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8 Creative Ways To Express Gratitude

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Creative ways to express gratitude

Thank you to Grammarly for this awesome article…

Expressing gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, cherish good experiences, and think more deeply about what they have rather than what they lack. If someone in your life selflessly does something for you and you want to express gratitude, common expressions of thanks might not seem like enough. If the person has improved your life in a powerful way, it’s important to find an approach to gratitude that communicates your utmost appreciation with sincerity.Write with gratitudeGrammarly helps your writing shineWRITE WITH GRAMMARLY

Whether to your friend, colleague, neighbor, or family member, here are several thoughtful ways to express gratitude to those who should hear it.

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1 Show a little enthusiasm

There’s nothing wrong with a little hyperbole. If you want to communicate how much your friend or relative made an impact, expressing gratitude with extra enthusiasm can emphasize the extent of your thanks. Phrases like “You made my day!” or “You saved my life!” are more potent than simply saying thank you. 

2 Vary your vocabulary 

When thanking someone for several things, you want to be sure to vary the words you use to show your appreciation. Combining a few of the most common “thank you” phrases, such as “Thanks a million. I appreciate you so much. You’re the best.” packs a much more powerful punch than only one. Plus, varying your expressions will allow you to express your thanks repeatedly while still sounding natural.

3 Get specific 

What makes you particularly thankful for your sister, or your professor, or your best friend? It’s really easy to get specific when you are expressing gratitude—all you have to do is add “for” to the end of your initial phrase. For example:

  • Thank you for . . . 
  • I appreciate you for . . .
  • I am grateful to you for . . .

Naming what you’re really grateful for is a powerful way to communicate to your friend, family member, or colleague what it is about them that is so special to you.

4 Make it public

If you usually express gratitude by texting or calling, why not change up your usual format and take the message public? There are many formats for expressing gratitude that will make your words more of a proclamation. Whether you choose to shout out a colleague in a company-wide channel, spotlight your project partner during a meeting, or to show appreciation to a friend through a post on your Instagram story, there are many ways to go above and beyond a simple direct message. 

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5 Share a list of your favorite things about them 

What are the defining characteristics of your most supportive friends? Are they generous? Honest? Non-judgmental? Perhaps they are great listeners or very encouraging. Whichever traits they exhibit that make you appreciate them most, tell them! Writing a list of the traits you admire most about them in an email or sharing them in a text message acknowledges their support in a way that feels personal. 

6 Write them a handwritten letter

In today’s world of digital-first communication, a handwritten note is a real gift. Writing on paper feels more heartfelt than an email or text—perhaps because it is physical and can be displayed or stored forever. People know that taking the time to sit down and actually write a note of thanks is quite meaningful, and they will value your expression of gratitude even more for this reason.

7 Give them extra encouragement

While encouragement is usually associated with helping someone believe in themselves or grow their confidence, it can also take the form of affirmation. After your neighbor has surprised you by trimming the bush that separates your yards, tell them what a great job they did. Encouragement can also include phrases like “Way to go!” or “Awesome work!” Another way to show encouragement? Tell them that they encourage you! 

8 Get deep

Occasionally, words might not seem like enough to convey the extent of your thanks. This is when it’s crucial to choose an expression that shows a deeper appreciation for the person and their actions. Be sure to only use these deep, emotional statements when truly merited so the person doesn’t question your sincerity. With an intonation that’s thoughtful and deliberate, you can say:

  • I cannot thank you enough.
  • Words cannot express how much you mean to me.
  • I am more grateful to you than you’ll ever know.
  • I’m eternally grateful.
  • You have my deepest thanks.
  • I’ll never forget your support and kindness.

Showing gratitude is one of the simplest, yet most powerful things we can do for one another. To make sure the gratitude you’re expressing in return is worthy of the deed, use any of these creative ways to show you’re truly thankful and be sure your message is deeply felt.

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How Grammarly Helps You Learn to Write for Post-Grad Life

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If college graduation is on the horizon, you’re probably looking toward the future with a mix of excitement and nervousness. The good news is all your hard work in the college has set you up to hit the ground running at the start of your new career. No matter the industry you’re heading into, the skills you’ve been developing will serve you well—research, critical thinking, time management, and yes, writing. 

However, you’re likely to find that writing in the “real world” is quite different from writing in college. From shifting your tone from academically formal to professionally personable to writing concise emails vs. ten-page papers, your communication needs are bound to change. Grammarly can help!

Decor Steals

Keep it readable

It’s common for academic papers to feature long, complicated sentences. After all, the audience is likely to be well versed in the material and familiar with complexity. In most professional communication, however, simplicity and ease of understanding take priority. Grammarly will flag sentences that are hard to understand because of their complexity and help you simplify them to make your point clear.

Keep it clean

It’s probably no surprise that typos, misspellings, and grammatical mistakes can make you look careless when they show up in your work. That’s true in academia as well as life after college. You can use Grammarly on anything from emails to Microsoft Word documents to Google Docs to make sure your work is always polished.

