Staying Fit And Productive When You Work From Home

Working from home has an astonishing potential for increasing productivity, with telecommuters more likely to go above and beyond expectations, while taking shorter breaks and fewer sick days. Those who work from home claim that they find it easier to concentrate and have more energy throughout the workday. However, getting the most out of your time requires you to come up with a schedule and set of practices that allow for the greatest output. Staying fit and healthy ensure that you retain the mental energy required to excel, whether as an employee or when running your own business.

When and how to take breaks

At a traditional office job, you may be assigned a set time to take a break. This could be a legal requirement or an attempt by your boss to boost productivity. At home, it can be tempting to skip breaks and get through everything as quickly as possible. However, this will ultimately lead to you working more slowly.

Regular breaks help the brain to focus when in work mode. You should ideally take a 5-10 minute break each hour. During this time, give your eyes a rest by looking at something in the distance and get your blood flowing with some moderate exercise. You’ll return to work refreshed and energized.

Maintaining energy levels

Staying healthy, while a good aim in itself, is essential for productivity. Start the day right with a healthy breakfast. Oats, fruit and low-fat proteins like eggs or yogurts offer slow release energy, which will keep you feeling full throughout the day so that you can spend less time eating and more time focusing on business. Tiredness slows down your reaction speed and ability to concentrate on and complete tasks, so a trip to the coffee machine for a cup of joe before you sit down to work is recommended.

Throughout the workday, choose healthy snacks such as seeds, nuts, protein bars, and fruit. This will leave you feeling full and won’t lead to a crash in energy levels later on in the way that sugary snacks do. Also be sure to keep a bottle of water on your desk, as hydration aids concentration and reduces fatigue.

Protecting your posture

Sitting for hours at a time isn’t good for your health and certainly isn’t what humans evolved for. Invest in an ergonomic chair and desk so that you aren’t putting any strain on your body as you work. You should consider working while standing up if you feel that you are sitting for too long at a time. When you are in brainstorming mode, walk around your house to keep muscles moving and blood flowing. This will stimulate your creative juices and prevent the onset of bodily aches and pains.

Working from home is the best thing you can do for productivity, but it requires some thought and discipline. Start the day right with a morning routine that involves a healthy breakfast, then take regular breaks throughout the day. Moderate exercise keeps energy levels high and prevents muscular pain which can harm productivity. Follow these tips to reach your potential each and every day.

Guest Author, Jenny Holt, is a former HR executive turned freelance writer, who now spends more time with her young family and ageing, but ever eager Labrador, Rover.

How to Find Work and Jobs Abroad

The idea of working abroad and leaving the U.S. is one that appeals to a lot of people. Maybe you’re a new graduate and you’d like to go overseas and utilize your skills, or perhaps you’re further along in your career and you’d like to make a change.

The idea is similar to people who come to the U.S. for work. Many people come to the U.S. on temporary work visas, and then they’re able to send money back to their families using services like Remitly and develop valuable skills in the process.

The following are some ways employees in the U.S. can take a page out of foreign workers’ books and go abroad to work.

Learn the Language

The sooner and the more thoroughly you can work toward learning the language of where you want to work, the more appealing you are going to be to prospective employers. You don’t necessarily have to be fully fluent, but if you are bilingual in both English and the native language of where you’d like to go, it’s going to be much easier to find employment.

Some employees may have the plan to go abroad from the start so they’ll start studying a foreign language while they’re in college. If you didn’t do that, don’t worry. There are plenty of online courses and classes that can help you with your foreign language skills as you’re searching for employment.

Consider U.S.-Based Employers

When you want to work abroad, you might automatically start looking at companies that primarily operate where you’d like to go. That’s fine, but there are also plenty of companies in the U.S. that have a reputation for sending employees abroad for a period of time.

For example, Deloitte is one such company. They have partnerships in countries throughout the world, and while their headquarters is in New York City, they also often send people on international placements. You don’t have to be a top executive, either. They send everyone including interns and entry-level employees abroad if they’re interested.

Another example is HSBC, which has an international management program.

Frequent Travel Jobs

Even if you don’t find employment with a company that will place you overseas for a year or two, there are jobs where it’s all about travel. One example is the Uber Launching Team, and another is Airbnb. These companies are known for having positions that are almost entirely travel-based, and they may even offer travel-based perks and benefits to employees.

