| March 13, 2020
Many of us are spending a lot more time at home right now. Including the workdays. When we’d usually be reporting to our desks, we’re finding ourselves on our couches or at our kitchen tables, trying to complete to-do lists without the built-in discipline of the office.
The expectations are the same, but the environment is not. And it’s not always an easy transition.
The key to work-from-home success is to create an environment that allows you to focus on the tasks at hand. Whether you are working from home for the first time or just need a quick refresher, here are some tips for creating a functional but productive work area at home:
1. Select a space based on your needs.
The home office serves a great purpose, but it isn’t for everybody all the time. Would you like to fuel your creativity, or do you prefer a quiet environment for crunching numbers? You may find yourself curled up on the sofa one day and at the dining table the next, depending on the project. Determine how you usually divide your day. For example, are you more creative in the morning? You may spend that time writing or brainstorming ideas for your latest project. The afternoons then could be a more relaxed time spent sitting on the sofa, sifting through emails and completing the rest of your tasks for the workday.
Whether you work in a home office, kitchen or living room, if there’s “stuff” around that reminds you of your household chores, your eyes will go there and you’ll get distracted. Whenever you work from home, claim a clutter-free zone. This will help you stay focused on your workload and remain more aligned with an in-office experience.
3. Get ready for the day.
Many people think working from home means sitting around in pajamas with the television on in the background. Not true! Just like in an office setting, you have to set yourself up for success when working from home. Get ready as you would if you were going into the office. Set a morning ritual of getting dressed (no loungewear!), making your morning cup of coffee and doing whatever else you need to get in the right mindset. You may also want to jot down your work to-do list for the day. You increase your chances of being productive when you set an intention.
4. Put yourself in a good position.
Some people find it easy to work in bed or on the sofa. In either case, if you’re not sitting at a table, make sure you’ve got a small one within easy reach. You might not have a host of paperwork strewn out in front of you, but you will benefit from having the space to set a glass of water and your phone. Coffee tables and side tables fit the bill for any time you need extra space. You can also use a c-table to prop your laptop up to eye level and reduce strain on your neck. In addition to finding a surface space, you’ll also want to make sure to keep your posture in check. Prop yourself up with a few throw pillows to help maintain proper body alignment.
5. Turn on the lights.
Natural light through the windows can be lovely, but it can also cause glare on your computer screen. If windows work to your benefit and the view isn’t distracting, great. If not, pull the blinds and flip on the light switch. Table lamps and floor lamps provide targeted task light if your space has insufficient overhead lighting.
6. Create a home office ambiance.
One of the perks of working from home is being able to create a personalized work area in a way you may not be able to at the office. It’s all about creating a cozy yet productive space that is perfectly suited to your individual working style. Add elements that promote a calming or inspiring environment, such as fresh flowers, houseplants, task lighting, candles or beautiful crystals.
Related: This Is What Your Desk Should Look Like Based on Your Personality Type
7. Set your schedule.
No matter if you work from home sporadically, a few days a week or all the time, you’ll need to plan out your daily schedule. Establish your start time, midday break periods and what time you’ll clock out for the day. This will keep you on track with your workload. It also sends the message to your co-workers that you have a relatively set schedule—just like you would in the office.
8. Get out.
While working from your sofa can be great most of the time, sometimes you need to break up the day. Take a 10-minute walk around the block to freshen up and to encourage the flow of new ideas. Looking for a change of scenery? Head over to your local coffee shop or library to work there for a few hours as it fits into your schedule. Or, if you know others who work from home, invite them over for an informal co-working group. This will not only help you get closer to the in-office experience, but it can also be a substitute for watercooler chats and workplace socializing.
9. Log off!
One of the most important aspects of a healthy work-from-home routine is creating boundaries. Log off for the day—and not just from your laptop. Consider developing a phrase you say to yourself at the end of the day, to signal your mind that it’s time to stop thinking about work. Have a last-minute idea come up after office hours? Jot it down, but come back to it tomorrow. Just because you have access to work anytime doesn’t mean you should be logged in 24/7. Allow yourself to have downtime to create a work-life balance—we all need it, no matter where we are working.