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Watch your tone

Learning to build relationships through written communication is a crucial skill in any industry. The tone you use in emails and chat messages is a huge part of any relationship. Should you sound formal and buttoned up? Casual and friendly? How do you write an email expressing concern without sounding angry or rude? Not to worry, Grammarly’s built-in tone detector and in-depth tone suggestions will have your back and ensure you communicate the way you intend.

Sharpen your skills

Most managers expect their employees to learn new skills over time and improve existing ones. In fact, learning and growing is an essential part of staying satisfied in your job! With Grammarly, there are lots of ways to expand your writing skills. Every writing suggestion is accompanied by a detailed explanation to reinforce your learning. Plus, you’ll receive a personalized weekly report (via the Weekly Insights emails you receive once you sign up for a Grammarly account) that shows where your writing is strong and where you can make it stronger.

Being able to write cleanly, clearly, and efficiently is a huge asset in any job. Writing is part of the day-to-day work in any industry, whether you’re working on articles, technical documents, or just a lot of email. No matter where you end up after college, Grammarly is here to help you shift from academic writing into the style that your customers, colleagues, and managers expect.

4 Essential Types of Writing Styles

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4 Essential Types of Writing Styles

Thank you, Grammarly for this informational article on writing styles…

Seasoned writers each have their own distinct methods and approaches that set their writing apart from others. An author’s writing style is the culmination of all the unique techniques, habits, and choices they make. 

Because it’s so abstract and fluid, writing style can be difficult to pin down—even for the writers themselves! Evaluating the way famous authors write is hard enough, but what if you want to develop or enhance your own writing style? 

This guide explains the fundamentals to help you understand. We’ll cover the different elements of writing styles, compare the writing styles of famous authors, and even give some tips on how to improve your own writing style. 

First, let’s get a definitive answer to the essential question:

Art of Tea

What is writing style?

Have you ever been in a group chat where you knew who was writing without seeing their name? Chances are, you were so familiar with that person’s writing style that you recognized it right away. 

The writing choices an author makes tend to follow patterns. When a writer finds a technique or habit they like, they stick with it, often throughout their entire career. Put all those writing choices together, and the writing takes on a unique “voice” that “sounds” different from other writing. 

However, just because a writer uses one writing style doesn’t mean they’re tied to it forever. Writers are free to change up their style as needed, even within the same work, just by altering their techniques and making different choices. Some sections might call for a serious style, while just a few paragraphs later a playful one is needed.

We all change up our communication styles depending on our needs. The language and tone you use with friends is different than the language you use with teachers or coworkers. Writing is no different. 

While it’s difficult to define writing style, don’t make the mistake of conflating it with the types of writing. For example, narrative writing is a type of writing, but you can do it in any number of styles: playful, somber, clinical, casual, etc. The same can be said for expository, persuasive, and descriptive writing

The components of writing style

In a sense, all writing choices are equal, but they evoke different responses in the reader. If the author wants to make the reader laugh, they’ll make different writing choices than an author who wants to scare their reader, or teach their reader, or persuade their reader. 

While all the minutiae of writing choices ultimately affect the final style, it helps to break them down into three main categories: word choice, structure, and punctuation. 

Word choice

Words each carry their own special emotional connotations and contextual associations, so writers must choose the words that best match their desired outcome. To put it another way, if a writer wants to be formal, they’ll choose words that sound formal. 

This is true even when words technically have the same meanings. Consider the difference between these three phrases: 

  1. getting let go
  2. getting fired
  3. getting canned

Each refers to the same thing—the termination of employment—but they each have their own special connotations. “Getting let go” is often a euphemism for termination, used to politely protect someone’s feelings; “getting fired” is the standard, but would come across as insensitive in a formal environment; and “getting canned” is more colloquial, best used in a joking or casual setting. 

Writers are free to use any words they want but should consider the connotations if they’re aiming for a particular style. 

Structure (sentence and paragraph)

Just like words can have the same meaning with different connotations, so too can individual sentences and paragraphs. By rearranging their structure, an author can change how the sentence is interpreted, sometimes drastically. 

Hippopotamuses kill more humans than sharks do. 

Sharks kill fewer humans than hippopotamuses do. 

Both sentences are saying the same thing, but have slightly different connotations. The first is more factual and straightforward, but the second is more dramatic, saving the intended surprise until the end. 

Structure also accounts for the lengths of sentences. Some writers, such as Ernest Hemingway, are known for their quick, to-the-point sentences, which create a fast-paced and urgent writing style. Other writers, namely Charles Dickens, favor long, descriptive sentences, which create a vivid and immersive writing style. 

The same principles that apply to sentence structure can also apply to paragraph structure. Some authors have paragraphs that last more than a page, while others never write paragraphs longer than four sentences. Both are equally viable, but the choice should align with one’s writing style. 

Punctuation 

Have you noticed that some writers never use semicolons while others can’t stop? The choice of punctuation affects how sentences are read, so it has a direct impact on writing style. 

More than anything, punctuation affects pacing. Commas, periods, colons, and other punctuation marks all denote pauses in text, similar to a rest in music. Excessive punctuation tends to draw out the writing and slow it down—a good technique for building suspense or encouraging reflection. 

