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12 Ways to Stay Focused and Productive When You Work From Home

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The work from home lifestyle is an attractive option for entrepreneurs and traditional employees alike. You can set your own hours, dress how you want and work in a way that maximizes your time and skillset. However, working in the comforts of home carries risks that many don’t consider before embarking on it. Working at home is filled with distractions – chores, errands, pets, family members, television and even the couch. A mid-day nap is pretty darn awesome! But when those distractions begin to dominate your time, energy and productivity, you’re in for real trouble on the work front.

Here are 12 ways to stay focused and productive when you work from home – and still enjoy the perks that come with it!

1. Be Honest

Is working at home REALLY the right choice for you? Are you prone to laziness, easily distracted or need other humans to keep you motivated and engaged? For some people, a home office is not a wise career move because their personal and professional habits, needs and wants aren’t in line with solo working.

2. Designate a Space

Toting a laptop around and working on the couch, in bed or at the kitchen is part of the freedom of working at home. But sometimes when you scatter your work around, your thoughts, papers, ideas and productivity get scattered too. You can still move around, but choose a space in your home that will house your technology, files, tools and other work stuff that you can access quickly and easily.

3. Make It Pretty

Once you designate your space, bring it to life with your favorite photos, artwork, toys or organizational tools that will make you WANT to hang out here. This workspace is an extension of your life where you will spend many hours a day. Make it a pleasant place to spend your time.

4. Stick to a Schedule

The beauty of working at home is that you have the freedom to control when you work. However, we all have times when we are most productive and creative during the day and times we suck wind to type even one more word or make one more call. Identify YOUR best hours and work them consistently.

5. Dress for Success

Sure it’s awesome to roll out of bed and over to the computer in your pajamas – another perk of working at home. But when you elevate your appearance even when it’s just you and your laptop, you will be more inspired and energized to do meaningful work. Wash your face, brush your teeth and get dressed as if you were going into an office.

6. Take Breaks

Grinding out work at all hours of the day and night isn’t healthy. We need to step away from our screens and refresh our minds to get re-energized in our work. Every hour step away from your desk or work area for a quick walk, some sit-ups or a coffee break.

7. Go Public

You must leave your home to stay engaged with other human beings. People buy from people so whether you’re an entrepreneur, author or employed by someone else, your customers aren’t living in your home with you. Get out into public and hang out where your customers hang out.

8. Multi-Communicate

There are hundreds of ways to communicate these days – phone calls, texts, Facetime, email, Skype, G+, social media, mail and the list goes on. Learn how to use multiple modes of communication so that you can connect with others in a way that fits your and their preferred style of communication.

9. Be Human

Step away from your screens! Yes – I said it – step away from the screens. You must show up in person to create a stronger connection and engagement with customers, friends, family, co-workers, partners and fans. Hit up networking events, charitable events, co-working spaces, conferences and happy hours to keep your in-person presence memorable.

10. Create a Calendar

When you wake up in the morning, do you know what to focus on each day? If not, it’s time to create a calendar to keep you on task. If you’re an author it might be an editorial calendar. If you’re an online marketer, it might be a content creation or social media calendar. If you work for someone else, it could be your to-do list with more structure and priorities around it. Really hone in on what business tasks bring in more customers, money and fans so you aren’t wasting time on useless tactics.

11. Find Your Tribe

Hang out with other people who do what you do – and this means leaving your home again! Entrepreneur groups, meet-ups, conferences and workshops are the perfect place to meet and brainstorm with like-minded folks who GET what you do and can help you grow.

12. Prioritize Right

Want to work less and play more whether you work at home or in an office? Create a system of prioritization that identifies the tasks that will make the most impact on your business,customers, co-workers and tribe. Ditch all that stuff that just fills time but doesn’t bring in any value. Write down every task you do daily, weekly, monthly, annually. For each one, note how these lead to financial growth for you or the company. If it doesn’t, then ditch it!

The key to successfully working from home is to create an environment and process that works for YOUR individual needs and preferences. Be open to experimentation to find your perfect work-at-home groove.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS: What makes working from home easier and more fun? What strategies do you use to stay productive and engaged when you work from home?

