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4 Home Improvement Hacks for this Winter

4 Home Improvement Hacks for this Winter

Winter is fast approaching and, along with the weather, many of our thermostats are dropping down to survival mode temperatures. The luxury temperatures that we could afford to maintain in the fall seem impossible in the face of winter winds. Unfortunately our utility bills can’t drop as well.

Many of us will face mounting electricity and gas costs just to make our homes comfortable over the winter. These costs, along with the other damage the cold can do to an unprepared home, are enough to remind one of the devastating winters that early American settlers suffered.

Fortunately, there are steps that you can take that were not open to the English colonists. By utilizing new and old technologies you can knock digits off your energy bill and save money this winter.

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1. Solar Tech

We usually associate solar energy with hot sunny days, but the sun shines in the winter as well. Solar panels are still an effective energy producer in the winter as long as you keep them well-maintained and free of snow and ice.

A solar powered central heating system in the right state can cut your energy bills to practically nothing. For example, a solar powered home in Oregon could collect energy almost every day of the winter, thanks to the cloud-blocking properties of the Cascade Range.

The energy savings doesn’t stop at the end of winter. A solar powered home is an investment for years to come.

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2. Smart Winter Insulation

Your home’s insulation is your first defense against the cold. It’s critical that it be completely intact and working for you to get the most out of your home’s heating and air.

If you conduct a home energy audit and discover that you have insulation leaks in one or more parts of your home get those fixed as soon as you can. Since insulation repairs can be very costly and time-consuming, you may want to consider closing vents and doors to affected rooms until the necessary repairs can be made.

If you don’t have to use the rooms often, block off the bottom of the door with a blanket or something else thermally insulating so that the warm air in the rest of your home doesn’t go to waste.

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3. Keep Your Heater in Good Shape

Your heating system is the keystone for a comfortable winter. While an entirely broken heater might save you some money, you’ll be in for quite a chilly winter. Meanwhile, a heater that’s just barely pulling through will cost you a lot more than it needs to.

The happy middle ground is a fully functioning heater that’s in good shape. Having your heater at its best will save you money and keep your comfortable at the same time.

In order to keep your heater in good shape, you should schedule regular maintenance with a professional before the coldest weeks of winter come in. October and November are both great times to do this as you won’t be quite so reliant on your heater, but you also won’t be leaving much time for things to break down before the worst of winter starts.

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4. Don’t Forget About the Rest

It’s easy to think that saving money during the winter comes down to managing your heating energy well, but there’s a lot more to it than that. A cold winter can take its toll on a lot more than just your furnace.

Be sure to blow out your sprinkler system before the freezing temperatures come or you’ll be paying a lot to get that fixed in the spring. It’s also important to prepare your lawn tools for winter so that they’re there for you when the grass starts growing once again.

There are a lot of things that we all look forward to with winter. I know I’m excited for hot chocolate and warm fires. As long as we’re ready for the tough parts of winter, we can enjoy the fun parts with zero stress.

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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