Writers can use punctuation any way they’d like. More often than not, writers follow punctuation rules. Sometimes they break them for stylistic reasons, for example writing one continuous run-on sentence across pages to represent a stream of consciousness. 

Examples of writing styles from famous authors

Let’s look at some excerpts and quotes from famous authors to illustrate writing style in action. So you can see the difference style makes, all of our examples are about the same topic: the common house cat. 

Mark Twain

“Of all God’s creatures, there is only one that cannot be made slave of the leash. That one is the cat. If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve the man, but it would deteriorate the cat.”

The style Twain uses here is very respectful, using absolutes (“Of all God’s creatures”) and comparisons to show admiration, along with poetic phrases to engage the reader like “slave of the leash.”

T.S. Eliot

“I am glad you have a Cat, but I do not believe it is so remarkable a cat as My Cat.”

Eliot plays with grammar style to capitalize the words “Cat” and “My” to subtly show reverence. 

William S. Burroughs

“Only thing can resolve conflict is love, like I felt for Fletch and Ruski, Spooner, and Calico. Pure love. What I feel for my cats present and past. Love? What is it? Most natural painkiller what there is. LOVE.”

While Eliot “plays” with grammar, Burroughs flat-out abandons it for incomplete sentences, writing in all caps, and inconsistent commas. The erratic writing style, however, supports the passion and emotional message he’s trying to communicate. 

Charles Bukowski

“when I am feeling

low

all I have to do is

watch my cats

and my

courage

returns.

I study these

creatures.

they are my

teachers.”

Poetry offers more leeway for breaking grammar rules, so poets enjoy extra freedom to develop their writing styles. Bukowski speaks plainly with no metaphors or hidden meanings, so when he says directly “they are my teachers,” it carries more impact because we know he’s telling the truth. 

3 ways to develop your own writing style

1 Read more

The more writing styles you expose yourself to, the more options you have to emulate in your writing. Reading a diverse range of styles, especially outside of what you’re used to, can teach you new techniques and literary devices—but you won’t discover them unless you look. 

2 Play to your strengths

Do you have an excellent vocabulary? It’ll be easier for you to find the perfect word for every situation. Do you have a talent for realistic descriptions? Give yourself space to write longer, more detailed sentences. Your writing style should reflect your particular skills as a writer, so use it to accent your best features. 

3 Do what comes naturally 

What type of writer are you? Are you the Meticulous Plotter, or maybe an Escape Artist? Let your writing style develop on its own based on what comes naturally to you. You’ll find yourself drawn to certain techniques or words over others because they fit your personality. That’s really all writing style is: the writer’s personality shining through. 

This article was originally written in 2019 by Daniel Potter. It’s been updated to include new information.

Writing Tips for Every Stage of College

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Writing Tips for Every Stage of College

Thank you to Grammarly for supplying this article for new college students… This is a great article to read and follow if you are entering college.

As a college student, you have some exciting challenges ahead of you. Whether you’re in your first or last year, and regardless of your area of study, you’re undoubtedly writing a ton. From papers to lab reports to short-form written assignments to even emails to your professors, you’re communicating constantly—and you’re expected to write at a certain caliber. In fact, your grades depend on it. But don’t worry—you’ve got this. We’ve pulled together some hints and tips to help you get a handle on what to to expect and how to navigate college-level writing demands at every stage of your college career.

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First year

Take the time to polish your work

In high school, your teachers may have spent time commenting on your writing itself (grammar, spelling, etc.) in addition to the substance of what you were writing about. College instructors tend to spend less time doing that. They want to focus on your ideas and the information you present to support them. Generally, they’ll expect to see strong writing. Grammarly can help polish issues with grammar and punctuation, and it can also help you rewrite unclear sentences, identify the passive voice, and strengthen your word choice. With that built-in help from Grammarly, you can focus on the substance of your writing, and your professors won’t be distracted by mistakes or confusing sentences. 

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Keep track of your sources

Writing your first college research paper can feel intimidating. One of the best ways to set yourself up for success is to keep careful notes about the sources you use when writing your paper. Including ideas and information from other sources in your paper is fine—that’s the whole point of a research paper! The key is to credit them properly. 

Grammarly’s built-in plagiarism checker can compare your paper to billions of online sources to help flag passages that may need citations. But remember, even if you’re paraphrasing a source, you’ll still need to credit it. That’s where your notes come in!

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Planning your work

Managing your workload in college may feel a bit different. Instead of daily homework assignments, each class may require just one or two long and in-depth papers over the course of the semester. Usually, you’ll receive a syllabus for each class at the beginning of the semester, which will tell you what kind of assignments to expect and when they’ll be due. Spend a few minutes blocking out time in your calendar to work on them, so you don’t end up pulling a series of stressful all-nighters later on.

When it comes to sitting down and writing those papers, give yourself permission to work in stages. Start by jotting down ideas, then arranging them into a loose outline. Visit your instructor’s office hours and share what you’re thinking about. Often, you’ll end up having a conversation that sparks even more ideas for your paper.

