Remote Work Digest: March 21, 2019

The latest on all kinds of information, news, and resources that help you make working remotely better.

Can’t Concentrate? 5 Insidious Ways Your Office Design Can Make You Less Productive | Monica Torres, Huffpost.com

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Office design can influence how much productive work you get done in a day. If you regularly find yourself listlessly staring at your work, you may want to consider whether the following environmental factors and work space design choices are holding you back from your full potential:

1. The Stale Office Air You Breathe
If you work in an office, most of your time is likely spent indoors. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the majority of Americans spend 90 percent of their time indoors. And the air you are breathing in these enclosed spaces could be impairing your cognitive function.

Bringing more fresh air inside, or having a good ventilation system, is linked to better employee performance, according to a 2017 study by researchers at Harvard University, Syracuse University and SUNY Upstate Medical.

2. The Poor Lighting You Endure
Being close to natural sunlight can make or break an employee’s experience. Employees prioritize natural lighting so much that in a 2018 poll by research firm Future Workplace, they picked it as the top office perk over having a cafeteria, a fitness center, or on-site child care.

And no wonder: A lack of natural sunlight can take a physical toll on our bodies, according to a study on 313 office employees led by Alan Hedge, a professor in the Department of Design and Environmental Analysis at Cornell University. Employees exposed to more natural light reported fewer instances of eyestrain and headaches.

3. The Colleagues You Sit With
Office seating plans may not take into account how proximity to certain types of colleagues can influence your work. In a 2016 Harvard Business School study that analyzed the speed and quality of 2,000 workers’ performance at a tech firm, researchers found that sitting within a 25-foot radius of a high performer could positively boost the performance of colleagues by 15 percent.

But bad habits can be contagious, too. The study found that sitting close to a toxic neighbor — defined as someone who was fired — increased nearby employees’ risk of being fired. “Once a toxic person shows up next to you, your risk of becoming toxic yourself has gone up,” said Dylan Minor, one of the authors of the study.

4. The Temperatures Your Colleagues Can’t Agree On
In a CareerBuilder survey of 3,321 employees, 53 percent said they were less productive when it was too cold, and 71 percent said productivity suffered when they were too warm.

Even researchers have different conclusions on the ideal workplace temperature. One 2006 study from researchers at Helsinki University of Technology and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Environmental Energy Technologies Division found that employees’ productivity peaked at around 71.6 degrees Fahrenheit, while a separate Cornell University study found that a warmer 77 degrees Fahrenheit was the optimal temperature at which workers would make fewer typing errors and produce more work.

5. An Office With No Plants Nearby
Natural greenery in your line of sight is not just good company ―it can also help people concentrate, research on attention restoration theory has found. The theory holds that you can rejuvenate your attention capacity by looking at nature because when we enjoy nature, we are using effortless attention.

Before you even sit down at your desk and get started on the day’s work, there are a multitude of visible and invisible ways your productivity is being affected by your environment. You can probably add a plant to your desk, but you may not be able to switch to a seat with a high-performer nearby or to a desk near natural light. If you notice your workspace environment is less than ideal, speak up about it to your manager or human resources.

You spend more than 2,000 hours a year at work. It is best for everyone to make those hours count for you.

How managers can prevent developer burnout: 10 Tips | Alison DeNisco Rayome, Techrepublic.com

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Burnout is a common phenomenon in the tech industry, particularly for developers: Close to 60% of developers report suffering from burnout, according to Blind, for reasons including poor leadership and unclear direction, work overload, and toxic work cultures.

Here are 10 ways that managers can help prevent their developers from burning out.

1. Allow remote work and flexible scheduling
Particularly in areas where most workers have a long commute, allowing at least part-time work from home can make a huge difference in reducing stress and burnout. If possible, no meetings should be scheduled on work from home days, to allow developers time to focus on their work, said Cristian Rennella, CTO and co-founder of elMejorTrato.com.

Flexible scheduling can also reduce stress, said Paul Wallenberg, senior manager of technology services at LaSalle Network. “Can they start earlier and leave earlier, start later and leave later, can they maybe condense their work week and work 10 hour days for four days, or even work remotely and still engage successfully in your standups? If the answer is yes, give them the autonomy to do so and create a schedule that works for them,” Wallenberg said.

2. Encourage vacations
This may require some cajoling, said Mark Runyon, a senior consultant with Improving technology management and consulting firm. “This can seem strange, but as developers we often get so wrapped up our projects and tight delivery deadlines that we feel it’s never a good time to take our much needed PTO,” Runyon said. “It’s essential to get away, clear your mind and relax so you can come back with a fresh perspective. If you always push vacation away for another day, you’ll continue to wear yourself down, and be less effective in your job.”

3. Set realistic deadlines
Some startups take pride in the “let’s be bold” mindset by setting unrealistic deadlines for developers—a sure way to burn out your team, said Flo Defontis, founder and CTO of Air360.

“Even if we all like some adrenaline sometimes, there’s so much one can take,” Defontis said. “For developers who take pride in their work, being forced to write code in a hurry (which usually results in bad code) is just horrible. Especially also because they also share responsibility when something breaks and customers are impacted.”

4. Create a culture of recognition
“What’s worse than having too much work to complete is the lack of appreciation for the work that is done just to keep up with demand,” Shanks said. “Burnout can manifest from a lack of a reward or even just appreciation for their efforts.”

5. Encourage physical activity and wellness
Allowing time for physical activity, even just taking a walk, during the workday can help avoid hitting blocks in coding, Runyon said. A physical break from the computer can help clear a developer’s head and allow them to see new solutions or facets of the problem they are solving, he added.

6. Build variety into the schedule
Managers must create the right combination of business-driven work and more challenging, creative work, said Megan Power, Agile Scrum Master at Salt Lending Holdings. “Working in a business environment means that certain types of more ‘grunt work’ are sometimes unavoidable to meet business objectives,” Power said. “But if a developer is given only this type of work, they are likely to burn out faster than if they have some more challenging and creative work mixed in.”

Developers need to work on new projects over time, rather getting stuck on one with a long timeline, to keep the work feeling exciting and fresh, said Kristen Youngs, co-founder of Coaching No Code Apps.

7. Offer professional development and training
Allowing developers to learn new things beyond their current job can keep their work more interesting, said Clare Watson, operations director at Zolv. “When you work with the same software or language every single day, it can be easy to, eventually, burn out,” Watson said. “Look to learn a new method of accomplishing your current responsibilities. Learning a new coding system, for example, is a great fix for keeping things fresh.”

8. Keep the team balanced
As teams grow over time, their tasks will change, which means managers must constantly reassess and realign talents and responsibilities, Orser said. “If that means new roles open on a team, a manager can modify the way the group is operating, allowing higher performers to take on new responsibility and try leadership roles,” Orser added. “They can then backfill the roles people have outgrown or add in skills and specializations from new hires to fill identified gaps.”

9. Clearly define roles and goals
Clearly defined roles and objectives alleviate stress in that developers are not left uncertain or guessing what their responsibilities are, Cooper said.

While some projects need developers to burn the midnight oil close to a deadline, “as managers, our responsibility is to set clear goals for our team so they can avoid the firedrills which can be 100% prevented,” said Nancy Wang, senior manager of product management at Amazon Web Services (AWS). “Make sure to plan out your sprints and milestones, and give your team enough buffer time in case a Sprint takes longer than it should.”

