How (and Why) to Mitigate Distractions While Working From Home

Eliminating distractions while working from home — especially with kids running around belting Frozen II and housemates doing mid-day workouts — might not be entirely feasible. However, it is still possible to mitigate distractions. After all, they’re hurting you — and your business — more than you might realize. You might have heard the popular statistic that you need an average of 25 minutes to get back to your original task after a distraction.

But there’s more affecting your productivity than that. We looked through some of the research behind the psychology of distractions and found some interesting insights:

  • Distractions have a demonstrably negative effect on our ability to perform, even when the distractions had little significance.
  • People who consider themselves at multi-tasking may be worse at moving from task to task than others.
  • Even if you attempt to “move on” to another work-related task, you may find yourself distracted by the first task of your day.

With that in mind, let’s dig deeper into the studies and find some better strategies for managing distractions:

1. Too Much Information Has a Detrimental Impact on Performance

In one UK study, researchers had volunteers carry out problem-solving tasks in a quiet environment—then tested them while they were “bombarded with new emails and phone calls.” Even though the volunteers didn’t have to respond to any of these messages, simply being aware that they were taking place had a significant impact on their ability to concentrate.

The result was that performance suffered. The average IQ dropped by about 10 points.

The conclusion is that not only are interruptions distracting, but if you allow distractions to weigh on your mind in even the slightest way, they can have a detrimental impact on performance. Given that volunteers didn’t have to respond to any email or phone call and still found them distracting, we can only imagine the impact distractions have on us when the emails and phone calls do need responses.

So try having an open dialogue with those you live with and creating a chart that hangs outside of your workspace where it will be seen that alerts housemates of your current work status. It may include options such as “available,” “busy,” “in a meeting” or “do not disturb unless facing a MAJOR emergency”.

2. Switching Between Tasks Takes Up More Energy Than You Think

A 2009 study at the University of Minnesota found the existence of what they dubbed “attention residue.” They defined it as the delay that occurs when someone sets aside one task and takes up another.

It turns out that the mental task of switching gears takes more energy and attention than we might have thought. And that led to some interesting conclusions, including the “surprising result that heavy media multitaskers performed worse on a test of task-switching ability.”

That’s right: even experienced multitaskers aren’t as good at switching between tasks as they might have thought. In fact, they may even be worse than the population at large.

This should lead most people to reconsider their approach to multitasking and asking the following questions:

  • Am I really a good multitasker, or do I just multitask often?
  • How long does it take me to “switch gears,” and do I often put off work because of the energy required to start a new task?
  • Where are some areas in which I might combine activities to minimize “switching gears” and improving my overall concentration?

These questions will help you identify some of the habits that may be leading you to lose concentration as you move from task to task. So whether you claim to be a good multitasker or not, try scheduling out your day in the early morning to help limit the amount of times you have to switch tasks and accommodate for the needs of those you live with.

3. The First Problem You Focus On Tends to Get Most of Your Brain Power

They call it “cognitive fixation.” If you like to multi-task, you may find that the first activity during your day is the one that retains most of your attention later on, even while you’re attempting to give 100% of your attention to something new.

This is evidence in favor of the strategy of attacking your most important tasks first. If you were to work on a big work project in the morning and only take on lighter menial tasks later in the day, part of your mind will continue to work on that “big” work project that you started off with. This can work to your benefit, so long as you’re aware of the effect and schedule your day accordingly.

4. Distractions are Disproportionately Affecting the Young

Millennials and Gen Zers—those most affected by the digital lifestyle—are also the groups that report the highest rates of distraction, with a rate of 74% identifying themselves as frequently distracted. This suggests something other studies have observed; the multi-tasking demands of the digital lifestyle have a detrimental effect on our ability to concentrate, which means that strategies for reducing social media usage may have long-term benefits for personal productivity and concentration.

One other reasons many of us may be suffering from distraction issues: using multiple devices at the same time can negatively affect self-control. So try to limit the number of devices you have within your reach while working from home. Allot yourself windows of time during the day — if needed — to check on certain devices.

