Productivity

How to Work From Home Efficiently (And Not Drive Your Partner Crazy!)

The Greater Seattle area is currently dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak, and many companies are requiring or requesting that their employees work from home for the foreseeable future. This is new territory for many households. Can one be productive Working From Home (WFH)? Can one or two people be WFH and not drive each other crazy? Can they still do fun couples’ stuff in the evenings and on weekends? Yes, yes, and yes! We’ve got two points-of-view here, and we think they both have insights and experience to help make WFH be a positive experience for all involved.

POV 1: The Newly Working-from-Home Partner

Define your working space

Even if your WFH situation is temporary, take an hour to set up your environment as a real workspace. If it’s just the corner of a study or spare bedroom, make it your own: put up a couple pictures, have a cup with pens, and make everything in your sightline look like an office you would be happy to work in. If you don’t have a functional desk, buy one—you should be able to find something decent for under $100 (Note: There are currently over 1,500 desks listed on Craigslist.). Trying to work from a round kitchen table will feel foreign and difficult as far as forearm placement. And if you are on frequent video calls, look behind you to be sure the background doesn’t give off an America’s Most Wanted vibe.

Define and protect your working hours

The possibilities for distraction at home are endless. Most information-age jobs can look to family members a whole lot like you are just sitting around. But after even a quick distraction from a mental task, it takes the human brain about 10 minutes to restore focus. Establish your office hours and tell everyone in your household when you are available and when you are not.

Once you establish focused working hours, enjoy the flexibility. The lack of commuting time may buy you an extra hour or two per day. As you schedule your time, work in lunches with your spouse or friends, go to your kids’ games, even take a quick nap. I have found that the flexibility to segment my own time and work rhythms has made me far more productive.

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Creating Your Very Own Real World She Shed

She shed sea shells by the seashore. That’s what she shed. Wait…what?! The whole “she shed” concept came about several years ago as the woman’s equivalent of the man cave: a personal sanctuary to recharge, relax, and de-stress. Doesn’t that sound divine? Search Pinterest for “she shed,” however, and the photos can overwhelm one with their full-blown cottages replete with high-end decor, skylights, a mini fridge, porch swing…you name it. While the concept of a private retreat is a major plus for self-care, creating a she shed shouldn’t become yet another burdensome house project or expense. And honestly, most people don’t have an old garden shed, gazebo, or cottage on their property to transform into an English garden- or fairy tale-inspired she shed. We’ve got ideas on how to bring the she shed idea back to a realistic and manageable level so that every woman can create one without stressing out or spending a lot.

Find Your Space

If you do happen to have a structure on your property you want to convert into a fabulous she shed, that’s awesome—more power to you! If you don’t, you’ll need to get a little creative. Think of “she shed” as a concept, and not necessarily a building. Is your kiddo off to college? Consider transforming their bedroom into your she shed, and having them bunk with a sibling when they’re home for a spell. Does your garage have an extra bay? Do you have a screened-in porch? A sitting area in your bedroom? A never-used “formal” dining room? A really big walk-in closet? See where I’m going with this? Find even a corner that you can make your personal oasis; then cordon it off with a room divider or screen for more privacy.

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Why Resolutions Fail…And How to Succeed Instead

January has flown by, and like 80% of those who made New Year’s Resolutions, you may be staring disappointment head-on by the time you get to mid-February. Why are resolutions so hard to keep for the majority of people? Some have even gone the opposite direction and just plain refuse to make resolutions at all, for fear of failing. It’s a new year, though, and it seems such a wasted opportunity not to use this time of year as an opening towards better things—a fresh start with a clean slate. Here are seven reasons why your resolutions may fail, and how to succeed instead.

1. Your resolution is too vague.

Being healthier is consistently the most popular New Year’s resolution, whether it means more exercise, a better diet, or weight loss. It’s an excellent one, but if your resolution is to generally “lose weight” or “exercise more” and you’ve got no specific goals, you’re setting yourself up for failure. There’s just too much grey area. Giving yourself specific targets makes your resolution more achievable. “Lose 15 pounds by Memorial Day,” “Walk 2 miles on the trail every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday,” or “Drink no more than 2 cans of soda per week”—these examples are more concrete, clear resolutions to reach for.

2. You’ve created unrealistic goals.

Making a resolution that is too lofty or unrealistic also sets you up to fail. For instance, if you don’t like your job, don’t make a broad goal such as getting promoted or finding a new job in three months. Rather, try creating a list of To-do’s that would help move you towards your goal: 1) Update your resumé and LinkedIn profile; 2) Attend a networking event at least twice a month; 3) Meet with a recruiter by next week. You can check items off your list as you go, knowing that these tasks are helping you work towards your resolution.

