Working Remotely? Time to Change Up your Home Office

Working remotely from home has some huge benefits: your coworkers never know if you are wearing pajama pants, there’s no long commute drive to and from work each day, and nobody (besides your family!) cares that you are blasting your music or podcasts throughout your workday.

If you are new to remote working, it may feel like you got shoved into it, and once you set up your VPN and your laptop, you may not have thought much about the space that you occupy for about 8 hours a day. If you are spending that much time in one spot though, you might as well make the most of it! Let’s dig into some ways that you can change your office surroundings, even if your home office happens to be your dining room table.

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1. Have a clean backdrop for any video conferencing. While it’s fun to look at everyone’s backgrounds with pictures of pets and kids, and try to guess which books on the bookshelf behind them they’ve cracked open to read recently, it’s distracting. The space behind you should be relatively boring so that you can keep a good work-life balance: something that can be hard to come by when you’re finding yourself working from home. Below are some tips to help keep distractions behind you to a minimum:

  • Remove any personalized items including framed photos that your webcam may show.
  • Take down any wall hangings that include quotes on them.
  • If you have a large bookcase, aim to have the books be out of focus. (You can do this on some upscale webcams.)
  • If you can’t easily blur out the background of your home office, opt for a simple backdrop, either by pinning a bed sheet behind you, or purchasing a simple background. (Zoom, for example, even has free backgrounds to blur out your actual room.)

2. Add some music! Instead of playing music from your laptop speakers, which, let’s be honest, probably aren’t great, consider investing in a real speaker to place beside your desk, or even in that bookshelf behind you that you’re trying hide. The KEF LS50 is a mini bookshelf speaker, so it doesn’t take up a lot of space, but does offer a lot better audio quality than any built-in computer speakers. After all, you can listen to your podcasts all day without anyone judging you. (Just don’t get mad if your productivity decreases a little.)

3. While you may be used to the fluorescent lights of many corporate offices, you don’t have to deal with that at home. In fact, you can choose to have different hued lights depending on the time of day. Add a welcoming lamp on your desk, or floor lamp beside you, and use a bulb that can switch from bright blue-based light in the morning to red-based or warmer tones in the afternoon. There are several bulb options on the market right now that allow you to switch hues, including the very popular Philips brand. Warmer toned lights in the afternoon help your body understand that the sun is getting lower in the sky, and has been linked to improving your ability to sleep.

4. The last thing you want to do when you see your home office it feels like it doesn’t represent you, or fit with the rest of the house. Although it’s advisable to keep your immediate background devoid of personalized things, you can add a cozy blanket to throw on your lap as you work, a fun rug to add color, and desk accessories or even a vase of fresh flowers from the garden. You may be working, you are doing it from the comfort of your home. If you’re craving a creative office space, check out these options. Searching for more inspiration to inspire productivity? Architecture Digest has an amazing selection that can help motivate you to get down to business.

5. Consider purchasing a standing desk. If you’re going to be working at home for the foreseeable future, it might be time to purchase a standing-sitting desk. People who have sitting jobs have an increased risk for diabetes and heart disease, so if you can switch out some of your sitting with standing, you’ll reduce these risks. You’ll want to find an adjustable one so that you can stand or sit depending on your mood; make sure you also have a supportive rug where you stand, since standing on hard surfaces for prolonged periods of time will end up hurting your feet.

Working from home might be a little strange for those of you who have spent years physically interacting with your coworkers, but it certainly does offer more freedom to your surroundings.

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Fiscal Stability Comes Down To Spending Sensibly

A lot of people think that fiscal stability is an unattainable goal. They might think that they could only improve their financial situation if they started earning much more money. Perhaps you feel this way too. Obviously, your income plays a huge part in your financial situation, but it’s not the only thing that matters. Whether you’re on a 5-figure or 6-figure salary, everybody needs to focus on their spending if they want to manage their money effectively. That’s what truly matters. Fiscal stability comes down to spending sensibly, so let’s expand on that.

