How I Changed Everything So I Actually Work When I Work From Home

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Forget extra vacation days or free coffee at the office; The hottest new work benefit is the option to work remotely. Tons of people who move for a job still find themselves outside of the office. Yep, about 3.9 million U.S. employees are working from home at least half the time, according to reports.

And I’m one of them!

Don’t I look professional? Well, it wasn’t always that way. I recently left my corporate job to work on my small business, and let me just say, it has been quite the adjustment working from home.

I woke up on my first day of work and felt guilty when I wasn’t rushing around to get ready and run out the door to make the train. The first few weeks were a struggle with my new routine, and I found myself working 12 hour days, in my pajamas, with my laptop constantly in front of me. I was quickly on the road to burnout.

Whether you’re underworking, overworking or both, luckily I’ve figured out a smarter (and healthier) way to work from home. I did lots of research and implemented a few strategies into my routine, and I’m happy to report that I am now thriving with my new setup.

I still get dressed for the workday.

Remember the tale of me in my pajamas working like a maniac those first few weeks of my new routine? Yeah, that wasn’t the best look for me. My husband would return home from work at night, only to find me in the same pajamas I was in when he left 9 hours before. Yikes.

Now, I get up and dressed every morning. I don’t have to put on business casual clothing, just a fresh outfit for the day ahead. This makes me feel better about myself, keeps my hygiene on point, and makes me feel like a total #girlboss.

I don’t work on the couch anymore because I designed my own work area.

I’m guilty of working from bed or on the couch hunched over my laptop. This hasn’t been great on my back (or my productivity). So after reading some more about the problem, I decided to create a designated “office space” in our home, force myself to sit in a real chair, and get real work done.

Even though our small condo doesn’t have a separate room for an office, I just added a slim desk to a blank wall in our bedroom. This makeshift office has been crucial for me. When I sit down at my desk, I know it’s time to get to work and avoid the distractions from the rest of my home.

But if you have an extra room in your house that you can convert to an office, don’t think twice and just do it. That way, you can simply close the door at the end of the day and work mode will be over. If not, find a way to create a work zone in your home, so work isn’t creeping into rooms all over your house.

I go outside before I start to work (even if it’s freezing).

Sometimes there isn’t a reason for me to leave the house at any point during these Chicago winters … I’m totally fine with that! However, I’ve found that morning walks help set me up for success for the day. Just a 20-minute stroll around the block gives me some much-needed vitamin D and fresh air. When I return, I’m ready to sit down and get to work.

I’ve also added a weekly trip to the coffee shop into my routine, and it’s nice to head out for 20 minutes to get a cup of coffee in the neighborhood. Fresh air and fresh java? Yes, please!

I bought a big whiteboard so my daily goals are visualized and in front of me.

I’m a big list maker and absolutely love the satisfaction of crossing items off of a long to-do list. I recently added a large whiteboard to our home, and it has helped me tremendously. I split the board into six sections, one for each weekday and a column for the weekend. Now I look at my week as a whole and plan things out accordingly. I slot in appointments, meetings, conference calls, important tasks and even workouts onto my large whiteboard.

I make time to meet with friends during lunch so I’m not isolated.

Working from home has many perks, but it can also be incredibly isolating. You may be by yourself all day long, and it can get lonely. I’ve found that setting up weekly lunches has made a big difference in my overall morale. I set up lunch with a different friend one day per week, and it has kept me more social … plus, it breaks up the week! If I can’t find a friend who is free that week, I spend one afternoon a week working at a coffee shop. Working amongst other people can be rejuvenating and inspiring.

I write to my coworkers (very) often.

If you’re working remotely for a company, it’s important to communicate all the time. You’re not getting that same face-to-face interaction that your coworkers at the office are getting, so be sure to check-in frequently. Make yourself available via Slack or Google Chat, and make sure you’re responsive when it comes to calling and emails.

This also will show your coworkers and managers that you’re still reliable, even when you’re working from home.

