Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Right Way to Tackle the Work Day

By Anwar's Reflections Guest Blogger Neisha Kelly

Do you often dread the work day? Do you experience the blues? Well, you are not alone in that suffering. But here are ten ways to get ready for the work day in a positive mindset:

 1.   Get to work an hour early: I know this sounds crazy. But I like this one because it gives me time to mentally prepare for the day ahead. And I don’t have to jump right into work mode. I call it my power hour before work.
2.     Read something positive: Whether it is an affirmation or an uplifting article read it. It will motivate you and keep you on a more positive tract throughout the day. I try to read something positive daily during my power hour.
3.    Set a list of goals for break and lunch: Lists tasks you have to do throughout the day and assign the time to tackle them during break and lunch time. It will gives you both a sense of purpose and accomplishment at the same time.
4.    Eat breakfast: Breakfast can definitely help you and keep your head in the game.
5.    Do your hardest tasks in the morning: When I see a large pile on my desk I tackle it immediately. I make it a game with the clock trying to see how fast I can clear my desk. Sounds corny but it helps keep my momentum going.
6.    Pick your clothes out the night before: There is nothing worse than scrambling for something to wear in the morning. The more organized you are in the morning, the better you will feel.
7.    Get up an hour early: This will help you wake up refreshed and motivated. I like this one because I can prepare for the unexpected this way and do not have to forget things by rushing.
8.     Pep Talk: Give yourself a positive pep talk, or say a prayer before leaving out the door or both. Say something that will stick with you throughout the day.
9.     Listen to music: Music is a great motivator.
10.  Think happy thoughts: Sounds corny but it really helps the day run smoothly. Remember watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become your actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny. --Lao Tzu

Yes, these are tips I actually utilize. I am not saying everyday is great, but each day gets greater when I use these tips. 

What do you think? Are these tips helpful? Are there more tips that I need to add to the list? Let me know by sharing your thoughts below.

Neisha Kelly is the Editor-In-Chief of the blog The Cultivation of You.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

To Pay or Not Pay Sick Leave? That is the Question...

TRENTON-- What in the world are we doing? Are my eyes deceiving me, no it can't be??? Can it??? Not too long ago, I was reading Dan Dodson's blog and an article from the Trentonian that mentioned how there possibly could be a ballot question, put before the city's electorate this November, that would ask voters whether ALL, not some, but ALL, private Trenton small businesses, have to pay their employees sick leave.

When I first came across this news story, I thought to myself, what the heck are we talking about, this can't be a wise move in the city of Trenton, a place that boasts not of excellent schools and a low crime rate, but rather a failing school system and an unacceptable crime rate. I mean quite frankly, the last thing people would call Trenton right now is Club Fed, a place people are pushing and shoving to gain access to or invest in.

But I said to myself, before I draw any conclusions, I felt the need to step back and reflect on what this ballot question could mean from the perspectives of the different parties involved.

On the one hand, first I thought of the perspective of an employee from your typical privately owned Trenton-based business. This poor guy or gal may feel like they have been completely left in the lurch because they have been put in that unfortunate position where they sometimes have to choose between working while sick and paying rent or even risk calling out thereby jeopardizing their employment.

I mean I can definitely understand where they are coming from because who really wants to be in a position where you can't afford to get sick, believe, you, me, that type of situation stinks! So, it makes complete sense from their perspective to speak up early and often about this important measure. Labor groups and other coalitions like the SEIU, the CWA, New Jersey Working Family Alliances and New Jersey Citizen Action have all backed this initiative to ensure that small business employees receive sick pay.

However, if we shift perspectives and look at things from the lens of  your average run of the mill business owner, it sounds as though these individuals are singing from an entirely different sheet of music. Indeed, small business owners at the end of the day want to maximize profit and minimize cost, point blank, period. These merchants aim to save money at any cost and may justifiably feel that they are already pay enough in taxes and fees to the city and that they should not pay City Hall one more red cent. From this perspective, I can't knock these small business owners. I mean, who really wants to pay more taxes and fees?

