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Staying Productive when you’re self-employed

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Staying Productive when you're self-employed

Maximizing your productivity everyday is vital when you are self-employed or your business consists of just one employee – you. Being self-employed means you can’t slow down on Monday or Tuesdays, which is something that employees in companies usually do.  To remain at peak productivity throughout the week, you can adopt a few tips that are widely used, and below we have discussed our personal favorites.

Get Adequate Sleep

Being at the top of your game in terms of productivity often starts with getting enough of sleep.

So you need to start planning for increasing your productivity by going early to bed and getting the right amount of sleep so that you are fresh the next day.  Taking time out to rest or grab a short nap during the day is also ideal as it is rejuvenating and allows you to concentrate better, especially when you are working a long day that stretches over 12 hours or more.

Make a Plan to Handle Extra work

Instead of reacting to a last minute party order, by ramping up the productivity in your bakery at the drop of a hat and doing it all by yourself, make a plan to deal with these situations. Start by using downtime of a few minutes to plan for such emergencies every day. If in case you need an extra person to help you handle additional workload then draw up a list of people who are available per day, and others who can be their backup if they are busy. A clear plan, allows you to meet the demands of extra orders while fulfilling your daily commitments, and end the day with a sense of accomplishment.

Make a List of Items to Do Everyday

Making a list of things to accomplish per day, doesn’t necessarily mean that you are chained to your desk until you complete them. In the case of the self-employed a list can include working to write 2000 words per day or making 20 vases. But such goals should be flexible, and you should not shy away from overshooting them as it will help make up for unforeseen circumstances that could impact performance in the future.

Ensure You Do Work that Pays Your Bills

Earning enough to pay your bills at the end of the month should be the main focus of daily activities. Spending too much on projects that are creatively satisfying but bring in less money is an attractive prospect to many freelancers and self employed individuals, but ultimately results in not having enough of money at the end of the month. So ensure you work on high paying projects first and then move to those that provide a lower payment.

Invest in Ergonomic tools and Office Equipment

Getting a desk or tools that are ergonomically designed, is just a basic need when you are self employed as they will allow you to work without developing muscle strain. One of the lifestyle hacks employed by those who are self employed is a good chair with lumbar support but increasingly popular is the sit-stand desk.  The height adjustable desk can be used when sitting or standing, and with the aid of this workstation that promotes activity people can get more exercise when they are working.

Allocate time to Exercise

Controlling when you work is a big benefit of being self employed and you can take advantage of this flexibility to spend a few minutes in the middle of day exercising. Exercise will keep you alert and give you a much needed boost in the middle of day, allowing you to return to work in a better frame of mind to finish tasks.

Keep to a Set Schedule Every Day

Self employment does not mean working when the mood strikes you, so you should create a schedule that is more or less similar from one day to the next. A set schedule allows you to approach a self-employment with discipline and keep productivity high.

Make Time to Plan for the future and Keep Busy

Being self-employed sometimes results in periods when there is less work. You can make use of this time to create a blog, a social media account or volunteer in a project. Volunteering or creating a blog allows you to showcase your skills to a wider audience and it could bring in added revenue in the future.

Finally better management of your productivity everyday means finding those black holes that suck time in, and putting into place plans to stay productive while delivering the best quality to your customers.

Business

Euro zone business activity shrank in January as lockdowns hit services

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Euro zone business activity shrank in January as lockdowns hit services 1

By Jonathan Cable

LONDON (Reuters) – Economic activity in the euro zone shrank markedly in January as lockdown restrictions to contain the coronavirus pandemic hit the bloc’s dominant service industry hard, a survey showed.

With hospitality and entertainment venues forced to remain closed across much of the continent the survey highlighted a sharp contraction in the services industry but also showed manufacturing remained strong as factories largely remained open.

IHS Markit’s flash composite PMI, seen as a good guide to economic health, fell further below the 50 mark separating growth from contraction to 47.5 in January from December’s 49.1. A Reuters poll had predicted a fall to 47.6.

“A double-dip recession for the euro zone economy is looking increasingly inevitable as tighter COVID-19 restrictions took a further toll on businesses in January,” said Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit.

“Some encouragement comes from the downturn being less severe than in the spring of last year, reflecting the ongoing relative resilience of manufacturing, rising demand for exported goods and the lockdown measures having been less stringent on average than last year.”

The bloc’s economy was expected to grow 0.6% this quarter, a Reuters poll showed earlier this week, and will return to its pre-COVID-19 level within two years on hopes the rollout of vaccines will allow a return to some form of normality. [ECILT/EU]

A PMI covering the bloc’s dominant service industry dropped to 45.0 from 46.4, exceeding expectations in a Reuters poll that had predicted a steeper fall to 44.5 and still a long way from historic lows at the start of the pandemic.

With activity still in decline and restrictions likely to be in place for some time yet, services firms were forced to chop their charges. The output price index fell to 46.9 from 48.4, its lowest reading since June.

That will be disappointing for policymakers at the European Central Bank – who on Thursday left policy unchanged – as uncomfortably low inflation has been a thorn in the ECB’s side for years.

Factory activity remained strong and the manufacturing PMI held well above breakeven at 54.7, albeit weaker than December’s 55.2. The Reuters poll had predicted a drop to 54.5.

An index measuring output which feeds into the composite PMI fell to 54.5 from 56.3.

But despite strong demand factories again cut headcount, as they have every month since May 2019. The employment index fell to 48.9 from 49.2.

