Build Better Habits at Work

Everyone occasionally feels like they’re ‘stuck in a rut’ at work. It’s up to you, however, if you let that feeling stick around, or whether you kick it to the curb and take your productivity to the next level! If you’re looking to improve your performance in the workplace (and, let’s face it, who isn’t?) we have some tips that could help you form better workplace habits and boost your efficiency while at the office!

Tips for Employees:

Have you ever noticed yourself dragging as you walk in the office door? The attitude with which you start the day will influence not only yourself, but your coworkers also. Start your work day off the right way by coming in with a more chipper attitude – you may start a trend in your workplace! There are several methods that you can use to put a smile on your face. Try getting a little more sleep, making sure that you are properly hydrated in the morning, or getting your endorphins going with a little exercise.

Once you’ve arrived and settled in to your work routine, you may find yourself doing certain things just to appear busy. This is a bad habit to be in – your goal at work should always be to complete useful tasks. In today’s work environment, this can be a little difficult to get used to, since many employers value those that appear busy. Just remember that at the end of the day, you will have more to show if you complete your more important tasks in a way that is both timely and high quality.

One great way to improve your work is to break your tasks into smaller chunks. A big project may seem impossible when you look at the entire thing. Next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, try this: break the looming assignment into as many small chunks as you can – the smaller the better. Then, not only will each piece of the puzzle feel more manageable, but you will also get a sense of accomplishment when you make progress!

Again, workplaces nowadays can fall into the trap of wanting workers to look busy, rather than valuing finished products. The problem is that, to get ahead, workers will prioritize working over their mental state. It turns out that workers who are constantly “full steam ahead” aren’t as productive as those who take a few small breaks through the day. So next time you are tempted to work through lunch, make yourself sit in the break room and socialize (or just surf the web at your desk) so that you can refresh your mind and get back to work with increased productivity.

Prioritize your tasks and complete the ones that will create the most value for you and your organization. If you can, hand off the things that don’t matter as much (or that you don’t do well) to others that can help you. Asking for help shouldn’t be viewed as a sign of weakness! Instead, ask for help to encourage collaboration in the workplace, as well as to improve relationships with your coworkers.

It’s also worth noting that many of these tips can be used to be more productive outside of the workplace also. Practice having a good attitude, focusing on completing small tasks, and asking for help anytime you need a boost.

Tips for Business Owners:

The tips above will work for just about any Massachusetts employee. But what about for those of you that own a Boston small business? Because business owners have more control over what happens in their workplace, it’s up to you to create an atmosphere where employees want to succeed. Here are just a few examples of things that you can do to improve your workplace.

First, make sure that you are promoting a workplace that values employee’s quality of work – not just the quantity of work that they do. It also helps to encourage employees to participate in and foster a collaborative atmosphere, where asking for and giving help is encouraged.

As an employer, one of the most critical parts of your job is motivating and appreciating your employees. For some great ideas on employee appreciation, check out our Employee Appreciation Day blog post. You’ve got a lot on your plate as a business owner but taking a few minutes out of your day to recognize good work or notice an employee building better working habits can make a huge improvement in your business’s culture.

If you are a Massachusetts small business owner, you can also motivate your employees through your insurance policy offerings! Many studies say that employees who are offered top of the line health insurance and worker’s compensation policies are more motivated, so call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency at 617-298-0655 to talk about your business insurance policies – we can help you update your insurance to motivate your employees and therefore improve your business!

Recap: Insuring Teen Drivers

“Telling a teenager the facts of life is like giving a fish a bath.” – Arnold H. Glasow

Do you have a teenager in your household? At Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency, we want to help! Unfortunately, we can’t do much to aid your child with their homework, but we can help make sure that they are protected while they’re on the road. As your child gets their first Massachusetts Driver’s License, make sure to call our agency to see if you qualify for auto insurance discounts like the following.

