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Monday, 23 April 2018 15:15

4 Easy Ways to Better Organization

Organization is one of those small things that make a big difference.  Cluttered, disorganized spaces make us less productive, and it can be stressful to constantly feel like you’re playing catch up.

A well-executed organization plan is a key to success in business and at home, and it’s worth the effort to get things to a manageable place.  Read along for some of our best, easiest ways to stay organized.

Clear your space

Start by clearing out! If you’re naturally a disorganized person, the idea of organization can be slightly overwhelming.  Simply start by clearing the clutter and items you don’t like. You can also work to remove unsightly items, such as cords and other things that can be moved out of the way.

According to NAPO and BecomingMinimalist.com, 91% of people said they would be more effective and efficient if their workspace was better organized.

So not only is this task made to make your life easier; it can improve your work!

Make it a habit

Don’t let it build up! Whether it’s papers, digital files, your desktop, your kitchen island, or anything else that’s prone to clutter, be proactive about keeping it in shape.  This isn’t to say that it has to be 100% clear all the time, but make it a habit. Take a few minutes each day to organize each space so that the next day doesn’t feel overwhelming.

Create a system

Once your general clutter is clear, you can start to systemize your organization habits.  This can even be fun! There are plenty of fun storage and organization products at stores like The Container Store, Home Goods, Target, and so on.  You can pick out the items that will look best and serve you best, while making it your own.

Not everyone organizes the same way either! This is another place where you can pick your own style.  Do you prefer digital? There are tons of apps and pieces of equipment that allow you to scan all receipts, documents, and so on, and from there, you can organize them by file. If you prefer paper organization, choose a filing schedule and method that keeps things clear in your mind.

It’s important to keep to your organization schedule as well! Maybe take 60 minutes every Friday morning, or 10 minutes per day, if that’s more your style.  Maybe Monday is 20 minutes of digital file organization, Tuesday is 20 minutes at home, and Wednesday is all of your digital clutter. Make it work for you!

Create files

As we discussed, whether you’re paper or digital is a personal choice.  Things are moving more to the digital realm, but sometimes it’s still nice to have a hard copy.

You might think you can just wing your documents in either format, but it’s never very reliable.  You don’t want things to back up, or worse yet, get lost. Create files that make sense to you, and work to keep everything in its proper place.

Even if your desktop is clean, your individual folders should also be organized.  In addition, if you keep paper files, you should have everything in its correct place, not just out of sight.

Organization doesn’t have to be a challenge! Take some time each day or week, and keep it in the forefront of your thinking.  It will make your life easier and your workload more productive!

Published in Work from Home Tips
Monday, 16 April 2018 15:53

4 Summer Activities for Kids

Summer is coming up quickly! It’s getting warmer and pretty soon, the kids will be home for summer break.  While it’s obvious that the pool, having friends over, and local sports are great activities for this time of year, what else can your kids do during their time off?

We’ve compiled a few ideas that can be inexpensive fun for your kids this summer!

Get creative

You don’t have to do crafts to be creative! The summer months are often spent outside, but once in a while, you’ll encounter a rainy or just “too hot” day.  This is a great time to get creative!

Look up some new recipes and bake or cook something fun with your kid, like their own pizza dough for individual pizzas! You can also bake play items such as homemade play dough and slime.  Other crafts can include painting pottery and creating jewelry. Exercise their minds by planning creative activities that get them thinking and participating!

Another option is to make a stand, such as a lemonade, Kool-Aid or popsicle stand.  This can be a fun craft that takes a few days or weeks to complete, and also teaches your kids about money and sales.  Teach them how to run the stand, create it, and what they need to be successful. It’s not only a good way to spend time, but also includes teachable moments.

Get in nature

This is the time to be outside! Barring those really hot and rainy days, kids benefit from a lot of time in nature.  While the local pool is a great option beyond the iPad, being in true nature is also something to strive for this summer.

There’s everything from camping, the local trails, swimming at the beach (if it’s nearby), and much more.  Let your kids explore and get dirty! Look up local paths and trails that lead to hidden places in your area.

Another great way to expose your kids to the more natural life is to garden.  Have them participate in the planting of trees, veggies, or flowers. Most kids love to get involved in this type of activity!

Free local activities

Local websites will often list free activities! During the summer, local attractions like museums, zoos, art galleries, splash pads, and small amusement parks will have free days, afternoons, or discounted days.

This is a great way to save money while still indulging in the fun! Look into these options a few weeks in advance and make plans to meet up.

Learn something new

Just because school is out doesn’t mean that your kids can’t be learning! Whether you want to teach your young child to read over the summer, or teach your 10-year-old how to throw a football, this is a great time to introduce new skills.

Additionally, there are beginner language courses via phone, TV or computer, or you can teach them yourself, if you have the time! Create flashcards and make it a fun, family-friendly immersive experience to learn a new language over the summer.