As immunisation programmes are being ramped up after a slow start in Europe optimism about the coming year remained strong. The composite future output index dipped to 63.6 from December’s near three-year high of 64.5.

“The roll out of vaccines has meanwhile helped sustain a strong degree of confidence about prospects for the year ahead, though the recent rise in virus case numbers has caused some pull-back in optimism,” Williamson said.

(Reporting by Jonathan Cable; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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Business

Volkswagen’s profit halves, but deliveries recovering

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Volkswagen's profit halves, but deliveries recovering 2

BERLIN (Reuters) – Volkswagen reported a nearly 50% drop in its 2020 adjusted operating profit on Friday but said car deliveries had recovered strongly in the fourth quarter, lifting its shares.

The world’s largest carmaker said full-year operating profit, excluding costs related to its diesel emissions scandal, came in at 10 billion euros ($12.2 billion), compared with 19.3 billion in 2019.

Net cash flow at its automotive division was around 6 billion euros and car deliveries picked up towards the end of the year, the German group said in a statement.

“The deliveries to customers of the Volkswagen Group continued to recover strongly in the fourth quarter and even exceeded the deliveries of the third quarter 2020,” it said.

Volkswagen’s shares, which had been down as much as 2%, turned positive and were up 1.5% at 164.32 euros by 1158 GMT.

Sales at the automaker rose 1.7% in December, at a time when new car registrations in Europe dropped nearly 4%, data from the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association showed.

Like its rivals, Volkswagen is facing several challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic as well as a global shortage of chips needed for production.

It also sees tough competition in developing electrified and self-driving cars. The merger of Fiat Chrysler and Peugeot-owner PSA to create the world’s fourth-biggest automaker Stellantis adds to the pressure.

Volkswagen said on Thursday it missed EU targets on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from its passenger car fleet last year and faces a fine of more than 100 million euros.

The group is expected to release detailed 2020 figures on March 16.

($1 = 0.8215 euros)

(Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; Editing by Maria Sheahan and Mark Potter)

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Business

Global chip shortage hits China’s bitcoin mining sector

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Global chip shortage hits China's bitcoin mining sector 3

By Samuel Shen and Alun John

SHANGHAI/HONG KONG (Reuters) – A global chip shortage is choking the production of machines used to “mine” bitcoin, a sector dominated by China, sending prices of the computer equipment soaring as a surge in the cryptocurrency drives demand.

The scramble is pricing out smaller miners and accelerating an industry consolidation that could see deep-pocketed players, many outside China, profit from the bitcoin bull run.

Bitcoin mining is closely watched by traders and users of the world’s largest cryptocurrency, as the amount of bitcoin they make and sell into the market affects its supply and price.

Trading around $32,000 on Friday, bitcoin is down 20% from the record highs it struck two weeks ago but still up some 700% from its March low of $3,850.

“There are not enough chips to support the production of mining rigs,” said Alex Ao, vice president of Innosilicon, a chip designer and major provider of mining equipment.

Bitcoin miners use increasingly powerful, specially-designed computer equipment, or rigs, to verify bitcoin transactions in a process which produces newly minted bitcoins.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co and Samsung Electronics Co, the main producers of specially designed chips used in mining rigs, would also prioritise supplies to sectors such as consumer electronics, whose chip demand is seen as more stable, Ao said.

The global chip shortage is disrupting production across a global array of products, including automobiles, laptops and mobile phones. [L1N2JP2MY]

Mining’s profitability depends on bitcoin’s price, the cost of the electricity used to power the rig, the rig’s efficiency, and how much computing power is needed to mine a bitcoin.

Demand for rigs has boomed as bitcoin prices soared, said Gordon Chen, co-founder of cryptocurrency asset manager and miner GMR.

“When gold prices jump, you need more shovels. When milk prices rise, you want more cows.”

CONSOLIDATION

Lei Tong, managing director of financial services at Babel Finance, which lends to miners, said that “almost all major miners are scouring the market for rigs, and they are willing to pay high prices for second-hand machines.”

“Purchase volumes from North America have been huge, squeezing supply in China,” he said, adding that many miners are placing orders for products that can only be delivered in August and September.

Most of the products of Bitmain, one of the biggest rig makers in China, are sold out, according the company’s website.

A sales manager at Jiangsu Haifanxin Technology, a rig merchant, said prices on the second-hand market have jumped 50% to 60% over the past year, while prices of new equipment more than doubled. High-end, second-hand mining machines were quoted around $5,000.

“It’s natural if you look at how much bitcoin has risen,” said the manager, who identified himself on by his surname Li.

The cryptocurrency surge is affecting who is able to mine.

The increasing cost of investment is eliminating smaller players, said Raymond Yuan, founder of Atlas Mining, which owns one of China’s biggest mining business.

“Institutional investors benefit from both large scale and proficiency in management whereas retail investors who couldn’t keep up will be weeded out,” said Yuan, whose company has invested over $500 million in cryptocurrency mining and plans to keep investing heavily.

Many of the larger players growing their mining operations are based outside of China, often in North America and the Middle East, said Wayne Zhao, chief operating officer of crypto research company TokenInsight.

“China used to have low electricity costs as one core advantage, but as the bitcoin price rises now, that has gone,” he said.

Zhao said that while previously bitcoin mining in China used to account for as much as 80% of the world’s total, it now accounted for around 50%.

(Reporting by Samuel Shen and Alun John; Editing by Vidya Ranganathan and William Mallard)

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