5. Attention is a “Limited Resource”

Not only is our attention limited by the time we have in a day, but our energy is subject to the demands of being a living, breathing being. We simply don’t have as much energy to devote to willpower and attention as we’d like to have.

One study, as reported by Psychology Today, found that distractions eat into about 2 hours of our daily work lives. Given that our attention is a limited resource, the strategy of working on the most important task of the day as early as possible—while we still have the concentration to do it—may seem most effective.

One Reason to Use Distractions to Your Benefit

This post paints a very dire picture of the impact of distractions on our life. But if you can manage them effectively, you can sometimes use them to your benefit as well.

One study at Carnegie Mellon found that the regions of the brain that handle your decision-making process will still be in use even when you’re consciously focusing on something else. That means that sometimes, actively seeking distraction when you’re stuck on a problem can be a great way for you to relax, loosen up, and allow a solution to suddenly pop into your mind while you’re thinking about something else.

Otherwise, if you want to be productive while working from home, try to keep the distractions at a minimum (as much as possible), schedule out your day, and focus on your most important task of the day as soon as possible. Your calendar will thank you.

from The Grasshopper Blog – Insights for Entrepreneurs Distractions While Working From Home/

The Growth of Speech Recognition Technology

ken hitchner nj speech recognition

Speech recognition technology has become very important for a number of different reasons. You might use speech recognition technology every single day to do things around the house. Whether you’re asking your smartphone a question or if you’re speaking to your AI to change the temperature of your room, you can see why this tech is seen as something that is important. The growth of speech recognition technology has been impressive and it is likely that it will continue to become a bigger part of human’s lives in the future. 

Speech to Text

Speech to text is one of the most basic forms of speech recognition technology. You can speak to your phone and it will type out what you’re trying to say in your message. The technology will continue to become more sophisticated over time. 

Creating Captions Automatically

Being able to create captions automatically is a great use of speech recognition technology. This helps to translate content that is being produced in a foreign country so that it can be understood by fans in America. It’s also very useful for creating captions so that hearing-impaired individuals can enjoy the content. 

Authenticating Using a Voice Biometric System

Another interesting use for speech recognition is in the security sector. You can use your voice as a type of voice biometric security system key. Currently, this technology isn’t perfect, but it’s something that is being explored. 

Speech Recognition Being Used for Analytics

Speech recognition is also being used for analytical purposes. For example, customer service is seen as a very important area for companies to focus on. Companies can use speech recognition technology to analyze calls between customers and customer service representatives. It allows them to glean data from the calls so that they can improve their services. 

What the Future Has in Store

In the future, speech recognition technology will likely be paired with machine learning AI. Currently, speech recognition technology is limited to being able to act on your instructions only. Eventually, it might be able to allow for true communication between humans and thinking machines. 

The post The Growth of Speech Recognition Technology first appeared on Ken Hitchner NJ | Technology.

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How to Plan Marketing Objectives

ken hitchner nj marketing initiatives

You need to be able to understand your marketing objectives so that you can find success throughout a marketing campaign. Your marketing objectives are going to be the smaller goals that you’re trying to accomplish on the way to meeting your large goal at the finish line. If you take the time to plan your marketing objectives properly, then you’re going to put yourself in a much better position. Take a look at how to plan out your marketing objectives below. 

Understand How to Measure Your Success 

Measuring your success is important, and you need to know how to do it. Are you going to be measuring your success by looking at the increase in your sales data? You can also measure the success of a marketing campaign using website traffic, KPIs and metrics. Consider how you’re measuring your success before you go further. 

Ensure That You Have Specific Goals

The goals that you set for your marketing campaign need to be specific. Setting vague goals and milestones won’t really be helpful. Instead of setting a goal to gain more customers, it would be better to set a goal to gain fifty new customers. Put an actual number on your marketing objectives so that you have something to shoot for. 