10. Communicate the business purpose (and in general)
Regular one-on-one meetings between managers and developers can help ensure both receive constant feedback and make changes if needed, Power said. Considering a team member’s input and implementing it where needed will also help them feel more engaged and motivated, she added.

Lacking a support system to talk through ideas or struggles can lead to developer burnout, Youngs said. “Communicating regularly with developers that their work is helpful and appreciated can make a significant difference,” Youngs said. “It helps assure them in their job role and also gives them satisfaction over the work they’ve done. I also like to have a completely open-door policy and ongoing dialogue about any issues with work. It can be a huge relief just to talk through a problem out loud with someone who understands the situation.”

4 Essential Mental Health Tips For Freelance And Remote Workers | Abdullahi Muhammed, Forbes.com

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A remote work arrangement often enables you to establish better work/life balance; spend more time with family and reduce the pressure/distractions of working in large open offices. But freelancing also comes with an emotional toll. Stress and on-the-job burnouts are no strangers to the independent worker.

Per recent survey conducted by Epson in the U.K., 48% of freelancers working from home admitted that they find their tenure to be “lonely” at times and 46% claim freelancing is “isolating.” Indeed, freelancing can aggravate your mental health issues unless you invest in establishing healthy routines. Here are four essential tips to help you work in that direction.

1. Learn how to negotiate with yourself
Learn how to negotiate with that critic sitting inside you. Get better at creating more realistic daily to do lists; celebrate your accomplishments every day and practice gratitude. Cognitive scientists say that people who regularly do the “three good things” exercise — name three good moments or things that happened during the day — witness considerable improvements in mental health and overall happiness. So give it a try as well!

2. Socialize beyond your niche
Socialization and networking are often prescribed as the best recipe for dealing with the “lonely freelancer” syndrome. “Regularly interacting with other people is utterly important for those working solo,” said Cynthia Telles, Director, UCLA Hispanic Neuropsychiatric Center of Excellence. “However, despite the common line of advice, freelancers should stop seeking company of other freelancers. When the people you see the most experience the same woes and deal with the same anxieties, you can find yourself trapped into a feedback loop of pressure and stress, aggravated by the experience of your peers.”

3. Budget for more expensive forms of self-care
Investing in better things for yourself — a more comfortable chair, a better laptop, warmer socks — means investing in your business. The better you feel on a daily basis, the more motivated you are to do the work and earn more money.

4. Learn how to handle rejection
Fear of rejection and criticism is one of the common issues holding people back from becoming freelancers. Working for yourself means that every negative comment will land right in front of you. A lot choose gig or freelancing work as a better way to channel their passion for design, writing or coding. And that’s why rejection and criticism for freelancers often feels more personal than for corporate employees.

Beverly Flaxington suggests trying the following techniques:

  • Practice reframing. Change the narrative from, “I’m talentless, no one will hire me!” to a more positive statement, “Finding the first freelance job is hard for everyone. I’m no different.”
  • Channel your self-confidence. Make a daily list of things that you’ve done well. Regularly review your achievement and celebrate them.

But here’s some good news as well: learning how to deal with rejection strengthens your mental health. A stronger mental health means that you can resist other daily downers and remain productive and contemporary with your line of work.

How to Make Money Working from Home in 2019 | Brian O’Connell, Thestreet.com

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With the advent of digital technology, it’s relatively simple to not just make extra cash working at home, but make a good chunk of money doing so.

Plus, there’s no commute, you’re your own boss, and nobody is calling you into a snooze-inducing two-hour meeting where nothing is resolved and no action taken.

Who needs that when you can set up shop in the comfort of your own home and make a decent amount of cash in the process?

Intrigued? Ok – let’s get your work-at-home campaign started with a full menu of great ways to earn money at home, where you’re the CEO, and where corporate America can’t bother you.

Great Ways to Make Money from Home

1. Start With Work-at-Home Job Sites
Zip Recruiter and Flex Jobs are great places to start. Pop in your areas of specialty and both sites will send you job opening alerts when they arise.

2. Handle Data Entry or Bookkeeping Online
You really don’t need a degree in accounting to handle basic office tasks like data entry, payroll or bookkeeping. Just study up online and leverage your digital skills to full advantage. Good digital office help can easily earn $25 or more per hour.

3. Be a Good Neighbor
You can earn good money by accepting shipments from delivery companies like Fed Ex (FDX – Get Report) , UPS (UPS – Get Report) , and the U.S. Post Office for your neighbors, who may be at work or traveling. Just sign up at the site and start accepting your neighbor’s packages – at your house. You can earn about $3.50 for each delivery.

4. Drive Your Car
Sign up with ride-sharing sites like Uber and Lyft and make hundreds of dollars per week, driving folks around on your schedule. It’s not uncommon for drivers to make more than $500 per week on ride-sharing drives. If you’re comfortable behind the wheel, this gig could be for you.

5. Rent Out Your Home
That’s the idea behind home rentals like Airbnb.com, which enable homeowners to rent out their properties to travelers for a night or more. You’ll need to provide basic amenities, like towels and sheets, and must respond to potential renters within 24 hours. Airbnb hosts who rent out their homes regularly can make up to $30,000 annually.

6. Be a Babysitter
If you love children and have the time, you can open up your home as a babysitting service. Child care sites like Care.com and SitterCity will hire you (after you pass a background check.) The pay is good, depending on your experience – experienced baby sitters can make over $25 per hour.

7. Be a Virtual Assistant
Experienced virtual assistants can earn well over $50 per-hour, and can often set their own schedules. Sites like TaskRabbit can help you find virtual assistant gigs.

8. Be a Professional Tutor
Do you specialize in a particular academic category, like math, science or writing? Put that knowledge to work as an at-home (or online) tutor. The best path is to be certified by the National Tutoring Association. Once you do that, you can take training sessions, search jobs, and swap tips and educational strategies with other professional tutors.

9. Participate in Surveys
There’s a growing demand for professional survey takers, and there’s decent money in doing so. Professional survey sites like Swagbucks, Paid Surveys or Survey Junkie and earn up to $250 per month, or earn survey swag like gift cards and new products just for participating in free-to-take surveys.

10. Be a Web Site Reviewer
You don’t need any professional certification to do so – just be computer efficient, be diligent, take instructions well, and be good at writing up your thoughts on a given web site. Plenty of Fortune 500 companies partner with UserTesting, and regular web site reviewers can make up to $30 per hour.

11. Be a Freelance Writer
Sites like Freelance Success, Indeed.com, Contena, and LinkedIn regularly cater to freelance writers, offering job leads, advice, and even access to editors and content providers who hire freelance writers. Good freelance writers can earn over $100,000 annually if they specialize, and market their abilities to the right clients. Sites like Upwork and Guru.com also offer job leads, but the pay is often poor and you’re competing with loads of other writers for the best gigs.

12. Work With Focus Groups
Sites like Harris Poll Online, 2020 Panel, Brand Institute, and Engage will pay you cash or gift cards for an hour or two of your time participating in a focus group. You’ll study a product or a service, answer specific questions, and partner with focus group companies on market research campaigns.

13. Be a Digital Travel Agent
If you have the gift of passport wanderlust and know your way around an airline and hotel itinerary, becoming an online travel agent can be a profitable pastime. You’ll be working with excited clients who are passionate about their travel. Get started by partnering with travel agent hosting companies like the Airlines Reporting Corporation or the International Airlines Travel Agents Network, where you can get access to gigs, learn the craft, and earn hefty commissions helping people set up their travel plans.

