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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How To Find Out If Going Back To School Is Right For You

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For many people, going back to school is always a passing thought or something wedged in the back of the mind. Sometimes you realize the job you are in is terrible, it does not make you enough money or it no longer interests you.

Going back to school seems like a good option to build upon the skills you already have, allowing you the chance to make more money. Maybe you have enough money, but you are not doing what you are passionate about. Either way, if you are debating on whether or not you should go back to school, here are some things to think about before you take the leap.

What Are Your Motivators For Going Back To School?

Be very careful about your motivation for going back to school. If you hate your job and you are simply just looking for a way out, going back to school may not be the best option because it can get really expensive and you have to commit a lot of time.

Going back to school is a good option if you want to switch fields, you need college to advance your skills or your employer will pay for all your higher education. Other than that, you may be setting yourself up for more misery.

What Do You Want To Study?

There are tons of options to choose from, but this is where intimately knowing what you want and who you are will make this part easy. Do you want to study physical therapy, creative writing or computer science? It also helps to know where you should go to study. Do some research on some programs and weigh your options. Keep tabs on the program’s graduation rate, how likely those graduates get jobs and the kinds of jobs they have. Getting the full picture can better help you decide not only what you want to study, but where.

Do You Want A Certificate Or A Degree

Certificates allow you to learn more about a subject you may already know about or know nothing at all without putting up so much money toward a degree program. You could also opt for professional or trade certifications that allow you to perform a niche job. These are typically for jobs in technical, medical and education fields. Degree programs allow you to train for a specific job or may give you a broader education in an area.

Online Or In-Class

Going back to school may not be as seamless as it was when you were an undergraduate. You are an adult now and you have all types of things pulling at your attention. Because of this, it is important to pick the best program that fits into your lifestyle. For doctor of physical therapy degrees, for example, there are many flexible options. Some programs allow you the option to do classes partially online and in-person. Determine what your needs are and find the right program for you.

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Things To Do After A House Fire

If there is anything scarier than a house fire, we’d like to know what it is. Whether you are awake or asleep, a fire in the home is terrifying. It can wipe out your memories and your sense of stability within moments, and it’s not easy to recover from. A house fire can hit you hard in the wallet, but it hits you in the heart more than anything else. You’re losing everything from the walls and roof to the belongings that you have spent years building up – it’s a big loss.

With the right steps taken after the fact, you can make sure that you recover your losses and heal properly from the damage. Asking people in your life for a helping hand isn’t weak, nor is it something you should avoid. You need to be able to get back on your feet after a house fire devastates your family and your life, and to be able to do that you need the following steps to get back to normal.

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      1. Having the right insurance is so important, so if you were smart enough to have life and home insurance, you are going to need to contact your home insurance company as soon as possible after the fire. You shouldn’t touch the site of the fire until after you’ve had some help to assess it, whether that’s your insurance company or a public adjuster who can help you with your case. Take pictures and videos and take the steps necessary to prevent anything additional happening to the property.

      2. The fire department has to clear the area and let you know that it’s safe before you can set foot anywhere near it. You need to know that you’re not about to bring the whole house down when you step foot in your house. Waiting won’t mean that you are waiting years, either; give them a call before you call the insurance companies!

      3. Assessing the damage may take some time but you need to know what the cost of this will be to repair. You need to know what you lost in this fire so that you can assess how much you need to spend to get your home back to what it was before the fire happened. You need to make a list of all the repairs that will be needed to rebuild the home properly. The last thing that you want to do is not know what the process is and find that you are out of pocket and out of time to rebuild!

      4. Find a place to stay for you and your family once you know what resources your insurance company will pay out to you. If you know that they will put you up in a hotel, take advantage of this. Everything you spend, keep the receipts so that you can claim with them afterward.

      5. Look after yourself as best you can. A fire is a traumatic event, and you and your family will need time to heal and take care of yourselves. You need to get some counselling and medical care, and you need to get back to routines as best you can as fast as you are able to. Consistency is key!
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4 Reasons You Could Be Feeling Stressed

Do you constantly find that you feel stressed and overwhelmed? It’s important not to underestimate the impact that stress can have on your life. Stress can impact your mental and physical health in both the short and long term. That’s why you need to find ways to cope with it effectively. However, to do this, you need to understand the cause of your stress. So, let’s explore the potential issues that could be at play here.

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No Outlet

It’s possible that you are feeling stress because you have no way to work off the tension. This will usually be the case if you don’t have an outlet in your life. One of the best outlets that you might want to explore is exercise. A solid workout can definitely help you tackle the tension that you might be feeling. You can leave it on the road running or you can even work out in the comfort of your office. It’s entirely up to you but it’s important that you don’t let the tension that you are feeling continue to build up over time.

Trouble In The Office

Of course, it could be the case that your stress is due to an issue in the workplace. Perhaps the environment that you work in isn’t providing the emotional support that you need. This will be due to the failure of your employer to deliver a healthy office environment. If that’s the case, then you might want to think about switching jobs or even switching careers. Remember, we spend more than a third of our waking lives in the office or at work. As such, it’s important to find a position that makes you happy and that you love or enjoy. It’s never too late to move towards a change in your career.