In a Trentonian article written by Carols Avila, one local business owner, Vincente Barrientos, echoed this sentiment when he said "We work with our employees when they need off for health reasons but to impose this law on us in addition to the many other taxes, fees and expenses we have makes it difficult to run a business in this city".

Nevertheless, no matter what way you look at it, this measure has already started to catch wind in other municipalities like Newark and Jersey City as these two localities have both already  made this a policy. On top of this, two states, California and Connecticut have passed laws ensuring their workers can earn paid sick days. It is claimed that these local or statewide initiatives will somehow influence or set national policy. The bill in question specifically calls for allowing workers to accumulate an hour of sick leave for every 30 hours that they work.

After reviewing the pros and cons, I still don't think this is a wise move for the city of Trenton. To make small businesses compensate their employees for sick pay seems like the morally right thing to do, YES I get it, but at the same time, it still puts an undue burden on mom and pop shops who then may have to let go of some of their workers or find some other way to make up for the lost revenue that goes toward dishing out the sick pay.

On top of this, the city may without realizing it, push out or drive away existing businesses to other municipalities who do not impose the sick pay requirement. Why should we drive away these businesses that have loyally kept their shops here during some pretty hard times? And in the process, if you look at it, the city may also discourage others from starting new business here with this policy. If we here in the city want to really encourage others to invest here, then we cannot let this bill pass.

Lastly, for those that argue that since other states and municipalities have passed this type of measure why shouldn't Trenton, I say that Trenton is not the same as those other localities. Trenton has its own unique challenges that have to be addressed before we can impose yet another requirement on our small businesses. This is a big reason why it is so important to vote and let our voice be heard on this issue.

As things stand, City Council has voted to suspend consideration of this ordinance for paid sick days. They have instructed the Mercer County Board of Elections to arrange a referendum on the issue in the scheduled election on November 4th. For more details, click here.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

An Open Letter to Re-Open Trenton Public Libraries


Dear Mayor Eric Jackson,

I know you are new in office but I am requesting that you do what you can to please reopen the shuttered city libraries that were closed since August of 2010. Now don't get me wrong, I do recognize that the Main Branch on Academy Street has made some great progress since the other locations have been closed.

All one has to do is take a quick look inside the Main Branch nowadays to see how they have added newer equipment, a DVD dispenser, and a larger variety of E-books (much to my delight). Along with this, I have also seen the library's strategic plan that lays out a blueprint for opening two satellite libraries within one year. Now on the surface that sounds fine and dandy, but I must say that this time-frame is far too long. (For more on the Library's strategic plan, you can always click here).

Indeed, I hate to be that proverbial fly in the ointment that always seems to find something wrong even in our best laid plans, but indeed on this occasion, I must. As I myself am a product of the free public library system, I feel the need to speak up early and often about this important issue. As a matter of fact, I can say without hesitation, that my life would have turned out completely different were it not for the free public library system.

As a kid, the library was a safe haven for me. It gave me a place to play games, use the computer, interact with like-minded peers, and last but not least, check-out books. Along with this, it encouraged me to read and educate myself more and more. Now years later, I am a PhD candidate at Capella University, but I digress.

Research has shown that libraries, which are simply collections of books and periodicals, add significant value to the community by providing easy access to high quality research content, helping adults upgrade their skills and find jobs, and by playing a significant role in improving childhood literacy, among other things. Bottom line: libraries are a vital part of the community. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

Researcher David Giles said, "No other institution, public or private, does a better job of reaching people who have been left behind in today’s economy, have failed to reach their potential in the city’s public school system or who simply need help navigating an increasingly complex world".

Moreover, studies done in New York and Texas both show that there is an economic return on investment for public libraries according to the Illinois Library Association, a library advocacy organization. These are definitely things to consider when allocating funds for our public libraries in the city of Trenton.

So, Mayor Jackson I hope that my plea to have the libraries re-opened doesn't fall on deaf ears and that you will do what you can do to re-open these library branches as I think this will improve things in the city of Trenton.

Sincerely,

Anwar's Reflections