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Refer to your budget monthly.

You probably know that budgeting is a smart way to manage your money effectively. Of course, a budget isn’t something you should simply make, file away, and try to keep in mind. It should be an ever-changing thing. Keep returning to your budget to make amendments where necessary. You should track your monthly expenses so that you can continually assess your spending habits. Obviously, the primary goal is to spend less than you earn, but simply making ends meet isn’t enough if you want to save money for the future. That’s why it’s smart to reduce wasteful spending.

You could cut your energy bills by insulating your windows with thicker glazing to trap heat, for example. You could also reduce your grocery bills by searching for online coupons before you go shopping. You don’t have to make cutbacks to save money; you just have to spend your money wisely to get the things you need. Still, not all costs can be mitigated so easily. If you have outstanding debts (e.g. money you owe for student loans or your mortgage) that you’re struggling to repay, then this might be taking a big chunk out of your budget on a monthly basis. You could seek help from an attorney such as Rashad Blossom to help you with debt relief. This could help you to get your money back under control and start putting your funds towards other costs in your life.

Keep looking for new investments.

You should also keep looking for new investments if you want to start thinking about your future wealth. If you’ve improved your budget and started spending your money more sensibly, then you’ll have more money available for investments. Improving your spending doesn’t mean that you should avoid using your money; it means that you should use it well. You could look into the property market. That’s always a good investment route for beginners. Whether you buy to lease or buy to sell, you could make a lot of money in the world of real estate. Just make sure you do your research and act cautiously when investing.

Never stop saving up for tomorrow.

If you want to spend your money sensibly, then you should save it. You might find yourself focusing on your many present-day costs, but what about tomorrow? If you want to have a pleasant retirement and perhaps even help your kids with college funds or other future costs, then you should start setting aside some of your earnings. Do this on a continuous basis. Think of student loans and how hard it is to pay it fully because as we get older expenses add up and there is just not enough to cover everything. You should never stop saving up for tomorrow, especially as there are so many ways that you can explore and learn more about how to save money. Fiscal stability could be achieved by simply putting aside 10% of your monthly earnings. Those monthly transfers into your savings account will quickly accumulate and turn into substantial funds for the future. You could even look into getting an IDA to match your contributions into your savings account.

Understand your resources when you’re back is against the wall.

Sometimes, we can try our best but whatever we do doesn’t seem to be good enough. When it comes to saving for the future or learning to spend sensibly, we can find ourselves against an increasing amount of debt. This can be either due to our spending habits or external issues beyond our control. But this means that when we feel that we have nobody to turn to there are things we can do. There’s always debt consolidation specialists and there is also the option to file for bankruptcy. Bankruptcy seems like the last refuge of someone who is in dire straits but there are certain components of bankruptcy that you can use to keep some of your assets such as filing a consumer proposal. Bankruptcy is the last port of call, but we can feel that there’s not enough help out there. Ideally, we wouldn’t want to get to this position, but there are things that can help us when we are desperate.

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3 Tips for Making Your Home Serve Your Well-Being

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There are various roles that a home should serve, assuming everything is going well.

For one thing, your home should obviously be comfortable, and should help you to relax on your weekends or after a long day of work.

For another thing, your home should serve as a place where you can adequately and reasonably store your various belongings, without too much fuss.

Perhaps the most important function of the home, however – beyond keeping the rain from reaching your bed – is serving your overall sense of well-being and contentment.

Here are a few tips for making your home serve your well-being:

Invest in “ease of use” and accessibility features and tools

If you find that carrying out everyday tasks around your home is a lot more frustrating than you would like it to be – and that things seem to be “hard work” more often than not – this might be a good sign that it’s time to invest in some “ease-of-use” and “accessibility” features and tools, for your home.

These features might take the form of structural adaptations such as an ADA ramp, or they might take the form of smaller-scale things like a stable and convenient footstool for reaching the high shelves in your kitchen.

