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Must-Have Items for Your Home Office

Must-Have Items for Your Home Office

If you don’t work from home, you probably imagine it to be a pretty cushy gig: you can do everything you need to get done while lounging on the couch in your pajamas, casually going about your business with not a care in the world.

If you do work from home, you know that’s simply not the case. For the most part, working from home requires you to set up your living space as if it were an actual office. While you don’t necessarily need to hole yourself up in your room, it certainly helps put you in the frame of mind to get some work done. If you’ve been designated for home assignment, make sure you have the following to ensure you maintain your productive nature.

Wi-Fi with a high speed connection

If you work from home, chances are you’ll be spending a majority of your time utilizing the Internet in some capacity. A slow Internet means halted productivity. Make sure you have a reliable router, and are connected to a server that promises minimal dips in service.

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Laptop

While I did say it’s important to get that office feel going within your home, sometimes you need a change of scenery. With a laptop, you can do work from anywhere in the house (and beyond). On those nice days, instead of sulking in your room, take it outside and soak up some sun while you work on those spreadsheets. Just make sure you’re still within range of your Wi-Fi connection!

Bluetooth Headset

Any handless set will do, actually. Since you’ll likely be communicating with coworkers and supervisors over the phone throughout the day, you’ll want to be able to do so without tying up your hands or cricking your neck for hours on end. If it’s not too cumbersome, you don’t even need to take it off after you hang up; it’ll probably ring again soon enough, anyway.

Multifunction Printer

If you’ve ever dealt with a less-than-stellar printer, you know how frustrating they can be. Invest in a worthwhile printer that also works as a copier and scanner. And make sure you know exactly how to use it. Nothing gets in the way of a productive day like a paper jam.

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Alarm Clock

Since you’re working from home and have little to no physical contact with others around you, you’ll need to make sure to keep track of your time for a variety of reasons. For one, you need to manage your own time efficiently; you won’t have a boss constantly pushing you to finish a project by a specific time.  You also won’t have much frame of reference when it comes to taking a lunch break or when it’s time to quit. A large, visible clock will help make sure you always know when it’s time for happy hour.

Surge Protector

You have all these electronic devices, so of course you’ll need a surge protector. Not only will it give you a much larger number of outlets to utilize, but it will protect your sensitive and expensive electronics from surges (duh!). Beware: not all power strips are surge protectors, so make sure you check the box carefully when picking one out.

Ergonomic chair

You’re going to be spending a lot of time sitting, so you need to make sure you’re comfortable. Along with everything else that comes with an ergonomic setup, your chair is possibly the most important piece of the puzzle. Your back will thank you in the long run.

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Flash drive/File cabinet

These two go together like Forrest and Jenny. Simply put, you need a flash drive or external hard drive for your electronic data, and a file cabinet for your physical papers. Make sure you set an encryption password for your flash drive, and you have a lock for your file cabinet, too. Flash drives are incredibly easy to lose, and if your house is ever broken into, your file cabinet might hold some valuable information that you don’t want to fall into the wrong hands.

Paper shredder

Speaking of having documents fall into the wrong hands, you can prevent this happening by destroying discarded papers beyond recognition. It might be loud and obnoxious, but your boss would be much louder if he found out you lost an important piece of information. Just shred it and be done with it.

Pen and paper

Ah, old trusty. Ever since I started writing online, I’ve gone through about five or six different notebooks. There’s just something about getting your thoughts out on paper before you transfer them to the computer. It helps your ideas flow more freely, and you don’t have to focus on formatting or frozen programs. Just make sure you have a special, lockable place for your notebooks when you’re done using them.

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Featured photo credit: Home Office v 2.0 / Erik Eckel via farm2.staticflickr.com

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Last Updated on October 23, 2018

How to Eliminate Work Stress When You’re Stressed to the Max

How to Eliminate Work Stress When You’re Stressed to the Max

Workplace stress is a modern epidemic. More than one-third of American workers experience chronic work stress. This is estimated to cost American businesses up to $300 billion a year in lost work hours and medical bills.[1]

Clearly, if you’re suffering from work stress – you’re far from alone. But, work stress isn’t inevitable.