Yeah, I’m really trying to avoid household distractions.

I’m still working on this strategy, but I think it’s so important to set boundaries. When you’re home all day long, it can be easy to get distracted by things that need to be done around the house. Laundry, cleaning, cooking … they can all take you away from getting your work done.

I found that I was constantly multi-tasking while working. This seemed okay at first, but I found that I wasn’t as efficient as I used to be. Now, I take those aforementioned breaks throughout the day to run an errand or do a chore around the house, but the other times I’m 100% devoted to work thanks to my routine.

Do I have the whole work from home routine perfected? I’ve definitely made huge strides after putting that research into pracitce, and I’ve gotta say, I’m loving it so far!

What You Should Bring, Could Bring and DON’T Bring When Moving Into a Dorm

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Category: College Moves

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‘Tis the season for college dorm room shopping! If you’ve been to any of the big box stores lately, we’re confident you have seen all the colorful storage things just screaming “take me to college!”.

Some college students are eager to start prepping for their new “home away from home”, while others aren’t too interested in putting in much extra time. Whichever you are, we aren’t judging. We’re just here to make sure everyone is prepared for the excitement!

With that in mind, here’s an in depth synopsis about what you should bring, what you could bring, and what you don’t bring to college come fall. Be independent and avoid having mom and dad come visit (with the essentials you forgot) less than a week after moving into your new digs.

What You Should Bring

Towel, Toiletries and Laundry Detergent

Whether your dorm is equipped with private bathrooms or community bathrooms, this is the number one must: multiple towels, toiletries and shower shoes. Most college students opt for a shower caddy, which is a handy way to corral all of their shower essentials when traveling to and from the shower. Be sure to choose a shower caddy that can drain any water from the shower, because you don’t want it to become moldy from sitting water.

Unfortunately, college life also comes with learning to do your own laundry, and usually, the laundry facilities aren’t anything to get excited about. Stock up on plenty of laundry detergent, softener and dryer sheets to keep your clothing looking its best (and your parents at bay) all semester long.

A Microwave and Mini Fridge with Snacks

Tried and true for a reason: make sure you pack a microwave with some snacks! Healthy or unhealthy, we’re definitely not judging, just reminding you that having your own stash of food is important. You don’t want to find yourself starving and the cafeteria is closed, nor do you want to pay cafeteria prices. You probably don’t want to buy food in bulk because you won’t have a ton of places to store it, but having some snacks stashed away to hold you over until the cafe opens is essential.

Speaking of snacks, most dorms also allow you to bring your own microwave and mini fridge. You can always cut down on the costs of these items by arranging with your roommate to each bring one of the two, that way you only have to invest in one, not both.

Plenty of Power Strips and Extension Cords

Laptop, printer, phone charger, microwave, mini fridge, blow dryer, iron, string lights, coffee maker…. all these things hog outlets. Dorms only have a few outlets though, and you’ll likely be sharing them with your roomie on top of it. What can we say, the struggle is real! Along with all of these everyday essentials, be sure to pack at least one power strip and possible extension cord so you never get caught with a dead cell phone or no coffee! That could be bad.

A Secure Box for Very Important Papers

Focusing on the basic must-have stuff makes it easy to forget about this essential. Make sure you bring your driver’s license, insurance card, social security number (or card as long as you can keep it safe), emergency contact and medical info, paperwork for refillable prescriptions, and any other documents you may need while you’re away. We hope you never have to use some of these, but having them with you just in case is necessary.

What You Could Bring

Carpet Squares or a Cool Rug

Some dorm rooms come with commercial grade carpets, but most of these carpets have seen high traffic for several years (at least!). Packing an additional rug or carpet squares to add to your dorm will not only make your room look a lot cuter, but it will make the whole space feel a lot more warm and cozy. Consider a cool rug because this tiny upgrade will make such a difference… and may even keep your room a bit warmer in the winter if it experiences any kind of drafts like our dorms rooms did.