14. Channel Your Inner Pet Sitter
Pet sitters are in high demand, as families who travel and business professionals who work late hours need someone to walk, fee and otherwise take care of their pets. Sites like Care.com, Rover and DogVacay can get you started. Before you know it, you can be making $20 or more hour for taking care of Fido.

15. Rent Your Vehicle
Sites like RelayRides, Turo and GetAround will advertise your vehicle to potential renters (you’ll need to keep your auto in pristine condition) and you can earn about 65% of the total ride cost by renting out your vehicle. Or, you can rent your vehicle out to Uber drivers at HyreCar and earn up to $12,000 annually for doing so, according to the company’s web site.

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Remote Work Digest: February 14, 2019

The latest on all kinds of information, news, and resources that help you make working remotely better.

Hosting Your First Webinar? 3 Tips for Success | Syed Balkhi, Business.com

2cee678cef0f84b7694202d8def5ca98A webinar is a presentation where a host shares information with an audience. The information can be anything, so long as it educates your audience by giving them new and exciting information, or provides value to them via information that may be much harder to understand without the host. According to a study by the Content Marketing Institute, 61 percent of B2B content marketers use webinars as an effective tool for marketing their business.

Here are three tips to help you nail your first presentation.

Consider Content Over Your Pitch
Imagine if you were invested in an upcoming webinar, only to find out that it was a big sales pitch. Two things would likely happen. First, you’d probably be disappointed in the host, and second, you would be less likely to go back and watch the next webinar from that creator.

Harvard Business Review cited in their findings that webinars are at their most efficient when they teach a newly emerging technology. The reason for this is simple — people are looking for trustworthy information from a reputable source. Immediately jumping to the pitch can destroy your chances at appearing credible.

There’s nothing wrong with working on your sales pitch and perfecting it. However, your primary concern should be educating and engaging with your audience.

Use Time to Your Advantage
A general rule of thumb is you want to avoid the first and last day of the work week for your target audience. This is usually a time of getting new projects started or closing up existing projects and loose ends.

Webinar Ninja did discover a “sweet spot” as it pertains to time though. Typically, you can expand your reach by hosting your webinar between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on “good” days for your audience, and in their time zone. They found that during this time, their webinar presentations had a 47 percent attendance rate. When mid-low 20s is the average attendance rate, it’s safe to say there is a proper time to host your first webinar.

Use All of Your Marketing Channels for Promotion
You’re going to want to bring out the big guns, create social media ad campaigns via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn or whatever other outlets you frequent. Make sure you market your target audience, explain the benefits of the webinar and the cost (if applicable).

At the same time, every customer who comes to your website should know that your webinar is coming. You can create custom optin popups for customers and encourage them to sign up for your mailing list for more information on the webinar as the date of the presentation approaches.

Finally, you’re going to want to send out reminder emails to your lead lists leading up to the webinar. A good rule is to send a two-week reminder, one-week reminder, one-day reminder, and two day-of reminders.

Conclusion
There’s no doubt that it takes nerves of steel to do your first live webinar — but it’s so worth it. The experience and personal interaction you get with your customer base are unmatched. You’ll be able to reach a wider audience, provide valuable information about emerging technologies and ideas, as well as your brand and how you can help.

If you’re using insights to track your traffic and sales post-webinar, you’ll be able to see if your event had a marked impact on your business.

Pros and Cons of Working From Home | Robin Madell, Money.usnews.com

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Just like working in an office, remote work comes with pros and cons. To explore both the benefits of working from home as well as the drawbacks, I conducted informal interviews with more than 100 people with remote working jobs. Below are some of the top themes that emerged about remote workers’ favorite aspects of telecommuting and the challenges that come with a work-from-home lifestyle.

The pros and cons of working from home are:

  • Pro: You have flexibility to take care of appointments and errands.
  • Con: There is no physical separation between work and leisure time.
  • Pro: There are fewer interruptions from meetings and chitchat.
  • Con: It is easy to misread cues via electronic communications.
  • Pro: There is no commute time or expense.
  • Con: You have to make the effort to get a change of scenery.

Pro: You have flexibility to take care of appointments and errands.
When you work from home, while you still have to meet your deadlines and be available when you say you will be, you generally have wider bandwidth to tend to other responsibilities without jeopardizing your job.

Con: There is no physical separation between work and leisure time.
“It’s a constant balancing act to make sure you’re taking enough time for your family and yourself,” says Carrie Hill, co-founder of Ignitor Digital Marketing, who has been working from home for the last six years. “The pitfall is that there’s always a computer on and available, so setting boundaries and sticking to those boundaries is pretty important.”

Pro: There are fewer interruptions from meetings and chitchat.
It’s easier to get into a flow state of deep work when you’re in your home office without colleagues dropping by and sitting down impromptu to talk about their weekends. Limiting unnecessary interruptions from your colleagues and boss is a big plus of working from home and is one reason why many remote workers are more productive than office-based workers.

Con: It is easy to misread cues via electronic communications
“Just like in relationships, it can be easy to misconstrue tonality of someone’s messages. We’re often blind without body language and facial expressions to rely on, and we assume the worst. Therefore, there needs to be extra effort made in maintaining positive communications,” says Michael Sunderland, managing director of Full Stack Talent.

Pro: These is no commute time or expense.
You can save a lot of money and avoid wasting hours that others spend simply getting to and from work when your office is right down the hall. Avoiding traffic battles and long-distance schleps tops the list of benefits for some of those who work from home.

Con: You have to make the effort to get a change of scenery.
What can be a blessing can also become a curse in the form of cabin fever. Some freelancers and others who work from home lamented that the place they work during the day is the exact same place they’ll be sitting later that evening and that getting involved in their work often translates to spending a huge portion of the day indoors. Many stressed the importance of scheduling lunches and other meetings to keep them in the mix and avoid the rut of never leaving the house.

Remote work has clear benefits, but no situation is perfect. Understanding the reasons to work from home – as well as the reasons not to – can go a long way in learning how to work from home successfully.

Look Before You Leap: 8 Things to Know Before Taking the Dive into Self-Employment | Melissa Thompson, Axcessnews.com

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Working from home is a completely different experience than working in an office and there are many things you need to think about when becoming self-employed. It can be easy to overlook some of them with the buzz of taking the leap.

But if you read this guide to eight things you need to know before becoming self-employed, you’ll feel much more prepared.

1. You’ll Need Space To Work
Working from home may need a bit of reorganization of your space.

It helps to have a dedicated work space, even in your house. This will help you make the distinction between work life and home life. So when you are sat at your desk, you’re at work.

It will also help you keep all your work supplies and paperwork in one place and prevent you from losing things.

2. You Are the Team
If you have been working for an organization, you were probably part of a team. But if you’re going to become self-employed, you’ll be on your own.

That means there won’t be an IT department to call if you are having tech issues. There won’t be anyone to do your filing or tidy up after you, and there won’t be someone to pick up the slack if you are snowed under.

3. No One Will Sort Out Your Taxes
You may have had all of your taxes taken care of if you worked for a larger company. But if you are self-employed, your taxes are your responsibility.

But don’t be too daunted! There is plenty of advice available online about your tax responsibilities that will help you estimate what you owe.

4. Self-Employment Needs Financial Planning
If you are used to a regular paycheck each month, becoming self-employed can be a bit of a shock to the system.

It’s unlikely your income will be that consistent, especially in the first few months. So you need to plan for this and budget accordingly.