Beyond your first year

Made it through your first year? Congratulations! Now that you’ve completed your intro classes, it’s time to get into some of the really challenging (and interesting!) coursework. 

Choose a path

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, about 30% of college students change their major at least once. So if you’re finding that the classes you really love aren’t the ones required for your major, consider making a change. And if you haven’t declared a major at all, now’s the time to start thinking about it. As you start taking more specialized classes, the types of writing you do will become more specialized, too.

Raise the bar

As you advance in your studies, you’ll need to continue refining your writing skills. Writing clearly is a must, of course, but you should also be writing in an appropriate style. If you’re using Grammarly, you can set your writing style to match what you’re working on. When you set writing goals with Grammarly, choosing “Academic” will tailor Grammarly’s suggestions to help you find the right level of formality in your assignments. Switch over to the “Business” setting when you’re applying for internships to ensure your writing is appropriate for a professional context.

Write with purpose

Speaking of internships, writing a strong cover letter can put you at the front of the pack. But it’s a different kind of writing than what you might be used to for your classes. In a cover letter, focus on what you can contribute to the role or internship you’re applying for and what your goals are—learning a particular skill, for instance—and be concise. Grammarly’s tone detector can help you make sure you sound professional before you hit the send button.

Finishing strong

Eventually, you’ll look up and realize your graduation date isn’t actually too far off. Welcome to your final year! 

Appreciate your progress

Every now and then, take a moment to appreciate how you’ve grown as a student and a writer. Compare your writing now to your work from your first year—you’ll see a difference! If you need more proof, just take a look at your Weekly Insights email from Grammarly (which you receive once you sign up for a Grammarly account). You’ll see just how much you’re writing, how you use vocabulary, and how your writing has improved over time.

Work on your thesis

If your major requires a thesis or senior project, start planning now. As this is your culminating writing project, you’ll want to produce your best work yet. You’ll draw on all the skills you’ve developed over the last few years, including researching, drafting, outlining, and of course, writing. 

Plan your next move

Whether you’re heading to grad school, a job, or somewhere else, you have a new adventure waiting for you. Now’s the time to start gathering writing samples you’re proud of and organizing them into a writing portfolio. Writing samples can come in lots of different forms—papers you’ve written for class, lab reports, articles you’ve written for your school paper, and even letters or emails on important topics. All of these clips will serve to demonstrate your communication strengths, regardless of your area of specialty.

Best of luck! We know you’re going to do (and write) amazing things!

Books I’ve Fell In Love With…

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Book I’ve Fell In Love With…

For the last nine weeks, I have been very sick from stomach bacteria. During this the time I have had ample time to read, which is a favorite pastime of mine. With this said, I have a few amazing books I would like to share with you and highly recommend reading.

Please note that links to each book are below the image of each book.

From Sand and Ash: by Amy Harmon – this was the first book I read by this author and I am so glad I took the opportunity too. I binge read this book Labor Day! I just could not put this book down for hardly a minute. This WWII book is based on true events and characters. I am constantly amazed at the strength and resilience of the Jews during the holocaust. I will not give anything away, but if there is a book I would highly recommend you read, read this book! And after you finish reading it… Go to the authors website and watch her video about the launching of this book. It will have you in tears, well, more tears, after the book already will.

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Plenti: A Memoir of Food and Family: by Hannah Howard – This is another binge-worthy book. I read this book in a day and a half. Hannah exquisitely wrote a memoir of her family and life of her life as a chef and now food writer. I swear I could smell and taste the food she wrote and want to visit the restaurants she writes about in her book. I love Ace, want to visit Cafe Eloise, take a boat cruise, visit New York, eat more stinky cheese, and wept when she lost Sweet Pea. This is another must read book. She is another person to follow.

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The Baker’s Secret: by Stephen P. Kiernan – Another WW II saga, but different from the view of Amy Harmon. This story is about how one girl kept a village from perishing of starvation with her baking bread for the Nazis, bootlegging, taking care of an American soldier in secret, and hiding Jews. It will keep you on the edge of your seat, laughing and crying and cheering her on one page at a time. As you can tell by now, I am hooked on WW II books. I am constantly amazed at their strength and fortitude.

The Beantown Girls: by Jane Healey – Yes, another WWII fictional book, but this one will make you laugh and cry and eat donuts and drink coffee. This is about single girls who went to the front and provided snacks and entertainment to American soldiers during the war. There are some sad stories and probably some authentic ruth to what was written I am sure. This was a pleasure to sit and read.

MelodySusie

Choosing Charleson: by T. Lynn Ocean – Now before I leave you thinking all I read is heavy and dreary books that make you want to cry, here is a book that will make you laugh your head off. I laughed until I woke my husband up several times during the night. Ocean wrote about a Southern divorcee returning home to a typical crazy southern family and the journey she found waiting for her. I promise you will laugh your head off. I especially loved grandma.

Cycles Of Toxic Thinking?

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Caught in a cycle of toxic thinking?

Are you caught in a cycle of toxic thinking? Toxic thinking can be described as, “Toxic thoughts are false beliefs that negatively influence your life (and the lives of those who are close to you). Your thinking can also affect your health, sleep patterns, anxiety levels, and more. Consider these examples of toxic thinking: Personalizing failure.”

