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Keep Your Home Business Green

Keep Your Home Business Green
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    Earth Hour has come and gone for 2008, and it was an easy opportunity for people who don’t normally think about their environmental footprint to do something about it. Apparently it was quite successful, with local utilities such as EnergyAustralia claiming that energy consumption for that hour was 10.2% less than usual.

    But, while Earth Hour is a great awareness raising campaign and does provide some relief against our constant pummel on nature, it doesn’t solve the huge problems we’re facing. Even if you’re one of the few who still think that global warming is an elaborate prank, there’s no arguing the fact that looking after our one and only planet is important—after all, there’s nowhere to go if we kill this one.

    In that vein, I’ve written up a few greening tips you can implement quickly and without drastically altering your life. They won’t solve all the problems the environment faces either, but perhaps they’ll buy us a bit of time while the guys in lab coats think up something better or politicians catch up with reality.

    Take the “Earth Hour” concept daily

    It wasn’t really that hard to go without lighting, was it? If you work from home, then chances are you’re still plugging at it when it’s dark and chances are you’re using plenty of lighting. Switch them off and keep going—if you do most of your work on a computer, then it’s just as easy as with the lights on. That is, as long as you can touch-type!

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    Remember to choose a time when turning all your lights off actually makes a difference—in other words, when it’s dark. If the sun is still up, even at twilight, then you won’t make nearly as much of a difference.

    Go Paperless

    While paper is a renewable resource, trees are being consumed at a non-sustainable rate. The manufacture of ink is a particularly nasty business for the planet’s health, too. Stop printing everything—store your documents on your hard drive, and use services like Google Docs.

    You can also invoice online—there are a variety of options, including the simple ones: an email invoice, or PayPal’s request money feature, or the more ‘professional’ options, such as Blinksale or Zoho’s new invoicing feature.

    Many banks and utilities also allow you to receive bills online these days—find out if yours do.

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    Tweak Your Computer’s Power Saving Settings

    Most home office dwellers, web-workers and freelancers have all sorts of powered devices running all the time. Computers, modems, routers, printers and scanners on standby, speakers, and so on. For some of those gadgets, it’s as easy as flicking them off when you’re not using. Remember, the modem or router can go off when you go to bed, unless you have a habit of surfing in your sleep.

    But computers are such a central part of our work that it’d usually be impractical to turn them off and on all day long. If we’re ducking out for five or ten minutes, it’s easy to save power without spending another five or ten minutes shutting down and booting up.

    All good operating systems have power saving settings that control the consumption of the monitor, the hard disk and the computer itself. Head in to your power saving settings and have the computer switch off the monitor or even go to sleep altogether after five minutes of inactivity.

    Of course, you can tier it for practicality; after five minutes, the monitor goes off, and after half an hour, the system goes to sleep. Easy.

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    If you can’t be bothered setting up power saving, you can always download this screen saver that reminds you to turn your monitor off when the computer’s idle.

    Recycle Devices

    Computers, phones and some other gadgets have almost become disposable items for some of us; we use it for a while, until a new model comes out and it’s out with the old and in with the new.

    If they’re still working, it’s always a good opportunity to make a bit of cash on eBay or just hand the item down to your punk sibling or one of your kids. But often those upgrades occur because the old device is no longer working. Greenpeace says that we generate about 4,000 tonnes a year throwing this stuff out.

    Many companies are offering a great recycling solution that you can and should take advantage of. Apple and Dell are well-known computer manufacturers who offer the service. There are similar programs for cell phones—I’m not sure what’s available in America, but just the other day I saw a phone-recycling bin outside a cell phone store.

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    It’s so easy, there’s really no excuse for not recycling your devices.

    Use Proper Attire to Keep Work Comfortable

    Working in your boxer shorts is almost a cliché for work-from-home types, even if it’s freezing outside. Put on some more clothes and turn down the heating. Alternatively, in the summer, don those boxer shorts (until you have a meeting, of course) and take some strain off the air conditioner.

    Keep Water Use to a Minimum

    You work and live at home, so one way you can reduce your impact while you work at home is to minimize your use of water, and to fix leaks around the house. Since the repairs are for your place of work, it’s quite possible you’ll be able to write them off as a business expense (depending on your local laws).

    If you’re squeamish, skip to the next paragraph, but if you’re really committed to reducing your environmental impact you could always adopt the old proverb as your mantra. If it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down.

    Remember, there’s another benefit in many of these tips—you save money; no paper and ink costs and a smaller balance on your electricity and water bills. At the end of the day, minimizing expenses is something all businesses—whether they’re based at home or not—can do with.

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    Joel Falconer

    Editor, content marketer, product manager and writer with 12+ years of experience in the startup, design and tech digital media industries.

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    Last Updated on September 16, 2019

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

    We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

    The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

    Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

    1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

    Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

    For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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    • (1) Research
    • (2) Deciding the topic
    • (3) Creating the outline
    • (4) Drafting the content
    • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
    • (6) Revision
    • (7) etc.

    Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

    2. Change Your Environment

    Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

    One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

    3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

    Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

    Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

    My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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    Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

    If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

    Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

    I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

    5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

    I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

    Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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    As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

    6. Get a Buddy

    Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

    I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

    7. Tell Others About Your Goals

    This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

    For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

    8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

    What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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    9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

    If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

    Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

    10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

    Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

    Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

    11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

    At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

    Reality check:

    I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

    More About Procrastination

    Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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