Whatever the particular situation, you should take steps to ensure that you can navigate your home with relative ease, and without putting yourself at risk, or straining yourself when carrying out everyday chores.

Keep the place as organised as possible – clutter and mess can significantly undermine your sense of well-being

If your home is a very chaotic and messy place, with a lot of clutter, and with things frequently being out of place, the overall effect is likely to be a significant undermining of your sense of well-being.

When your home environment is very messy and cluttered, it signals on a deep psychological level that you aren’t really in control of the place, and that everything is a bit haphazard, unpredictable, and distracting.

By contrast, if you’re able to give your home the “Marie Kondo treatment,” or something like it, and can do a good job of decluttering and organising it, you’ll likely find that you have far more mental space and energy, and a greater sense of calm, than you did before.

Make space for the hobbies and pastimes you want to engage in most, and make the unhealthy ones harder to access

It’s one thing to sit down and enjoy a film, or an episode of a TV show you enjoy, or to spend half an hour surfing the web.

But an issue with these sorts of activities is that they can very easily consume hours at a stretch, and are often explicitly designed to do this. For example, certain online streaming services automatically play the next episode in the series without you even having to get up off the sofa, largely so that you spend as much time as possible engaging with the service.

Your sense of well-being will probably not be in great shape if you feel that you waste a lot of your time each day.

So, make space in your home for the hobbies and pastimes you want to engage in the most – things like reading, or writing, exercising, or doing arts and crafts – and make the “unhealthy” ones harder to access. You could, for example, unplug your games console and pack it away in a cupboard when you’re not using it.

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Making Your Home as Light and Bright as Possible

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Nowadays, more of us are spending more time in our homes. Whether we’re spending more time at home working remotely during the pandemic, or we’re spending more of our free time at home, you’re going to want to make sure that this space is as nice as it can be. One aspect of our homes that tends to get neglected, or feel like something we can’t change, is natural light. The vast majority of us want our properties to feel lighter and brighter and this can be achieved! Here’s some more information on the subject to help you along the way!

The Importance of Natural Light

It’s important that you never underestimate the importance of an abundance of natural light in your property. Believe it or not, natural light can have a huge impact on your overall health and well-being. First and foremost, it helps to regulate your body’s circadian rhythms, which regulate your sleep-wake cycle. Being exposed to plenty of natural light during the day will ensure that your body knows it should be awake and alert. It will help you to feel more positive and productive. Then, at night, when you are exposed to the dark, your body will recognise the contrast and know that it’s time to rest. This will help to ease you into a better night’s sleep. Natural light also helps to provide your body with vitamin D!

Focus on Your Windows

The best area to focus on when it comes to maximising natural light in your property is your windows. Having large and well placed windows will ensure that plenty of natural light can filter in. Many people make the mistake of assuming they’re stuck with the windows their home came with. But they can be changed with professional help – just like any other aspect of your property. Consider larger windows, sliding glass doors, french doors or even skylights if you’re looking for more light. You should make sure that all of your windows are fitted with blinds to ensure you can block out light when you want to. You can find great Local Offers here.

Decorate in Light Colours

The illusion of light distribution can also fall down to the colours you decide to decorate with. Dark colours will make a room or space look darker. But if you decorate with a light, bright colour palette, things will feel lighter and brighter. Consider colours like white, cream, magnolia or even mushroom. This will help to create the feel of a brighter home.

Use Mirrors to Your Advantage

If you have small spaces that don’t allow for bigger windows, you should make good use of mirrors. This will help to reflect light around a room. Place large mirrors opposite windows for the best effect!

These are just a few suggestions that can help introduce more natural light into your living space. They’re more than worth carrying out. So, take things one step at a time and reap the benefits!

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Designing & Building Your First Home Office

Whether you have just started working from home, or you have just got sick and tired of working from the sofa, when it’s time to build your own home office that is always an exciting moment to be in. Having your own home office is great, and a wonderful way of ensuring that you are actually actively enjoying working from home. It will also allow you to avoid being distracted, and to work harder and smarter, which could bode well for the future of your freelancing or your business. Let’s take a look at some of the considerations to bear in mind when you are designing and building your first home office.