Medically reviewed by Timothy J. Legg, PMHNP-BC, GNP-BC, CARN-AP, MCHES on April 1, 2016 — Written by Jerisha Parker Gordon
Stress in America
Do your shoulders instantly tense up with the thought of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season? Does your heart skip a beat when you think about spending the entire day with your extended family during the most wonderful time of the year? Does the thought of a revolving balance on your credit card from overspending keep you up at night?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’re not alone. Money and family responsibilities are some of the top sources of stress in America.
Before the stress of the holidays sneaks up on you, read on to learn how to enjoy your most stress-free holiday season yet.
The Most Common Symptoms of Holiday-Related Stress
Stress can wreak havoc on the body in many different ways. Symptoms of stress can include the following:
- body aches
- inability to sleep
Who Is Affected by Holiday Related Stress?
Holiday stress can affect anyone, even children. There are a lot of expectations around the holidays. Many people associate the holidays with social gatherings, rituals, and happy memories. These expectations can lead to stress.
It can quickly become overwhelming to make every meal award-worthy and every wrapped gift look perfect. Finding the time to attend every party, or feeling like you haven’t been invited to enough parties can cause stress. When you add the financial burden, travel, and visiting family members, stress can start to pile up. There’s also a desire to cram in every tradition and event to make sure each day is memorable.
Finally, the holidays can also be a difficult time of the year for people who have lost friends and family members. The memory of their loss can add to other sources of stress and hurt even more.
Tips for Managing Holiday Stress
1. Plan Ahead
Finding time for all of your holiday activities can be tricky. On top of your holiday commitments, you may also have to deal with increased traffic, especially around malls. Or you may feel extra pressure to get ahead of work so that you can take time off to travel.
Creating an action plan can help to relieve stress. Write down all of the things you need to do so that you can prioritize the things that are most important. You will also be less likely to forget something if you have a list.
2. Put Yourself First
With such a huge focus during the holidays on giving, it can be easy to forget to give back to yourself. Taking care of yourself will improve your mood and make it easier for you to take care of others.
Set aside some time to do things you enjoy. Find time to exercise, plan a dinner out, or just get a few minutes of fresh air. And don’t forget the importance of a regular good night’s sleep.
3. Keep Your Finances in Check
If you’re worried about your spending and how it will affect you after the holidays are over, be realistic about what you can afford to spend. The sentiment behind a gift is more important than the cost.
Create a budget and stick to it. Spend only what you can afford, and if you don’t have the ability to spend anything, bake a treat or offer your talents and time to your friends and loved ones.
4. Honor Loved Ones You Have Lost
It may be difficult to celebrate the holiday season if you’ve lost someone dear to you or distance makes it difficult to spend time together.
Spend this holiday season reflecting on special memories and how you will honor the person you lost by doing something meaningful in their honor. If you’re unable to spend time with loved ones, volunteer your time to a local organization where your smiling face could change someone’s day. Their smile could most certainly warm your heart.
5. Indulge in Moderation
Indulge in foods that you may only have once a year, but don’t forget the importance of healthy eating as well. A glass of eggnog or five sugar cookies for breakfast isn’t going to completely derail your eating plan. But it’s not a realistic way to eat every day during the holidays. Not only will it leave you feeling ill, but also the pounds will quickly sneak up on you. Everything in moderation is key this time of year.
6. Don’t Be Afraid to Say No
It’s okay to say “no,” and the more you say it, the easier it will get. Say “yes” to the events and things that you know will bring you joy. Say “no” to obligations that you know will cause you heartache and disappointment. If working a few extra hours of overtime will make you happy so you can treat your mom to her first new television in twenty years, do it. But if your neighbor that you’re not too fond of invites you to a holiday party, feel free to decline. You’ll be happy that you did.
Should You See a Doctor?
If you’ve tried the tips above and your mood hasn’t improved, speak to your doctor. Just sharing your feelings with your doctor may help you feel better. If not, your doctor can discuss prescription medications or other treatment plans that might be able to help.
When it comes to stress, it’s important to listen to what your body and mind are telling you. If a situation is too stressful, ask yourself why it’s stressful and what you can do to better manage your stress. Not only will this help you to deal with holiday stress, but it can also help you better manage stress throughout the year.
by Erin Pettus
1. Tap Your Support Network
Your support network is made up of the people who are in a position to help you get your degree. Your support network might include your family, friends, significant other, children, and your fellow students.
A group of students that enter a program together are called a cohort. Often, these students will follow a similar education track and complete the program around the same time. Your cohort might have a mixture of traditional and adult students, but it’s ok to seek out those who are balancing work and school, just like you.
