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15 Enlightening Magazines You Should Read to be Inspired

15 Enlightening Magazines You Should Read to be Inspired

When it comes to inspiring, exciting creative resources, sometimes magazines aren’t the first thing that pops into your head. That being said, the digital age has allowed online and digital versions of magazines to flourish. From art and design, to travel and technology, digital, print and online magazines offer many new, inspiring and eye-opening perspectives on the world. The following 15 publications are some of the very best options to keep your interests fresh.

1. Wired Magazine

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    This magazine covers a wide range of technology-related subjects. It’s a more in-depth magazine, focusing mainly on home technology, robotics, consumer electronics, space exploration techniques, and general, timely science topics. Wired Magazine is available in print and digital publications, with some content available on the website as well.

    2. Discover Magazine

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      Discover covers a wider range of scientific topics, though is written in a way that the average reader can understand. This magazine covers several different topics including technology, space discoveries, environment, natural wonders, health and psychology. Several stories are featured on the Discover Magazine website; however, users can subscribe to both print and digital editions. Discover is an inspiring look at the many wonders of the world around us.

      3. Extreme Tech

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        Extreme Tech is an online magazine for those looking for a deeper appreciation of technology. The site covers computing, mobile devices, the Internet, gaming, electronics and “extreme tech.” Though this publication covers more complicated bits of technology, the extreme tech section includes some of the most inspiring new developments in our world.

        4. Art News

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          Art News may very well be the foremost art magazine in the Western world. Covering a wide range of topics including photography, dance, painting, sculpture and exhibitions, it is available in both print and digital editions. Including artists from all over Europe and North and South America, this informative, inspiring magazine has been published since 1902.

          5. Juxtapoz

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            Another inspiring art magazine, Juxtapoz follows art and artists from around the world, but focuses on more modern visual arts. Juxtapoz covers illustration, photography, design, graffiti, music and performance. In addition to beautiful print editions for both the United States and international markets, the website includes free video interviews.

            6. International Artist

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              Whereas other art magazines focus mainly on art pieces, International Artist focuses on those who create the art. Profiling new and established artists from around the world, this print publication will introduce you to many new outlooks.

              7. Aesthetica

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                Aesthetica is another magazine focusing on art; however, it chiefly focuses on film, music and performance, while still following topical visual arts movements. Based in the UK, Aesthetica offers print and digital subscriptions, as well as some stories on their website. The wide range of arts covered makes it a uplifting and inspiring read.

                8. Fuse Magazine

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                  This art magazine based in Canada mainly covers independent artists in visual arts, performance art, music and film. Focusing on a wealth of under-discovered talent, Fuse brings truly original works to light.

                  9. All About Space

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                    This incredibly informative magazine covers just what you think it would: All About Space examines both timely, pop-culture space stories and deep, complicated discoveries. It presents discoveries from around the world, and is based in the UK. An utterly amazing look at the universe surrounding us, this magazine will shake up any perspective.

                    10. adAstra

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                      An inspiring magazine from the National Space Society in the US, this magazine covers many interesting topics, but is somewhat more complicated than All About Space. AdAstra is only available in print, though some bonus videos are available on the website.

                      11. Smithsonian Magazine

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                        Smithsonian is another truly inspiring publication. Available online, this magazine focuses on groundbreaking discoveries in many different areas of science. Not only doesit cover in-depth, amazing discoveries, it does so in a way that the average reader can understand. This publication focuses on technology, and also includes many great perspectives on the environment and nature sciences.

                        12. Servo Magazine

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                          Servo Magazine is a truly incredible look at the exploding world of robotics. Available in print, it explores robotics in all different fields. This magazine does require some basic knowledge of computing and robotics, but examines some of the most groundbreaking movements today.

                          13. Budget Travel

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                            Budget Travel is an exciting magazine, even if you’re not on an above average income. Budget Travel promises to show you new and exciting places, but also ones you can actually contemplate visiting. This magazine includes a lot of media on its website, and also offers a print edition.

                            14. Afar

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                              Afar is a unique publication, focusing on travel. While other travel magazines focus on resorts and how to get to places, Afar delves into the culture and experience of being somewhere. Available in both print and digital editions this magazine promises unique perspectives on a host of different locations.

                              15. Future

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                                Future offers eye-opening coverage of new architecture and building designs. A breathtaking record of the most cutting-edge advances, it focuses on design, modular architecture, efficient architecture, and eco-friendly projects. This magazine is available in print and digital editions, but also features some stories on the website.

                                Featured photo credit: Melissa O’Donohue via flickr.com

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                                Last Updated on January 6, 2021

                                14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

                                14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

                                Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

                                In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

                                For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

                                For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

                                Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

                                Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

                                Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

                                How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

                                Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

                                1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

                                Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

                                For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

                                2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

                                Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

                                Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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                                Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

                                3. Create a System

                                Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

                                This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

                                You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

                                Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

                                Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

                                4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

                                We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

                                If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

                                Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

                                Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

                                5. Use a Ratings Scale

                                Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

                                Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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                                It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

                                6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

                                This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

                                You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

                                You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

                                7. Offer Feedback Forms

                                Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

                                First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

                                Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

                                You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

                                8. Track Cost Effectiveness

                                This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

                                Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

                                Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

                                9. Use Self-Evaluations

                                Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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                                Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

                                10. Monitor Time Management

                                This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

                                Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

                                  The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

                                  While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

                                  11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

                                  We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

                                  Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

                                  For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

                                  Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

                                  Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

                                  From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

                                  12. Utilize Peer Feedback

                                  This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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                                  Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

                                  Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

                                  It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

                                  13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

                                  When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

                                  Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

                                  Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

                                  14. Use an External Evaluator

                                  Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

                                  They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

                                  While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

                                  Final Thoughts

                                  These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

                                  The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

                                  The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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                                  Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

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