A good student discount is often available for high school and college students with a certain GPA. To verify your student’s GPA, you may be asked to submit a copy of their most recent report card.

Discounts are sometimes offered to teenagers who have invested in their vehicular education. If your child has taken a Driver’s Ed class (either through their school or another source) let your insurance agent know.

Raising a teenager isn’t easy but saving money on your auto insurance policy is simple when you’re a Vargas and Vargas Insurance client! Don’t wait for your teen to clean their room (it may never happen) – instead, pick up the phone and dial 617-298-0655 to talk to your Massachusetts insurance agent about the most painless way to add your new driver to your auto insurance policy.

Boating Tips for Your Summer on the Water

There’s a buzz in the Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency office at this time every year. As the temperatures rise here in the greater Boston area, our employees get excited about participating in their favorite outdoor summer activities. Some like to hit the pool, others break out their grill, and many look forward to spending time out on the water.

If you have a boat that you’re preparing to enjoy this summer, here are a few tips that you can use to maintain your watercraft, and to keep your passengers safe so that they can enjoy the waves.

Take Care of Your Watercraft

Here on the Vargas and Vargas Insurance blog, we have a few posts detailing the best ways to keep your car running smoothly. In honor of this post all about boating, we would like to share some similar tips about how to keep your watercraft in tip-top shape:

  • Wash the boat. This tip may seem overly simple, but it is a key to proper boat maintenance. Especially if you take your boat out into salt water, you need to rinse it thoroughly after every trip out. Otherwise, salt or other compounds may harm your boat’s finish.
  • Change your boat’s oil. Just like cars, boats need regular oil changes. Make sure to follow your manufacturer’s instructions when it comes to how often to change your oil, and always use a marine grade oil.
  • Before taking your boat out for the first time each year, you may wish to have it inspected by a licensed professional. Make sure that they check the fuel and electric systems, fluid levels, the hull and propellers, belts, cables, hoses, and more. Once this is done you should feel confident about taking your boat out for a spin.

If you do your best to keep your boat maintained, you should have no problem taking her out on the water this summer.

Tips for Days on the Water

Before you take your boat out for a day of fun in the sun, make sure that everyone that will be on the boat knows and agrees to follow your rules. Here are a few suggestions for rules that you and your passengers should follow.

  • Know the basic navigational rules. There are lots of rules to follow when you’re driving a car – lanes to follow, and guidelines for who has the right of way. In a boat, these types of things can be a little more complicated on the water, so be sure that you know how to navigate a boat before you cast off.
  • Check the weather. Here in New England, summertime weather can change without warning. Get in the habit of checking the forecast immediately before you cast off to make sure that you won’t get caught in a storm.
  • Have an emergency kit. You should already have an emergency kit in your home and in your vehicle. Also add one to your boat so that you are prepared for ‘rough seas’ – both literal and figurative.
  • Wear a life jacket. Think of life jackets on a boat like a seat belt in a car. You wouldn’t drive or ride in a vehicle without wearing a seatbelt, so make sure that you have a floatation device on when you’re on a boat.
  • Don’t drink and boat. Make sure that no one that operates the boat has consumed alcohol. You always assign a Designated Driver when hitting the town so that you can drive home safety, and you should do the same for days on the water. Remember, just like driving under the influence, boating under the influence is illegal in the state of Massachusetts.

It is also important to make sure that you have the proper paperwork before you set sail. Persons age 12-17 must complete a basic boating course prior to operating a motorboat or personal watercraft. If you are planning on using your boat to go fishing, check out the Massachusetts fishing license requirements here.

Once everyone agrees to follow these simple rules, you will be able to have a fun and safe day out on your boat.

Massachusetts Boat Insurance Can Help

Similar in many ways to an auto insurance policy, a boat insurance policy can help keep you and your loved ones protected against potential calamities. With the right watercraft insurance, you can rest assured that you will be financially guarded if something happens to you or your boat.