Your family may be able to offer support at home by maybe taking on more domestic tasks, but your cohort at school can offer support in the form of resources and empathy as they’re going through the same experience that you are. Build your support network to include as many people as you can, and don’t be afraid to ask for help and support when you need it.
2. Manage Your Time Well
When you’re looking for balance, one of the biggest questions you’ll want to answer is how much time you can devote to what tasks. One of the most important aspects of time management is knowing yourself and scheduling time to study at your most efficient work hours. This might mean staying up later than normal or getting up early on the weekends to get in your study time. Time blocking is one technique that helps you to prioritize your to-do list, and honestly scheduling the time necessary for each task at the best time of the day.
If time blocking is just a little bit too much for you, consider creating a weekly and monthly schedule. A weekly schedule will focus on the details of how you spend your time and a monthly schedule will be more broad, letting you plan ahead for weeks that might be busier than others. We’ve also put together a list of study tips to help you use the time you have efficiently.
3. Talk to Your Boss
We understand that this might be intimidating, but the sooner you inform your boss that you’re going back to school, the more willing they will probably be to make accommodations. Letting your boss know that you’re going back to school will allow them to be more understanding of your elevated stress and work levels. You might even be surprised—many bosses want to help their employees go back to school, or may be in a position to offer a promotion once you’ve earned your degree.
You can also more easily balance school and work by taking time off during high stress times at school. As soon as you receive your class syllabus, look ahead to when midterms and finals will be. If you can take time off from work, try to schedule it around those high-stress time so your school stress won’t affect your performance at your job.
It might sound extreme, but you might also want to consider finding a flexible job when going back to school. A job with a flexible schedule, or one that’s part time, might make it easier to go back to school and manage your time.
4. Streamline Your Tasks
Streamlining your tasks will make it easier to get everything done. Consider this example: when you run errands would you prefer to get five items at 5 different stores or five items at one store? You’d pick one store, right? It would save you time and money spent on gas. Think of your work for school and your job like that.
If you have to do a project for school, can you make it about something at work so that you’re working on both at the same time? Maybe you can implement new skills that you learn at school while at work. Instead of keeping your work and school lives separate, let them integrate and make your time use more efficient. You might also consider doing homework on your lunch break or keep your school materials in your car so you can go directly from work to the library to study.
5. Optimize Your Tuition
There are many options for aid when paying for school. There are scholarships, grants, loans, and employer tuition assistance. For most students, loans should be the last option as they’re very expensive to pay back.
When applying and choosing your school, look for a school that gives you the most benefit for each dollar you will spend. We’re not recommending that you choose the cheapest school, nor are we saying the the most expensive schools are the best schools. What you want to look for is a school that will give you the biggest benefit for the money that you will spend.
6. Consider Online Classes
Online classes can make going back to school so much easier while working full-time. Most online courses give students the flexibility to work when they can, not have to show up at a certain time in a physical location (or commute!). Some online courses even offer self-paced classes, allowing students to start and stop when they need to. Be sure to look for online classes that will fit your learning style.
7. Love What You’re Studying
One of the easiest ways to find the time to balance work and school is to choose to study something that you love. If you love your classes, the homework, and your new area of study, then you’ll be more motivated to put in the necessary time and prioritize your school work over distractions. You might be surprised just how motivated you can be by doing something that you love.
We hope that these tips will help you to find balance in your life and be able to more easily manage going back to school while also working. This is one of our favorite topics to talk about so be sure to check back on our blog to see more great content just like this.
You have finally secured the coveted job interview, so what happens next? Here are 7 steps to help you prepare.
1. Pick your outfit
What you wear on your interview is an absolutely crucial part of how to prepare for a job interview. After you choose your outfit, make sure it is cleaned and pressed and you have the appropriate accessories and shoes to go with it. It doesn’t hurt to try the outfit on ahead of time, just to make sure everything fits and you look great. Then put your outfit aside for the day of your interview and have it ready to go. Now that you have this crucial step out of the way, you can concentrate on the rest.