In this article, I’m going to help you identify the root cause of your stress and suggest the most suitable ways to cope with job stress so you can become a happy and productive worker again.

Where Work Stress Comes From

Certain factors tend to go hand-in-hand with work-related stress. The causes of stress include:

  • Too much work – you feel overwhelmed by your work and find yourself saying: “There are not enough hours in the day!”
  • The job is too easy, not challenging or inspiring – this is where boredom (which is stressful) sets in.
  • Pressure from co-workers or lack of social support – colleagues are not helpful or only care about their own tasks.
  • Little praise and lots of criticism – this is where a lousy manager uses constant criticism to ‘try’ to motivate you.
  • Very demanding or competitive working culture – sales departments often fit this category.
  • Not having enough control over job-related decisions – this is when people try to micro-manage you.
  • High expectations on yourself or seeking perfection – while it’s good to do your best, being a perfectionist can be a powerful stress generator.
  • Low salary – if you work hard but receive slim financial rewards, you may start to feel downhearted, frustrated and stressed.

The Negative Effects of Stress on Your Mind and Body

Chronic stress is bad news for your mental health and physical health. These are some health symptoms of stress:[2]

    If stress hormones are triggered in your body for extended periods, they can lead to increased physical aging. This is because stress makes your cells look and act older – and this is reflected in your physical appearance.[3]

    In addition to the negative effects on your body, stress also has a significant influence on your brain – negatively impacting your daily performance.

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    I recommend you watch the 4-minute video below to see just how stress can wreak havoc on your brain and your performance:

    How to Cope with Work Stress (A Step-By-Step Guide)

    You don’t need to be a victim of work stress. Here’s how to manage stress in the workplace:

    1. Set aside some time for planning

    If work has become too much for you, and you’re constantly falling behind… stop! Instead of trying and failing to catch up, you’d be much better off spending some time thinking about your goals and how your prioritize your tasks.

    Learn how to set clear goals with this step-by-step guide.

    For instance, if your initial goal is just to get on top of your work (probably for the first time in months), then take 10 minutes to think clearly and deeply about how you can achieve this. Most likely, you’ll be able to come up with tasks that you need to complete to reach your goal. And once your goal and tasks are clear in your mind, you’ll be ready for the second step.

    2. Align your tasks with your goal

    Just knowing your goal and associated tasks is not enough. Many people reach this stage but still fall behind with their work and fail to achieve their goals.

    The secret is to understand which of your tasks should be high priority and which ones can be done when you have spare time.

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    For example, checking your inbox every 20 minutes may seem to be a productive task for you, but in reality it acts as a constant distraction and productivity killer. Instead, you’d be better off setting aside 30 minutes in the morning to check your emails and 30 minutes in the afternoon to do the same.

    By doing this, you’ll free up the bulk of your day for tasks that can help you reach your goal. These tasks are likely to be things like: writing a business proposal, creating a PowerPoint presentation, and finishing an important project.

    These tips on how to prioritize will help you align your tasks with your goals and work 10X more efficiently.

    3. Remove, change or accept the stressors

    How to tackle specific work stressors? I recommend the following method that WellCast introduced:[4]

    Take a piece of paper and divide it into three columns. At the top, write remove in the first column, change in the second and accept in the third.

      Next, think of the stressors that are getting to you the most. Perhaps it’s your paycheck; it might be way smaller than you’d like or feel that you deserve. Don’t worry, this is your chance to break free from the stress surrounding your low pay.

      Think for a few moments, which would you prefer:

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      • To remove yourself from the company
      • To try to change your salary by asking for a pay rise
      • To accept that your salary is okay for you

      You may be surprised at what thoughts come into your mind. Don’t reject them, but allow yourself time to be clear on how you’d like to proceed.