Work out the minimum you need to make, and what your essential expenses will be, and always have a back-up plan. Make sure you won’t be overstretched when you first start out, there will be enough to worry about!

5. Saving Is a Must
Because your income and your tax are your responsibility, it is important that you put money aside for your tax bill.

Whether you factor it into your regular budgeting or set up a specific savings account, it is essential you save some money.

6. Insurance Is Your Responsibility
Things like health insurance, dental plans, life insurance, and earnings protection will be down to you to sort out.

If you are the main breadwinner in your family, then insurance is even more important, as anything that prevents you from working can be really serious.

7. Keep Your Contacts
While it might feel like a relief to walk away from your old job, you should still try and leave on good terms. Becoming self-employed can be a risky venture, so you will need as many contacts as possible.

You never know when your old business contacts or old colleagues may come in useful in the future, whether as clients or just to ask advice. So keep hold of that contact list.

8. You Still Need a Schedule
It can be easy to get distracted when you work at home. When you don’t have a manager or a team to coordinate your schedule with, it is easy for your working day to lose some structure.

Even if you are not arranging meetings you should still create a daily schedule and stick to it.

So those are eight things you should know before you switch to self-employment.

You will need to be organized, manage your finances and your taxes, and take care of your own benefits. But hopefully it will reap rewards and you won’t look back.

5 Tech Careers You Can Do From Home | T2conline.com

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Are you currently in the tech field or hoping to make a transition into the field in the near future? Maybe you feel as though the daily grind and commute to work is just taking too much time out of your schedule, and making it hard to keep the household running smoothly where the kids are concerned. If so, it may be time to look into careers you can do from home, in particular tech careers.

Here’s a look at five that may just be exactly what you are looking for.

PCB Designer
Because technology is becoming more of a requirement in businesses across all industries, there are constantly new plans and projects being pieced together and then implemented. This is where an IT project manager comes into play. They will build the project, set up the team, identify issues, track all the steps and milestones, and ensure that everything moves smoothly.

Web Designer
As a web designer, you’ll be responsible for building websites from scratch and re-designing existing ones. This means your coding skills need to be on point.

IT Project Manager
Because technology is becoming more of a requirement in businesses across all industries, there are constantly new plans and projects being pieced together and then implemented. This is where an IT project manager comes into play. They will build the project, set up the team, identify issues, track all the steps and milestones, and ensure that everything moves smoothly.

System Administrator
For many businesses out there, a system administrator is a crucial part of their team, as this administrator is who ensures their computer system runs efficiently and properly at all times. You will work to configure and upkeep the servers and computers, which thanks to technology can all be done remotely nowadays.

Software Engineer
In this position, you will work to create and then develop software for systems and computers. Most likely you will be working as part of a remote team, which can also be a benefit for those who like to be part of a group and collective atmosphere.

Each of these careers can prove to be an excellent choice for anyone looking to pursue an at-home tech career which provides all the flexibility you’re after.

Remote Work Digest: January 15, 2019

The latest on all kinds of information, news, and resources that help you make working remotely better.

9 Productivity Hacks for Working from Home | Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S., Psychcentral.com

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For writer and editor Kate Rope the biggest challenge in working from home is focusing when she doesn’t have impending deadlines. Sometimes, what helps her is an app called Focus Keeper, which involves working for 25-minute chunks and taking 5-minute breaks. Other times, Rope goes to her favorite coffee shop, where she can “just put my nose down,” and blast through her writing.

Below, you’ll find a variety of helpful hacks for being productive when working from home.

Address your exact challenges. The key is to name your biggest challenges—the obstacles that obstruct your productivity. Then channel your creativity to find helpful solutions for each one.
Designate a specific work area. Rope suggested dedicating a specific area in your home as your office, which “tells your mind, ‘it’s working time,’ when you sit down there.” This might be an entire room or the corner of the living room. If you’re very limited on space, you might even put a small desk inside a closet.
Commute to your home office. According to journalist Emily Price in her book Productivity Hacks: 500+ Easy Ways to Accomplish More Work—That Actually Work! including a commute where you leave the house for a few minutes helps you refocus and get into work mode. “The commute can be something as simple as leaving the house for a walk around the block or heading down the street to grab a cup of coffee.”
Identify your peak productivity. When are you most productive, energized, focused and creative? During those times, try to work on bigger projects. Work on less demanding tasks, such as responding to email, when you tend to be less productive.
Batch your errands. Might running all your errands in one day boost your productivity, too?
Have an accountability partner. Price suggests working alongside a friend who also works from home. If that’s not possible, she recommends checking out virtual options at Focusmate.com, and GetMotivatedBuddies.com.
Use a different browser for work. “Having a dedicated browser enables you to install browser plug-ins for a specific use and create a work-specific bookmarks bar that doesn’t get in your way when you’re surfing the web at work,” Price writes.
Tame tiny problems. Make a list of things that are bothering you, Price writes, and try to get them fixed ASAP.
End the workday with organization. Disorganization can crush productivity. Which is why taking a few minutes at the end of your workday to tidy up and organize can set you up for success the following day.

Working from home comes with all kinds of pros and cons—which will vary for each person. The key is to identify the cons, and find ways to work around them, so you can make working from home work best for you.

Working with Remote Teams? Here’s How You Can Grow A Positive Company Culture, Tosho Trajanov, Forbes.com

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Great company culture is not about ping-pong tables and office snacks. Employee loyalty, job satisfaction and work performance aren’t affected by a physical location. Whether you have one, 10, 100 or more remote employees, creating a positive company culture where they will flourish and thrive is essential for the success of any startup.

So, how do you achieve a remote-first culture?

Promote knowledge sharing.
Knowledge sharing is essential when working with remote teams because it empowers people to establish bonds and grow.

To have productive and collaborative remote teams, a major shift needs to occur. Building an organizational culture requires:

  • Removing the focus from the individual, the leader, the superstar performer, and focusing more on the team or on how remote employees work together to get results.
  • Providing infrastructure people can use to collaborate.

Provide employees with feedback.
Working with remote teams can be challenging and offering honest feedback can lead to a more positive company culture. There’ll be lower turnover rates, more engaged employees and sky-high motivational levels.

The bad news is that many managers have very little knowledge about the science behind giving proper feedback. (Let’s be honest, dealing with emotions isn’t taught in business schools.) So, how can you give proper feedback to your remote team to encourage a positive company culture? Here are a few tips:

  • When you give negative feedback, your employees’ fear sensors activate. However, approaching feedback with empathy can make a world of difference. A manager who supports employees is the real secret to employee engagement because good employee feedback is based on trust.
  • Get rid of annual performance reviews and focus on more short-term development. While their purpose is to reflect on the entirety of the past year, they often end up focusing on more recent events.
  • Set goals for your employees that include specific and measurable key results.

Creating rituals and traditions to get to know your employees.
Creating traditions with your remote team can help keep the team cohesive, effective and trustworthy. How else would you know who is obsessed with Stranger Things and who sleeps with their dog at night?

Here are a few ideas that will lead to a great company culture:

  • Regular video chats: Hold regular video chats to help your remote team communicate face-to-face. Discuss work topics but also ask about each others’ cultures, customs and hobbies.
  • Virtual coffees: Your remote team can use virtual coffee breaks, which are video calls, to take breaks and socialize. It’s a great way for employees to share what they’ve been up to lately outside of work.
  • Retreats: Weekend retreats (at least once a year) are an awesome idea to provide more personal interactions for a team that doesn’t get to collaborate in person very often.

