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: June 16, 2018

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

How to Overcome the 5 Top Challenges of Remote Freelance Work | Andrew Medal, Entrepreneur.com

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Working remotely can feel isolated and lonely. You are no longer operating in your area of expertise and are constantly challenged by the burden of self-promotion and the struggles inherent in time management, travel between clients, invoicing and chasing after payments, to name just a few.

Here are some solutions to five of the top challenges I myself have faced:

The burden of self-promotion

Marketing doesn’t come naturally to many freelancers, yet a business cannot continue to grow without it. This means that a freelance cake decorator, dog groomer and technical writer all need to worry about ways to advertise their services.

The solution if this applies to you? Start creating content, whether it be video, audio (podcast) or written. Content is the key to showcasing your expertise. Content will allow people to discover you, and content will help solidify your expertise.

Follow contributors who write about topics you’re looking to provide your expertise on, and reach out on social platforms like Twitter or Instagram (Instagram DM still being the absolute best way to reach someone you’re hoping to connect with).

Working in a lonely solo void

While the freedom in remote freelance work may appeal to many, working in solitude may not, as FastCompany documented in a recent article. Human nature requires support and interaction, and constant isolation can wear you down. Our bodies only work at an optimal level for approximately 90 minutes at a time, so take your laptop and head to the nearest cafe for some company.

Co-working spaces are also all the rage these days, Harvard Business Review reported, as freelancers and small business owners are often looking to become part of a community. A well-designed work environment combined with a well-curated work experience enables coworkers to thrive in a way that office-based employees cannot.

Struggling with your calendar

I like to follow the Pomodoro rule for completing tasks. This technique can help you power through distractions, keep you hyper-focused and help you get things done in short bursts while taking frequent breaks to clean your brain and refocus. It’s sort of like short high-intensity weight training, versus long, slow cardio. The Pomodoro Technique consists of short bursts of work followed by a short rest break. You:

1. Create your list of tasks.
2. Prioritize the list.
3. Set the Pomodoro to 25 minutes (the Pomodoro in this context being a timer).
4. Work on the task until the timer rings, then put a check on your sheet of paper.
5. Take a short break (5 minutes is recommended, but play around with what’s best for you).
6. After every fourth Pomodoro, take a longer break (like 20 to 30 minutes).

The goal is to accomplish your tasks in short bursts. Ideally, each task can be done in one to two Pomodoros. The goal is to hold a limit to how many Pomodoros you do per day. Then, repeat the cycle the next day. I’ve found that my productivity shoots up under this technique. Here’s a great web app to track your progress called the Pomodoro Tracker.

Scope creep

What is scope creep? Scope creep describes those extra little client requests here and there. The need that that website you just created suddenly has for extra pages at the time of delivery. That graphic-design gig you took on that keeps accruing more and more changes …

Sometimes the creep is subtle, and sometimes it’s massive. But, if you let the scope creep once, it will never stop creeping.

The best, most obvious way to deal with scope creep is a thorough contract which clearly states that any additional work will be billed accordingly. I love BidSketch for quick, effective, template-rich contracts. If you create a contract once, you can save it and reuse it.

Chasing clients for payment

Payments are undoubtedly the most aggravating and awkward part of freelance work. So, protect yourself: Ensure a contract is in place for every job, and stipulate that you charge interest for late payments. Set up automated email reminders upon invoicing.

A software like Invoicely can help you with invoicing, with reminders to make sure you are on top of your finances. Invoicely works well because it allows you to set up late fees for invoices that are paid late or not at all. This is another tactic to help make sure clients pay on time.

The best tip I have learned is that you should always wait to deliver the final project until you have the final invoice paid. That way you retain ownership of the work before a client can run off without paying.

Remote freelancing presents as many challenges as it does benefits, despite the allure of flexibility. But, if being a freelancer brings you one step closer to fulfilling your dreams, then don’t allow any obstacles to deter you. If you’re the type of person who dreams of working for yourself, you will have what it takes to make it. Stay focused, stay inspired and stay hungry — to learn and grow.

Convert Your Office Job To A Work-From-Home Arrangement | Manon DeFelice, Forbes.com

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A recent survey of over 5,000 workers by FlexJobs found that telecommuting 100% of the time is the most desired type of flexible work arrangement among job seekers. Such arrangements appeal strongly to working parents and others seeking better work-life balance.

Before you ask to switch to a telecommuting arrangement with your boss, consider the following tried-and-true tips.

1. Build your case with solid research. Instead of just listing all the personal reasons why you want to work from home, present your boss with a face-based presentation on how remote work arrangements can be a benefit to the company.