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Top 5 Things to Do in January

Take care of these tasks this month and stay more organized for 2020!

  1. Make all the regular medical and dental appointments for you and your family for the rest of the year. You’ll have your choice of days/times if you do it this early, and you’ll be less likely to juggle last-minute calendar changes.
  2. While you’re working on your calendar, also add in dates for home and family upkeep: changing the furnace filters, changing the brush heads on your electric toothbrush, oil changes for your car, etc.—anything you do once or more annually.
  3. Buy cards! Hit up your favorite card store and buy birthday cards for your special people for the whole year. Also replenish your Thank You card stash, and get holiday cards while they’re on sale this month.
  4. Clean out your recipe sources. Whether you use cookbooks, index cards, a sectioned folder, or a binder, January is a great time to cull these down. Sit down and go through your recipes; recycle anything you didn’t cook last year, and will likely not cook this year.
  5. Do you have donation boxes that filled up after your holiday haul? Don’t wait; get these in your car and drop them off at your donation center of choice.
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Ho Ho Oh No! Holiday Time Management and ADHD

“I’m so confused!” was my first thought as I walked into Home Depot and saw frightening Halloween decorations for sale positioned right next to dazzling Hanukkah and Christmas delights. My initial reaction was followed by, “Wait, isn’t it a bit early for Christmas decoration sales?”. Then my heart skipped a beat and the panic set in: “Yikes! I need to get started on all that holiday stuff or I’ll never get everything done!” The onset of the holiday season can be both exhilarating and terrifying. This is one time of the year during which time management is crucial. For those struggling with ADHD and/or have loved ones challenged by ADHD, time management during the Fall holidays can be particularly daunting.

Time management encompasses the ability to both “see” and “feel” time. Visual cues are used to observe the passage of time, such as the movement of hands on an analog clock or changing shadow patterns on a sidewalk throughout the day. We feel time as we perceive its passage before, during, and after our experiences. Furthermore, we gauge our behavior using the concept of a time horizon—how near in time something needs to be for someone to be motivated into action. According to psychologist Ari Tuckman, people challenged by ADHD experience a shorter time horizon. That motivation kicks in much closer in time to when the event will take place, greatly affecting time management. Tuckman asserts that those with ADHD recognize two times: now and not now. All this spells trouble when trying to navigate the holiday months amidst deadlines, events, and additional responsibilities. However, there are strategies to help deal with the impact that ADHD plays on time management during the holidays.

Strategy 1: Start Now

Calendars: This is the time of year when the calendar becomes your best friend. That snazzy calendar app on your smartphone is sure handy because it travels with you (assuming you’re like me and take it with you everywhere) and is so versatile. However, I can’t stress enough the importance of a more visual, paper calendar for this time of year. It is much easier to visualize that time horizon as well as your increased commitments if you use a paper calendar, especially one with large day blocks in which to record entries you can readily see. If you are in charge of scheduling for a family, a personal calendar as well as a family calendar is helpful for coordinating everyone’s activities while not losing sight of your own commitments.

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Organize Your Home Office and Boost Productivity

As the dog days of summer roll past and fall is just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking of settling into newer, seasonal routines. Crisp fall leaves changing colors, shorter days, and cooler temperatures can teach us a lot about letting things go—including choosing to be more organized. From launching an effort to declutter overall to deep cleaning and possibly even hiring an organizer, read on for some tips to ease into the fall season with an organized home office zen. A decluttered office space will help boost your productivity and lower your stress.

Operation declutter

Before you can take on decluttering your office and work space, you have to shift to a decluttering mentality. Take a quick glance at your workplace. What leaps out at you from that cursory glance of what needs to be pared down? Make a list of those things and realistically plan for when you can start to organize things, whether it’s all in one day on a slow work day or little by little in the evening at the conclusion of the work day.

Get rid of old papers

Have stacks of paper and mail collecting everywhere? Not only can lots of old papers get in the way of being able to see your desk and be productive in your office space, they can also attract layers of dust and bugs. Create a filing system and set a goal to put away all pertinent paperwork at the end of the day. If you get a lot of mail, designate a basket for all mail and go through it regularly at the end of each day or week. For whatever else isn’t needed, run it through a paper shredder and or recycle.

