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How to Efficiently Work from Home

By: Danielle Koban

When a career offers you the flexibility to work from home, you take it. But contrary to popular belief, working from home doesn’t mean Netflix binges and unicorn frappuccinos. When I tell people I don’t always work from an office, I often hear things like, “Oh, you don’t have a real job” and “So you don’t really work.” I’m here to tell you that those statements aren’t true.

Image from pexels.com

Image from pexels.com

Working from home is an art and it’s not for everybody. With office cultures becoming more accepting of unconventional work arrangements, learning to effectively work from home is a valued skill. Whether you work remotely full-time or only a few days a week, here are a few tricks of the trade that serve me when I’m working from home.

 

Create Your Space

Image from pexels.com

Image from pexels.com

Having a designated space to actually sit and do your work is key. You need a place that when you sit down, you know it’s time to work. This space will look differently for most people. Kitchen tables, outdoor patios, spare bedrooms with a desk, whatever space, make it your own. Ensure you have all the tools you need in reach when you sit down to work, like your planner, pens, notebook, and whatever else you may need. Make your space a convenient place to set up shop for the day. If you’re fortunate enough to have a dedicated office space at home, personalize it! Hang pictures that inspire you and surround yourself with colors that bring you joy. Create your space where you can do your best work every time you turn your laptop on.

 

Set A Schedule

Image from pexels.com

Image from pexels.com

This is arguably the most crucial piece of the puzzle when you’re working from home. If you plan to work from home without setting a schedule, the next thing you know you’ll be sleeping in until 9 and binging on Netflix by lunch. Coming into the work day with a clear outline of your day and your work hours will ensure you stay focused and you’re working efficiently.

If you work on a team, setting a clear schedule also means communicating to your team members what your working hours are. Let them know if you’re planning to log-on a little earlier so you can sign-off early for a birthday dinner. Make sure to have discussions with your team or your boss about what they expect from your when you’re working remotely. Talk about when they expect you to be available and what hours they plan on working, in case you need to collaborate on projects or call them with a question. Communication and structure when working remotely are key.

 

Have a To-Do List

Image from pexels.com.

Image from pexels.com.

Hand-in-hand with setting a schedule is having a to-do list. A list of your tasks and priorities will help you keep on track and in line with your schedule. It’s good to get in the habit of making a to-do list in the morning or even the night before. Starting the day with tasks already in mind will help to not throw off your mojo when you sit down to work in an environment that’s not your standard office setting. It’s easier to stay focused on tasks when you already know what they are.

Something else to keep in mind is to respect your own time and end your work day when you planned to. It’s so easy to work longer hours to check more items off your to-do list because there is less distraction, no time wasted commuting, and you’re in your zone in your athleisure outfit instead of a pencil skirt. But if you say you’re signing off at a certain time, make sure to do it. A clear delineation of work time and personal time is necessary when working from home.

 

Take Time To Enjoy Your Morning

Image from pexels.com

Image from pexels.com

You don’t need to immediately hop out of bed and start working. Just because you can start working earlier doesn’t mean you have to. It’s nice to have the flexibility to start your work day earlier because you don’t have to commute and look like a functioning member of society but remember to take time before your work day starts to have a moment to yourself. Use the time you’d normally use to get ready and drive to work to go for a run, do some chores, read a book, or work on your side hustle. You’ll feel more accomplished and productive during your work day when you know you’ve already crossed personal to-dos off your list.

 

Make an Attempt at Getting Ready

Image from pexels.com

Image from pexels.com

A huge perk of working from home is not having to get ready and decide on an outfit in the morning. While it may be tempting not to shower and lounge around in your sweatpants all day, I promise you’ll feel more productive and like a functioning member of society if you actually shower and “get ready” before you start working. At the very least, change out of your PJs into athleisure wear. This helps set the tone that it’s time to work and I guarantee you’ll be more alert and ready for the day.

 

Remember to Move

Image from pexels.com

Image from pexels.com

When you’re in an office, you’re most likely getting up to talk to people, walking to grab coffee, or going outside get lunch. When you’re working from home, you definitely won’t be moving around as much (and I have the FitBit activity to prove it). So don’t forget to get up and move throughout the day. Do a lap around your house or take a 10-minute walk outside. On days where my schedule is more flexible, I’ve been known to go for a run during lunchtime. It makes a world of difference to get your blood flowing. Your productivity will soar if you take regular movement breaks. I mean you can only stare at as screen for so long before you start to go crazy.

 

Do Your Best to Avoid Distractions

Image from pexels.com

Image from pexels.com

Imagine all the things you can do in your house: watch TV, read a book, work out, infinitely scroll through social media, become one with your couch. Now imagine not doing any of those things for at least eight straight hours. Working from home doesn’t sound so like much fun anymore, does it?

It takes a lot of willpower to not check your phone during conference calls because you know that no one can see you, but you have to remember you’re at work even though you’re physically at home. If you’re in a room where you can actually close a door to distractions, then do it. If you have to keep your phone in a drawer, do it. The first few times your work from home may seem like fun and games, but you’ll realize quickly when you’re to-do list starts growing that there is actual work to be done and you need to focus. So start working out those willpower muscles.

