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12 Essential Things You Need In Order To Work From Home Productively

12 Essential Things You Need In Order To Work From Home Productively

Working from home is becoming increasingly popular. More companies are hiring people to work remotely, and at-home start-ups are an appealing alternative to a 9 to 5 desk job. Although working from home can be freeing, it can also be surprisingly hard. To work from home productively, include these 12 essential things.

1. Internet service

If you have a job from home that requires absolutely no internet access, I would love to know what it is. For most of us, the internet is key to getting things done. Whether you’re a blogger, an entrepreneur, a consultant, or (pretty much) anything else, you need good, reliable internet service. Make sure you’ve got a consistent, decent speed connection to boost your productivity. Nothing is worse than not getting things done because your internet went out… again.

2. Office space

You need to make sure you have one place that you consider your work-space. It doesn’t necessarily have to be an entire room, but make sure you’re not confusing your office with your leisure space. Simply putting a desk in a corner of your bedroom will suffice. Coffee shops and libraries are also popular places to work. For example, I work from my kitchen table. Find what works for you and stick to it.

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3. Phone service

Just as internet service is important to just about every at-home job, so is phone service. While this might not be as important, by virtue of email and voice messaging services like Skype, it’s still crucial to have phone service.

4. Clothes that aren’t pajamas

Yes, working from home means you don’t have to wear that suit you always hated. However, wearing your pajamas during your workday can cut down on productivity. We associate pajamas with leisure and sleep — not with work. So try changing out of them for the day. You’ll find that you get more done.

5. A good desktop setup

While your desktop might be good for play, you might need to expand your capabilities with some extras. From spreadsheets to manage your accounts, to backup storage for important documents, it might come in handy to have some business-oriented software. Shop around for some of these products; they’ll likely make your life a whole lot simpler.

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6. Reach out to the rest of the world

Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you should confine yourself to your room. Networking sites for professionals are quickly becoming must-haves in the business world. Sites like LinkedIn can help you reach out to others in the industry and people you have worked with in the past. Job postings on the site can also lead you to new opportunities, as some jobs are listed as remote.

7. An organized space

As with a desk in an office building, you need to make sure your space is organized and decluttered. Just because you work from home does not mean that you can treat your work-space like your laundry room, kitchen or gym. The same goes for your computer: while you’re working, it is a work computer. It’s not a sometimes-work, sometimes-play computer.

8. A time for working

Make a specific time for work every day and stick to it. It can get confusing to differentiate between work and home when the two are the same. However, making sure you create a workday for yourself can help your productivity. If you aren’t a 9 to 5 kind of person, that’s fine, but you’ve got to make a specific time in which you will only do work.

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9. A followup

It can be easy for people to forget about the at-home employee. Out of sight, out of mind really does apply to the work world. Make sure you make yourself known via email or phone. If you need to communicate with someone, make sure you aren’t forgotten.

10. Realistic expectations

Working from home can be great, and it can save you a lot of money on transportation costs. However, it might start out paying less than you hoped. Many at-home workers are self-employed, meaning they are responsible for all costs associated with running their business. Others, like freelance writers, might feel the initial disappointment with per-word payment. However, once you establish yourself, things often get a lot better.

11. Perseverance

As I said above, establishing yourself opens up more opportunities and more money. Don’t get too discouraged with your job if things start out slowly. If you stick with it and produce quality work, you’re more likely to reap the benefits later.

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12. Distance

While it’s important to make sure you’re working without distractions when you need to, don’t think you need to constantly work. It can be easy to bring your work home with you if work and home are the same place. Make sure you let go of your work, just as you would if you worked outside of your home. If it’s past your scheduled work time, leave it until tomorrow.

Featured photo credit: Dave Morris via flickr.com

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new:

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

The bottom line

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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