Featured photo credit: ClipArt via clipart.com

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6 Lessons about Life That I Didn’t Learn in College

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There’s a lot of useful stuff you can learn in college if you’re the right kind of student, but it doesn’t teach you everything there is to know about life. There are all too many things that I didn’t learn in college, and you probably didn’t either. Here are 6 of the biggest shifts you’ll experience once you leave the college setting.

1. You don’t have a straight path.

Freshman year. Then Sophomore year. Then Junior year. Then Senior year. You do that on a semester-by-semester basis for four years, and then you’ve graduated from college. You probably didn’t learn in college how your path becomes a lot less clear after that. Even if you get a job right out of school (which isn’t easy nowadays) you’re still adjusting to that job, probably living in a new place and getting used to life without a GPA. It’s a whole new environment that you have to get acclimated to, and one that doesn’t come with any syllabi.

2. You can’t meet people as easily.

Once you and your friends are out of college, expect people to start moving away. What you didn’t learn in college is that once you’ve graduated, you and your friends are no longer congregated in the circumference of a school campus. Most of your fellow employees at your job probably aren’t going to be in the same age group as you, either. Life, at least at first, is probably going to become a bit lonelier. Over time you’ll build back up a group of people you can depend on and socialize with, but you probably didn’t learn the feeling of isolation that’s awaiting you in life after college.

3. You have to attend everything.

You can miss a class or two or ten at school, as long as you make it to your exams and turn in your term papers on time. You didn’t learn in college that that particular luxury evaporates once you’ve graduated. Your employer is not going to be okay with you missing a day of work, or even with you being late more than once or twice. You were rewarded for your perfect attendance record in high school, and benefited from it in post-secondary education. After that, it’s absolutely mandatory.

4. You can’t have any incomplete assignments.

Professors are sometimes willing to give you incompletes instead of Fs. You didn’t learn in college that you can’t expect that kind of lenience in the workplace. If an assignment at your job is due on Friday, you damn well have that project finished and polished by 5 p.m. on Friday. Earlier, if you know what’s best for you.

5. You won’t get new bosses every semester.

At least I hope not. Professors come and go. Even though people don’t stay at job positions as long as they used to, you’re going to typically have the same employer for more than a semester. That means you can’t risk getting on the wrong side of your bosses. Whereas spirited differences with professors are largely encouraged, conflict with your employer is almost always looked down upon. Make a good impression and stay in their good graces for as long as you stay at their place of work.

6. Success is defined by something other than a letter grade.

College, though complex, is in so many ways a simple thing. You get out into the real world for the first time. You make friends. You experience life to its fullest. All the while you find yourself getting a score from your professors at how you’re faring in school. You probably didn’t learn in college how to get a clear idea of how you’re doing. Even if you’re getting progress reports at work, you will probably never have as definitive an idea of what your boss thinks of you as you did in college.

Featured photo credit: Ralph Daily via flickr.com

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How To Tell An Interesting Story In 4 Simple Steps

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Are you worried that your stories aren’t going over well in social settings? Do you see that hot girl you’re talking to check her phone every few seconds while you talk? Does the interesting guy you’d like to get to know better seem to detach mentally while you’re speaking? Do you have difficulty connecting with people you want to become friends with? Let this article help you learn an easy method for telling an interesting story. In four simple steps, you can connect emotionally with your listener, and draw them in to care about your story, but more importantly, to care about you.

Use this as a guideline, but please keep in mind that we all think our stories are far more interesting than others do. Unless people are always telling you how interesting and hilarious you are, try to stick roughly to the proposed sentence limits. The worst is to have someone walk away in the middle of your story with some vague excuse, because your story was endless and they wanted to escape the monotony. Far better to leave your listener wanting more.

1. Set the stage with no more than ONE SENTENCE of background.

People write about conflicts in the Middle East in one topic sentence in the New York Times, so you can certainly give only one sentence about why that woman at work went totally off the wall after her fiancee dumped her.