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Clear Out Some Space

First of all, you will need to clear out some space so that you have somewhere to work with. That could just mean that you finally clear the spare room of all its junk, but then of course you will need to find somewhere to put all that stuff. You could use this opportunity as a chance to declutter and downsize some of your belongings, or you might just use a local SMARTBOX Solutions, Inc. storage unit and use that to store your belongings long-term. It could be a combination of the two. However you do it, clear out the space so that you are starting again from scratch.

Consider Alternative Positions

Bear in mind that it doesn’t always have to be the spare room that you use. If you think outside the box a little, you should be able to come up with some alternative ideas for where to have your first home office. For instance, you might want to think about using your garden, if you have one. There are many great ways to turn your garden into an office, especially if you have a shed or an outhouse. Or if you have an attic or a basement, that could be a great opportunity for a home office too. It’s all about considering these other options, to ensure that you end up with the right one to work in.

Home Office Design

In terms of the actual design, you are of course completely free to do it however you like. But the important thing to bear in mind here is that you should aim to make it the kind of place you really want to work for hours on end. In other words, make it easy on the eyes and make sure that it is comfortable and relaxed too. You should also include as many personal items as you like to help make it a much more enjoyable personal space. However you do it, be sure to design the home office with all of these concerns in mind.

As you can see, there is a lot to think about in designing and building your first home office. But as long as you consider these things carefully, you should end up with a much better home office that you can use much more easily.

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Defining The Best Version of You – Step by Step

Defining the best version of yourself is a difficult exercise, which is why we’re going to break it down for you, step by step. Once you know exactly who the best version of you is and what they are about, you can begin working towards becoming that version of yourself. Read on to get started:

Step 1: What Do Your Daily Habits Look Like?
First, think about what your habits would look like if you were the best version of yourself. Would you drink water, take vitamins, eat vegetables, and exercise? More than likely! Write down the habits you would adopt if you were the best you that you could be, and then figure out how you could begin incorporating them into your lifestyle right now.

Step 2: What Are Your Hobbies And Do You Have Time For Them?
When it comes to your hobbies, having time for them is crucial. We shouldn’t just spend all of our time in a job and no time on our own personal projects. What would you do if you were the best version of yourself? Maybe you’d spend time roller skating, painting, or doing something else. Where could you fit this into your routine now?

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Step 3: What Do You Do For A Living?
If you hate the job you’re in now, it’s fairly safe to assume that you wouldn’t do it for a living as the best version of yourself. Maybe you could hunt for jobs, or even work on ways you could train to land the job of your dreams. It might be unrealistic to absolutely love your job, but finding satisfaction in it and enjoying it in some ways is often important. Do you want to feel valued? Do you want to see the results of the work you put in? Write out what you truly want from your job role.

Step 4: Who Do You Spend Time With?
Do you want a partner, or a closer circle of friends? When you start being true to yourself, you tend to attract your people. Be who you really are, do things you enjoy, and aim to show up as your best self. Pretty soon, people should show up out of the blue.

Step 5: What Does Your Health Look Like?
Being a healthy person is often equated to being the best version of yourself. Now, if you have chronic illness or something else to consider, then simply knowing how to manage that in a way that is best for you could be the best version of yourself. Managing hearing aid issues and things like that can help you to live a better quality of life.

Step 6: Where Do You Want To Be?
Can you define where the best version of yourself is? Where do they live? Where do they spend time? If you don’t want to stay where you are right now, it might be time to put money aside and come up with a plan for a move.

What does the best version of you look like?

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Pay Attention! These Are The Most Commonly Overlooked Health Issues

The ongoing Coronavirus pandemic has shown us that good health is one of the most important things in our lives. We all must sit up and start listening and paying more attention to what our bodies are telling us. We are all guilty of overlooking our health and letting health issues that could be stopped in their tracks get progressively worse until sometimes, it is too late to do anything about them. As a consequence, the quality and length of our lives are often impacted. We all need to take responsibility for our bodies, so here, we look at some of the most commonly overlooked health issues.