Make sure that you do your due diligence and check many boat insurance providers before choosing a policy. But remember – you don’t have to do all the legwork yourself! One quick call to Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency at 617-298-0655 will put you in touch with a Massachusetts independent insurance agent who will search several providers and help you choose the watercraft insurance policy with the right coverage based on your needs.

Recap: Gifts for Grads

As graduation season approaches, we know that you may be searching for the perfect gift for the graduate in your life. If you’re struggling, we have some ideas to help you!

Nowadays, graduation is celebrated at all levels, so consider getting your little graduate a fun gift to celebrate their favorite activity or take a family trip to one of Boston’s many kid-friendly attractions.

High School and College grads have achieved huge milestones in their lives and deserve to be celebrated. Gift them with a traditional gift like a watch or piece of jewelry or go for a leather good like a high-quality wallet or purse. If you want to be more practical, give something that they can use in their home (a coffee maker, for example) or simply give cash for the grad to spend as they please.

Graduates are also often the recipients of sage wisdom and advice, so make sure to tell the graduates in your life about how important it is to have the right insurance coverage. Sure, most people think it’s a boring topic, but if they ever need to file a claim, they will thank you for making sure that their insurance is up to snuff. Give your graduate the Vargas and Vargas Insurance phone number (617-298-0655) and have them give us a call – we will make sure that they are protected as they take the next steps in their life.

“Must-Have” Apps for Your Phone

Remember the days when a cell phone only made calls? Those days are long gone! Now, cell phones are good for so much more. They are tools that we can use to improve our lives, but first we must be able to leverage the possibilities of the tiny computer that we carry with us everywhere we go.

Are you making the most of your cell phone? Check out our app suggestions, and maybe download a couple that you’re interested in trying. We will provide the links to each app for Android and iPhone, so you just have to click and install.

Utilities

Weather: You don’t even have to look outside to know what the day’s weather is going to be with apps like Accuweather (Android/iPhone) and DarkSky (Android/iPhone). Know whether you need an umbrella or a jacket before you leave the house, and without turning on the news and waiting for the ‘every ten minutes’ weather broadcasts of yesteryear.

Photos: It seems like all phones nowadays come with at least one camera. Do you use your phone to take photos? It’s a great way to make memories! What many people don’t know is that there are many alternatives to the default camera app that comes pre-installed on your phone. For more features, try VSCO Cam (Android/iPhone).

Productivity and Organization

Notes and Reminders: Imagine this – you’re out running errands and remember something that you need to do when you get home. What do you do? Thankfully, you can use your phone to organize a to-do list so that you don’t forget the important tasks. Try Todoist (Android/iPhone) or Remember the Milk (Android/iPhone) and see what works for you.

Password Manager: It’s nearly impossible in today’s world to manage the accounts you have across a variety of platforms, especially if you’re trying to follow the recommended password practices of having a unique code for each of your accounts. Instead of fumbling with an infinite amount of papers to keep yourself organized, try a password manager. With Lastpass premium (Android/iPhone), you can even have your account information available on your cell phone. This service also makes it easy to create secure passwords and to share your passwords with others securely.

Entertainment

Music: Not only have cell phones replaced cameras, they have also replaced Walkman’s and iPods. Now, it is easy to play music from your phone with apps like Spotify (Android/iPhone).

Games: If you have a few minutes and need to blow off some steam, a quick mobile game could be the answer. There are new games coming out every day, and there is something for everyone at every skill level. Need a place to start? Check out CNET’s Best Mobile Games of 2018 list.

Podcasts: If you’re looking for mobile entertainment that’s a bit more productive, you need to check out the wide world of Podcasts. These are bite-size episodes that you can download and listen to anywhere, and they are available for people with any interest. Pocket Casts (Android/iPhone) is a favorite player of choice here at the Vargas and Vargas Insurance office. You can find Podcasts about improving yourself both personally and professionally, as well as tons of news aggregates, and casts about any hobby you can think of. There is definitely something available for everyone.

