Tips & Tricks

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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Easy Tips to Keep Your Entryway Dry and Tidy During This Wet Winter

Your entry need not look like a post-deluge mess! These quick and easy tips will keep your entryway dry and tidy:

  • Mats on both sides of the door to help floors stay dry and mud-free
  • Boot trays to keep those galoshes from cluttering up and dirtying the entry
  • Small racks or hooks for keys, umbrellas, and hats
  • Heavy-duty racks or hooks for wet coats and backpacks
  • Cubbies, bins, or baskets for books, lunch bags, sports equipment, mail
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Denise’s Top 5 Quick Bedroom Updates That Will Please You to No End

These quick little changes may make a world of difference to your tired bedroom!

  1. Make your bed everyday.
  2. Freshen your comforter and duvet, and use matching sheets. I will admit, I love nice sheets. If your pillows are stained, those may need to be replaced as well.
  3. Add some family photos that will make you smile. My sister-in-law got me hooked on Mixtiles: photo wall tiles that are easy to upload, then mailed to you, and safely adhere to your walls without damage.
  4. A plant is a nice addition and reminds you to open blinds and let in the light. I like to think that things are thriving in my home.
  5. Have your carpets cleaned if it’s been a while. Seattleites are pet lovers and carpets can take on animal smells. I am mostly barefoot in our bedroom and use my foam roller for stretching there. Clean carpets are nice!
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Why You Aren’t In Love With Your Bedroom…And How To Fix It

If you think of your bedroom as the room you merely sleep in, we’d like to change your philosophy on this. Your bedroom is definitely your shut-eye space, but it could be so much more—your personal sanctuary, romantic hideaway, self-care she-shed, or zen retreat. It should be a place you can feel calm, peaceful, and safe in. We’ve come up with several possibilities of why you aren’t in love with your bedroom, and how to fix this.

Don’t Let Chaos Reign

There is no way you can feel relaxed in your bedroom if clutter is covering every piece of furniture and floor space. Spend a weekend cleaning your room (pretend you’re a grounded teen!): sort clean and dirty laundry, put everything back in its place, remove items that should be in other rooms, and get rid of donations or rubbish. An organized, decluttered bedroom will help you sleep better, then wake up to a smoother, calmer start to your day. It also improves air quality when you don’t have a bunch of stuff collecting dust. Your bedside tables should have minimal items on them: a lamp, the book you are currently reading, maybe hand lotion or a candle. Don’t forget to make your bed and put your folded PJs under your pillow each morning!

Move the Stressful Stuff Elsewhere

Do you sit in bed and work on your laptop? Do you have an exercise machine in the bedroom? This is a tough one, but seriously consider moving these activities and their accompanying physical pieces to another room altogether. Work and exercise are excellent and necessary, but so is a bedroom devoid of stressful, demanding things. Waking up and seeing your laptop or elliptical first thing is not conducive to a relaxing start to your day. If you really want to take it up a notch, stop taking your phone to bed with you. The screen’s blue light mimics daylight, which messes with your circadian rhythm, decreases your REM sleep, and hinders you from falling asleep.

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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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Making Self-Care A Priority This Year

There was a time when the metaphor for self-care was, “Put your oxygen mask on first, before you help others,” like the flight attendant instructs on the airplane during take-off. But self-care isn’t something you should wait to do until it’s already emergency-level. It’s what you should do regularly so that you don’t reach that escalated state. Don’t be burned out or suffering from deteriorating physical or mental health before implementing self-care. In her TEDx Talk, kayaking champion Susannah Winters defines self-care as, “deliberately taking care of your well-being through restorative activities.” We should all be on board with that! Here are some realistic, easy ideas on how to make self-care a priority this year.

Start Small

People seem to think “self-care” means indulging in a 3-day spa getaway. Sure, it could mean that. Or it could mean simply taking 30 minutes out of your busy day to have a cup of tea in a quiet space while perusing a magazine or reading a book. It’s not about how much you spend or the length of time it takes. It’s about carving out a regular spot of time for yourself to decompress, to wind down, to be alone, to get physical, to take a nap—basically, to do whatever you need to do in order to feel better.

Define Your Self-Care

Make a list of five things you find to be self-caring. Everyone has different tastes so of course, everyone has different self-care needs. Make it even more specific by making different lists defined by time. Some examples:

30 minutes:

  • Take a walk (possibly with an audio book or some favorite music)
  • Have a glass of wine and watch an episode of “Friends” or “Fleabag
  • Read a book or magazine for pleasure
  • Call, text, or FaceTime with a special person you don’t see often
  • Draw the curtains and take an afternoon nap
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New Holiday Traditions To Try

Looking to start a new holiday tradition? Here are a few ideas:

Get Hygge With It. Practice the Scandinavian hygge (pronounced hue-gah) tradition and cozify yourself at home with candles, a fire and warm blanket, a good book, and hot cocoa.