2. Offer examples of other companies’ flex policies. When you show your employer that other companies are going flex, he or she might be more inspired to implement a flexibility policy at your workplace. Present your boss or manager with sample flexibility policies, such as the nine examples included in this article from 1MFWF.

3. Try working flex once a week on a trial basis. If your manager needs convincing, let her test-drive your telecommuting capabilities one day a week to see how it goes. If your boss goes for it, use that day as an opportunity to show just how productive you can be when you work from home.

4. Be a communication whiz. Convince your boss how easy it is to stay closely in touch with you, no matter where you are. A wealth of technology can help teams stay connected around the world, from Skype and Google Chat to Basecamp, Slack and many more.

5. Offer to take a salary cut. Many people feel that working from home is a reward in itself, saving you the hassle of commuting and increasing your quality of life. You can assign a monetary value to it, and suggest a pay savings for the company by letting you telecommute.

6. Get another flexible job offer, and let your boss match it. A job offer from another company can be very motivating for your boss to let you switch to a work-from-home arrangement.

What if your boss can’t match the competing offer? Then maybe it’s time to make the move to a more forward-thinking company—and start living the work-from-home lifestyle that you envision for yourself.

4 Entry-Level Jobs That Will Prep You for Entrepreneural Success | Deep Patel, Entrepreneur.com

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If you crave the life of an entrepreneur, don’t let the barriers to entry get you down. Take one of the following entry-level jobs and use your time in the workforce to get the experience you need to launch your own business.

1. Sales
A job in sales will teach you to stop trying to convince people that they need what you have and start listening to what they want. Once you recognize that the market dictates what you sell, and not the other way around, you’ll be prepared to run a successful startup.

2. Human Resources
HR pros keep businesses running. If you work as one, you will quickly learn how much things like timely payment, accurate sick-day counts and health insurance matter to workers. To keep your team happy, you’ll need to know what employees consider to be important. What better way to learn that than to take a job where they let you know?

3. Customer service
Customers range from the kindest people you will ever meet to those who become enraged when they can’t double their coupons. As an entrepreneur, you and your team will deal with all of them. Learn how to respond to customer complaints on someone else’s dime, so that when it’s your turn to do so, your learning experiences won’t have a negative impact on your bottom line.

4. Leadership
To be a truly successful entrepreneur, you must learn how to lead a team. Leaders invariably learn some tough lessons at the helm, but if you wait until you are running the whole operation, those lessons could cost you some of your best workers.

These positions and skill sets provide invaluable lessons for entrepreneurs, but they’re hardly the only ones. Reporters, insurance adjusters, accountants, teachers and consultants — these jobs and many others are full of learning opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs.

If you have to work for someone else before you found your own company, don’t treat the opportunity with disdain. Learn everything you can on the job, so that when your time comes you can use those lessons to lead your company to success.

8 effective time management tips for entrepreneurs working from home | Toby Nwazor, e27.co

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If you are working from home, you will understand how challenging it can feel at times to manage your time effectively so as to increase your productivity. Below are eight points that can help you do that.

1. Prepare your to-do list every night before you sleep
If you really want to manage your time effectively, then you should wake up with tasks on your mind. And the best way to do this is to make a list of the next day’s tasks at night before you go to bed. That way, you can maximise your morning hours and achieve a lot more before the rest of the world get to work.

2. Prioritise your tasks
It is not enough to prepare a to-do list, you need to prioritise your goals. Divide your tasks according to what you must do, what you should do, what you want to do just because it’s nice, what another person can do for you, and what must not be done.

3. Work out a schedule, and maintain it
Assuming you had to go to work, what would your schedule look like? Duplicate it for the house. If you decide to work from 7 am to 4 pm, so be it. Make the people you live with understand it. This means that there will be no running of errands around that time, neither would you decide to hang out with a friend that just came into town.

4. Define and own your workspace
A few weeks ago, I hired someone to redesign my office. I told him I wanted to have an ‘office feeling’ whenever I entered that particular room, and he did it. After that, I noticed that I work faster when I get into the office and focus on a particular task.
You should do likewise. This will help you more if you live with a someone. In that case, let them know that unless it is very important, your office is where you work and there should be no distractions.

5. Work when you are the most productive
Although you work at home, you need to find out when you are the most productive. The secret is to schedule your most important tasks at that period. That way, you will accomplish more in less time.

6. Cut off distractions
Cut off every distraction. This could entail telling your family, or the people you live with not to disturb you when you are at work. Make them understand your schedule.

7. Avoid clutter
Don’t allow your workspace to be cluttered. This includes arranging your system files and folders and managing your email better too.

8. Take brain breaks regularly
You must try to avoid having burnouts at all costs. This is especially important if your job requires creativity. Work at a stretch for some time, but make sure to schedule breaks into your plan. This is the time you get to rejuvenate, listen to music, call a friend, or maybe just read a novel.

