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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 July 10, 2020

    How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

    How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

    We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

    We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

    So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

    Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

    What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

    Boundaries are limits

    —they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

    Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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    Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

    Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

    Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

    How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

    Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

    1. Self-Awareness Comes First

    Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

    You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

    To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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    You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

    • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
    • When do you feel disrespected?
    • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
    • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
    • When do you want to be alone?
    • How much space do you need?

    You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

    2. Clear Communication Is Essential

    Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

    Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

    3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

    Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

    That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

    Sample language:

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    • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
    • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
    • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
    • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
    • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
    • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
    • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

    Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

    4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

    Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

    Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

    Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

    We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

    It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

    It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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    Final Thoughts

    Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

    Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

    Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

    The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

    Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

    Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

    They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

    Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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