How to be More Productive at your Computer

With the whole world at your fingertips it can be difficult to stay on target. Whether you’re working at home or in a crowded office, those deadlines aren’t going anywhere and they need to be done. Time to shake off the old habits and make a new years resolution to become a model worker.

This article is going to show you some tips and tricks to help you knuckle down and get work done. While these pieces of advice might seem daunting at first, a few small changes will grow into positive habits and maybe a few compliments from the boss. So don’t be afraid of the time spent in front of your trusty Lenovo laptop – let’s get some work done.

First of all, it might seem obvious but rid yourself of any distractions. This includes those found online such as time-draining social media sites. Don’t worry about blocking the Internet altogether, there are apps such as Focal Filter that will block some of the biggest distractions for a set time limit. Another way to stay focused is one little word that will keep everything away – no. No to any ‘you’ve got to see this’ emails, no to colleagues dragging you away from your desk and no to anything that has nothing to do with your work. Whilst it might sound pessimistic, make “no” your default at work to remain on task. There’s very rarely anything more important than your current task at hand.

If you happen to have multiple tasks that need to be completed then there’s nothing better than the classic to-do list. Don’t mistake this as an old-fashioned scrap of paper, however. AllThings is a strong set of tools that make listing easy to not only edit and complete but to share, allowing groups of people to work away at the same list. This makes it fantastic for collaborations and group leaders. Another idea is to shift your list onto your smartphone to clear up some monitor real estate. Any.Do is a popular choice in this area, automatically prioritizing entries, synchronizing lists over devices and looking stylish while doing it: a hugely intuitive way of keeping you productive.

Lastly, the bane of many workers day is the humble inbox. Five words can cause a huge disaster later on: “I’ll reply to them later”. Simply designate a certain time when you can catch up on your inbox and organize it – perhaps 10 minutes before or after lunch. Be on the lookout for messages that can be quickly replied to but anything bigger save for your designated slot. If you’re using Gmail then there are some powerful tools that can save you a wealth of time, one of which is Toutapp. It has a wealth of features aimed at supercharging your inbox: the ability to track when sent emails are opened and links clicked, reminders to follow up certain messages, quickly-written email templates and more.

Trying to Get Back on Schedule

I have to laugh at myself because I am often saying how I am not routine driven, that I am a free spirit and not a planner but then things happen to mess up my normal schedule or routine that set me off for a loop, taking me a long time to get back on track. It even goes so far as to make me tense, the shoulders get hard as boulders and my mind is completely frazzled. But I am not routine driven like my middle child, nope nope nope!

I lied. I am.Totally. 100% routine driven.

So when the school had a water pipe burst sending water through my sons school and they had no school for a week? I was home with my sons for a week, full time, trying to figure out how in the heck to work around two boys who were with me 24/7 that week, minus their few hour break with Dad a couple mornings.

Next there was Nemo who dumped us with snow. No school happened one day because of that.

Then there has been a change of schedule for the boys Dad, he is training on days for a couple or few weeks. This means the boys no longer are gone for 1-2 full days a week, but rather 1-2 evenings for just a few short hours a week. This is nuts.

I work days. I used to work nights, but I just can not seem to have the focus and drive I used to at evening hours. That is why I switched up my routine and work from home schedule to be morning hours! Now, here I am trying to figure out how to juggle my schedule around since school is back in session but the visits with their Dad has changed …

It’s always something around here, but I know I will get through this. I have been working in between the times the kids are in school, in between activity drop offs, in between sleep hours, in between visits. This all adds up to an hour here and an hour there, but at least it’s more than not working at all.

I can not wait for school to be steady again, but voila there is end of February one week long vacation from school coming up, just when the ex gets his second shift schedule back, my kids will be on vacation.

Every day I’m shuffling…

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Four Tips from Hunter Douglas to Save and Simplify For a Festive Holiday Season

This fall and winter, set aside the stress and enjoy all the wonders the season has to offer by whittling down your to-do list and saving where you can while still creating the ideal holiday home. Just in time for the holidays, Hunter Douglas, the leading name in custom window fashions, has launched the Celebrate the Season rebate promotion, so you can enjoy significant savings as you spruce up your décor in preparation for entertaining family and friends. In celebration of the promotion, which has ended, Hunter Douglas shared some tips for me to share with you all.

Simplify by Setting a Theme

Rather than overextending yourself to incorporate every aspect of the holidays into your decor, choose a color scheme that simplifies decorating, creates the largest impact and saves. Whether red and white or blue and silver, incorporate the palette into everything such as floral arrangements, window dressings, lights, ornaments and wreaths. Choose a flexible and timeless combination that blends well with the home to reuse decorations each year in order to conserve expenses.

Create Affordable All-Around Ambiance*

The popular phrase, “People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” by author and poet Maya Angelou also holds true for entertaining. Rather than simply focusing on the logistics of sending out invitations and setting the menu, also give some thought to creating a welcoming and warm ambiance. One of the most important ways to achieve this is with lighting – candlelight, holiday lights and window fashions that make the most of natural light as the days grow shorter. Hunter Douglas Silhouette® shadings with the Signature S-Vane(tm) have a patented design that softens harsh sunlight as it enters a home while drawing it deeper into the room. They also offer view-through and protection from UV rays.