These thoughts are bombarding every one of us every day 24/7. And the truth is. These thoughts are all lies. You are continually believing lies about yourself.

Dr. Arathi Rao, a life and health coach, writes in her blog, empoweredmind.com about 10 things that will, cause you to have toxic thinking.

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1. Comparison

Everyone does it at one point or another- we compare ourselves to other people. Whether they’re smarter or taller or better looking, we take those differences and produce toxic thoughts around them. The reality is that everyone is different. There is no sense in comparing yourself to anyone else because then you’re constantly living in chains. You’re a slave to the other person you’re comparing yourself to. Instead of working to improve yourself for your own success and happiness you’re just playing a game of “keeping up.” You need to accept that you will never win. Once you do that, you will realize that you don’t need to compare yourself to others. Instead, think of ways you can be the best version of yourself.

2. Self Doubt

No one knows you better than you know yourself, but sometimes you may have a lapse in judgment which may cause you to second guess yourself. This is dangerous because it can really inhibit your chances at success. Always doubting yourself compromises any chance you have at being independent and confident. These are the key ingredients to success, so the faster you stop second guessing yourself the faster you will reach your goals.

3. Focusing on the Past

It’s called the past for a reason. It’s time to let go of what happened in 1995 and move on. Sure, looking to the past to prevent yourself from repeating mistakes is fine, but there is a line that is crossed when you obsess about it so much that it impacts your present and future. There is a reason we don’t have time machines, so leave the past alone and focus on the now.

4. The Need to Always Be Right

Let’s face it, it feels good to be right, but sadly the world doesn’t always work to your advantage and there will be times when you are flat out wrong. But guess what? That is okay. Stop telling yourself you always have to be right. This is dangerous because it can seriously affect your relationships. Sometimes there is no right answer, just remember that.

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5. Letting Struggles Break You

In life, there are always going to be times when you struggle, but it’s up to you to learn from those struggles and not let them break you. A successful person is able to stand back up every time they fall. Don’t let one or even one hundred failures lead to your breaking point. If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.

6. Worrying About the Future

Just as dwelling on the past is toxic, over worrying about the future can be a grave mistake as well. It’s important to give some thought to the future so that you can come up with a plan to reach your goals, but over obsessing is never good. Forgetting to live in the present can have serious implications on your happiness and success.

7. Thinking You Can Change Someone Else

As much as you would love to change your father’s smoking habit or your friend’s unhealthy obsession with wine, it’s something that you simply cannot do. You cannot change other people, you can only change yourself. It is not your fault that other people are the way they are. We all have free will to do what we want with ourselves and it’s not your responsibility to try and change that. Only they can truly change themselves, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be there to support them.

8. Allowing Negativity to Dictate Your Life

This one is simple. Negative thoughts can overrun your mind and cause you to feel stressed or even depressed. Dwelling on negativity is a success killer and can even have physical side effects. The best solution is to remain positive and take the time to relax. Condition your mind to see the positive in everything and you’ll be back on track to a successful life.

9. Lack of Trust

This is especially toxic in relationships because most are supposed to be built on trust. It is okay to trust people. Not everyone is out to get you and the sooner you realize that the sooner you will be on your way to clearing negativity from your life. Sometimes it may even be hard to trust yourself let alone other people. You have to start out by trusting yourself before you can trust others. Once you do this you can move forward with your life.

10. Worrying About What Others Think

This is an extremely toxic thought because it prevents you from living your life. Constantly wondering what the people around you think is useless because no matter what you do- good or bad- someone somewhere will always think something! So let go of that negative feeling and start living. If something makes you happy, who cares what others think about it? You have to live your life for you, not for other people.
In order to be successful, it’s important to heal those toxic thoughts. After all, thoughts shape our experiences. It’s up to you to take control of your mind in order to control your life. You have the power to fix the outcomes, it just takes a little brain power.

Soulmia

I have to say amen and thank you to to Doctor Arathi Raon for listing these 10 toxic thinking items. I often find myself in the depths of toxic thinking worrying about what others are thinking of me, thinking I can change the person or the situation, I also have an issue trusting myself and others, and I do have a to face the bull in the china shop and say that I do like to be right.

Now, I just have to stop the toxic thinking and do the opposite when these thoughts pop up in my mind! You can find Dr. Arathi Rao over at https://www.empoweredmind.com.

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COVID-19 Effect on 2021 Taxes: Your Guide to U.S. Tax Relief for Small Business

Here’s everything you need to know about how the 2020 U.S. relief programs will affect your tax return this year and next.

covid-19 effect on 2020 taxes

Thank you to FreshBooks for providing this article for small businesses regarding taxes this year. If you need software to help you, please download their program.

To say that 2020 was a challenging year for U.S. small businesses is an understatement. To help self-employed individuals and business owners weather the storm and continue operations, the U.S. government has spent billions in tax credits, loans, and tax rule modifications. While these modifications are helpful, they are not as straightforward as getting a check in the mail.