Finally, you might explore a working holiday visa as well. A working holiday visa is something that people aged 18 to 30 or sometimes 18 to 35 may be eligible for, depending on the country. These options let people work abroad in different positions around the world as they’re traveling. You will have to show that you have a desirable skillset to get one of these visas, and you may need to show your resume as well.

It’s definitely possible to work abroad in different settings and ways, so if it’s a dream you have, doing some research can help you make it happen.

Smart Space Management: Transform Your Home into a Proper Working Environment

Home trumps work any day of the week. So, logically a home office has more benefits than any other working environment. There is no commuting, no boss watching your every move, and balancing professional and private life is a breeze. Setting up an office at home may seem difficult, but with careful planning and research, you can save up money, increase productivity, and in the long run, be much happier with your job.

Things to Consider

When deciding the place of your future home office there are a couple of things worth considering. The space needs to be isolated from the rest of the home, and generally in a less active part of the house. This will significantly minimize distractions, since you want to focus on your job, and separate home and work hours. Also, your personal requirements and affiliations, as well as the nature of your work will guide the decision making process. So, creating a workshop next to the dining room, probably wouldn’t be the best solution, or having the office next to the laundry room.

Setting up Shop

Conserve space by changing the purpose of less frequently used rooms in the house and turn them into your home office. Storage rooms like the attic, basement, and garage can be easily transformed into a spacious, insulated working environment. Another way to go is to make a dual-purpose room. An extra guest room, and even the dining room are great due to their infrequent use. And by making small adjustments to the furniture, like adding pull-out couch, or getting a larger dining room table, you can have re-furbish the room to accommodate all your needs. Also, it is possible to find appropriate appliances online, like small fridge, which can complete the office design.

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Office Comfort

Comfort is the main idea behind a stay-at-home office. Consider that you might put in long hours in front of the desk, so buy a chair that is enjoyable, but also drives you to work. Depending on the work, a desk should inspire and be able to handle all the tools of your trade (computer, printer, books, paper, etc.). Apart from being comfortable, your furniture should also be ergonomic. The chair should support your back, and have enough height, so your arms are parallel to the desk. And by borrowing, buying secondhand or re-purposing furniture, you can cut costs and invest in other aspects of your business.

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Light up Work

Your office should also have plenty of light. A well-lit room will make for an efficient working environment that is motivational, but also healthy. Utilize natural light sources as much as possible, whenever possible. By positioning the desk next to the window, so that the light hits you from the right-hand side, you will get the greatest amount of light, decrease shadows on your work area, and tone down outside distractions. Although natural light is great, it is in short supply. Although many rooms have an overhead light, a desk lamp should be an essential at your work station. Combining it with other light sources will mean that your work space is always well-lit and you don’t exert your eyes.

Break Time

Depending on space, create a relaxing comfy zone within the office. This will enable you to think, research, read, and plan, when you are not actively working. The corner will also provide a great break area. Get yourself a comfy armchair, or a couch, and soft rug will feel great on your feet when you take your shoes off. You should also include a lamp and a coffee table for those serene coffee breaks.

Office Storage

Storage is an issue with any office, so be sure to get creative and organized. Big stacks of paper, files, and office supplies, are not very inspirational, and the best way to removed them from sight is to put them into a closet. Another great trick to minimize office clutter is to store the non-essentials in a different room, such as a basement. On the other hand, keep the essential documents near you, by putting up shelves and storing them there.

In the end, the home office tops a regular cubical any day, so make it an enjoyable and motivational working area. And if you do it right, you will save money and nerves, manage your own hours, and ultimately be your own boss, working from the comfort of your own home.

Tracey Clayton is a working mom of three girls, passionate about traveling, marketing and everything tech related. Her motto is: “Live the life you love; love the life you live.”

 

 

How to Successfully Market Yourself as a Freelancer

With social media evolving so fast and with the internet changing in the rate it does, it is practically a business suicide not to have some kind of marketing strategy prepared for your business. However, without a steady paycheck and with the constant pursuit for new clients, dealing with the issue of marketing may seem difficult. Marketing yourself as a freelancer may be a bit tricky, but if you focus, plan and organize ahead, you will soon realize just how far a good marketing strategy can take you.