Set Obtainable Objectives

There is nothing wrong with dreaming big, but you don’t want to shoot for the moon all the time. Set attainable marketing objectives that you can reasonably accomplish. This will allow you to make progress toward your big goal while maintaining a clear vision. Setting goals that are unrealistic will only discourage you and your marketing team when you don’t find that level of success. 

Objectives Need to Be Relevant

Your objectives that you’re setting should also be relevant to your company and any shareholders or business owners that are involved. Setting arbitrary goals won’t really help you to gain any new ground as a business. Goals such as bringing in a certain amount of new customers or reaching certain sales plateaus make sense. Even setting social media objectives might be very relevant to your overall marketing success. 

Make Sure the Timing Is Right

Making sure that the timing is right for your marketing campaign is important, too. You want to set objectives that make sense for your company, and you need to consider the timing. If your current marketing budget won’t allow you to meet specific goals, then you might need to put things off until you can reasonably launch a more aggressive campaign. Consider your current position, and make sure that you are capable of setting these marketing objectives before moving forward. 

The post How to Plan Marketing Objectives first appeared on Ken Hitchner NJ | Business.

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The Difference Between Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence

machine learning and ai ken hitchner nj

There has been a lot of talk about artificial intelligence lately due to how prevalent certain forms of it have become. AI is increasing in popularity and many people will seek to use it in different ways moving forward. You might have also heard about machine learning and many people assume that this is the same as AI. What is the difference between machine learning and artificial intelligence? 

What Is an AI?

Artificial intelligence is something like a machine that is capable of displaying intelligent behaviors. It would be more accurate to say that AI is a machine that can do certain tasks in an intelligent way. Most artificial intelligence is programmed to adapt to different situations so that they can give users the best possible outcome. There are several types of artificial intelligence and they’re used to help analyze data, as well as for many other purposes. 

What Is Machine Learning?

Machine learning is actually something that you should consider a branch of AI. The concept of machine learning is about creating machines that can analyze data and then learn things from the data. They’re supposed to be able to learn and adapt without human supervision. This makes machine learning AI more sophisticated than most AI types that you see in use today. 

How Machine Learning Came to Be

Machine learning came to be naturally as an offshoot of the normal AI that people have been developing. There are two basic types of AI. There is the applied AI that handles specific tasks such as automated driving or analyzing things such as stock trading. Then there are generalized AI that is designed to be capable of performing many different types of tasks. 

A machine learning AI has the potential to be able to do many things. Basically, this type of AI is taught to think and it becomes capable of doing much more than a simple applied AI. This type of AI is not common at the moment, but it is expected that machine learning AI will be very prevalent in the future. A machine learning AI might be able to offer automated customer service that works fantastically and there are many other potential uses for this AI as well. 

from Ken Hitchner NJ | Technology

What Is Product Marketing?

ken hitchner nj product marketing

If you aren’t familiar with the term “product marketing,” it’s going to be important to learn a bit more about it. Product marketing is basically about bringing a product to market and promoting it properly. For the most part, you’re going to start marketing a product once it has already been developed and is ready to go to market. It’s important to be able to get the information about this product out there so that you can gauge consumer interest and get new people to want to buy this product. 

It’s About Informing the Customers

First and foremost, product marketing is about informing the consumers about the product that you’re trying to sell. This type of marketing is showcasing what the product has to offer so that consumers can get excited about it. If people don’t know about a product, then they aren’t going to go out to purchase it, after all. Marketing is an important part of the process when you’re trying to get a return on your investment. 

Packaging and Presentation 

Packaging and presentation fall under the umbrella of product marketing as well. The way that the product looks and the overall design of the packaging play a role in everything. The product packaging and the messaging needs to line up properly with the market demands. It’s going to be up to your marketing team to figure out how to make your product appealing to consumers. 

Defining Your Target Market Is Crucial

When you’re trying to market a product, it’s going to be crucial to define your target market. You need to know who you’re trying to sell this product to. If you don’t have a target market in mind, then you’re never going to be able to tailor the marketing to appeal to a specific demographic. Understanding the potential consumers that will want a product is imperative. 