Do you love the idea of working from home but your current employer doesn’t allow it? Maybe it’s time to consider a career change.


Six Degrees Society Contributor_ Danielle Koban

Danielle Koban is a Resource Management professional by trade and a freelance writer and blogger by choice. An Upstate New York native, she attended the University at Albany, where she earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees in Accounting. It was during her career transitions where she unearthed her passion for writing and sharing her experiences with others. In addition to SDS, her work has been featured in Elite Daily, Mavenly + Co., Elana Lyn, and Her Agenda. She now resides in Charlotte, North Carolina with her fiance and german shepherd, Moose. When she’s not working or writing, you can find her running the streets of Charlotte (literally) and enjoying a glass of wine in the Carolina sunshine. To learn more about Danielle follow her on Instagram at @daniellekoban and visit her website www.danielledoolen.com.

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How to Take Care of Your Aging Parents: 5 Simple Steps to Getting Started

By: Kathryn Selby

As they say, the only two things that are certain in life are Death & Taxes. So, I am going to share my experience around the first, death. Yes, I realize it is morbid but it will happen, and trust me, in situations like these, it is best to be paperwork ready because emotionally, you will never be.

How to care for aging parents_six degrees society_Kathryn Selby

A little back story on my life and how I got to learn so much about Estate Planning, Financial Management & Caring for an aging parent:

I am an only child, I have always been slightly paranoid about everything, I have a knack for always finishing things and wrapping them up in a “nice little bow,” and I love checking off my to-do’s.  However, it is the combination of these character traits that have gotten me through some pretty “grown up” stuff early on in life!

(Meme: MemeSuper.com)

My mom passed away when I was in my teens, leaving just my dad and I. My dad was your typical numbers nerd and I was a shopper with no sense of numbers. I never got higher than a C in any math class, I swear. I’m telling you this to give you hope, even if you are not a numbers girl, you too can help your parents start talking about the tough numbers in life: finances, long term care, wills, etc.

My dad got sick with Parkinson’s and dementia early on in his life and I saw his day-to-day life rapidly change. He was no longer himself and could not do the things he needed to do such as paying credit card bills or remembering to take his medications. Hopefully your situation will not resemble mine, but nonetheless you should understand what will need to be done when your aging parent is no longer able to care for him/herself. So many things can be done ahead of time.

When the Parkinson’s started progressing I worked with him on a small scale. No adult likes to have their freedom taken away at once as this can be very detrimental. It took all my patience (and I did not have it at times) to not take control of everything and wrap it up in a “neat little bow” and just be done with it.

5 SIMPLE STEPS TO GET YOU STARTED:

The first 4 are documents you should take care of before your parent becomes ill or unable to care for themselves, these will be very helpful and make the process much easier.

  1. Power of Attorney, the authority to act for another person in specified or all legal or financial matters. Make sure you (or whomever they feel best) get Power of Attorney for your parents. This means you can pay bills, change account information etc. Also make sure you get several notarized copies of the Power of Attorney because many people will need the original and you don’t get that back. One thing to note is that most banks require a specific bank power of attorney form on file separate of the one you will do with a lawyer.

  2. Health Care Proxy, a document (legal instrument) with which a patient (primary individual) appoints an agent to legally make healthcare decisions on behalf of the patient, when he or she is incapable of making and executing the health care decisions stipulated in the proxy. This allows you to talk to doctors, understand care requirements and this becomes more and more important when taking care of an aging parent.

  3. The Will, a legal document containing instructions as to what should be done with one's money and property after one's death. This is straight forward but make sure it is updated and stored in a very secure spot, safe deposit or in a secure location at the home.

  4. The Living Will, a written statement detailing a person's desires regarding their medical treatment in circumstances in which they are no longer able to express informed consent, especially an advance directive. This is the “who pulls the plug” document and in my case, I knew that I was not emotionally capable of doing this, so we appointed my aunt. Know who you can and can’t call on in times of distress or difficult decisions.

  5. A Plan of Action, Start to talk to your parents about what will happen as they age, retire or get ill.  Do they want to go to a nursing home or do they want to have home health care? Do they have insurance that will cover these? What will be the determining factor to stop driving or stop living alone. I caution that you should not bombard them with all of these questions at once. However, when they are still vital and energetic, that is the time to start these conversations. This is not an easy conversation but knowing what they want will put you and them at ease and make the transition smoother for everyone. 

Care for aging parents_Six degrees Society

 

(Photo: Mark Bowden)

LONG Story short…Talk to your parents. Death totally sucks, but it happens and trust me it can be hard now (but you can still ask your parents for help) OR it can be really hard later and you can be doing it all alone.

I am not an attorney, a tax consultant or a financial planner. I am an Art History major who works in Sales with some heartfelt advice from my hefty life experience that I’m hoping can help you become more equipped for the inevitable!

Know that everyone goes through this at some point, so you are never alone and you can always ask for help from your lawyers, accountants, family and friends.

 

 

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