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Create a Strong Online Presence

You cannot simply wait for people to find and hire you. You need to get out there and expand your reach. There is an abundance of industry-specific forums, blogs, and other communities which are great for developing your marketing skills and growing your freelancing network. Engage in social media and try to leave comments on different blogs, or answer questions on forums. Be helpful and and do not spam the users. When you engage with the community in such a way, you help build credibility for yourself and consequently expand your reach.

Do not Neglect the Social Media

Use social media platforms to build a public profile for yourself. Potential clients and employers will have much better chances of hiring you if you are present and active on social media. Having a detailed LinkedIn profile can significantly boost your client rates; using Facebook or Twitter for self-promotion can help you distinguish yourself from others and build a serious freelancing business. Make sure you are out there if you really want to expand your business and market yourself properly.

Build a Team of Freelancers

Try connecting with other freelancers as often as you can. This may not seem important from the marketing aspect of your work, but as far as networking goes, it really is. When you are engaged with numerous freelancers, the number of potential opportunities skyrockets. With strong connections with freelancers in different areas of expertise, you can take numerous projects and expand your client base significantly.

Focus on Referrals and Outsourcing

Referring clients to other freelancers is an amazing practice, and it both helps create a connection between freelancers and helps them expand their businesses. You can even get freelancers to outsource a project for your client through you and vice versa, so you can understand how a strong freelancing team can be very important when it comes to promoting yourself and your skills.

Incorporate Modern Web Design

If you do not have a website in the today’s market, it is as if you don not exist. This is especially the case for freelancers. But simply having a website does not necessarily mean that you are on track to become extremely successful. You must understand your focus group and you must address their needs. In order to do this in the best possible way you need to incorporate great web design.

Mix Marketing With Web Design

When it comes to web design, it can make or break your business. Good web design can really help you step up your marketing game. Whether you’re a genius web designer or someone who doesn’t know anything about it, there are some simple guidelines that you should follow. Keep your website simple, use responsive web design, test everything meticulously and ask for feedback from everyone. These tips have proven to be extremely efficient when it comes to marketing aspects of your website.

Think About Growth Opportunities

Think about the services you provide as a freelancer and think about the clients you have already worked with. Think about what they would like to see, and consider how that fits in your idea of a website. Do some research and check out what other freelancers from your branch of work are doing. With platforms like WordPress and with the power of Google you can soon understand how the world of web design works, or you can always consult a professional and still achieve what you’ve wanted all along – a better way to market yourself.

Put the Thoughts Into Action

Expanding the business is hard, and finding the best marketing strategies may seem like a nightmare, but all you really need is a bit of time and patience. Focus on building your online presence, and try to engage with others as often as you can. Think of the ways how you want to build your career, whether as a successful individual freelancer or as a member of a freelancing team of experts. Don’t be afraid to promote yourself and your skills, but do it professionally.

8 Simple Motivational Tips to Get Ahead in Business

When I started my first online business – self motivation was a bit of a problem. I hadn’t been someone who’d had problems meeting deadlines or getting work done in previous jobs when I was working for someone else – but with no clear deadlines in place for a lot of what I was going to do – it became harder. Self-motivation is one of the hardest things to master when it comes to setting up your own business – but if done right, it could help you take a step up to the next level.

If you’re looking to get motivated so you can make your business-life a success, hopefully these 8 simple tips will help you like they did me.

1. Do the hardest task first

A lot of people start small to build up momentum. While this can work, I found that I was often really just putting off the hardest, most important tasks. Do them first, then they won’t play on your mind for the rest of the week, and your other (easier) tasks should fall into place.

2. Find a dedicated workspace

It’s all very well working from home – but try not to work in front of the TV or in a room you use for loads of other things. That’s an in-built distraction factory you could do without. I actually started renting a little remote office-space in my local area. I didn’t use it all the time – but when I knew I needed to completely cut out distractions I’d work from there. It made it feel like I was going to work again, which I think gave me the will to act a bit more professionally and get more done.

3. Have a clear plan

Plans are important. If you know exactly what you’ve got to do that week – you’ll be able to stick to it much more easily. Don’t simply do tasks as and when they come – not only is it easier to forget things, it’s also easier to ignore important stuff.

Work through your plan in order, even if you don’t really feel like doing one of the tasks when you get to it. Doing it and not putting it off will actually make you feel better and increase confidence, making the next tasks even easier.