Deep-Rooted Problems

You might find that you can’t quite pinpoint the cause of your stress. If that’s the case then it’s possible that the issue is more deep-rooted than you might want to admit. That’s why you may want to explore therapeutic solutions. With a telehealth solution, you can get the support you need in the comfort of your home and ensure that you don’t have to worry about needing to take extra time in your day to see a therapist. Instead, this can easily be fitted around your personal schedule.

People

Alternatively, it could be that the stress is being caused or at least made worse by the people who have a strong presence in your life. In your social group, you might have people who provide the support you need and others who drain you. It’s important that you are not surrounding yourself with people who are constantly depending on you to provide support. This is going to mean that you feel overwhelmed. You may even have toxic people in your life who take and take giving nothing back. It may be worth reevaluating who they are and assessing whether they provide a positive connection to you.

We hope this helps you understand some of the key reasons you could be feeling a high level of stress in your life.

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These Simple Tips and Tricks will Help you to Work from Home Much More Efficiently

If you want to work from home more efficiently than ever before, then this is the guide for you. Take a look below to find out more.

Set a Schedule

The first thing that you need to do is set a schedule and then stick to it. If you can, try and establish clear guidelines for when to work and when to stop. This is how a lot of remote workers are able to maintain a much healthier work-life balance. If you work erratic hours, then you may need to adjust your schedule accordingly.

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Create a Good Routine

Deciding that you are going to sit down at your desk and start work at a set time is one thing, but creating a routine that helps to get you to your desk is another. If you want to really help yourself, then you need to have the same routine every morning. This may include returning home after you have been out on a jog or even getting dressed properly when you wake up. Some people who work from home like to lounge in their PJ’s because it is much more comfortable, but at the end of the day, it won’t help you to be creative.

Set Ground Rules

Set ground rules with others in your home, or those who share the space. If you have kids, then make sure that they do some of the chores around the house and also make sure that they give you your space when you are trying to get your head down. If you are able to do this then you will soon find that you are far more productive and that you are also able to have a much more efficient business schedule. If you have a family then you may find that you struggle with your internet connection as soon as the kids get home so look into some business internet packages if you can.

Schedule Breaks

Just because you are working from home, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take a break from time to time. You need to take regular breaks because if you don’t then you may never end up relaxing as much as you could. If you are not careful then you may also end up overworking and this is the last thing that you want. It’s also important that you don’t short-change yourself when taking breaks too. If you plan to have an hour but only end up having 20 minutes then this will make it harder for you to get your head down and concentrate, so give yourself time and don’t feel guilty about it.

Leave the House

You should try and leave the home on a regular basis. If you don’t then you may find that work ends up being too much and that you struggle with motivation. When leaving the house, try and make the effort to meet up with friends or even try and give yourself a break from work in general. Working from home can be isolating, and if you aren’t careful it is very easy for things to mount up quickly. If you want to stop this from being the case, then socialising is key.

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Hearing Health Hacks: Simple Ways To Protect Your Ears

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of dancing around to your favorite song or hearing your kids laughing their heads off. Many of us take our hearing for granted, and it’s not until we start to notice that we can’t hear as well that the importance of sound becomes clear. It’s not always possible to prevent hearing loss, but there are some simple ways to protect your ears. Looking after your hearing now will have a positive impact in the future.

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Protecting your ears at work
Some people have jobs that involve exposure to high levels of noise, and many more may encounter risks on their way to work. If you live in a big city, or you commute via train, metro or subway, it’s a great idea to invest in some earplugs to shield your ears during your daily travels. If your job carries a risk of hearing loss, your boss should provide you with the relevant personal protective equipment. If you’re worried that you don’t have sufficient protection, talk to your employer. Examples of jobs that require hearing protection include construction and manufacturing roles, music production and performance, DJing, working at clubs and live music venues, transport and logistics jobs and engineering positions. You might also benefit from wearing earplugs if you’re a dentist using a drill or a flight attendant.

Keeping the volume down
Many of us enjoy listening to music when we work, we clean the house, we exercise or we travel on a train, bus or plane. If you’ve got a playlist on, or you’re listening to a podcast or an audiobook, make sure the volume isn’t too high. If other people can hear music coming from your headphones, you could be doing serious, long-term damage to your ears. If you find that you have to turn the volume up to hear properly, this could be a sign of hearing loss, so it’s a good idea to book an assessment.

Seek advice if you have any problems
If you have any problems with your ears, or you’re worried that your hearing may be deteriorating, it’s crucial to seek advice as soon as possible. Ear pain can be a sign of infection or a build-up of wax, and it’s usually best to intervene early if you experience recurrent bouts of tinnitus or your hearing seems to be compromised. It may be possible to treat underlying causes of hearing loss or to find a solution for tinnitus or long-term hearing problems.

Keeping your ears a foreign object free zone
Many of us will have been tempted to stick something down our ears to remove wax or tend to an itch. Although this might seem like a good idea at the time, it can actually do more harm than good. If you’ve got excess wax inside the ear canal, inserting something like a cotton swab can push the wax further inside the ear, increasing the risk of the wax hardening and causing pain. Your ears are capable of cleaning themselves, but if you are concerned about a potential build-up of wax, it’s important to seek expert advice.

It might not be possible to maintain perfect hearing for the rest of your days, but there are ways you can reduce the risk of hearing loss.

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