Connectivity

Email: What would you do without access to your email while you’re away from your desk? If you’re an email-aholic (like most of us) then make sure that you’re not missing out on features. There are plenty of upgrades available, depending on your email provider and phone. The possibilities include Airmail, Inbox, Mailbird, and more.

Social Media: Stay connected no matter where you are with social media apps. Everyone knows about apps for Facebook and Twitter, etc. But have you heard of apps like Hootsuite? They allow you to manage all of your Social Media accounts in one place. And let’s face it – the less fragmentation, the better. They even allow you to schedule posts for your social media profiles!

Chat: Text messaging used to be the best way to communicate with others on your phone if you weren’t able to call. Now, some people barely use texts anymore in favor of other chat platforms like Slack (Android/iPhone) or Google Hangouts (Android/iPhone). One of the best parts of having these apps is that they also have computer integration, so you can carry on a seamless conversation whether you’re at home, at work, or on the go.

If you’re looking for insurance information while you’re on the go, you can always visit the Vargas and Vargas Insurance website on your mobile browser. There you will find plenty or resources to answer any questions you may have. And if you have a more specific need and want to talk to a top-notch Massachusetts insurance agent, reach out via email or call 617-298-0655.

Recap: Choosing a Real Estate Agent

“I still think buying a home is the best investment any individual can make.” – John Paulson

Looking to sell your Massachusetts home? There are lots of great real estate agents here in the Boston area that can help you through the process. If you’re trying to find the right Realtor for the job, look for these qualifications when interviewing potential candidates:

  • Full time agent – Make sure that your agent is committed to the local real estate market, and sees their job selling your house as more than just a ‘side gig.’
  • Expert on homes – Some Realtors focus their time on signing as many clients as they can, where they should be focused on helping you do everything you can to get top dollar for your home.
  • Proactive communication – There isn’t much more frustrating in the home selling process than feeling like you’re constantly in the dark about what’s going on with your home. Find an agent that will communicate early and often about the home selling process.

And remember, if you’re moving within Massachusetts, talk to Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency about how to insure your new home. As always, we will make sure to get you a home insurance policy that protects you and your loved ones without causing undue stress on your wallet. Our award-winning insurance agency is only a phone call away – just dial 617-298-0655 to speak to an agent!

The Complete Guide to Insuring a Teenage Driver

It’s understandable that you’re feeling a little nervous about your teenager starting to drive. Operating a vehicle is a huge responsibility, and the only way for your teen to learn how to be a good driver is to practice. Thankfully, Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency is here to help you and your teen through this process – at least when it comes to your insurance policy.

When you add your teenager to your Massachusetts auto insurance policy, you will notice your premium rise. This is because younger drivers are less experienced when on the road, meaning that they are at a higher risk for being involved in an accident. Thankfully, there are a few ways that you can offset this cost with discounts.

Each insurance provider is different, so talk to your Boston insurance agent about whether or not you qualify for these types of savings on your car insurance policy:

Good Student Discount

Is your teenager a good student? If so, you could save a significant amount on their car insurance policy. Many auto insurance providers offer a discount to teenagers that can prove academic success. How this is done is based on the insurer, but often involves a certain GPA, a highly ranking standardized test score, or inclusion on the honor roll or Dean’s List. These good student discounts are available to both high school and college students and may extend past a student’s teenage years. Ask your insurance agent to find out more about the requirements.

Drivers Education

Teenagers are expensive to insure. One of the biggest reasons for this is their increased risk. Because teenagers are still learning to drive, they have not yet mastered the rules of the road and are therefore more prone to being involved in accidents.

However, insurance providers know that teenagers with formal driving education are less of a risk on the road. That’s why many offer a rate reduction to those teens that pass Driver’s Education, whether it’s as a school class or offered elsewhere through a driving school. As you probably know, this is a requirement for receiving a Driver’s License in Massachusetts, so remember to tell your insurance agent once this is complete to see if it will result in a discount on your auto policy.