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Hearing loss

It is thought that as many as fifty million Americans have hearing loss to some degree, whether mild enough that turning the TV up and speaking a little louder is enough, to profound, where there is no sound at all. As for many people, hearing loss is something that gets gradually worse, it quite often goes unnoticed until it is at a point where the damage cannot be reversed. Of course, prevention is always better than cure, so taking steps not to damage hearing is key. However, regular hearing tests can also pick up any issues.

Sight loss

This is generally a lot easier to pick up than hearing loss, but many people still live a long time with poor eyesight or the wrong glasses or prescription. Just like hearing loss, this can have a significant effect on the quality of life, as well as being a safety concern when driving or operating machinery. As above, regular sight tests can not only pick up worsening eyesight but a range of other conditions too. However, if you notice you have to peer a little more closely at your cell phone or computer screen, or the license plate of the car in front seems a little unclear, it is time to go and have it looked at.

Cognitive decline

As we get older, we all expect our memory to fade a little and to be a little absent-minded at one point or another. It is a natural part of ageing. However, there is normal absent-mindedness and cognitive decline, and it is important to know and recognise the difference. Conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are increasing, most likely because people are living longer, but it needs monitoring. While once it has set in, there is little you can do to stop it, there are things that you can do to help slow down the decline. Keeping physically and mentally active, quitting smoking and excess alcohol consumption and eating a healthy, balanced diet all go a long way to keeping your cognitive ability sharp.

Over the course of a lifetime, most people will experience one or more of these common but often overlooked health issues. While they may not always be treatable, there are steps you can take to help reduce the chances and slow them down if they have already made their presence known.

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Take Better Care of Your Body

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A lot is us aren’t all too good at taking care of ourselves. We’re great at ensuring our friends, family members, children and pets are well, but that leaves us with too little to look after our own needs. It’s understandable, but it’s also something that needs to change if we want to be around to be there for them in years to come. We also deserve to feel as happy and healthy as we can.

With that in mind, here are some really simple things we can all do to take better care of our bodies right now:

Spend more time sleeping

If you’re someone who doesn’t get to bed until late and who then gets up early in the morning, you need to do what you can to ensure you get at least 7 (ideally 8 or 9) hours of sleep each night. Your body needs rest to repair and if it doesn’t get it you won’t be able to function optionally; you may even get stressed, depressed or develop illnesses like obesity and heart disease. Sleep matters and that’s why you need to take control of your schedule so you can get enough of it right now.

If you struggle to get to sleep, try a lavender pillow mist, hot bath or soothing cup of camomile tea to help you drift off.

See the doctor

Or the dentist or the audiologist regularly for routine appointments and more importantly, see them quickly when you develop symptoms. Letting things go on for too long could give illness and disease the time and space they need to spread, mutate and get worse and that’s the last thing you need. Yes, seeing a doctor can be scary and inconvenient at times, but it really is better than the alternative.

Hydrate

Being properly hydrated makes you feel more alert, more energized and better able to concentrate. It’s also great for the skin and organ function. Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day and you’ll soon start to feel the difference.

Relax

Your body and mind can get so easily stressed and stress is so bad in so many ways. So, it is vitally important that you take some time to relax each day. Whether you spend some time in the sauna, hit the mat for a relaxing yoga session, or learn how to meditate, taking some time out just for you will help your body to stay strong and healthy come what may.

Improve your nutrition

Ideally, at least 80 percent of everything you consume should be healthy, nutritionally dense whole foods. These are the foods that will fuel your body, ensure you get all of the nutrients you need to function and help you to stay at a healthy weight. Sure, you can indulge in junk once in a while, but if most of what you’re eating doesn’t come in a package with 20 ingredients on the label, you will feel the benefit.

Love your body and it will support you through life!

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