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How to Get Your Partner On Board for Professional Organizing

We often hear “How do I get my spouse to buy into hiring a professional organizer?” They have a variety of concerns, such as the time it will take, or the cost, or having to get rid of their stuff. They could be embarrassed to have someone see their cluttered home. It’s possible they consider asking for help a weakness. They don’t understand that it is an investment that will lower their stress levels or give them more free time. He or she may also ask, “Why can’t we just do this ourselves?”

What Are the Health Benefits of an Organized Home?

A home that is free of clutter and has organized spaces is beneficial to one’s mental and physical health. The Mayo Clinic details how an organized home brings down stress levels and helps you focus, among other benefits. It’s also easier to maintain: the average American home contains 300,000 items! Consider being able to actually park your car in the garage. Or looking for something in your kitchen and finding it in five seconds instead of 30 minutes, or never. Imagine coming home and feeling calm and content in your environment, instead of anxious and stressed out about the clutter lining the hallways or all over the living room.

Have You Hired Experts Before?

Have you hired pros to install an in-ground sprinkler system, do your taxes, tutor your children, or design your website? This wouldn’t be any different. Hiring a professional organizer means you’ve hired an expert to declutter and organize your home, to help you set up systems to manage and maintain your organized home, and to mentor you on these skills. This expert will work with you in your home, and the service is completely customized to your needs, your lifestyle, and your goals. Also consider that a professional organizer can accomplish in three hours what would take you 9-12 hours.

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50 of Marie Kondo’s Most Inspiring Quotes for Decluttering

Clutter comes in many different shapes and forms and is a very personal assessment. One person’s cluttered bedroom might mean someone else’s dream situation. It really doesn’t matter what clutter you have and the scale of that clutter—as long as you understand what clutter means to you and how you want to go about getting it sorted once and for all.

The first and most important step is actually just realizing that you have a clutter issue and are willing to change it. As you are reading this we’re assuming you are ready to take on the challenge. Bravo for taking the first step! Whether you’ve realized that you have an issue with clutter in your garage, your kitchen drawer, your entire house—or you’re looking for a digital declutter—look no further than Marie Kondo and her iconic organizing and tidying techniques.

You haven’t heard of Marie Kondo and her KonMari method before? Well, she’s pretty much the queen of organizing and she’s changing people’s lives through the magic of tidying up. Sounds too good to be true, right? If her bestselling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up or her popular series on Netflix is anything to go by, she certainly practices what she preaches and has shown that her methods really do work.

To help get you started on your decluttering journey, check out this infographic by JD Williams. Designed to help motivate you and your tidying, the infographic shares Marie Kondo’s most iconic quotes from her Magic of Tidying Up book. You can use the infographic as a starting point to help get you inspired for a big clear-out. Or use it to  Marie’s top tips as a bit of a checklist. Good luck!

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Self-Care Ideas for Mother’s Day and Beyond

The term “self-care” hit the mainstream a few years ago, though it still means different things to different people. The Oxford Dictionary defines it as, “the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness.” A clinician on Psychology Today refers to it as, “a huge part of what’s missing in the life of someone who’s busy and stressed”. But one of my favorite statements about self-care is from a New York Times piece that boldly declares, “Self-care is for anyone who wants it.” As a mom, I definitely want it! And with Mother’s Day coming up, there are so many ways to give yourself the self-care you need, want, and absolutely deserve. Go on, treat yourself.

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How to Optimize Your Workspace for Productivity and Ergonomics

There is such a strong emphasis nowadays on health and well-being. It’s the beginning of the year, and everyone is scrambling to keep their New Year’s resolutions. Aside from exercising and eating clean, it’s also important to ensure you’re working in a comfortable, functional environment. If you want to get the best work out of yourself, treating yourself as a top priority is an excellent incentive. Since so many of us now work from home full-time or at least a couple days a week, having a home office that is is comfortable and ergonomic is essential to your productivity and creativity. These tips on optimizing your workspace will be a boost to your productivity.

Choosing the Right Furniture

Setting up an efficient, clutter-free, ergonomic home office is an excellent way to start. A great office can have a far-reaching impact on your productivity at home. Many successful companies—such as Google and Seattle City Light—have mastered the creation of ergonomic, enriched workspaces that free their employees to think creatively.

Your home office belongs to you alone, so make it a personal, unique fit! Choosing the right furniture is important and makes a big difference. Make sure your furniture is comfortable and functional. Don’t hesitate to customize the style and color to your taste as well.

Finding Your Favorite Chair

If your job is desk-based or sedentary, you likely spend a lot of time on your chair. For example, sitting for 5 hours a day every working week means that you’re on your chair for almost 50 days a year. Being seated for extended periods can have negative effects on your body, so it’s important to take breaks and keep moving regularly.

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