Vehicle Safety Features

If you are going to get your teenager their own car, you have a tradeoff to consider. Older cars are generally worth less, and therefore cost less to insure. On the other hand, you want to make sure that the car your teen drives has plenty of safety features in case of an accident. Some of these safety features can also earn you a discount on your car insurance. If you’re in the market for a new car, ask your agent about which features mean the most to insurance providers, and make sure to include them in your vehicle. Most often, this includes extra airbags to protect you in case of an accident, as well as anti-lock brakes and anti-theft devices.

Safety features are important but be careful of how many bells and whistles you allow your new driver to use. Distracted driving is an increasing problem as our cars get smarter, and teenagers can be especially susceptible to taking their eyes off the road and getting into an accident. For more information about the dangers of distracted driving, as well as the increase of dangerous ‘infotainment’ systems, read our blog post from December entitled “New Cars Causing an Increase in Distracted Driving.”

Harness Technology

There is a recent emergence in automobile technology that can help save you money as the parent of a teenage driver. With many insurance providers, you can choose to install a small device under the dash of your car that will monitor the way that your vehicle is driven, including the distance covered, times driven, speed, and hard braking.

It’s important to know, though, that this technology has its limits. You are able to view driving stats from your home computer (some of these services also have apps) but you can’t differentiate between drivers. Also, this technology can help safe drivers save money, but it probably won’t do you much good if the insurance provider’s algorithm doesn’t judge you as a good driver.

Other Money Saving Tips

It’s important to remember that you don’t need a teenager to save money on your auto insurance policy. At Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency, we use many methods to help our clients save on their auto insurance, including adjusting premiums and coverage, and much more!

So, let us ask you this: Are you receiving all the auto insurance discounts that you can for your teenage driver? If you’re not sure, just call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency at 617-298-0655. We can review your current auto insurance policy and see if there are any additional discounts for which you qualify.

Recap: Backyard Improvements

“I feel a responsibility to my backyard. I want it to be taken care of and protected.” – Annie Leibovitz

In our blog post from last week, we shared several ways that you can make your backyard summer-ready. Have you started on any of the projects that we suggested? If you need to refresh your memory, here is a quick recap of a few of the backyard improvement suggestions we made:

  • Make the grill the centerpiece of your backyard.
  • Prepare your pool for Summer use or think about adding one to your yard.
  • Turn a corner of your yard into a relaxation place where you can enjoy peace and quiet and a cold drink.
  • Throwing a cookout? Take inspiration from a cookout and add some fun yard games to entertain your guests.
  • Build a fire pit to fend off the evening chills of Spring, Summer, and Fall.
  • A deck or porch is a great way to enjoy the outdoors while minimizing the effect of the elements.

If you make any improvements to your home that change its value or your liability risk, make sure that you speak with your Massachusetts home insurance agent about whether you need a home insurance update. One quick call to Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency at 617-298-0655 and we will answer all of your insurance questions!

Gift Ideas for Graduates

As Spring begins to transition into summer, we prepare for graduation season. Graduation is an important time in a young person’s life. As they move from one lever of education to the next (or from education into the workforce) it is common for loved ones to acknowledge all the hard work they have accomplished with a gift. If there is a graduate in your life, we have a few ideas for thoughtful gifts that will stand out from the crowd, based on the age of the recipient.

Children

Whether your little one is graduating from Kindergarten, Elementary School, or Middle School, it is up to you to show them how proud you are of them, and how important it is to take pride in their education. Nowadays, many schools even offer graduation ceremonies to these students!

If you want to get these little graduates a gift, focus on an experience that they will remember. Have dinner out as a family to celebrate, or take a day trip to a place that your child will enjoy, like the New England Aquarium or the Boston Children’s Museum.