Embrace your employees’ differences and put their skills to good use.
What is at the heart of every company? People. The secret ingredient to creating a company culture is a diverse team of talented individuals. And this is not just diverse with respect to gender, disability, age, ethnicity and sexual orientation, but diverse in mindsets and ways of thinking that people acquire through their experiences.

The companies that will succeed in this new world are the ones that strive to create a positive company culture that includes diversity in the workplace. In this workplace, everyone will thrive and each employee will have a wealth of perspectives and ideas to share.

To conclude, companies that embrace a positive company culture will find a number of benefits, including increased employee loyalty, higher rates of employee morale and boosted levels of engagement. Through knowledge sharing, honest feedback, open communication and diversity, you can create an uplifting atmosphere that will, in the long term, keep employees happy and the business competitive.

15 tips for losing weight when you work from home | Julia Guerra, Thisisinsider.com

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Working from home is a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, you have the freedom to dress however you’d like, finish assignments from the comfort of your living room couch, and have an entire kitchen at your disposal whenever the afternoon munchies come on strong. It’s great unless you’re trying to lose weight.

Under these super convenient, incredibly comfortable circumstances, how can you can you lose weight when you work from home? Here are a few expert tips on how to do just that.

Invest in workout equipment you can use at home.
You don’t need fancy machines and clunky equipment to achieve your weight loss goals. In fact, the director of fitness from Daily Burn, Amanda Murdock said you don’t even have to have a gym membership. You will, however, benefit from investing in a few basic tools to help speed things along.

Find activities you genuinely enjoy doing, and you’re more likely to stick with a plan.
Oftentimes, fitness is looked at as a chore — something that has to get done in order to reach your weight loss goals. Although it’s true that physical activity is an important component, it shouldn’t feel like a burden, and it doesn’t have to. The key is to find exercises and activities you genuinely enjoy doing so that the time you commit to doing them feels like time well spent.

Clock in the right amount of quality sleep.
Nutrition and fitness are two of the most important elements of weight loss. The third is sleep — getting the right amount, and the right quality of it. And because when you work from home, your living space is also your workspace, it’s important that you not only set parameters for yourself, and know when to shut down, it’s also important that you create a sleep space that’s designed for sleep, not work under the covers.

Create a space in your home that can be your designated workout area.
Kelly Borowiec, CPT, founder of Keebs Fitness suggested that, after setting up a designated workout area in your home, fill it was a few basic pieces of equipment, like a set of 5-10lb dumbbells and a thick mat, to start.

“As you begin to exercise more frequently at home, you can reward yourself by buying more exercise equipment,” Borowiec said.

Plan your workouts around the times you’re most energized.
Are you a night owl? Early bird? Do you prefer afternoons to morning and evening hours? When you figure out what exercises you’re most likely to enjoy, your next task is to figure out when you’re most likely to exercise.

Be mindful of your meals and snacking options.
Nutrition is just as, if not more important when it comes to losing weight — whether you work from home or otherwise — so if you have a sweet tooth, you’ll just have to find ways to nip mindless cravings in the bud. One foolproof method Borowiec swore by was filling your fridge and pantry with healthy snacks, and preparing nutrient-dense meals in advance so that when you go grazing, you already have good-for-you options at the ready.

Don’t skimp out on cardio.
Walking from the bedroom to your couch or dining room isn’t much of a commute, but when your career can be done from the comfort of your living room, it’s easy to forgo cardio altogether. Joanna Stahl, the founder of Go2Practice told INSIDER this is a major, common mistake.

Cardio is key to most weight loss goals, so even though your work doesn’t require you to get up and out of the house, “there needs to be a concerted effort to put the pencils down and get in a workout daily,” Stahl said.

Drink a ton of water, but don’t sip on a glass with meals.
According to The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the average adult should be drinking two liters, or eight cups, of water per day. However, the key is to drink these eight cups between meals, not during them.

Sign up for classes to hold you accountable.
If you’re struggling to find motivation, Stahl told INSIDER that either signing up for a workout class at a studio, gym, or online is a great resource. Not only will you have committed to be at the gym at a specific time, but classes that come at a price up the ante, because you’ve not only committed time, you’ve put down payment, too.

Remember that small adjustments to your schedule can make a difference, too.
Liana Hughes, certified personal trainer and coach at Gixo said you can become more active by making some small changes like “planning a time to exercise each day, setting alarms to get up and walk around each hour, stretching while you are making your morning coffee, and getting up and walking around during conference calls.”

Walk whenever and wherever you can.
“You don’t have to take a 60 minute cycling class or run miles and miles because small changes can mean big differences,” she told INSIDER. “For instance, taking walk breaks during the day will not only get you disconnected from your computer, but will count towards that weekly minimum. Go outside and take a walk and add in some power walking for a block to raise your heart rate to bring in cardio to your daily routine.”

Set up shop as far away from the kitchen as possible.
Does just being in the same vicinity of food initiate temptation? If so, set up your workspace far away from the kitchen to avoid wandering into the kitchen when you aren’t actually hungry.

Get dressed for work in the same way you would if you were going to an office.
It’s easy to fall into the mindset that because no one’s going to see you, working in your pajamas or baggy sweats is acceptable. On the one hand, it is, but on the other, getting dressed in the morning the same way you would to go to an office building will take you out of a lazy mindset.

Practice mindful eating.
“Eat in the common work kitchen area or an empty conference room,” American College of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer, V Shred‘s lead trainer, and an expert in nutrition, Benjamin Suyematsu suggested. “Use the time to really be mindful about your meal. Taste the food. Take your time and enjoy the meal as opposed to rushing through which only adds air to your stomach leading to bloat and even indigestion.”

Cut back on sugar, alcohol, and high-fat foods.
“The biggest things to stay away from while trying to lose weight are sugars, alcohol, and high-fat foods,” CruBox trainer, Brian Evans said. “It is important to eat a super balanced diet and additionally, stay away from food that is labeled low fat or sugar-free. Typically those food have to either added fat or sugar for taste than the normal full calorie options.”

Remote Work Digest: August 25, 2018

The latest on all kinds of information, news, and resources that help you make working remotely better.

101 Time Management Tips to Boost Productivity Every Day | John Rampton, Entrepreneur.com

For most of us, time management and staying productive is a daily struggle. Sometimes that’s not the end of the world. But, if you don’t address this sooner then later, the things you were supposed to do today get pushed to tomorrow, then the next day. Eventually, you could end-up several weeks behind.

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Thankfully, you can prevent that from happening by using these 101 time management and productivity tips. Let’s start to gain yourself more time.