Example: “So, at work there’s this woman who was always talking about how awesome her fiancee was, and then he dumped her.”

2. Talk about how everyone in the story was feeling, and use examples that help your listeners visualize the incident.

People cannot connect to your topic unless there are emotions involved. Facts are not going to draw your listener in to your anecdote.  You must try to put yourself in the shoes of whoever you’re speaking about, whether it is Barack Obama or that woman at work. Use multiple emotion words here. No more than three sentences. You don’t want your listener’s attention to start wandering when you drone on.

Example: “She was devastated. She kept crying at her desk and calling her friends and crying to them too. She kept taking her engagement ring off and then putting it back on.”

3. Talk about how YOU felt about the incident and its relationship to anything you ever experienced.

Otherwise it’s like you’re just a reporter. Your listener wants to connect with you, and know what you think and feel. Three sentences.

Example: “I felt so heartbroken for her.  It reminded me a lot of when I got dumped senior year by my boyfriend of four years.  I wanted to curl up and never leave my dorm room.”

4. Conclude with the relevance of the story to whatever you were talking about.

Relate the story to both you and your listener, thereby connecting you and your listener even more. You want to express emotion here too, especially if you and your listener are sharing the same emotion. This is your last chance to connect here, so make it count. Two sentences, but hopefully you’ll end up saying more because your listener will jump in to share her own thoughts and feelings too. Then a conversation will be sparked, which is the real goal.

Example: “So really, it made me think of what you said the other day, that you’re lucky to be single right now and to be enjoying that phase of your life.  I feel the same way!”

If you keep these tips in mind, and practice a few times the next time you’re around other people, you’ll be telling an interesting story in no time. And then you’ll be beating off potential friends and dates with a stick, you social butterfly, you.

Featured photo credit: interesting story via huffingtonpost.com

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This Amazing Hoverboard Will Make Skateboards Obsolete

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Hoverboards have always been fascinating for tech enthusiasts. A handful of movies featured them, but now you can get one of your own!

The Hendo Hoverboard is a real, working hoverboard that works on a specific type of platform.

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It’s lightweight, easy to use, and there exists a developers’ kit for inventors that allows virtually anyone to apply the same technology anywhere! Think moving trays, hovering couches, and floating platforms. The company’s objective is to make the hoverboard technology available to everyone for faster development.

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Right now, the Hendo Hoverboard is perfect for skateboarders and anyone who has ever wanted to magically float in the air. The developer kit is ideal for inventors and even businesses that want to integrate the technology with their current products.

You can get your hands on the developer kit for $299. The hoverboard was limited to 10 purchases and is currently sold out!

Hendo Hoverboards – World’s first REAL hoverboard | Kickstarter

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Take A Photo Of The Math You Don’t Know And This App Will Calculate It For You

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Math can get in the way of your dreams. Incorrect computations can cause you to fail your classes and even get fired from work. What if you could magically take a photo of a math problem and get the answer instantly?

Introducing Photomath, an impressive app that does exactly that.

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Point your phone at a math problem and Photomath will give you the answer. It also shows you the proper steps to take to arrive at complex solutions. Below are the supported features of the app:

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The Photomath app is a breakthrough for everyone. Students can cut their homework time in half. Furthermore, individuals don’t need to hire an expensive math tutor.

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Professionals such as consultants, engineers, and analysts may also find this app extremely beneficial. With Photomath, individuals can compute for data without relying on Excel equations.

Photo Math | Home

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7 Reasons Why You’ll Regret Not Having A Personal Website

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Whenever we consider the online revolution and the innovation of the Internet, we tend to focus on those that have impacted heavily on businesses. From development of accurate stock management tools to real-time communication applications such as Skype, we have marveled at the ideas that have driven commercial efficiency while also reducing costs. Just as technological advancement has helped small and medium sized enterprises, however, it has also enabled individuals to make money and achieve both their personal and professional dreams.

Why it is Easier than Ever to Create a Personal Website

It has never been easier or more affordable to conceive, design and create a personal website, for example, which can subsequently be used for multiple purposes. Service providers like SquareSpace embody this ease of use better than any, as their process only requires you to select a template and design theme before integrating images, copy and social media icons. You are then free to customize the website according to your needs, whether these relate to the organisation of your personal life or the development of your career.

