problem causes, you should visit the doctor.

                  The vicious sleep cycle

                  The biggest danger to repeating the bad habits mentioned above is the negative cycle that it can take you through. A bad night’s sleep can affect not only your energy but your willpower and decision making skills.

                  Here’s an example of a bad sleep pattern:

                  You get a bad night’s sleep
                  –> You feel tired and stressful throughout the day.
                  –> You compensate it with unhealthy habits (for example junk food, skipping exercises, watching Netflix etc.)
                  –> You can’t sleep well (again) the next night.

                    You can imagine what could happen if this cycle repeats over a longer period of time.

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                    How to sleep better (throughout the night)

                    To help you break the vicious cycle and stop waking up in the middle of the night, I’ll explain to you a list of actionable steps to solve your trouble staying asleep.

                    1. Take control over the last 90 minutes of your night

                    What you do (or don’t do) before bedtime have significant impact on the quality of your sleep. Many times, it can be the difference between staying up until 4am and sleeping like a baby.

                    Here are a few suggestions:

                    • Go from light to dark – Darkness stimulates production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Turn off unused light around the house, and think about investing into warm light that you can use in the bedroom before bedtime.
                    • Avoid screens (or wear blue light blocking glasses) – Keep the bedroom a technology-free zone as the light from electronic devices can disturb your sleep. If you need to work, wear blue light blocking glasses (also known as computer glasses) throughout or before you sleep to prevent sleep disruption.
                    • Find an activity that helps you to wind down  This could be anything that calms you down, and reduces thinking (especially unnecessary stress). Fir example, listening to soothing/good feel music, taking a hot bath, reading or meditating.
                    • Keep any electronics you have on the other side of the room or outside the room – One of the most harmful things that can disrupt your sleep is the notifications you get from your smartphones. The simplest way to avoid this is to keep it away from you.
                    • Create a bedtime routine – A night routine is a couple of things you do prior to going to bed. By doing these things every night, you’ll have a more restful and high-quality sleep. Learn how to pick up a night routine here: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide to Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

                    2. Eat the right nutrients (and avoid the wrong ones)

                    What you eat (not just when we eat) plays a critical role in your sleep quality. If you’re ever in doubt of what to eat to improve your sleep, take the following into consideration:

                    • Kiwi – This green fruit may be the ultimate pre-bed snack. When volunteers ate two kiwis an hour before hitting the hay, they slept almost a full extra hour. Kiwis are full of vitamins C and E, serotonin and folate—all of which may help you snooze.
                    • Soy foods – Foods made with soy such as tofu, miso and edamame, are rich in isoflavones. These compounds increase the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that influences the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
                    • Fiber-rich foods – Eating more fiber could be key for better sleep. Eating fiber was associated with more restorative slow-wave sleep—the more you eat, the better you sleep—per a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Fiber prevents blood sugar surges that may lower melatonin. Get a fiber boost from beans, artichokes, bran cereal and quinoa.
                    • Salmon – Most fish, especially salmon, halibut and tuna boost vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin— a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness.

                    3. Adjust your sleep temperature

                    Once you’ve gone through the first 2 recommendations, the last step to experiment with is temperature. According to Sleep.org, the ideal temperature for sleep is 60-67 Farenheit. This may be cooler than what most people are used to, but keep in mind that our body temperature changes once we fall asleep.

                    Rule of thumb: sleeping in cooler temperature is better for sleep quality than warmer temperature.

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                    Find out how to maintain the optimal temperature to sleep better here: How to Sleep Faster with the Best Temperature

                    Sleep better form now on

                    Congrats on making it to the end of this guide on sleep. If you’re serious about taking the necessary steps in improving your sleep, remember to take it one step at a time.

                    I recommend trying just one of the steps mentioned such as taking a hot bath, blocking out blue light at night, or sleeping in cooler temperature. From there, see how it impacts your sleep quality and you can keep doing what works, and throw away what doesn’t.

                    As long as you follow these steps cautiously and diligently, I know you’ll see improved results in your sleep!

                    Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

                    Reference

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