Adopt a Family. Seattle’s Child magazine lists several local organizations that serve families in need during the holidays.

Go Global. Pick a different country each year and try one or more of their Christmas or Hanukkah cultural traditions, foods, and music.

Honor Loved Ones. Remember a special person no longer with you by making their favorite recipe or dining at their favorite restaurant.

Create a Video Holiday Card. Didn’t get around to ordering cards? Create a fun, short video card and send this to family and friends! Bonus if singing is involved.

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Top 5 Gifts That Don’t Take Up Space

Does anyone really need more “things” these days? Use our list as a starting point to finding interesting, unique, and fun gifts that won’t add clutter.

  • Self-care: Get that over-scheduled person in your life some “me” time they can’t resist. A certificate for a spa treatment, a wine-tasting session, a hot air balloon ride—just a few ideas for things they need to be fully present, and put their phone away, for. Or, hire a cleaning company to take a load off their plate.
  • Culture Club: Tickets to a unique event would be so fun and memorable, whether it be Teatro Zinzanni or Broadway at the Paramount, or even something edgy like Café Nordo.
  • Go Local: Get them passes for a ghost tour, orca whale watching, go kart racing, or cooking classes. A family would get much use from an annual membership to the zoo or aquarium, or from a Discover Pass.
  • Staycation: A fun day and evening out, followed by a night at a hotel. If there are kids in the picture, arranging for a babysitter would be extra awesome! Sky’s the limit on what to do: dinner, bowling, movies, karaoke, pub crawl, salsa dancing lessons…
  • Subscriber: For gifts that keep on giving (for awhile, anyway), a subscription to something they love, such as a music streaming service, an audiobook membership, a TV streaming service, or even Amazon Prime (yay, Free Shipping!).
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How to Host A Guest When You Don’t Have a Guest Room

In my college days and early 20’s, “hosting a guest” basically meant having someone crash on my couch. Now that we are all “adulting” (that word still cracks me up), hosting a friend or relative means a whole lot more. We want to make guests feel welcome and comfortable, keep them entertained, respect their privacy, and hope they’ll visit again. This is definitely easier to do when you’ve got a guest room. But if your home or apartment doesn’t have the luxury of dedicated extra space for a visitor, it doesn’t mean you can’t host one. You just need to get a little more creative. We’ve got some helpful tips and tricks on hosting a guest when you don’t have a guest room.

A Clean Welcome

Now is a great time to give your place a good deep-clean, and while you’re at it, add in some decluttering and organizing. If you haven’t seen your visitors in a few years, nothing says “Welcome” like beckoning them into your clean, calm place that they can feel at home in, whether it’s for two nights or a week. Clear out your entryway, get everything off your dining table, fold and put away the laundry on the sofa, and scrub down the bathroom. It will give your guests a great impression as well as make you feel house-proud! If you need extra help, a professional organizer can support your efforts to getting your home guest-ready.

Create A Space

Your guests will appreciate a little bit of privacy, and without a guest room you’ll need to find an area of your home that you can temporarily set up as their personal space. It may be a corner of the living room, part of the playroom, or half of your home office. Consider getting a temporary room divider; they aren’t too expensive and can be easily put away for future use. You could even use it as a decorative element during the rest of the year. Move some furniture around to create this space; you may need to move some items into another room or the hall to do so.

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Not Entertaining for Thanksgiving? Do This Instead!

Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away, and this year that day on your calendar is…totally blank. Whoa! If by some happenstance you are not entertaining for Thanksgiving—and you’re not going to someone else’s house for it—there are so many wonderful ways to fill your day. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because, unlike Valentine’s Day, Halloween, and Christmas, it has not been fully commercialized. The day is all about being grateful. Whether you’re going it solo or you’ve got a big family, here are some ideas for what to do on Thanksgiving Day.

Get Movin’

Take a simple walk around your neighborhood and enjoy the Autumn air and colors. Find a great hike—the trails won’t be crowded today! If you really want to break a sweat, do a Thanksgiving race. Bellevue’s got a Beat the Bird, while Issaquah and Seattle have Turkey Trots. Not to be outdone, Snohomish is hosting a Wattle Waddle marathon/half.

Reconnect

Use this day to get in touch with family or friends you haven’t heard from in awhile. Give them a call; who doesn’t love to see their phone light up with a familiar name instead of “Scam Likely”? Write or type out letters/emails if that suits your communication style better—put the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade on the telly to get you into the spirit.

You Still Gotta Eat, Right?

Just because you’re not hosting or being hosted, doesn’t mean you need to make do with leftover pizza or a microwaved meal. Enjoy the freedom of a delicious Thanksgiving feast that a great restaurant can provide. Eater has a super list of restaurants in the greater Seattle area that are open for Thanksgiving. No need to run the dishwasher three times today!

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