1. Just Breathe.
2. Measure twice, cut once.
My dad used to tell me, “Measure twice, cut once.” This is actually a famous proverb for anyone involved in carpentry or building since it advices to do things right the first time around.
3. Turn off the TV.
Instead of watching so much television, spend that time on higher-leverage tasks.
4. Eat the frog first.
“Your ‘frog’ is your biggest, most important task, the one you are most likely to procrastinate on if you don’t do something about it.”
5. Schedule according to energy.
By creating a schedule based around your energy you can create a routine that ensures your as productive as possible.
6. Wake-up earlier
This way you have the time to read, exercise, respond to emails, and plan out your day properly.
7. Keep a time diary.
By recording how you spend your time for a month or two, you’ll see where you’re wasting time and what influences productivity.
8. Make use of waiting time.
Let’s say you have a doctor’s appointment. Have something with you to do. This could be reading a book, catching up on correspondence, or writing your upcoming eBook.
9. Make a list and get it out of your head.
Don’t let everything you have to do swirl around in your head. Jot them done so that it clears your brain and prevents you from getting overwhelmed.
10. Think “half-time.”
For example, if you’re cooking dinner, make the twice the amount and freeze half of it. This way you’re not spending that time again preparing and cleaning your meal on another night.
11. Ditch commitments that waste your time, energy and attention.
12. Be decisive.
Make a decision, live with it, and move on.
13. Cross something off.
This keeps your to-do lists from getting out of control. It also prevents you from over committing.
14. Lighten your cleaning standards.
Obviously you want your home and office to be clean and organized. But, settling on “dirt removal” instead of “spotless” will definitely save you a ton of time and energy in the end.
15. Establish “maintenance days.”
Group your cleaning, laundry, and errands on specific days. This way they’re not lingering over your head when working on more pressing matters.
16. Schedule your work in batches.
Speaking of grouping, start batching similar tasks together.
17. Combine efforts.
This way you’re cutting down on the time spend going back and forth all day.
18. Learn keyboard shortcuts.
19. Shorten your emails.
20. Delegate or outsource.
Instead of doing tasks yourself, delegate or outsource them to someone else so that you can focus on more important tasks.
21. Automate repetitive tasks.
22. Schedule less.
23. Work hours a day.
It’s all about focusing on your most important tasks when you’re most productive.
24. Stop multitasking.
Focus on one task at a time. Train your brain to slow down a little. It’s like running, the more you train your body, the faster you’ll become.
25. Don’t beat yourself up.
What happens if you spend a Saturday morning binge-watching Stranger Things? Stop wasting your time feeling guilty about it. Sometimes that happens. Do your best not to make that a habit and move-on instead of living in the past.

To make the most of your time, here are tips for implementing a productivity system.

26. The “Pomodoro Technique.”
The “Pomodoro Technique” is where you use a timer and schedule short breaks, usually five minutes, after 25 minutes of focused work.
27. Seinfeld’s “Don’t break the chain” method.
Jerry Seinfeld would use a wall calendar and red marker to stay focused. He would cross out the days on the calendar when he wrote.
28. David Allen’s “two-minute rule.”
According to David Allen, author of the best-selling Getting Things Done, if a task takes under two-minutes to complete — do it now — so that it’s out of the way.
29. Break your day into five-minute slots like Elon Musk.
Doing so keeps him productive since it ensues that he stays on-track and doesn’t waste his time.
30. Jay Shirley’s “Must, Should Want Method.”
Every morning start your day by answering three questions: What must your do to create the most impact today? What should your do to build a better future? What do you want to do so that you can enjoy today and life more completely?
31. The Eisenhower Matrix
“Eisenhower’s strategy for taking action and organizing your tasks is simple. Using the decision matrix below, you will separate your actions based on four possibilities.
1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).”

32. Airplane days.
If you plan ahead and organize your work before you leave for the airport, you can increase productivity by accomplishing an enormous amount while you are in the air.
33. Follow your ultradian rhythms.
It can get pretty complex, but the idea is that you should concentrate when your energy levels are highest, but to rest when you feel drained.
34. The “big rocks system.”
If you start with “big rocks,” and then put in sand or smaller rocks, all the gaps and cracks will get filled.
35. “No Meetings Wednesdays.”
Other companies have this rule for other days of the week, but the idea is the same. As opposed to wasting your time in a meeting, you can focus on important individual tasks.
36. The “anti to-do-list.”
Instead of composing just a to-do list, create a to-done list where you write down everything you’ve already accomplished.
37. Sunday check-ins.

What brings this altogether is focus and attention. The following tips can be a big help.

38. Get your environment right.
Work in an environment that has your auditory sweet spot (some prefer silence, others like background), organized, comfortable, free of distractions, and comfortable.
39. Turn off notifications.
40. Plan for interruptions.
41. Shrink your mental deadlines.
By shrinking your mental deadline you’ll work faster, as well as improve your focus.
42. Make a procrastination list.
This is a list of high-leverage activities that you can chip away at whenever you’re procrastinating or have down time.
43. Create a stop doing list.
This is a list of those bad habits that waste your time or hinder your productivity.
44. Use Brainwave Entrainment.
Brainwave entrainment isn’t a new development. In fact, it’s a 100+ year old science that uses special tones and sounds to influence an individual’s brainwave patterns.
45. Focus@Will.
Focus@Will is an app that not only removes distractions, it also increases productivity.
46. Use a password manager.
47. Hack your vision.
Blue wavelengths from fluorescent lights and electronic devices can fatigue your eyes and accelerate eye aging. To combat this start by taking a couple of small steps like blinking more and reducing your exposure before bed.
48. Actively listen.
Active listening is when you all of your attention and focus is at the conversation at-hand.
49. Have a cut-off time.
Set a specific time to completely check-out from work so that you can avoid further exposure to blue light and recharge your batteries.

The foundation of our productivity is our health, so here are physical productivity tips to simplify getting and staying in shape.

50. Exercise.
51. Fuel-up wisely.
Avoid sugar, simple carbohydrates like pasta and bread, and junk food — they can give you a temporary energy high, but then you may crash.
52. Drink caffeine intelligently and stay hydrated.
53. Get 7-9 hours of sleep.
54. Skip the nightcap.
Drinking alcohol before bed prevents your from getting a quality night’s rest. If you do have an alcoholic beverage, have one several hours before your hit the hay.
55. Stop and smell…the lemons.
Research from Ohio State University found that sniffing lemon improved people’s moods and raised levels of norepinephrine, a brain chemical linked to executive decision-making and motivation.
56. Meditate.
57. Strike a power pose.
A ‘power pose’ actually can cause a burst of testosterone, that’s responsible for feelings of dominance.
58. Take a nap.
59. Set the right temperature.
60. Soak up the sun.
Natural light increases your energy levels, helps you focus, reduces stress, and assists in better sleep.
61. Smile!
Smiling makes you more productive because it boosts your immunity, makes your happier, handle stress better, and helps you focus on the big picture.
62. Bring your dog to work.
This isn’t a problem if you work from home, but what if you can’t bring your dog to work? Looking at pictures of animals can have similar effects.
63. Standing and walking meetings.
It’s not just better for your health, these types of meetings reduce distractions, promote collaboration, and saves time.

Success requires being equally fit physically and mentally. Try these mental productivity tips:

64. Have a plan.
Start by identifying a daily mantra, your short-term goal, and your long-term goal.
65. Take five.
This isn’t taking a five-minute break. It’s actually taking five minutes before any call or task to determine what you want to attain.
66. Develop a growth mindset.
67. Regularly review the past week.
68. Write in your happiness journal.
69. Get an easy win.
It’s a simple way to feel accomplished and build momentum for the rest of the day.
70. Learn to say ‘no’ effectively.
71. Find your groove.
A flow state is where you’re completely absorbed in what you’re doing at the moment. To get into this flow state, you should work on activities that are challenging, but also equal to the skills you possess.
72. Schedule breaks throughout the day.
“The best way to take breaks is to schedule them throughout your day. That way you can truly control the flow of work.”
73. Disconnect.
74. Rehearse situations.
75. Bargain with yourself.
“If you don’t want to do something, make a deal with yourself to do at least five minutes of it,” says Instagram founder Kevin Systrom. “After five minutes, you’ll end up doing the whole thing.”
76. Identify you keystone habits.
Examples include planning out your days, exercising, and having strong willpower.
77. Establish S.M.A.R.T. Goals.
Make sure your goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time based. This makes it easier to define and achieve them.
78. Stop tracking your progress on goals.
View your actions as evidence that you are committed to your goal” and remind yourself why you want to reach your goal.
79. Set “process goals.”
A process goal is what you actually need to achieve in order to achieve a larger goal. For example, if you want to increase sales by 25%, then your process goal would be to call 5 potential clients daily.
80. Anticipate obstacles.
This way you can have a contingency plan so that you can keep going forward no matter what.
81. Own your mistakes, then move on.
82. End your day on a high-note.
Ending your day on a high note encourages you to do the same the next day.