Many of the relief programs will affect your taxes, making filing in 2020 (and 2021) different than any years in the past. To help, you’ll find a summary of the aid below and what it means for your small business when filing taxes.

Tax Relief Available to Small Businesses

To help support small business owners through the COVID-19 crisis, the following acts were established:

FAMILIES FIRST CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE ACT (FFCRA)

The first major act passed to help American employees and their families was the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). It focused on mandating sick leave for employees and expanded paid family leave. It also gave employers a tax credit for providing these benefits.

CORONAVIRUS AID, RELIEF, AND ECONOMIC SECURITY ACT (CARES)

In March 2020, the $2.2 trillion CARES Act was signed into law providing a range of support initiatives. There were a substantial number of tax relief initiatives created to support small businesses, many that were required to close for a period of time. This act is responsible for many of the small business relief programs covered in this article.

CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE AND RELIEF SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATIONS ACT (CRRSAA)

In December 2020, the $900 billion CRRSAA was signed into law. It answers some questions regarding tax treatment from the CARES Act programs and provides more funding for small business relief programs.

Loan Programs, Tax Credits, and Tax Changes

Here’s a list of 5 programs, credits, and tax changes aimed to help small business owners make ends meet during COVID-19.

PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was the headline of the CARES Act. Created to encourage businesses to maintain payroll, it offers loans to cover payroll and other costs. While these are low-cost loans, the main draw is that they are forgivable as long as certain criteria are met. Not only that, the forgiven loan is not considered taxable income, and expenses paid with its proceeds are tax-deductible.

You can draw up to two PPP loans. The deadline for applying for these loans is March 31, 2021.

These loans aren’t offered directly through the SBA, though they do have a lender match tool available to help you find a lender to work with. You can learn more about both PPP draw options on the SBA website.

TAX CREDIT FOR EXTENDED PAID LEAVE BENEFITS

The FFCRA created 2 additional forms of extended paid sick leave available to employees:

  • An employee who is sick or quarantined due to COVID-19 will receive two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid leave benefits. The paid leave is up to $511 per day or $5,110 in aggregate.
  • An employee who is caring for someone who is quarantined or a child whose school or childcare is closed can receive two-thirds of their pay, up to $200 per day for up to two weeks.

In addition to the paid sick leave, there is expanded paid family leave available to employees who are caring for someone who is quarantined or a child whose school or childcare is closed. They can receive up to two-thirds of their pay, up to $200 per day for 10 weeks.

Employers who pay these benefits are eligible to receive a fully refundable tax credit equal to the required sick leave benefit payments. These tax credits are currently available for paid leave benefits through March 31, 2021.

For more information on COVID-19 tax credits for paid leave, see this FAQ.

EMPLOYEE RETENTION CREDIT

As part of the CARES Act, a tax credit was created to help incentivize businesses to keep employees on payroll. A business is eligible to receive a payroll tax credit if they keep employees employed despite a business closure or decline in business receipts. This credit is worth up to $5,000 for 2020 and $7,000 for 2021.

When this credit was initially created, businesses couldn’t use both the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) and the PPP Loan. However, the CRRSAA has changed that. Businesses are now able to take advantage of both the PPP and ERTC, so long as the two programs aren’t used to cover the same payroll costs.

This tax credit is available through June 30, 2021. Learn more here.

NET OPERATING LOSS CARRYBACK RULES

Prior to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, businesses were allowed to carryback any net operating losses (NOL) to prior tax years. By amending tax returns, they were allowed to carryback their losses for 2 years.

When you carryback losses to prior years, you are able to deduct the losses from previous years’ profits. This results in an immediate refund from prior year taxes paid, giving struggling businesses a cash boost to help them get through a tough business year.

But once the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act went into effect, options for dealing with NOLs were limited. Businesses were no longer able to carry them back and were limited in how much they could carryforward each year.

The CARES Act allows businesses to carryback losses from 2018, 2019, and 2020 for five years. It also removed the limit on any losses carried forward from 2018 and 2019. With this carryback allowance, small businesses or self-employed individuals that record a loss in 2020 can amend prior-year tax returns to carryback losses and potentially receive a refund in taxes paid.

For the most up-to-date information, check out the IRS website.

PANDEMIC UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION

Independent contractors and self-employed people are usually not eligible for unemployment assistance. Under the CARES Act, that changed. Individual states were given the option to expand unemployment benefits and offer them to independent contractors and self-employed people.

Benefits were also increased. Initially, an additional $600 per week was provided for up to 13 weeks, through July 31, 2020. Once that ended, the Lost Wages Assistance Program provided an additional $300 per week.

The benefits were extended again in January 2021 to provide an additional $300 per week, for up to 11 weeks through March 14, 2021. It’s important to note that these unemployment benefits are taxable income—anyone receiving these payments is required to either make estimated tax payments or have taxes withheld from the unemployment payment.

Unemployment benefits are administered through your state. Check with your state unemployment insurance office to see what benefits you qualify for.