4. Take regular breaks

Working solid through the day isn’t a great idea. Give yourself a break to walk around and get a drink. Just make sure the break isn’t something like watching a bit of TV, where a few minutes could turn into a few hours of procrastination. Grabbing a bit of food and a drink is fine, but don’t use your breaks as an excuse to do something major that’s going to take more than 5-10 minutes. When you’ve built up a head of steam in your work, you don’t want to lose that because you’ve been doing something else for too long. But you also don’t want to burn-out through being too overworked.

5. Avoid distractions

This one kind of ties into a couple that we’ve already looked at – but distractions are bad news.

I used to take my laptop to the local coffee store and do some work there. While I thought the change of environment and extra caffeine was helping me – I was wrong. There was always something going on, something to look at, and something to interact with – and plenty of noise, too. Coffee shops might be fine when you’ve got a few light and easy tasks – but not if you’ve got serious work that needs doing. Leave them as a treat towards the end of the working week when you tie up some loose ends, rather than a regular thing.

If you’ve got a roommate – make sure they know when you’re working so they don’t disturb you. Switch the TV off, and avoid social media. If you use it for work, fine, but there’s a fine-line between productive social media marketing and an excuse to procrastinate. Don’t log-in to your personal accounts.

6. Hold yourself accountable

Tell people what you’re going to do so that they’ll hold you to it. Since you don’t have a boss – give yourself other people to make you accountable to.

7. Listen to music at the right time

You probably don’t want to be listening to music if you’ve got something important to think about. But if you’re on to your easier tasks and what to lighten the mood and give yourself a change of pace – some music could do the job. But don’t let the music become a distraction.

8. Meditate before you get started

5-10 minutes of light meditation at the beginning of the day really helped clear my mind from distractions and get me in a relaxed mood for working. I was no meditation expert – I just looked up a couple of newbie guides online – but it helped get my head in the right space for work and it’s something I continue to use regularly. Give it a try for a week or two, even if it’s not something you’d normally go in for.

 

About the author

These tips were by Keith Elton. Keith has years of experience in the business world and enjoys sharing his motivation tips with those new to the industry. He also recommends looking up some motivational quotes online if you’re looking for even more inspiration.

Making the Move from Freelance to Small Business

As your freelance business gets more successful, you will start to think about making a move to becoming a small business. It’s not just a desirable prospect – it’s almost a necessity. The simple truth is that when you are in demand, you just won’t have the time to keep all your customers happy while seeking new clients. In short, you will need help.

There are, of course, many challenges involved in turning a freelance career into a successful small business. And in today’s guide, I’m going to go through a few of the things you will need to consider. Let’s take a closer look.

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Legalities

As a small business owner, you will have a lot more legal responsibility than you do as a freelancer. It’s advisable to hire a lawyer, who can talk you through employment law – and you might need an HR professional on board, too. Anyone you hire will have statutory rights, and there are tax and national insurance responsibilities, too. You will need to cover yourself with the right insurance, in case there is an accident or something goes wrong. While starting a small business can be exciting, there is a lot of legal groundwork to cover before you even get started.

Cash flow

The biggest difference between being freelance and running a business lies with your cash flow. When you freelance, it is possible to stretch yourself until your money comes in from your clients. However, from the second you start hiring people, they need to be paid – regularly. It is vital that you start getting a much tighter grip on your finances to allow you to do this. There are other things to consider, too. You might decide to move into an office, for example, which means regular payments for rent, rates, and utilities.

Contracts

Contracts will start to take over your life – far more so than they ever did as a freelancer. You will have contracts for employees, suppliers, customers, delivery drivers – the list is endless. It is imperative that you are organized enough to ensure you have the right processes in place. Contract management software can help, and it might be an idea to hire someone that can deal with your general admin, too. When you are a small business, you will need to learn how to delegate, fast. It is a vastly different experience to the DIY approach used by freelancers.

Training

If you want to take your freelance customers with you, it is imperative that you provide them with the same levels of service. But it can be tricky to do when you start hiring other employees and allowing them to work on your client accounts. Some customers will be extremely unhappy if they are suddenly lumped with an employee who just doesn’t perform as well as you. Excellent training is critical, to ensure those service levels remain constant. Your staff are a key asset, now – don’t training will help them avoid being a liability.

Making a move from freelancer to small business can be exciting, but there is a lot of work ahead. However, follow these simple guidelines, and you should enjoy some success. Good luck!