Want something that you can wrap and put a bow on? Encourage your child’s interests. Get an activity kit revolving around your child’s favorite subject, whether it’s art, science, or even Phys Ed! Alternatively, if your elementary school student is headed to a Middle School that gives out lockers, give him or her some locker decorations to prepare them for the transition.

Teenagers

High School graduation is a huge accomplishment. It signifies the end of ‘required’ schooling, and students have made the decision of whether they will continue their formal education or enter the workforce.

Teens that are going to college will need a lot of stuff. Those moving into a dorm or apartment of their own probably have a wish list full of décor and furniture that provides a great starting point for gift giving – not to mention that cash is always appreciated. They will probably also request a new laptop and/or tablet for their classes.

For those students that will be transitioning to the workforce, a gift that recognizes their new independence could be a good place to start. Watches or jewelry is a traditional graduation gift. Some graduates will take a hiatus from responsibilities to travel – for them, consider a nice camera or some luggage.

Young Adults

Nowadays, graduating from college is a rite of passage, and the point at which many young adults will formally enter the workforce full time. Commemorate this transition into independence with something that celebrates the young person’s metamorphosis.

Most of these young adults are getting ready to move into a more ‘adult’ home now that their undergraduate degree is in hand. You can help them prepare for this with a gift to fit their style – consider a nice coffee maker or slow cooker for their kitchen. You could also give a practical gift in the way of sprucing up their professional wardrobe.

Older Adults

For those who decided to take on post-secondary education, graduation is an even bigger accomplishment. Their education is clearly very important to them, and it takes a massive amount of work to get a diploma at this level.

Commemorate this occasion with a special gift! As we mentioned above, a watch or piece of jewelry is always appropriate, especially something that recognizes that the person has an advanced degree. And if your recipient is sentimental, consider something sweet and thoughtful, like a keepsake box.

Don’t forget – one of the most fun parts of giving and receiving gifts is in the presentation. Whatever gift you may choose, take it to the next level with over-the-top decoration that you will be proud to hand over. There are a ton of cute ideas for making your wrapping festive and fun without needing a degree in design – check out ideas from Hallmark for making your gift resemble a graduation cap or including a tissue paper tassel.

You can even print your own wrapping paper to make your gift extra special. If you’ve chosen to give cash, you’re not out of luck! There are plenty of creative ways to give a cash gift for graduation – here are just a few ideas from Hative.

And, for the adults graduating in your life, make sure that you pass on some of your wisdom: tell them all about how important it is to have the right insurance coverage. If they’re new to buying insurance, tell them that the process doesn’t have to be confusing or scary. Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency is a top Massachusetts insurance agency that can help them with all of their insurance needs: from home and renter’s insurance to car insurance and more. Have them save our number (617-298-0655) in their phone so that they can continue down the road to success with complete insurance protection for their bright future.

Recap: What to Do After Closing on a Home

“The American dream is still to own your home.” – Barry Sternlicht

Congratulations! You’ve just closed on a home in the Boston area, and are wondering what to do next. Thankfully, the Boston home insurance experts here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency are here to help you. After closing is complete, your ‘to-do’ list should include the following tasks:

  • Change the locks around the house – this should be your first priority since you never know how many copies of the old key are floating around with the old owner’s family and friends.
  • Usually, the seller will clean the home to a reasonable degree before moving out, but this is your chance to do a deep clean without any furniture in the home. You can take on the task of doing it yourself or hire a professional cleaning crew for a one-time job.
  • Again, since there’s no furniture or boxes in the house yet, now is the perfect time to take on projects like painting or resurfacing floors.

And to make sure that your new home is fully insured, place a call to Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency at 617-298-0655. We will review your needs and match you with a home insurance policy that fits the needs of you and your family. Our agents are always happy to answer questions and provide free home insurance quotes, so don’t hesitate to call when you’re on the road to homeownership.