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Time-Saving Tips For Working From Home

Time-Saving Tips For Working From Home
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Often, circumstances don’t allow some people to leave their homes for eight hours or more a day. Things such as mobility of the disabled and parents taking care of children because of the rising costs of child care play a role in people just not having time to spend away from home. Wouldn’t a remote or work-from-home position suit you more if you weren’t able to drive to an office every day? More companies than ever before are offering this option to workers.

This list of companies offering remote positions is not sparse. Technology created by these companies allows them to keep track of their employees even when they aren’t in an office. Big tech companies like Dell, IBM, and even Amazon offer positions that you can do from home. Many more are on the list that you might recognize: American Express, Intuit, Cybercoders, and even the U.S. Department of Agriculture offer positions you can do at home or on a farm.

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While working at home can be a convenient option, it can come with distractions that you wouldn’t have to deal with in an office setting. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your time while working from home.

Put The Phone Down

You have to limit your social time. Yes, you can take breaks like you normally would, but here at home you need to realize that you can get a lot of work done and still have time for other things. If you have children to care of or just want to relax more, then you might want to shut all social media and similar things out of your work time. If your job is to run a social media page, then you can’t shut the social off, but you can keep off your personal account.

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Take Advantage Of Having Your Home Be Your Work Setting

Your boss probably wouldn’t allow you to play loud music or listen to an audiobook while working. Yes, you may be allowed headphones, but this isn’t the same. If you work better with a soundtrack, you are free to do so. Also, take advantage of your coffee maker and drinks that aren’t $5.00 apiece — no need to run out to Starbucks two times a day. And if you want to make something to eat, you can do that whenever you want. Make your own lunch time.

Let Your Family Know That This Time To Work Is Your Time

People may want you to do things with them because you are home. Children, spouses, significant others — they will all want your attention. Make a space for you and give yourself the privacy that you need to work. Sometimes you can’t get this in an office either. Make rules regarding your time and remember that you can always hang out with your family and friends later.

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Take A Nap

Nothing says refreshed like taking a nap in the middle of the day, and depending on your job, you can do this with ease. Most remote positions have flexible hours because of the nature of the job. These companies understand your plight and want to help. If you own your own business, then what are you waiting for? This freedom should be exercised with caution — if you are the sole proprietor of your company, there’s no one to encourage you to get back to work.

After you have exercised your freedom, make sure to then exercise your brain and get to work. By working smart and not hard, you can work rapidly and efficiently. This will mean big dividends and more time for yourself. The key is not getting stuck doing the same thing over and over. Your routine should be set, but if you’re doing the same thing over and over, you aren’t learning anything.

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Remember To Keep Networking

Whether you like to go fast and trade stocks, code like a maniac at home, or you enjoy painting in your own studio, you still work from home. Some people don’t get the objectivity they need without another person’s opinion. You will often have contacts outside your home office/studio still, and you should utilize these frequently. Networking is a key factor to success, so network as much as possible, but also as little as you want.

Featured photo credit: Blue from Flickr via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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