Success always is a team sport, so here are organization and prioritization tips:

83. Schedule your entire day.
84. Keep your desk clear.
When you have a cluttered desk that sends a visual cue to your brain that causes stress.
85. Use an online calendar and calendar tool.
With an online calendar you can access it from multiple devices, schedule meetings/appointments, set up reminders, block time, and set up recurring events.
86. Declutter your calendar.
Clear the clutter from your calendar by only adding priorities that are date-specific. Don’t fill it with minute activities or events that no longer fit into your lifestyle.
87. Consolidate your tools and apps.
Having too many of these tools and apps are counter-productive. Limit yourself to the essentials.
88. Share your calendar.
Share your calendar with clients and colleagues so that you can schedule productive meetings and be aware of deadlines without the back-and-forth emails. You can also share your calendar with your family so that they know where you are and that you can delegate household chores.
89. Set a maximum of three priority tasks per day.
90. Define three daily outcomes every morning.
91. Jot down “forgettables”.
What happens when something pops in your mind while you’re working on an important task? Have a pen and paper nearby so that you can jot it down. This gets the thought out of your head, without doing much damage to your flow.
92. Schedule buffer and travel time.
Don’t jump directly from task-to-task or meeting-to-meeting. You need time to recharge, refocus, and/or commute.
93. Break larger projects into bite-sized pieces.
94. Set deadlines.
95. Tap into the power of visualization.
“Mental practice can get you closer to where you want to be in life, and it can prepare you for success!,” writes AJ Adams, MAPP in Psychology Today.
96. Set-out visual reminders.
97. Find a mentor.
98. Enhance or develop skills.
99. Take one step at a time.
Baby steps. It’s probably one of the easiest and most powerful time management and productivity tips. Instead of focusing on the task, focus on what you’re doing now.
100. Don’t worry about perfection.
Stop worrying about something being “perfect.” It doesn’t exist. It’s only a figment of your imagination that can never become a reality.
101. Reward yourself.
It’s no secret that rewarding yourself when you’ve reached a goal or milestone is an effective way to keep you motivated and productive. The trick is being smart with your rewards.

 
Ask these 4 questions before hiring a remote worker | Alexis Bruemmer, Fastcompany.com

To reap the benefits, companies need to be prepared to adjust their systems and practices and set up remote workers for success. Asking these four questions before you hire a remote employee can go a long way.

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1. IS THIS POSITION WELL-SUITED TO REMOTE WORK?
If you’re hiring an office manager or administrator, they should probably be present in the office. You need to ask yourself this before you even start considering candidates–because if it turns out that being remote is a hindrance to their role, you’ll probably face expensive and time-consuming problems down the line.

2. CAN THIS CANDIDATE BE EFFECTIVE IN A REMOTE SETTING?
Not everyone can be a remote worker. For starters, someone who isn’t a proactive communicator or needs constant social interaction to thrive can really struggle in this kind of setup. When you’re evaluating candidates, you need to understand if their work habits fit the needs of a remote role. This is a little tricky, but having a consistent interview plan can make all the difference, mainly when hiring for a technical remote position.

3. HOW CAN I HOLD MY REMOTE TEAM (AND MYSELF) ACCOUNTABLE?
As a manager, I tend to share what’s happening at the leadership level during our daily standup, and as much as I can, I communicate how our team’s work ties back to larger strategic goals for the company.

You don’t necessarily have to use this method–but it’s vital that you have a single, shared system for tracking progress on team deliverables. That way, everyone is clear on what they need to accomplish, and they can have something to refer to anytime they’re unsure of their priorities.

4. HOW CAN I KEEP MY REMOTE TEAM MOTIVATED?
It’s a challenge for any manager to keep their team motivated, and remote work adds another layer of complexity to the mix. Loneliness is a huge problem among remote workers and the lack of in-office face time might also lead to higher anxiety around job security.

In addition to keeping your team on track, it’s equally crucial to keep them connected so you can combat those potentially negative feelings. I try to schedule planned face-to-face time at least three times a year with my remote team, and I put extra effort into recognizing and (visibly) rewarding great work. After all, saying “good job” while I pass them in the hallway isn’t an option for me.

7 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Working with a Virtual Assistant | Yoshitaka Shiotsu, Business2community.com

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Virtual assistants (VA) are remote office assistants. They provide administrative, clerical, and support services that can range from scheduling conference calls and sending invoices to more complex tasks regarding PR, marketing, and project management. Here are seven common mistakes to avoid when working with Vas.

1. Hiring for tasks instead of filling roles
When you hire people to perform tasks you’re not taking advantage of this phenomenal human trait. When outsourcing tasks, once each is complete you must then spend time to delegate a new one. When you hire someone to fill a role, he or she can be trained to perform all the tasks associated with that role, keeping management time to a minimum.

2. Micromanaging a VA
When you micromanage, you become an operational bottleneck within your organization. VAs are supposed to free up your time, but if you micromanage you’ll end up spending more time delegating specific tasks than you gain from their help.

3. Not Using a System
By creating clear step-by-step procedures for how certain tasks should be performed, you can remove the guesswork and confusion that usually prevent teams working under micromanagers from being proactive and productive.

4. Neglecting to define a clear role or scope
Make a list of the specific tasks—social media posts, booking travel arrangements, scheduling meetings, etc.—of the role you’d like to outsource. Create a picture of the responsibilities, skills, and experience required of that role. Clarify whether this is a long-term hire or a one-time gig. Transparency will save you headaches and unmet expectations in the future.

5. Thinking you can 100% set it and forget it
How else is your VA supposed to learn how to better meet your business needs? Fortunately, plenty of project management tools are out there to help you better manage your VA and other members of the team. There are even freelancer management systems especially geared toward helping you work with VAs and other remote freelancers.

6. Failing to build trust
Trust has to be built; it’s a two-way street. You have to first ascertain whether you’re actually ready to delegate responsibilities to a VA. Then you have to be able to screen your short list and judge intangibles such as personality fit and attitude. Consider using test projects in your hiring process to help you select the right VA for your team.

7. NOT REALIZING VAs ARE MORE THAN COSTS ON A SPREADSHEET

Yes, it’s important to factor in the cost of hiring a VA; budgets must be balanced. However, it’s even more important to remember that when you hire a VA you’re really investing in a person, a new member of the team who can help take your business to new heights. Congratulate your VA on his or her successes. Keep your criticisms constructive. The VA you bring onto the team today could grow into a full-fledged project manager tomorrow. Nurture your investments and they’ll pay dividends in the future.