A Bunch of Cleaning Supplies

No matter your lifestyle, living in these cramped quarters all day every day means that your dorm room is bound to get a little messy! And since mom or dad isn’t tagging along to clean up after you, it’s important to pack some cleaning supplies so you can keep the place clean… especially during flu season.

Here’s a list of some basic items you should consider buying a few or all of, especially if you have a closet space:

  • Vaccum
  • Disinfectant
  • Duster
  • Swiffer mop
  • Windex
  • Bleach wipes
  • Dish soap

A Printer

Before going out and splurging on a new printer or lugging your large printer into your dorm room, be sure you actually need this piece.

Although having a personal printer is a huge perk when it comes time to last second papers, most schools offer a free printing lab that can do the same job. Plus printers are large and take up some valuable space in your room. Not to mention they can be costly with ink refills and necessary repairs, so be sure it’s a definite must (or a fancy luxury) before you add it to your shopping list!

What You Don’t Bring

Twin Bed Sheets

Although it may appear as though you will have a twin bed in your dorm room, most dorms actually have XL twins instead of the traditional twin sized bed. So packing twin-sized bedding will be a big mistake since you’ll find out pretty quickly that these new sheets won’t fit on your new bed! We speak from experience. If you want to double check, try social media to get some inside intel.

An Office Chair

Almost every dorm these days provides their own chairs. Coupled with how much space these things take up in a car, you absolutely do not want to make the mistake of doubling up. And if you’re really attached to your chair at home? Considering how big dorm rooms are, now’s the perfect time to start learning to love other seats!

Your Pet

Do we even have to say this? Apparently, we do. We know, we know… it’s hard to leave home, and even harder to leave home when you’re leaving your beloved pet at home. But unfortunately, dorm rooms do not allow pets of any kind. So sadly you can’t sneak in your pooch, kitty or even turtle into the halls of your new home.

Any Luggage at All

We urge you to skip the bulky luggage. Unless you need it for frequent flights back home, luggage is an item that will take up so much valuable space in your tiny new digs. Instead, try packing everything you have in oversized duffle bags (or even trash bags) that can be broken down and stored under your bed or somewhere else less invasive. The duffle bag will still allow you to pack up and travel, yet won’t waste valuable space like large luggage would.

Communicate and Consolidate! Whatever Your Roommate Is Bringing

It’s important to touch base with your roommate before the move-in day so you can coordinate what you are both bringing so you don’t double up! Space is very limited and sometimes so are funds, so splitting these items up will not only ensure your room isn’t overflowing with doubles of everything, but will also help cut down on costs for both of you.

The countdown to college is officially on. Hopefully, now you are fully prepared for what you should bring, could bring, and should NEVER bring to move-in day!

Movehack: How to Perfectly Wrap an Office Chair in Under 3 Minutes

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Category: How To Pack, Pro Packing Guides

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When you move, protecting your furniture is a huge part of the deal. And for most people who move, we’ve noticed the hardest piece of furniture to truly protect is none other than the common chair.

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HireAHelper Moves Into a New State-Of-The-Art Office

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All great things must come to a start.

That’s exactly the mood over at HireAHelper headquarters, which is located right near sunny San Diego, CA. 2016 marked the nine-year anniversary of the mover marketplace company, and it was within this ninth year that one of the biggest dominos finally fell. Take a look.

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6 Things to Do With Leftover Halloween Candy

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Category: Seasonal & Holidays

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Halloween has come and gone, but we’re guessing there may still be some Halloween candy lingering in your household. Your child may have brought back way too many goodies from their trick-or-treating run, or perhaps you simply overbought and weren’t able to fill as many trick-or-treaters’ bags as you anticipated. Either way … you’re probably stuck with a lot of leftover Halloween Candy.

Instead of indulging on stale candy for the next year, we suggest trying one of these six options to help make the most of your sweet stash!

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