When you do this, you will come back rejuvenated and ready to take on more tasks.

 

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!

Remote Work Digest: February 19, 2018

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

Working From Home? Use These 5 Tips to Stay Comfortable and Productive | Ronald Stanford, Classycareergirl.com

Working from home comes with certain challenges, especially for employees accustomed to working in an office environment. Read on to discover a few helpful tips for working from home, including ideas on how you can stay productive and comfortable so you can thrive at your job.

9361efca19911999dbde6b779ac4341e_SSS-Light-Blue-Office-6-814-363-cImage from Classycareergirl.com

1. Pin Down Your Work Habits
If you’re working from home, you may be setting your own schedule, and that means you need to learn to pay attention to how you manage your time.

Give yourself a few minutes before you start your day to make sure you have everything you’ll need, from a notepad and pens to a pair of headphones and a cup of coffee. Set specific times for breaks, including a lunch break, during which you should take the time to stretch your legs and get some fresh air.

2. Create a Schedule
Set an alarm and wake up at the same time every day. Eat a healthy breakfast and go about your morning routine as if you were heading into the office. Set up in an office or bedroom where you can close the door and concentrate.

3. Be Comfortable, But Not Too Comfortable
One of the most common mistakes made by at-home employees who ultimately find themselves lacking in productivity is that they attempt to work in their pajamas from their beds.

Get up, get dressed, put on shoes, and sit upright at a desk or table. Studies have shown that this has a psychological effect for many people, putting them in a productive state of mind that helps to increase focus and improve results.

4. Get Rid of Those Distractions
Your smartphone can be a huge source of distraction, especially if you don’t have a supervisor hanging out over your shoulder. If you need to leave your smartphone on, turn it upside down on your desk and turn off all push notifications. Use apps specifically designed to block social media during set hours.

5. Remember to Eat Lunch
Forgetting to eat can you to lose motivation, get tired, and even become combative when you don’t need to be. Just remember to give yourself half an hour to an hour of lunch time.

Follow these tips, stay focused and energized, and you’ll have everything you need to be a model remote employee!

Why Offering Paid Leave Is Good For Your Business | Adam Uzialko, Business.com

Yes, paid leave policies represent an additional cost, but the benefits they provide pay for themselves and some.

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Image from Business.com

Researchers have demonstrated that offering paid leave results in higher productivity, greater employee morale, and a net cost savings for companies in the long run. So, while budgetary-minded business owners might initially be wary of the additional expenses added to the balance sheet, the numbers show that paid leave more than covers itself in the end.

Family and medical leave
In some states, paid family leave is offered through state-backed Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) programs, meaning employees pay into the system but, generally, employers do not. In states without a TDI program, however, the only mandated requirement is that companies extend 12 weeks of job-protected leave – without pay – to employees under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Paid sick leave, on the other hand, is generally an employer-sponsored plan not mandated or supported by the government in any way. It’s important to note this distinction when discussing the types of paid leave policies and who is funding them. Each offers important benefits, though, to both companies and workers.

Greater productivity
In terms of paid sick leave, workers who would otherwise come into work sick – either because of a need to make money or fear of losing their position – are free to stay home, thereby protecting the rest of the workplace from infection. The spread of communicable disease has a devastating effect on productivity; for example, a New Jersey restaurant was forced to shut down for more than a week after a sick worker caused a mumps outbreak.

“Presenteeism is when people go to work sick and cause public health issues,” White said, “and the fact is that if people were able to take the time to stay at home and take care of themselves [with pay], this would not happen as often.”

On the family leave side, many employers already offer family leave, even if they are not required to do so by law. However, many small businesses do not or cannot extend paid leave to their employees. When workers have the security of knowing they won’t miss out on pay due to caring for a newborn or a family member, they tend to be less stressed in the workplace and more focused on their assigned tasks, reducing mistakes and increasing overall productivity.

“A happy, more satisfied employee who is not stressed out about family care issues is much more able to focus on doing a better job,” White said.

Heightened employee morale
Paid leave policies also have the impact of boosting employee morale, which leads to improved retention rates and better talent acquisition. By offering paid leave, companies are promoting a healthier work-life balance, which also contributes to the aforementioned stress reduction that translates into better day-to-day productivity.

“We did research on women in law firms, and what we found was that law firms invest an enormous amount of time and resources in hiring and training new attorneys, but if they don’t provide paid family leave, when female attorneys go off on maternity leave, they are less likely to return,” White said. “So off goes all those training dollars, time, and resources invested in that person.”