Pricing Plays a Role in Product Marketing Too

Pricing plays a big role in product marketing, too. If your product is very expensive, then it’s going to have to be marketed in a specific way to appeal to people who can afford to purchase it. A product that is very affordable might be able to be positioned in different ways, and you can approach the marketing strategy differently. There will always be many factors to consider when marketing a new product, but pricing is certainly among the most important factors. 

from Ken Hitchner NJ | Business

SEM vs SEO vs PPC: What’s the Right Balance for Your Business?

SEM. SEO. PPC. What’s the best mix for your business?

The question is more complicated than it might first appear. After all, who wouldn’t want to optimize their SEM, SEO, and PPC efforts? But limited budgets, limited capabilities, and limited expertise can be obstacles—particularly if you’re stronger in one area than another. Let’s discuss what these phrases mean and how you can find the right mix for your own small business:

SEM vs. SEO vs. PPC: What’s the Difference?

If you’ve had enough acronyms thrown at you in your time in business to fill a bowl of alphabet soup, you can be forgiven if you sometimes miss the distinctions in these digital marketing terms. But let’s separate SEM, SEO, and PPC from each other and get really clear about what they are—and what you should expect from them.

SEM, or search engine marketing, is an umbrella term. It’s there for marketing efforts (both paid and organic) that are directed at boosting traffic from search engines. However, keep in mind that SEM, as an umbrella term, may sometimes be used to refer to PPC marketing in some contexts, which helps explain some of the confusion.

SEO, or search engine optimization, is a marketing strategy aimed at organic search. The concern here is how to improve your natural position in popular search engines without paying anything additional to said search engines. Yes, you can buy a position with PPC, but with SEO, you’re concerned about the quality of the links pointing to you, the quality of your content, and the relevance of your topics to the search queries that users are typing into Google. The goal is to create high-quality content that will continue to drive your SEO strategy in the future.

PPC, or pay per click advertising, is aimed exclusively at paid ads in search engines. In PPC advertising, you can bid on certain keywords to buy your traffic. But it’s not always as simple as that. PPC often requires that you build high-converting advertisements to ensure that the search engines aren’t just putting anyone with money at the top of the listings; they still want to serve their users.

What is SEO?

Let’s dive into greater detail on SEO. Search engine optimization is the art of designing your page and your content for targeted placement in organic search results—no paid advertising required. Although the search engine algorithms are highly sophisticated, SEO remains a top priority for many business owners; 61% of marketers list improving SEO and rankings as their top goal.

Today’s top search engines include Google, Bing, and Yahoo, with many of the content marketing and internet marketing campaigns aiming at Google and Bing. You’ll find that the majority of your SEO efforts will tend to focus on Google, thanks to its dominant place in the market.

The beauty of SEO is that any business can compete for organic listings; you just have to have the most relevant, valuable information available for any search query. Sound difficult? You don’t have to start creating the world’s greatest blog posts just yet. Search Engine Land has a guide for small businesses so you can begin optimizing your site as soon as possible. From on-page SEO to technical SEO, there are always small improvements you can make to give your site a leg up on the competition.

Here are some of the other terms you’ll want to be familiar with in SEO:

  • SERPs: Search engine results page.
  • Backlinks: The links pointing to your site, used by search engines to determine your page’s popularity and relevance.
  • Crawlers: Automated bots that search engines use to scan your site and log the latest information, which they can then use in their search results. Crawlers might dig through your meta descriptions, title tags, and on-site SEO to get a gauge of what your site is and what your business has to offer.
  • Technical SEO: search engine optimization focused on the technical aspects of your website, not necessarily popularity and relevance.
  • Link building: The practice of promoting your site to as many potential linking avenues as possible in an effort to drive up your relevance. These days, legitimate link building practices tend to be those that are mostly organic, such as guest posting on popular blogs.

What is PPC?