41 Things You Should Say “No” To To Become The Person You Want To Be In Life And Business

This article was written by Danny Forest, founder of Power Level Studios, an Ontario-based independent video game development company. With him (and his team) being full-time, remote workers currently creating the studio’s flagship game titled “Soul Reaper: Rise of the Unreaps” and “Soul Reaper: Unreap Commander,” he has seen his fair share of productivity and motivational issues. Find out how he combats these problems and how you can too with these tips.

Bonus: Say “No” to scrolling through photos of cute puppies on the internet.


A lot of people think “success” is about saying “yes” to the right stuff. Well, that’s one side of a coin. There are many things we say “yes” to that we really should be saying “no” to.

I do many things in life, and all that started with the 3 skills I learn every month. If you read the story, you would think I’m a “yes” man, but truth be told, I’m a professional “no” man.


Personality

1. Mediocrity

You’re almost always better than you think you are.

“I’d rather choke on greatness than nibble on mediocracy” — https://boldomatic.com/p/SRmdTA/i-d-rather-choke-on-greatness-than-nibble-on-mediocracy

2. Procrastination

Stop thinking, start doing.

“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.” — Marcus Aurelius

3. Talking Shit About Yourself

Be positive. Don’t seek loathing, seek improvement.

“Don’t wish it was easier wish you were better. Don’t wish for less problems wish for more skills. Don’t wish for less challenge wish for more wisdom.” — Jim Rohn

“Just remember; someone loves everything you hate about yourself” — Frank Ocean

4. Selfishness

Be a giver. Be happier.

“Selfish people end up having only their self.” — http://www.lovequotesmessages.com/selfish-quotes/

5. Perfection

Don’t waste time on perfection. Great is good enough.

6. Excuses

Ask why three times and you’ll know the real reason.

“Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses” — George Washington Carver

7. Always Comparing To Others

Spend time on self-improvement over fascination over competitors.

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” — Theodore Roosevelt

8. Impulsive Decisions

Think deeper.

“Impulsiveness is the enemy of deep thinking” — https://www.askideas.com/60-best-thinking-quotes-and-sayings/


Health & Sleep

9. Unhealthy Food

The more you eat healthy, the tastier the food gets.

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live in.” — http://www.quotesofdaily.com/quote-on-eating-healthy/quote-on-eating-healthy-nice-and-funny-food-quotes/

10. Skipping A Meal

Your brain needs all the good nutrients it can get to function optimally. Eat better, not less.

11. Taking The Car

The grocery store is 15 minutes walk away? Walk to it!

12. The Snooze Button

Be so focused on achieving your goals and set tight deadlines and you won’t ever think about snoozing anymore!

“You Snooze, You Lose” — smart people

13. Partying Every Night

Enjoy a party, but don’t forget your goals, and resting of course!

“Everything in moderation, including moderation.” — Oscar Wilde

14. Stimulants Before Bed

Don’t get in the way of a good sleep.

“Sleep is the best meditation” — Dalai Lama


Productivity

15. Long Commute

Waste as little time as possible on non-productive activities.

16. Distractions

When comes time to be productive. Shut any distractions down.

“You can’t do big things if you’re distracted by small things” — http://www.picturequotes.com/distraction-quotes

17. Blockers Of Personal Progress

Bad friend? Block. Netflix? Block. Video Games? Block. Unblock when comes time to unwind.

18. Reading Things You Don’t Enjoy

Seriously. You don’t have to finish everything you start! The author won’t know. Stop reading shit things, there’s too much great stuff out there!

19. Completing Useless Things

Plan things. Organize priorities. Do the ones that matter.

“Nothing is less productive than to make more efficient what should not be done at all.” ~ Peter Drucker

20. Planning Things That Don’t Need Planning

Planning is great and all, but don’t forget to execute!

“Just do it!” — Nike


Relationships

21. Takers

Say “yes” to givers. Give yourself.

“Know the difference between those who stay to feed the soil and those who come to grab the fruit.” — https://www.pinterest.com/explore/takers-quotes/

22. Social Media

Uninstall the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram apps from your phone. BAM! I gave you back an hour of your day!

23. Talking Shit About Others

Always be honest. Don’t be a hater.

“Don’t do unto others what you don’t want others to do unto you.” — unknown

24. Listening To Complaints About Others

Gossiping is poisonous. Avoid people who spread it.

“Who gossips to you will gossip of you” — Turkish Proverb

25. Naysayers

If someone doesn’t have time for you, don’t find time for them. Relationships are mutual.


Work-Life Balance

26. Bad Routines

Don’t get stuck in a non-productive routine. You can change things around.

27. Meetings Without An Agenda

These tend to last too long and have no focus. No sense of direction. Avoid them.

28. Overly Long Team Meetings

Bring people back on track or leave. Seems rude, but in the long run, people will thank you for it.

29. Bad Clients

To hell with the good money. If a client is not good to you, focus your energy on the good clients.

“It is better to starve than get a bad client.” — Massimo Vignelli

30. Good

Say “yes” to great.

“Good is the enemy of great” — Jim Collins

31. Cluttered Environment

Have a clean workspace, both physically, mentally and on your computer.

32. Responding To Messages Ad-hoc

As much as possible set blocks of times to answer messages.

33. Doing Life Stuff At Work

Give your full attention to your work, it won’t go unnoticed.

34. Doing Work Stuff At Home

Give you full attention to your family, it won’t go unnoticed.

“When you work, work. When you play, play. Don’t mix the two.” — Jim Rohn

35. Doing Things You Can Delegate

Find your superpower, delegate the stuff that’s outside of it.

36. A Bad Business Partner

Communication is key. Work things out or walk away.

“I can’t control your behavior; nor do I want that burden… but I will not apologize for refusing to be disrespected, to be lied to, or to be mistreated. I have standards; step up or step out.” — Steve Maraboli


Other

37. Your TV And Couch

Make your environment uncomfortable so you can focus on the things that matter.

38. Waiting For Things You Don’t Need To

Coffee machine? A traffic light when there are other options? A file upload? Just do something else!

39. Things That Don’t Work Towards Your Goals

Question the things you do. Better yet, question it before you start it.

“If it’s not a Hell Yeah!, it’s a no” — Derek Sivers

40. Comparing Apples To Oranges

Don’t waste time comparing things that don’t compare. It’s it’s quantified or qualified using a different set of attributes, it’s not the same thing!

41. Your Cellphone

Top productive people set their phones on Airplane mode for most of the day. For me, it has become a brick of sorts.

“Technology can be our best friend, and technology can also be the biggest party pooper of our lives. It interrupts our own story, interrupts our ability to have a thought or a daydream, to imagine something wonderful, because we’re too busy bridging the walk from the cafeteria back to the office on the cell phone.” — Steven Spielberg


Conclusion

Feel like saying “no” now?

You can start right away!

Learning to say “no” is a skill. Practice it. Master it. Become who you want to become.

You can do this!

Eat Your Way To A More Productive You

We’ve known for some time now that what we eat generally makes us to an extent what we are. Every human being is a biological system that is built and maintained by the basic types of fuel that we allow into our systems. We are unlike a mechanical machine though that has no say in the fuel that’s dumped into it. We all have a choice in the nutrition that we partake in. The diet that we build our lives on has a profound effect on us. Hence the saying, you are what you eat. According to Psychology Today, we have a chance of building a better version of ourselves all from the gut up. Eating right helps you work better, think better and play better. Here are some specific healthy choices that you might consider for working in a traditional office environment, out on the road, or one of the trendy new work from home (WFH) setups.

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