Branding Our Life

Seven Essentials for Working from Home

Essentials for Your Home Office

More and more people are switching to working from home. I’m so glad I did! Between the blog and a bustling wedding business, there’s never a dull moment around our house. If you’re looking to make the switch to telecommuting or running a home-based business, you’ll need a few essentials.

Here are my must-haves for working from home.

Computer

A computer, laptop, tablet, whatever you have that connects with the internet and runs the programs or apps you need. Your clients will need to hear from you, your website will need updating, and you’ll need to post to social, so a computer of some sort is an absolute necessity!

Whole-Home Wi-Fi

If you’re anything like me, you’ll need the ability to reply to client messages at a moment’s notice. It’s not convenient to run to the home office every time you get an email.

TP Link Deco M5We live in the country. Getting internet was a feat in itself. Getting reliable Wi-Fi that worked throughout the entire house? Impossible. That is until we got the TP-Link Deco M5 Whole-Home Wi-Fi System. Now I can work from any room, any time of day. I can even work from my porch. It’s awesome! No more running to my desktop just to answer an email.

One of my favorite features has to be  the incredibly easy set up with the TP-Link Deco app. I’m not the most technically savvy, so easy-to-use is critical for me. We were up and running within minutes! My husband and I can both be working and streaming music at the same time now, and it’s wonderful.

Schedule

When switching from an 8 to 5 to working from home, you need a game plan for your day. You won’t have the built-in structure you had at the office, so building a framework for your day is vital to staying on track.

I recommend time blocking. It’s exactly like it sounds, setting aside blocks of your day to do particular tasks. If you’re most energetic in the mornings, you may set those aside for communicating with clients and creative projects and block out afternoons for clerical (less-energetic) tasks. For more productivity hacks, check out this post.

Notebook & Pens

Yes, in a mostly digital world, it’s still good to have a few analog tools handy. You never know when inspiration is going to strike. It’s important to write those things down. Actually write them. Don’t believe me? This study actually shows a correlation between writing things down longhand and remembering them.

Working Space

There are distractions aplenty when working from home. By designating a space- no matter how small- helps to stay focused. If you don’t have a spare room to devote to office space, choose a wall, a corner, or just someplace quiet where you can set up a workstation. Of course, you can work from anywhere in the house. The key is just to avoid interruptions while working on projects.

Calendar & Task Management System

You need to know what you have to do and when it’s due by. My Google Calendar and Asana app definitely get a workout! If paper calendars and to-do lists is your thing, go for it! Just make sure you’re consistent with whatever system you choose.

Storage

Both digital and physical storage is necessary. Whether you use a cloud-based storage system or an external hard drive, it’s important to back up your important files. While most of what we do as entrepreneurs these days is online, we still have items like cameras, cords, tablets, and notebooks that need a home. I have a handy little shelf that stores my tangible tools.

 

The Time-Tested Productivity Hack You Need to Try

After leaving my 8 to 5 job to run my business from home, it didn’t take long to discover I needed to boost my daily productivity. There was so much to do! It was overwhelming. My daily task lists were at least 20 to 30 items long. I was overrun with work, and needed a simpler method to stay on track. That’s when I discovered the Ivy Lee Method.

The Backstory

Apparently, sometime in 1918, the wealthy Charles M. Schwab sought the services of productivity consultant Ivy Lee. Even though Schwab was already very successful, he wanted to get even more done. Lee took on the task and came up with a simple (and still effective) five-step productivity hack.

The Method

Are you ready? It’s pretty elegant in its simplicity.

  1. At the end of each day, write down the six most important things you need to get done the next day. Do not write down more than six.
  2. Prioritize items in order of importance.
  3. Each morning, focus on the first task. Work until the first item is completed before moving to the second task.
  4. Approach the rest of the list the same way. Continue moving unfinished tasks to the next day’s list.
  5. Repeat daily.

The Takeaway

I know, I know. Some of you are saying, “I literally have 85 things to do every day.” I get it. Being a small business owner, or a blogger, or a parent, means you wear a lot of different hats. But this method really does work. Has been working for nearly a hundred years.

Why is it so effective? It helps you:

  • prioritize
  • focus
  • critically think about your tasks
  • cut out extraneous items from your day
  • have a ready-made structure for the next morning.

Plus, just because you’re focusing on six top items, doesn’t mean that you won’t have extra time in your day to take on even more. Once you’ve crossed off your “top six” by all means, keep going! But at the very least, you know the most crucial to-do items are getting done.

I designed this printable with the Ivy Lee Method in mind to keep myself focused. It’s simple and easy to use!  It has helped me immensely, and I hope it helps you too.

Three Free & Easy Ways to Build Intimacy in Your Marriage

Intimacy- Holding Hands

As I revealed in a past post, I wasn’t exactly a natural at marriage. Few people are, I suppose. The good news is people can grow and change! My husband and I have spent the last few years building intimacy in our marriage. We’ve boiled our “research” down to a few incredibly easy ways to start building intimacy.

Hugging

Yes. I’m serious. Just hear me out. As odd as it sounds, I was listening to the radio one day and there was a story about how hugging can actually improve your health. It piqued my interest so I came home and did some more reading. I found articles like this that discuss the health benefits of hugging. Which lead me to articles like this that tout the benefits of cuddling with our partners. Essentially, hugging and cuddling trigger the release of oxytocin, which plays a role in social bonding.

I decided to give it a try. What did we have to lose? I made a point of intentionally hugging my husband every day. We also started carving out time to cuddle more often. As silly as it may seem, I genuinely felt more bonded to my husband due to my “experiment.” It quickly became our favorite part of the day.

Showing Interest

It’s amazing how something as simple as asking your mate, “How was your day?” goes a long way. We live in a big world and it’s easy to feel like you get lost in the shuffle. Coming home to someone who is genuinely interested in your well being is refreshing.

To take things a step further, my husband and I make a point of asking about each other’s passions, hobbies, and interests. My husband loves sports, theoretical physics, and heavy metal. Three things I’d never really thought about. I’m passionate about wedding planning, cooking, and blogging. Three things he’s not too keen on. However, in an effort to support each other, we ask one another questions and learn new things all the time.

Speaking Their “Love Language”

If you haven’t heard of it yet, Dr. Gary Chapman wrote a book called “The Five Love Languages.” Basically, it boils down the essence of how people feel loved into five main categories: words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, acts of service, and receiving gifts. You can take the free quiz here.

We took the test and discovered I am a “quality time” kind of girl and he’s a “words of affirmation” kind of guy. So what does that look like for our marriage? We’re insanely busy. However, no matter how crazy our schedules get, my husband chisels out time for us to have a few quality moments every day. I love it! Since I know my husband feels loved through words, I write him a little note every week to tell him how much I love him, compliment something he’s succeeded at, or thank him for something he’s done. In fact, just last night he thanked me for the notes and told me he appreciates every single one.

The Takeaway

Life gets crazy. Money gets tight. People don’t always have the time (or the money/energy/opportunity) for candlelight dinners or walks on the beach to kindle intimacy. However, simple things like hugging or cuddling, showing interest, and speaking each other’s love language can get the ball rolling.

What about you? I’m always interested in hearing other people’s “secret sauce” to healthy relationships. Let me know in the comments below.

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