Summer doesn’t need to become a second school year, but you can foster new skills and interests during the break.  This way, they’ll go back to school having expanded their knowledge and used their brain!

Published in Work from Home Tips
Monday, 09 April 2018 16:11

5 Tips to Avoid Work Burnout

Work burnout is a real thing! According to MayoClinic.org, it is defined as “a state of physical, emotional or mental exhaustion combined with doubts about your competence and the value of your work.”  It can cause mental, physical, and psychological stress, and there are many signs of it.

According to Forbes.com, if you’re experiencing burnout, you might have: exhaustion, lack of motivation, frustration and cynicism, cognitive problems, problems at work and home, lack of care for yourself, and more.  These are clearly issues that need to be addressed, and working to avoid burnout is the first step.

Stick to office hours

Since we have our phones and computers constantly at our fingertips, it can be tempting to answer emails and requests at all hours.  While this is possible, it shouldn’t be the case most of the time! Sure, there might be a late night every once in a while, but it should be the exception - not the rule.  Make time for yourself and stick to your office hours.

You can set office hours by figuring out how much time it takes you to do your work on a daily basis, and then you should only be emailing, texting, and answering calls for work during this time. Work will only sleep if you let it, so make a boundary here to keep your own sanity.

Make time for fun

Fun is important! It’s crucial to have things to look forward to, and it’s up to you to make those plans sometimes. Set up social events with friends or family, schedule a fun night with girlfriends, or make a standing walking date with a local mom who also works from home.

When you’re scheduling fun into your everyday life (not just vacations!), you can come back to work refreshed.  Bonus points if your “fun” activities include relaxation, such as a spa treatment, yoga class, or meditation group.

Say no

We get it - it’s hard to say no.  We want to do it all and we don’t want to miss out on anything.  While saying “no” can be difficult in the moment, it’s truly important to keep space in your life for the things you want to do, as well as space for simple rest.  We are all very “busy” these days, which makes us productive, but much more prone to burnout.

Say “no” when you can, and don’t feel guilty about it.  There are plenty of other opportunities to say “yes,” and it’s important to be discerning about where your time and energy goes.

Take a step back

Vacations are another way to put something to look forward to into your life! But while a full blown vacation isn’t always a possibility, taking breaks is equally important.

Schedule your breaks like you would schedule anything else in your day.  Take 10 minutes for a walk in the late morning, a 10 minute sweeping break in early afternoon, and 30 minutes to pick up your kids in the late afternoon.  Breaking up your day can make work feel more refreshing when you come back. Just stepping away for a bit - whether 5 minutes or 1 week - can really make a difference in your attitude.

Take a tech break

We already discussed that having all of this technology in our faces all day can be a challenge.  We’re productive, but are we happy? Or are we burning out? It’s not always possible to shut off your phone or computer, but you can put it down for a few hours in the evening.

When you break from technology, you’re breaking from seeing things that are work related. This gives your brain a chance to disconnect from the phone and internet, making it easier to connect in the morning.  You might even find that you come back much more eager to work when you haven’t spent your evening staring at a screen too!

Published in Work from Home Tips

Working from home provides more flexibility and time with family and friends, but it can also be isolating if you’re not careful.

When work is home and home is work, you can easily fall into the habit of rarely leaving the house, or rarely being social.  If you’re a parent, the issue can be compounded by a lack of time. Although it can be difficult, making time to be social is a very important component in your quality of life.  Read along for some tips to stay social as a work from home parent!

Involve the kids

Not all social events have to be kid-free! Especially if your kids are very, very young or a bit older, this can be a great option.  You can set up fun play dates for your kids while you and your friend(s) grab a cup of coffee or take a walk.

Set up an afternoon in the park while the kids play on the playground and enjoy time chatting with the other moms.

Make it a date

Create a standing date! Set up weekly or monthly time with girlfriends or a group, and make it non-negotiable.  A social life can truly make the difference between happiness and feeling isolated and lonely, so it needs to be a priority.

Your spouse, whether they work in a traditional office or not, will also need some time to socialize.  If you watch the kids on Monday night, maybe they can do the same on Thursday evening. It’s important to trade off so you’re both doing things that bring you happiness and socialization.

Additionally, social events don’t need to be all day.  You can take a few hours to attend a happy hour with a friend, walk a few loops around the block while you chat, or simply meet in a park for an hour.  The goal is to socialize on a consistent basis; it doesn’t need to be extensive or expensive.

Create your own group

If you don’t have many friends or aren’t finding the right groups in your area, create your own! Sites such as Meetup.com allow you to create a custom group.  You might set one up based on a certain age group, hobby or common interest, or make it for moms only.

When you create your group, you get the added benefit of choosing the activities you love to do.  You’ll meet like-minded people who likely share a similar lifestyle and enjoy doing the same things.

Being social as a work from home parent may take a little bit of work, but once you create a schedule that works for you and your family, it can become something you truly look forward to.  Create the social experiences that interest you and work for you and your family!

Published in Work from Home Tips