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Working Efficiently From Home

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Working Efficiently From Home
Home Office

    If you have realized your dream of being able to work from home, then you would have realized by now that it is not as easy as it seems. Whether you write for a living or have an Internet business or sell some specialty that you have expertise in, what you need is some space for yourself where you can pursue your home career.

    A designated place for working is required, even if you are working from home since that is the only manner in which you shall be able to concentrate fully on what you are doing without getting distracted by the daily chores of the household and the hustle bustle if there are other people around. If you are lucky to have the house to yourself, finding this place shall be easy because you can choose any corner that provides you inspiration. But if there are other people in the house and you need to create time and space for your work, you will need to keep a few things in mind to choose the right place.

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    The place that you choose to work could be a separate room or an area in a room set aside to be your workplace. There are a few things that you should avoid while choosing the right place. Ensure that you pick a place that is not in the middle of high activity. Places close to the front door and rooms that are visited by other people in the household should be avoided. These tend to distract you and do not allow you to focus on the task at hand. When you know that you can snatch only a few hours away from the rigmarole of housework and other commitments to your children and husband, make sure that you make the best of it.

    To make the best of available time, try and keep all distractions at bay. Try to avoid being in the same room as the television and if this cannot be avoided, do not give into the temptation to switch it on. Keep the latest bestseller that you are currently reading away from your workstation.

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    Once you have made sure that the negatives are debarred from your workplace, start to make the best of the available place that you have chosen and create an environment that helps in making your creative juices flow. Discover what works best for you. Does background music help you in relaxing and think clearly or does it clutter your thoughts? Even if you prefer to have music around, ensure that it is not jarring and interfering. An instrumental piece scores over songs with lyrics that are more likely that not distract you from the job at hand.

    Good working conditions include good lighting. Aim to work in a place that has natural light. Dark interiors with minimal lighting can result in a throbbing headache after a few hours. If natural lighting cannot be achieved, ensure that the area you are working in is well lit and bright.

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    To ensure maximum productivity, keep all the objects that you may need close to your workstation. These could include a fax machine, a telephone, a printer, writing instruments, paper and reference books.

    You should also give some thought to adding a personal touch to your place by adding a motivation placard or a poster. These can go a long way in motivating you when the going gets tough. Flowers and soft toys on your desk can freshen up and make the atmosphere more exuberant.

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    Maintaining a clean, structured environment not only provides you with the motivation to work efficiently but also gives a signal to everyone else that with the home-office that you have, you are serious about what you are doing.

    Vishal P. Rao runs the Work at Home Forum, a community of those who work from home.

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    Leon Ho

    Founder of Lifehack

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    Last Updated on November 25, 2021

    Protecting Your Online Life With Secure Passwords

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    Protecting Your Online Life With Secure Passwords

    With all of the recent online services and companies falling under attack to hackers in the past few months, it seems only fitting to talk about password creation and management. There are a lot of resources out there discussing this, but it never hurts to revisit this topic time and again because of its importance.

    Password management isn’t necessarily a difficult thing to do, yet it does seem like a bit of an annoyance to most people. When it comes to password management, you will hear the famous line, “I don’t really care about changing my passwords regularly. I have nothing important online anyways.” Let’s see if you have nothing important online when your PayPal account gets taken over because you thought the password “password” was good enough.

    In my opinion, it is an “internet user’s” responsibility to make sure that they keep secure passwords and update them on a regular basis. In this article we will discuss how to make your online presence more secure and keep it secure.

    The easy fundamentals

    First thing is first; creating a strong password.

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    A strong password is a mixture of alpha-numeric characters and symbols, has a good length (hopefully 15 characters or longer), and doesn’t necessarily represent some word or phrase. If the service you are signing up for doesn’t allow passwords over a certain length, like 8 characters, always use the maximum length.

    Here are some examples of strong passwords:
    * i1?,2,2\1′(:-%Y
    * ZQ5t0466VC44PmJ
    * mp]K{ dCFKVplGe]PBm1mKdinLSOoa (30 characters)

    And not so good examples
    * sammy1234
    * password123
    * christopher

    You can check out PC Tools Password Generator here. This is a great way to make up some very strong passwords. Of course the more random passwords are harder to remember, but that is where password management comes into play.

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    Managing your passwords

    I know some people that keep their passwords in an unencrypted text file. That’s not a good idea. I suppose that if you aren’t doing much online and are decent at avoiding viruses and such, it could be OK, but I would never recommend it.

    So, where do you keep your strong passwords for all the services that you visit on a daily basis?

    There are a ton of password safes out there including KeePass, RoboForm, Passpack, Password Safe, LastPass, and 1Password. If and when I recommend any of these I always count on LastPass and 1Password.

    Both LastPass and 1Password offer different entry types for online services logins (PayPal, Twitter, Facebook, Gmail, etc.), credit cards and bank accounts, online identities, and other types of sensitive information. Both have excellent reviews and only differ in a few subtle ways. One of the ways that is more notable is that LastPass keeps your encrypted password Vault online where 1Password allows you to keep it locally or shared through Dropbox. Either way, you are the holder of the encryption keys and both ways are very secure.

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    LastPass and 1Password both offer cross-platform support as well as support for Android and iOS (LastPass even has BlackBerry support). 1Password is a little pricey ($39.99 for either Windows or Mac) where LastPass has free options as well as premium upgrades that allow for mobile syncing.

    Upkeep

    You should probably change your passwords for your “important” accounts at least every 6 weeks. When I say “important” accounts I am referring to ones that you just couldn’t imagine losing access to. For me that would be Gmail, PayPal, eBay, Amazon, all my FTP accounts and hosting accounts, Namecheap, etc. Basically these include any account where financial information could be lost or accessed as well as accounts that could be totally screwed up (like my webserver).

    There is no hard and fast rule to how often you should change your passwords, but 6 to 8 weeks should be pretty good.

    Alternatives

    You may think that all of this is just too much to manage on a daily basis. I will admit it is kind of annoying to have to change your passwords and use a password manager on a daily basis. For those people out there that don’t want to go through all of the hub-bub of super-secure, encrypted, password management, here are a few tips to keep you safe:

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    1. Create a unique and hard to guess “base password” and then a pattern to use for each site you logon onto. For instance a base password could be “Ih2BaSwAa” (this stands for “I have two brothers and sisters who are annoying”). Then you would add something “site specific” to the end of it. For Twitter Ih2BaSwAaTWTTR, Facebook Ih2BaSwAaFCBK, etc. This is sort of unsecure, but probably more secure than 99% of the passwords out there.
    2. Don’t write your passwords down in public places. If you want to keep track of passwords on something written, keep it on you at least. The problem is that if you get your wallet stolen you are still out of luck.
    3. Don’t use the same passwords for every service. I’m not even going to explain this; just don’t do it.

    These are just a few things that can be done rather than keeping your passwords in a management system. Personally, with over 100 entries in my password management system, I couldn’t even dream of doing any other way. But those out there with only a few passwords, having a simpler system may be beneficial.

    So, if you want to be a “responsible internet citizen” or you just don’t want to lose your precious account data, then creating and maintaining strong passwords for your online accounts is a must.

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