2. Practice greeting your interviewer:
You should always greet your interview with a friendly smile and firm handshake. If you do this right, you will set off the right energy and the chances of the interview going well will increase. This is a small and simple step that you should always to do to prepare for your interview
3. Study your resume and know everything about it:
Any work experience or skills you have listed on your resume are fair game to talk about during the interview. Your resume is all the interviewer has to go by in order to get to know you. They may pick things out from it and ask you to elaborate. Even though you may have a previous job listed that was many years ago, the interviewer may ask you to explain what you did at that job and you are responsible for providing an answer. This is one step you absolutely won’t want to skip on how to prepare for a job interview.
4. Practice your answers to the most common interview questions:
If you don’t know what these are, do your research and find out or see one of my other articles. You’ll want to have your answers ready and practice them. You should always be able to answer “Tell me about yourself” and “Why do you think you would be great for this job?” The employer doesn’t know, so it’s up to you to sell it.
Don’t completely memorize your answers so they come out rehearsed, but have a clear idea of what you are going to say. When you are asked, you want your answer to come out intelligently and natural. Be open to other questions as well and really know what you can offer to the company.
5. Research the company and the job position you are applying for:
Write down any questions you may have about either so you can ask during the interview. If there any requirement of the job that you are unsure of, you should definitely ask during the interview. It always looks nice when you go into an interview with intelligent questions. It shows you put effort into preparing for the interview. However, never ask questions just to ask questions. The interviewer will see right through that. Your questions should be genuine and relevant.
6. Find out the type of interview you will be going on:
There are several common types of interviews such as one on one, group, and behavioral. You shouldn’t assume you will get a certain one. Don’t be afraid to ask your recruiter what kind of interview will have if you don’t know – the interview will be more beneficial to both parties if you are prepared.
7. Print out the directions to the interview and be on time:
Allow enough time to get there and anticipate traffic. It’s ok to be up to 10 minutes early, but no more than that. Otherwise, the interviewer may not be ready for you. Bring the phone number of your interviewer just in case you get lost or are going to be late. If you are going to be late, call to let the interviewer know.
Follow these tips and you will successfully know how to prepare for a job interview. Interviewers can tell whether or not a candidate has prepared for it or not and they will appreciate it if you did.
.Since June 1 began hurricane season here in Florida, we thought it would be a good idea to share some information regarding preparations for either a hurricane or a tropical storm.
You can’t stop a tropical storm or hurricane, but you can take steps now to protect you and your family.
If you live in areas at risk, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourages you to begin preparing for hurricane season. The Atlantic hurricane season is June 1 through November 30 each year.
Please follow these important hurricane preparedness tips from CDC:
- Preparing for a hurricane: Take basic steps now to ensure your safety should a storm hit. Discuss the plan with family members so everyone is aware of what to do in an emergency.
- Emergency supplies you will need: Stock your home and car with supplies. Food should be non-perishable. Gasoline may be in short supply, so when a storm nears, make sure your tank is full.
- Make a plan: Create a family disaster plan. Include a phone number that all family members can call to check in after the storm passes.
- Avoid flooded areas: Take precautions before, during, and after a flood. Storm surge can quickly flood low lying areas and water depth can be misleading.
- Prepare to evacuate: NEVER ignore an evacuation order, especially if you are in a flood zone. Where to evacuate should be part of your preparation plan so you won’t be scrambling at the last minute trying to decide where to go. Make reservations in advance if you plan to go to a hotel/motel, as they quickly fill up during an evacuation order.
- Protecting older adults: Understand older adult health and medical concerns, as well as making sure you have a supply of medications on hand. If you are planning to go to a local shelter, you most likely will need to pre-register to ensure you are able to obtain a space. Most shelters have special rooms designated for the special needs adults.
- Protect pets: Make sure of your pet’s safety before, during, and after an emergency. If you are evacuating to either a local shelter or to a hotel/motel, make sure ahead of time that pets are accepted. Local shelters will require you to provide shot records and pre-registration.
- Prevent carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning after the storm: Ensure your CO detector has working batteries. Place generators outside at least 20 feet from any door, window, or vent. Make sure you have ample fuel for your generator on hand as gasoline may be in short supply before, during, and after the storm.
- After a hurricane: Learn how to avoid injuries, make sure your food and water are safe, and be sure to clean up any mold safely. Broken glass and live electrical wires are common after a hurricane, so be sure you use caution when you are out walking and when walking your pets.
CDC strongly recommends that you print all important resources before a hurricane strikes. Power outages during and after a hurricane can prevent you from accessing information online when you most need it. Preparing now can help keep you and your family safe.