      If the status quo feels good to you, then write “paycheck” in the accept column. If you decide you want to increase your salary but stay in the same company, write “paycheck” in the change column. And finally, if you decide the time is right to seek a new opportunity at a different organization, then write “paycheck” in the remove column.

      By being decisive in this way, you’ll immediately feel freer and in control of your destiny. And your stress levels will begin to trend downwards. All that remains is to set yourself a clear goal of what you want to achieve and how you’re going to do this.(Luckily, steps #1 and #2 above will help you out!)

      Of course, if you have multiple work stressors, then use your remove, change or accept sheet to work through all of them. It will be time VERY well spent.

      4. Create positive relationships at work

      One key to improving your ability to manage stress is being able to accept help from others. Not only does it alleviate negative circumstances by simply distracting you and creating a buffer between daily tasks and their negative connection, it will provide a sense of support and relief.

      Make an effort to create friendships with your colleagues. Go to the after-work happy hour or just ask a colleague out for coffee at lunchtime. Not only will you have someone to confide in, but you will start to associate positive feelings to work.

      Forming a healthy relationship with your manager or supervisor is also a good way to alleviate stress. Positive, two-way conversations about where you stand in your job, being honest about how you feel, and working together to make a plan of action in terms of improved work conditions and expectations are paramount. This will lead to opening up and receiving the necessary resources you need to support or help you.

      5. Take time out for yourself

      Anyone can get overwhelmed when stress occurs at work, and this can spill into other areas of your life. This is why it’s important to clock out mentally from your job from time to time.

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      Take time off to relax and unwind in order to regain your energy and come back to work invigorated. Make sure you actually do something you enjoy like spending time with your kids or partner, or visit that country you’ve always wanted to explore.

      If taking time off work isn’t possible in the midst of your stress, take scheduled breaks throughout your day. Sit quietly somewhere or do some stretches to get your blood flowing like in the example below:

      6. Take mindful action towards your health

      The irony of stress is that your healthy habits can take a backseat. Maintaining and even improving your health will keep your stress under control. Here are some ways to keep you physically fit:

      • Eat healthy foods. Make sure your diet is full of foods that provide your body with sufficient nutrients. Eat more fruits and green vegetables, whole foods, omega-3 rich fish, and seeds such as flax, chia and hemp. These types of food ensure your body is working optimally to cope with its stress mechanisms.
      • Avoid unhealthy foods. This is obvious, but it’s these kinds of food you reach for in times of stress and negativity. High fat foods such as cheese and red meat cause sluggishness and tiredness. Foods high in refined sugars like biscuits, chocolate bars, and bread can be convenient snacks, but they cause you to crash and burn. Same with caffeinated drinks such as coffee and sodas – these are just ‘band aid’ habits that interfere with your ability to sleep.
      • Exercise regularly. Endorphins are the best for counteracting stress, and what better way to release them than doing physical exercise. Exercise creates a distraction and helps you get your thoughts back together in an orderly way. Start a new exercise regime – whether it’s running, swimming, cycling or walking to work. Getting your blood and endorphins flowing will make you feel happier.
      • Get enough sleep. Make getting 8 hours sleep a priority. When we’re stressed it can sometimes feel hard to get to sleep but sleep deprivation only exaggerates our current stress. A well-rested mind is able to find solutions to problems more easily and reacts better to daily stressors.

      Final Thoughts

      Everyone encounters stress at work. It’s a natural and normal human reaction. The difference between letting the stress overcome you and coping with it is getting a head start by creating a positive environment and lifestyle.

      Counteracting stress is both an inside and outside job. Focusing on improving your health will create a positive mind able to react better. Forming positive relationships with certain people around you will give you emotional support.

      Beat stress with the right mindset!

      Featured photo credit: whoislimos via unsplash.com

      Reference

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