Easily Incorporate Childhood Favorites

In colder weather children often spend more time playing inside than out. With a house chock full of family, friends and little ones running around, it is important to offer festive activities for all to enjoy. Assign an adult to supervise and have children help adorn the home with holiday cheer. Set out art supplies to create ornaments, wreaths or even a homemade decorative table runner. With a fun-filled house, also be sure to watch for safety. Window treatment cords can be hazardous, Look for cordless options like the Hunter Douglas LiteRise® lifting system that allows shades or blinds to be raised or lowered with a touch on the bottom rail.

Set Limits and Ask for Help

Just as with choosing a holiday décor theme, narrow down your budget and time allowance and ask for help where you need it most. For budgeting, set per-person limits on gifts and stick to them. Setting a price max will also limit your options on what to purchase and thus make decision-making easier. When entertaining with little time to prepare, assign duties and chores to your spouse, friends or children, ask guests to bring side dishes while you prepare the main course and if you are still stressed with all there is to arrange, rather than feel overwhelmed, turn the household holiday prep work into a party. Invite a friend or two over for a baking, decorating or gift-wrapping social so everyone can cross off items on the to-do list while still having fun.

*Certain window dressings not only warm up the atmosphere, but the temperature as well. Try highly insulating Duette® Architella® shades with their air-trapping honeycomb-within-a-honeycomb construction. They add style to the setting while conserving energy and helping to reduce utility costs. And, they’re the first and only window shades without add-on insulation systems to qualify for Federal Tax Credits for energy-efficient products. These credits are available for 10 percent of the cost of most Duette Architella shades, up to a maximum of $500 in total, when purchased and installed through December 31, 2011, More information on the tax credit is available at hunterdouglas.com/taxcredit.
No matter what your budget or however much you have to do, with these tips it is easier than ever to save time, money and energy while making your home a warm and welcoming retreat for family and friends. More information is available online at www.hunterdouglas.com or toll-free at 1-800-274-2985.

Take One Thing at a Time

I know it is very easy to look at your desk and see a pile of paperwork staring at you and realize “oh man I have so much to do” then you get that panicked feeling of “how in the heck am I ever going to finish all of this work”.  You see it is all too easy to look at the pile of projects to get completed and feel overwhelmed, but I am going to share with you how to make that situation become a breeze time and time again ….

My Side Story

I am famous for allowing myself to get overwhelmed from time to time, but it’s normally around “that time of the month”, yes about one week before my non-friend {as I like to call that monthly female visitor} I start stressing out about everything. I swear if the kitchen sink was dripping one small drop of water I would freak, so I do understand that we all get into our zones when we can’t seem to find our focus.

How I Make Myself Focus

I am one of those people that refuses to feel overwhelmed for long. If I am in a moment of despair I will walk away, call a friend, vent to them and move forward. Usually verbally getting out my frustrations helps clear my head so that I can move forward.  Occasionally taking a walk or playing a fun game with the kids will help lower my tension and allow my brain to refresh.

Level of Priority

I don’t care what you do for work, there is always a level of priority for anything. If you are a person who has taken one more than you can handle then it may be more difficult to denote which task is high priority and which is lower but you can do this!

  • Take into consideration any deadlines for each project.
  • Take into consideration people who trust you and have worked with you before so they realize you will get this done, even if it’s going to take a little longer than normal.
  • Do not, I repeat, DO NOT use your children, personal life or family life an excuse for not getting a project done; this gives working from home a bad name. {guilty I have done this, but we shouldn’t do it}
  • Make one pile if possible with highest priority project on top and lowest on the bottom. {one pile makes the stack look smaller and allows your brain to stay calm}

Grab a Drink and Work

Make sure you have a fruit and a drink beside you while working. This can be coffee but I prefer water because it seems to energize my brain better than any other drink. Move forward working through the pile one project at a time without thinking about the next project. Only allow your mind to focus on what you have in front of you now and not what you have to get done later.

 

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How Do You Determine Work at Home Schedule?

This is a topic I am struggling with lately. I want so badly to work all day and all night but I also want to be a Mommy who laughs and plays with the munchkins. Next year will be different as I will have two children in school, but while I still have two children at home with me 24/7 I know that I must tend to them first and foremost.

I had thought when we moved into the new house we would set up a new schedule, one that didn’t involve me working til the wee hours of the morning so that I could make money, do my writing {my passion} and also be a Mom who is well rested. Do you know that we have yet to truly set a schedule in place? Granted okay it’s only been a week that I’ve been back online ready to work but seriously I am ready to make a schedule.

Here is what must be taken into consideration when creating a work at home schedule:

  • Hours that your spouse work, if a spouse is in the picture.
  • Hours of extra-curricular activities for the children, if applicable.
  • Holiday, vacation time, etc that you want to plan to have off from work.
  • Hours that your children are napping or sleeping.
  • Can you afford to pay for an in home babysitter so that you can work during children awake hours?
  • Will your hours not only benefit you as an entrepreneur but benefit the family as a whole?

After you have taken into consideration all of the pros and cons as well as the family activities, school events, etc then you are able to determine a schedule that will suit your busy lifestyle. I would love to see a camera inside of every work at home parents home, why? Because then they would see that they probably ignore their children, the reason they stay at home, more often than they think. I am not in the minority here, I’ve been guilty of this …. the television is not a babysitter as much as that would totally work for a work at home parent.

So what do you do to determine a work at home schedule that suits your family’s needs/wants and so forth? I am curious to see what works for you, and if you say you have an in-law or mother/father that helps, I am totally jealous!

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