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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 November 19, 2019

    20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

    20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

    Are you usually punctual or late? Do you finish things within the time you stipulate? Do you hand in your reports/work on time? Are you able to accomplish what you want to do before deadlines? Are you a good time manager?

    If your answer is “no” to any of the questions above, that means you’re not managing your time as well as you want. Here are 20 time management tips to help you manage time better:

    1. Create a Daily Plan

    Plan your day before it unfolds. Do it in the morning or even better, the night before you sleep. The plan gives you a good overview of how the day will pan out. That way, you don’t get caught off guard. Your job for the day is to stick to the plan as best as possible.

    2. Peg a Time Limit to Each Task

    Be clear that you need to finish X task by 10am, Y task by 3pm, and Z item by 5:30pm. This prevents your work from dragging on and eating into time reserved for other activities.

    3. Use a Calendar

    Having a calendar is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities. If you use outlook or lotus notes, calendar come as part of your mailing software.

    I use it. It’s even better if you can sync your calendar to your mobile phone and other hardwares you use – that way, you can access your schedule no matter where you are. Here’re the 10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track .

    Find out more tips about how to use calendar for better time management here: How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

    4. Use an Organizer

    An organizer helps you to be on top of everything in your life. It’s your central tool to organize information, to-do lists, projects, and other miscellaneous items.

    These Top 15 Time Management Apps and Tools can help you organize better, pick one that fits your needs.

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    5. Know Your Deadlines

    When do you need to finish your tasks? Mark the deadlines out clearly in your calendar and organizer so you know when you need to finish them.

    But make sure you don’t make these 10 Common Mistakes When Setting Deadlines.

    6. Learn to Say “No”

    Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm no. Or defer it to a later period.

    Leo Babauta, the founder of Zen Habits has some great insights on how to say no: The Gentle Art of Saying No

    7. Target to Be Early

    When you target to be on time, you’ll either be on time or late. Most of the times you’ll be late. However, if you target to be early, you’ll most likely be on time.

    For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.

    Learn from these tips about how to prepare yourself to be early, instead of just in time.

    8. Time Box Your Activities

    This means restricting your work to X amount of time. Why time boxing is good for you? Here’re 10 reasons why you should start time-boxing.

    You can also read more about how to do time boxing here: #5 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity.

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    9. Have a Clock Visibly Placed Before You

    Sometimes we are so engrossed in our work that we lose track of time. Having a huge clock in front of you will keep you aware of the time at the moment.

    10. Set Reminders 15 Minutes Before

    Most calendars have a reminder function. If you have an important meeting to attend, set that alarm 15 minutes before.

    You can learn more about how reminders help you remember everything in this article: The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

    11. Focus

    Are you multi-tasking so much that you’re just not getting anything done? If so, focus on just one key task at one time. Multitasking is bad for you.

    Close off all the applications you aren’t using. Close off the tabs in your browser that are taking away your attention. Focus solely on what you’re doing. You’ll be more efficient that way.

    Lifehack’s CEO has written a definitive guide on how to focus, learn the tips: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

    12. Block out Distractions

    What’s distracting you in your work? Instant messages? Phone ringing? Text messages popping in?

    I hardly ever use chat nowadays. The only times when I log on is when I’m not intending to do any work. Otherwise it gets very distracting.

    When I’m doing important work, I also switch off my phone. Calls during this time are recorded and I contact them afterward if it’s something important. This helps me concentrate better.

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    Find more tips on how to minimize distractions to achieve more in How to Minimize Distraction to Get Things Done

    13. Track Your Time Spent

    When you start to track your time, you’re more aware of how you spend your time. For example, you can set a simple countdown timer to make sure that you finish a task within a period of time, say 30 minutes or 1 hour. The time pressure can push you to stay focused and work more efficiently.

    You can find more time tracking apps here and pick one that works for you.

    14. Don’t Fuss About Unimportant Details

    You’re never get everything done in exactly the way you want. Trying to do so is being ineffective.

    Trying to be perfect does you more harm than good, learn here about how perfectionism kills your productivity and how to ditch the perfectionism mindset.

    15. Prioritize

    Since you can’t do everything, learn to prioritize the important and let go of the rest.

    Apply the 80/20 principle which is a key principle in prioritization. You can also take up this technique to prioritize everything on your plate: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

    16. Delegate

    If there are things that can be better done by others or things that are not so important, consider delegating. This takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks.

    When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more. Learn about how to effectively delegate works in this guide: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

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    17. Batch Similar Tasks Together

    For related work, batch them together.

    For example, my work can be categorized into these core groups:

    1. writing (articles, my upcoming book)
    2. coaching
    3. workshop development
    4. business development
    5. administrative

    I batch all the related tasks together so there’s synergy. If I need to make calls, I allocate a time slot to make all my calls. It really streamlines the process.

    18. Eliminate Your Time Wasters

    What takes your time away your work? Facebook? Twitter? Email checking? Stop checking them so often.

    One thing you can do is make it hard to check them – remove them from your browser quick links / bookmarks and stuff them in a hard to access bookmarks folder. Replace your browser bookmarks with important work-related sites.

    While you’ll still checking FB/Twitter no doubt, you’ll find it’s a lower frequency than before.

    19. Cut off When You Need To

    The number one reason why things overrun is because you don’t cut off when you have to.

    Don’t be afraid to intercept in meetings or draw a line to cut-off. Otherwise, there’s never going to be an end and you’ll just eat into the time for later.

    20. Leave Buffer Time In-Between

    Don’t pack everything closely together. Leave a 5-10 minute buffer time in between each tasks. This helps you wrap up the previous task and start off on the next one.

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    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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