PPC has potential benefits for small businesses in that it offers an opportunity to buy your way to traffic if you have the budget. Small businesses that need growth now will find that PPC generates the quickest results when it comes to getting on the first page, while content and SEO tend to require focus on the long-term future.

To optimize your PPC, you’ll want to make keyword research a hallmark of the way you market. Tools like the SEM Rush PPC tool will help you identify those keywords that are most relevant to your business, all while driving a substantial amount of traffic. Google Adwords, the most popular PPC platform, also has plenty of tools for you to use as you research. But don’t forget that Bing also has keyword tools you can use to gauge interest in keywords.

With PPC, your goal is simple: combine relevance and traffic. Relevance is how well you can answer the “question behind the query.” In other words, relevance is how well your website answers what customers are really thinking. Someone typing in “vacations,” for example, may be looking to book a travel agency. But your travel agency business won’t do well by serving those who were only curious about vacation statistics.

With search ads, your goal should be to get as much relevance as possible, because you’re going to need to optimize your click-through rates.

When comparing SEO vs SEM and the strategies listed above, you’ll find PPC can produce the most immediate returns. After the proper keyword research, a PPC campaign can quickly give you access to a large amount of traffic that is highly targeted to your keyword and your business—that is, if you’ve put in the time to ensure that your business lines up with the search queries you’re looking for.

How to Strike a Balance Between PPC and SEO

There’s no single answer for whether search marketing, SEO or PPC is best for you right now. But if you start with competition research, you should notice opportunities for advancement—whether that comes in specific keywords, sponsored ads, brand awareness, or even simply building a better landing page. Look at your budget and understand where PPC and SEO most help businesses—and make your investments accordingly.

from The Grasshopper Blog – Insights for Entrepreneurs the Right Balance between SEM SEO and PPC/

How to Prepare for 5G Technology

ken hitchner nj 5g

There is a good chance that you have heard about 5G technology already. Many people have been touting 5G as the next big thing in tech for a long time. It is coming down the pipeline soon and it’s going to be smart to prepare for it as best as you can. Keep reading to examine how you should be preparing for 5G technology. 

Fit the Investment Into Your Budget

Fitting the investment in 5G into your budget is going to be crucial. Once 5G finally arrives in America, you’re going to want to start making use of it right away. The 5G hardware is going to cost quite a bit more than the 4G that you’re used to. You’re going to want to make sure that all of your equipment is ready for 5G so that you can hit the ground running. 

Automation and AI

Automation and AI are going to become an even bigger deal once 5G finally arrives. 5G is going to significantly lower latency and businesses are going to be able to use mobile in different ways than they’re used to. You’ll want to consider how automating certain processes could benefit your business. It’s also smart to think about where AI could help you to improve your overall efficiency. 

Make Sure That You Have Good Data Analytics Tools

You’re really going to need the most sophisticated data analytics tools possible. Data is going to grow exponentially once 5G hits the market. You need to make sure that you’re ready to make the most of this data once everything comes to fruition. Being caught unprepared for the wave of data could see you being left in the dust by your competitors. 

Educate Your Employees About 5G

Taking the time to educate your employees on what 5G means for your company is smart, too. You should examine 5G from every different angle and come up with a report for how it will likely impact your business model. Sharing this with employees and having discussions with them will be a good idea. It’s also smart to take extra time to inform management or leaders of how to proceed with 5G in mind.

from Ken Hitchner NJ | Technology

Tips for Creating a Successful PR Plan

ken hitchner nj pr plan

Developing a solid PR plan is going to help your business to succeed. Some businesses make the mistake of not taking PR seriously enough. It’s such a crucial part of your success, and you should take the time to develop a plan that will work for you. Take a look at the following tips that can help you to come up with the best possible PR plan. 

Write Your Goals Down

Writing your goals down is going to be a smart way to start the PR planning process. What are your overall goals for your PR plan? Are you looking to gain more customers or do you simply want people to have a better opinion of your business? Understanding your goals is crucial when you’re trying to craft a successful PR plan.