Preparing for Tax Season

If you were able to take advantage of these tax relief programs, you’ll have some significant changes to your taxes. Here are 3 ways to prepare your 2020 tax return with confidence:

u.s. tax checklist

USE AUTOMATED ACCOUNTING TOOLS

It’s crucial to have accurate numbers, especially if you prefer to file your taxes on your own. But calculating all the crucial numbers yourself in an Excel spreadsheet can lead to costly data discrepancies. Cloud-based accounting solutions, like FreshBooks, make it easy to automatically track your income, capture your expense receipts, and pull all the reports you need to complete your tax return.

GET YOUR BOOKS IN ORDER WITH A BOOKKEEPER

Working with a professional all year round can help you keep your books in good standing come tax season. If things are a bit disorganized this time around (no judgment!), our bookkeeping partners at Bench can help.

LEAVE THE FILING TO THE PROFESSIONALS

Don’t have time—or want—to do your taxes yourself. Try Taxfyle. They pair you with professional CPAs or Enrolled Agents to make working with a tax professional simple. Here’s how Taxfyle can take end-of-year tax filing off your plate.


FRESHLY PICKED FOR YOU

Your Complete Guide to 2021 U.S. Small Business Tax CreditsEverything You Need to Know About How to Lower Self-Employment Taxes in the U.S.How to Craft Your 2021 Business Strategy—Despite the Uncertain Year AheadThis Tax Season Find Your Strength in Numbers With FreshBooksNew: Features to Help Your Business Through COVID-19How Lisa Runs Her Business Day-to-Day, While Still Staying on Top of Her Books Come Tax Time


Erica Gellerman

Freelance Contributor

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Erica Gellerman is a CPA, MBA, content marketing writer, and founder of The Worth Project. Her work has been featured on Forbes, Money, Business Insider, The Everygirl, and more. She currently lives in Hawaii.

How to Write an Invoice That Gets You Paid, Fast

Thank you to FreshBooks for generously supplying this article to help every business owner have their invoices paid.

When the data scientists at FreshBooks discovered 40% of self-employed professionals have at least one overdue invoice averaging over $2,500, it left us wondering — is there a science behind what makes a perfect invoice?

FreshBooks has parsed through over 10,000 invoices to create the ultimate data-driven invoice checklist to help you get paid, fast. Our data indicates that out of the invoices that ticked all the boxes on our checklist, 91% were paid in full.

Average Payment Times By Industry

Want to know if you’re getting paid as fast as your fellow freelancers? FreshBooks data shows self-employed professionals in IT and the trades get paid fastest, while those in legal and creative industries are among the slowest to get the money they’re owed.

About FreshBooks

FreshBooks is the #1 invoicing and accounting software designed exclusively for self-employed professionals and their teams. The company has helped more than 20 million people worldwide process billions of dollars with its ridiculously easy-to-use invoicing, time-tracking, online payments and expense management features. Recognized with eight Stevie awards for best customer service in the world, the company’s mantra is to “execute extraordinary experiences everyday.” Based in Toronto, Canada, FreshBooks serves paying customers in 160 countries. www.FreshBooks.com

23 Best Apps for Small Businesses

Thank you to Grammarly for supplying this inclusive article on 23 best apps.

Whether you’re starting your own business or working at a small business, leveraging the right tools can help your company streamline its operations. If you or your employees are experiencing pain points, like ineffective communication or project disorganization, there are business apps that offer unique solutions. 

Grammarly

Here are a few of the best business apps to explore for your small business.  

Best business apps for finance and accounting

QuickBooks

Best for comprehensive insight

QuickBooks is a robust bookkeeping software that helps you track expenses, sales, invoices, banking transactions, profits and losses, and more.

Wave

Best for freelancers, contractors, and solopreneurs

Wave is a business app that manages the nuanced accounting needs of self-employed business owners, like a pay-per-use payment solution that lets clients pay for invoices using a credit card. 

Expensify

Best for business trips and meetings  

Expensify simplifies employee reimbursements for business trips using its intuitive mobile business app. Your employees can simply scan receipts into the app and Expensify automates the rest of the process.

FreshBooks

Best for growing teams

FreshBooks is a simple and easy-to-use business app that lets small businesses manage accounting and payroll while automating tasks, like recurring invoices and expenses. 

Best business apps for human resources

BambooHR

Best for enhancing employee-manager collaboration

BambooHR is a user-friendly business app that streamlines the hiring and onboarding process, and empowers employees and managers to stay on top of performance goals, peer-to-peer feedback, and time-off requests. 

DocuSign

Best for completing contracts for remote employees, clients and vendors

DocuSign is a small business app that securely uploads documents, facilitates electronic signatures, sends reminders, and provides document status updates.

Gusto

Best for employee benefits integration

Gusto is an all-in-one accounting HR tools platform that also helps small businesses manage employee benefits, like health insurance, worker’s comp, retirement savings, and life insurance.

Best business apps for communication

Grammarly Business

Best for improving your writing

Grammarly Business is a business app that assures your team’s written communications—whether a social media post, email, or memo—are polished, professional, and mistake-free. 