By offering a paid leave program and boosting retention rates, companies can avoid losing workers they’ve already substantially invested in and who know the way the workplace operates.

The case for paid leave
Paid leave, particularly family and medical leave, offers tangible business benefits that not only improve workplace morale but can help boost profitability in the long-term. From improved employee retention to heightened productivity, business owners reap the rewards of offering their employees what they need.

As Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Records has said, putting your staff first translates into success for your customers, your shareholders, and your overall business. Paid leave isn’t just a cost, it’s an investment in your staff, and it pays big dividends.

9 Time-Saving Life Hacks For Extremely Busy Working Women | Sonali Kokra, Swirlster.ndtv.com

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Image from Swirlster.ndtv.com

In the fast-paced, hectic and chaotic world we live in today, there are always too many things to do, too many places to be and too little time to do it all in. Fortunately, there exist life hacks that can make the ride a little bit smoother, by saving you little pockets of time on days when pulling off the balancing act between professional, personal and health commitments successfully can seem like an impossible dream. Here are nine life hacks that can help you in little ways every single day.

Learn to say ‘no’
Learning how to say no – politely, but firmly – is the single most important life skill to save time and be able to prioritise what’s truly important.

Buy a portable charger, already
It’s a pain in the posterior when your phone decides to blink with the annoying sign of a low battery at the precise minute you’re supposed to be on your way to keep an appointment. Save yourself some serious heartache by investing in a powerful battery pack for your phone.

Flip your mattress every three months
Flipping your mattress every few months will even it out and prevent it from sagging, which, in turn, will save you from a world of pain in the form of poor posture and backaches. Flipping your mattress will take a couple of minutes, but a hurting back will take a whole lot longer to deal with.

Keep snacking
If you take very long breaks between meals, your body will start tiring due to lack of glucose and productivity will dip. Snacking every couple of hours is not only good for your metabolism, but will also keep your energy levels high, enabling you to work at your optimum.

Keep salt, pepper, etc. in your drawer at work
You never know when you might need them and there’s nothing that can sour one’s mood faster than having to eat a bland meal because there was no time to run to the cafeteria for basic supplies.

Don’t incessantly check emails
Stopping what you’re doing to check every new email can distract you and make you lose focus on the current task. So allot specific times in the day to check and respond to emails – perhaps once when you start work, once before lunch and one before you wrap up for the day.

Unsubscribe from useless lists
Take 10 minutes every fortnight or so to unsubscribe from mailing lists you have no use for, especially e-commerce websites. They’ll draw you in with a product you never intended to buy and before you know it, you will have spent a lot of easily-saved time and money on the site.

Park your car a few lanes away
Force yourself to walk at least a little by parking your car a few lanes away from work. In addition to giving your body some physical exercise, it will give you time to think, which in turn increases productivity.

Keep wrist/ankle weights in your drawer at work
You may not have the time to go to the gym and do weight training, but there’s really nothing that is stopping you from stocking up from ankle and wrist weights at work and using them to tone and stretch your muscles a little. Use them while taking calls or during a brain-storming session with your peers to relax stiff muscles and get the blood flowing.

4 Common Sources of Job Frustration – and How to Cope with Them | Maurie Backman, Host.madison.com

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Image from Host.madison.com

Though no job is perfect, there comes a point when all of the negative feelings about one can really come to a head. If you’ve been down on your job lately, here’s how to get past some of the aggravation sources you might be dealing with.

1. Being micromanaged
Dealing with a micromanaging boss is never fun, especially if that person not only annoys you, but actually causes you to waste valuable time by constantly butting in and demanding updates on the work you’re doing. If you have the misfortune of reporting to a micromanager, your best bet is to figure out why your boss is constantly at your back. Is it a function of his or her personality, or is it something you did?

2. Having a packed meeting schedule
Be more judicious in the meeting invites you accept. Before you agree to attend a meeting, review its agenda and make sure your presence is truly required. If you can free up even an hour or two of time per week by saying no here and there, it’ll make a difference in your workload.

3. Your constant barrage of emails
Carve out a chunk of time each day to respond to emails, and ignore them otherwise. This way, you’ll be less likely to get distracted while working on important tasks.

Furthermore, having a set amount of time to address messages might enable you to vet them more properly.

4. Too much work and too little time
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your workload, your best bet is to set priorities and arrange your schedule around them, if possible. This is something you can do on either a weekly or daily basis, depending on which works best for you. Knowing what items you really need to tackle will help you stay focused and avoid getting sidetracked by minor tasks that can wait.

We all go through bouts of frustration at work, but if you’re looking to improve your experience at the office, it pays to address those issues at the source rather than let them fester. Follow these tips, and with any luck, you’ll soon come to be more content and less disgruntled.