Craft Your Message

Crafting your message is going to be the next big step. You want to make sure that your message has the right tone and that it conveys everything that you want to tell the consumer. This is going to involve considering your pitches, and it also has to do with the language that you’re using moving forward. Everything that you do should be thought out, and you need to make sure that you’re remaining consistent across everything that you do as a business. 

Learn from Past Mistakes

Learning from past mistakes will allow you to make progress as a company. You might have run into some pitfalls in the past that gave you negative PR. These tough times can help to inform your decisions for the future. Examine what went wrong while acknowledging what went right so that you can have better results this time. 

Create a Map for Your Plans

Now, it’s time to create a map for your plans. This means that you’re going to come up with an entire plan and map out how you’re going to implement it. Plan things out so that you can start putting your new PR plan in place. If you thought things through properly, then you should be able to have greater PR success than ever before. 

from Ken Hitchner NJ | Business

The Benefits of Blockchain Technology

ken hitchner nj blockchain

Blockchain technology continues to evolve and many businesses have invested a lot of money into making sure that it succeeds. Bitcoin was the first decentralized electronic money system to gain traction, but today there are many others. People like the idea of having a secure place where they can exchange currency. If you’re curious about blockchain technology, then you should take the time to read about some of the benefits that are associated with it that are listed below. 

Better Transparency

One of the biggest reasons why people like making use of blockchain technology is that it has better transparency. The transaction ledger is going to be open for the public to see and this means that people are going to be able to be held accountable. This type of transparency is not seen elsewhere and it makes it easy to see why some people really prefer using blockchain technology. 

Improved Efficiency

The improved efficiency of blockchain technology is a real benefit as well. Blockchain technology allows you to eliminate the middleman so that you can enjoy quicker transactions. It has the potential to make transferring currency a much more streamlined process. Many people like the idea of using this technology to make real estate payments simpler than ever. 

Great Security

When you’re using blockchain technology, it’s going to be significantly more secure than anything else that you might be used to. This is an encrypted online ledger that is safe from hacking. Anyone who wants to be able to perform a transaction in the safest fashion possible will enjoy using blockchain. The decentralized nature allows you to go through with a transaction while knowing that everything will be fine even if you don’t know the party that you’re doing business with. 

You Can Trace Everything

Being able to trace everything also has the potential to be hugely beneficial. There will always be a trail that can lead you to where the goods are coming from when things are traded using blockchain. It helps to prevent fraud and it drastically improves security. This is going to be important for industries such as the art industry when they need to verify the authenticity of a piece. 

from Ken Hitchner NJ | Technology

How Has Public Relations Evolved?

ken hitchner nj public relations header

Public relations have been an important part of business for a very long time. You probably have a good understanding of what PR can do for your business already. Has public relations evolved much in recent years, or are things still similar to how they have always been? Read on to examine this topic and to learn more about how imperative good PR is to your business success. 

PR Has Changed and Grown

PR has certainly changed and grown in the last several decades. One large change to the way that PR is perceived is the Internet. The advent of the Internet and its integration into culture has completely changed the way that businesses have to think about PR. Technological changes have opened new doors, and they have altered PR in several key ways. 

How the Internet Changed the Game

The Internet completely changed the PR game by making it possible to speak directly to the public. In the past, PR had to be strategically planned so that certain messages could reach the public. Getting your message out there wasn’t always as easy as it is today. In modern times, companies can release statements directly to the public using their own websites and social media platforms. 

It’s also important to understand that the Internet has given the public a strong voice. People are capable of letting their opinions be heard now, and it’s easy for bad news to spread very fast. This has changed the way that PR firms operate. PR firms in the past used to spin stories to present them in the fashion that was most convenient, but now they have to monitor stories while doing damage control. 

The possibility of a negative story going viral is always there. If something bad happens somewhere in the world, then everyone is going to know about it in a short amount of time. PR firms have to work diligently to monitor social media sites to make sure that everything is going smoothly. It isn’t as easy to shape the message as it used to be, and the public has much more power. 

from Ken Hitchner NJ | Business

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