With these points in mind, let’s take a look at 7 reasons why you should build a personal website:

1. Successfully Pursuing the Job of your Dreams

Above all else, a personal website serves as a window in which you can showcase marketable skills and connect with a targeted audience. This is best applied when looking for work, whether you are in search of gainful employment or simply considering an alternative career path. Simply by creating an engaging and informative personal website that promotes both your skill-set and unique characteristics as a candidate for work, you can connect with potential employers and establish an entry point for a productive professional website. You can even utilize proper SEO practices and optimize your personal website to make it easier for potential employers to find your details.

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2. Pre-launching a New Product or Service

On a similar note, aspiring sole traders of entrepreneurs can also use personal websites to pre-launch their new business concept, product or service. Such a site can serve multiple purposes, from creating awareness of your developing concept to executing pre-sales and raising much needed revenue. The latter technique was used successfully by entrepreneur Priska Diaz, who was able to raise $50,000 for her company Bittylab simply by pre-selling her air-free baby bottles through a personal website. Whether you aim to create an overarching brand or simply generate additional income, a personal website can be an invaluable tool.

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3. Imparting Expertise and Sharing the Benefit of Personal Experience

Increasingly, the online space has become a crutch to citizens who are in search of knowledge and information. This theory can be applied across multiple sectors, from the entertainment industry to the interconnected worlds of business and commerce. An estimated 75% of more than 57,499 U.S. adults surveyed and referenced products online before making a purchase, for example, while I myself used the Internet to reference advice when playing blackjack in Nevada last year. Personal websites play a huge role in successfully imparting expertise and objective opinions, as they can be established by individuals with relevant knowledge who want to share their experience. So if you have a wealth of knowledge and wish to help others or establish yourself as an expert in a particular field, a personal website provides the ideal platform.

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4. Store Memories and Photographs Online

Thanks to the development of smartphones and digital cameras, we are able to capture more joyous moments in real-time than ever before. This leaves us with a high volume of videos and images, however, and these must be stored securely if they are to be shared successfully through the generations. A personal website provides the ideal location in which to store your images, while also ensuring that they can be accessed at all times from your personal server. Publishing precious images on a live website also enables others to view them at their leisure, which in turn helps to create more interactive experiences that can unify friend and families regardless of their geographical location.

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5. Sharing an Image Led or Audio-visual Portfolio

From artists and photographers to freelance graphic designers, there are a number of people who make their living by creating visually engaging imagery. These individuals are primarily judged on the quality of their visual output, so it is crucial that they utilise a platform that adequately showcases their portfolio of work. Personal websites are ideal for this purpose as the vast majority of templates allow users to upload imagery and embed videos, while such diversity also enables them to customize their layout to minimize the use of text. Given that these websites also boast social functions, potential clients can engage with the artist through a number of mediums and develop a productive working relationship.

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6. Networking with Industry Clients and Creating a Virtual Business Card

Regardless of your pursuit or profession, a personal website can be used to assist you at every conceivable stage. This is especially true for young professionals who are looking to progress within their chosen careers, as a personal online space provides the ideal platform from which to network aggressively and liaise with relevant industry experts. In this respect a personal website can serve as a virtual business card, where interested parties can access your contact details and engage in real-time communication. If you also take a proactive approach to socially sharing the website and including it within the body of your email signature, you can improve your visibility further and establish yourself as a recognizable thought leader within your sector.

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7. Raise Awareness Surrounding a Charitable Cause

While we have discussed how a personal website may be used to achieve individual goals, it is important to note that it also has the potential to help others. As an online medium that can connect with millions of viewers around the world, it is the ideal platform from which to raise awareness of a specific issue or charitable cause. Modern design templates also feature fully-integrated payment processing technology, which means that you solicit donations and effectively raise funds for your cause. As individuals we all have charitable causes that touch our hearts in one way or another, and a personal website allows us to raise awareness and funds from a single, online space.

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