Slack

Best for keeping teams connected in real time

Slack is an instant messaging platform that lets you have direct message conversations and group “channel” discussions that can be themed based on activities, projects, etc.

Zoom

Best for video conference calling

Zoom lets individuals and small businesses create meeting rooms for video-based meetings. Meeting attendees don’t need to have a Zoom account to join a video call which makes it easy for clients and vendors to participate on calls.

Fuze

Best for managing customer support calls

Fuze offers video conferencing services and an integrated contact center feature that routes customer calls to the right department or agent within your business.

Best business apps for organization

Trello

Best for detailed project management

Trello helps your small business manage project workflows using cards that specify due dates, checklists, assignees, and more. Members of a project can also communicate within each card to ask questions, send requests, or check on the status of a task.

Asana

Best for visual workers

Asana gives workers a simple and clean workflow management solution to track project status, stay on top of deadlines, and assign projects and subtasks to specific owners. There are different ways of viewing the information, like the calendar view, Kanban board, or list view.

Monday

Best for all-remote small businesses

With Monday, you can create shift schedules with a visual daily and weekly schedule view. It also integrates with other business apps, like Zoom, so that all meetings are cataloged for future reference.

Best business apps for time management

Clockify

Best for time tracking and reporting

In Clockify, you can log the start and end time of a particular task and restart logged time entries when you work on the project later. The platform also offers helpful reporting so you see how much time you’ve spent working on a project or for a client. 

Toggl

Best for tracking billable hours

The Toggl business app helps you track projects, schedule tasks, track your time, and export timesheets to your clients.  

RescueTime

Best for tracking what you spend your time on

RescueTime automatically categorizes how you spend your time on your device and suggests your ideal work schedule while also blocking possible distractions along the way.

Best business apps for accepting payments

PayPal

Best for online business sales

PayPal is a widely used electronic payment platform that lets merchants accept payment for goods and services.

Square

Best for integrated software and hardware

In addition to its payment business app, Square offers brick-and-mortar businesses the option to request point-of-sale payments using its own sleekly designed hardware.

Venmo

Best for brand awareness through social sharing

Venmo is a payment platform that lets you accept and send payments on your mobile device. In addition to its transactional functions, your customers’ Venmo payments are shown on their account feed for their network to see.

Best business apps for marketing and social media

Hootsuite

Best for complete social media channel integration

Hootsuite lets you plan, create, and schedule social media posts across all of your business’s social channels and flag social mentions about your company so you can respond swiftly. 

Buffer

Best for social media reporting

Buffer helps your team manage social media posts so that your small business is engaged with its followers around the clock. It also features analytics reporting and other performance insights for future adjustments.

Mailchimp

Best for automated email marketing

Among the many email apps for businesses today, Mailchimp is an all-inclusive marketing tool that sends your customers targeted messaging regarding your business.

These are just a few small business apps that can help your teams work more effectively no matter what department they’re in.

Remember, nothing beats FREE, except for the possibility of getting paid AGAIN for the same product! That is the opportunity you have with Grammarly!

Under The Microscope

focused man working with female colleague in office
Micromanaging

Many work environments are brimming with dissatisfaction and resentment. According to https://seedscientific.com/job-satisfaction-statistics, less than half of employees trust their company and more than one-half of employees are disengaged from their jobs. These are frightening statistics.

The statistic speaks for itself. If you are unhappy and dissatisfied with your job, you will disengage from your employer and work. It’s simply the truth. In any relationship, this occurs, so why should we expect any difference in our work relationship.

The dissatisfaction many people are dealing and struggling with is micromanaging employers. Webster’s dictionary defines the term Micromanager” as “A person who controls every part, however small, of (an enterprise or activity).”

Grammarly

When given a job to accomplish and then micromanaged, you end up resenting the boss. You do not have the motivation to try to do the work as well as you could have by yourself, squashes creativity, the thought process, and even creative solutions that you may have accomplished better if not being micromanaged.

Along with resenting the micromanager, you often get frustrated with the job and lose interest. Sleeping or sleepwalking through the work occurs. You lose the challenge, motivation, and joy of a job well done.

Facing the micromanaging job isn’t an easy feat. It is something to be dealt with delicately. How do you become assertive enough to speak up and say enough is enough? Stop micromanaging me! When facing this situation, think of a friendly way to talk to your boss or manager in a non-confrontational manner.

namecheap

Confrontation never yields a good result. If you walk in and start accusing and show your frustration, it will automatically be recognized, shields will go up, and they will become confrontational back. The whole discussion will end in disaster.

Instead of walking in with a bad attitude and accusing, take some time to calm down, breathe, and come up with a friendly way to speak to this person. Explain how you feel and describe how you would like to move forward in the job. If you are working on a particular project, strategize creative solutions, and present this with a great attitude.

If none of these strategies work, then sit down and have an earnest and honest talk. Say how this is bothering you and how it makes you feel. I have found that most people, even bosses want your honesty and insights on their employees.

If faced with accusations and rudeness from the boss? Then, there is nothing left to do. You have a decision to make. I either work with this person fully aware of their traits and know you can handle the stress and micromanage, or it’s time to start looking for another position or another company.