Productivity Tips for Working from Home

If you have your own business and you work from home, it can be challenging to form the right habits that you need to be productive.Working From Home

Working from home provides its own unique challenges, and it is very easy to get distracted by many things around you in the house.

You might start tidying your desk and then decide you should also do the laundry and end up several hours later with a perfectly clean house but no work done.

You can also lose hours of your time surfing the net, responding to emails, and reading clever and funny blogs before you realize how late it has become. When you work from home, you are also susceptible to being distracted by the dog, kids, your partner, and much more.

So how can you improve your productivity and learn to focus on your work when you are working from home? Here are some helpful tips:

  • Create a good working environment which makes it easy to focus. It should be far away from the television and other distractions, and in a quiet area of the house. If you have a room to yourself where you can close the door and tell everyone else not to disturb you, this is even better.
  • Don’t get too comfortable. One mistake you might be making when working from home is working while curled up in a comfortable chair with your pajamas and fuzzy slippers on. While you can wear whatever you like when you work from home, it’s easy to get slow and sleepy in this environment and you will be more efficient when you get dressed, and sit up on a chair at a desk in a well lit environment.
  • Keep a piece of paper next to you, and if you think of something that you should be doing such as putting the dishwasher on you can write it down so that you can push it out of your mind while you focus. When you finish your work, check your list and complete the tasks on it.
  • Give yourself short and frequent breaks. When we work for too many hours on the same thing, our brains can become burnt out. Concentrate on a small task and set yourself a goal of when you will complete it.
  • Reward yourself. When you finish each small goal, allow yourself to get a snack, a cup of coffee, or do something else for five or ten minutes. Set a timer for your break to remind yourself to get back to work.

These are just a few ways that you can fine tune your working habits to become the most productive you can be!


How to Stay Happy When Stuck Indoors This Winter

For those of us living in colder climates, the winter season means shorter days, freezing weather, and being stuck inside the house for long cozy fireplaceperiods of time.

It is easy to get depressed with the lack of sunshine and time spent outdoors, especially if you are the type of person who loves the summer.

If you live in a chilly climate and can’t afford to spend six months in the Bahamas instead, here are a few tips that will help you enjoy the winter season:

  • Open the window for five minutes. Although it is freezing inside, if you keep the house sealed up the air inside will become stale and stuffy which will make you feel tired and low in energy. Let a bit of fresh air in to reinvigorate yourself and breathe easier.
  • Consider bringing some flowers, plants or herbs into your household. When it’s a barren winter wasteland outside we tend to miss all of the living things around us, so having plants inside the house can add fresh air and lovely scents to your life.
  • Having a pet such as a dog, cat, goldfish or bird to spend time with will also help to brighten up the short winter days when you are stuck inside.
  • Let the light in. Even in the depths of winter there are still around 8 hours of natural sunlight, so open up the curtains!
  • Wintertime is a great opportunity to catch up on your “me-time”, so treat yourself to that book that you have been meaning to read or take up a hobby like painting or knitting. In the summertime we sometimes neglect these activities because we spend so much time outside.
  • Get cozy. Pulling yourself out of bed on a dark winter morning is much easier when you don’t have to face the chilling prospect of bare feet on a cold floor. Treat yourself to some fuzzy slippers and warm pajamas to make you more comfortable in the snowy weather.
  • If you can’t afford a trip to Italy, Spain, Mexico or the Caribbean this winter, bring the hot climates to you by learning how to cook a new recipe from these cultures! You could even invite your friends over for spicy tacos and margaritas!
  • Get outside! If the sun comes out, take advantage of this opportunity and go for a walk. It might be cold, but the snowy scenery can be absolutely beautiful. You can also warm yourself up with a hot chocolate when you return!

Have a wonderful and happy winter!

How to Follow Up After a Job Interview

Do you ever wonder what the best way is to follow up after a job interview?  Is email to impersonal?  Is snail-mail too slow?  Will the Job Interviewinterviewer even notice or care?

Well, one thing is for certain.  If you don’t follow up at all, you’re quite sure that they won’t notice at all.   In fact, so few people follow up in any way you might just set yourself apart and make the difference in being considered for the position.

By reinforcing your interest in the position with a friendly follow up you will push your name to the forefront of the hiring manager’s mind. This little touch might just be the extra that makes you stand out from the others.

If you have just been to an interview for your dream job and all has gone well, you might want to consider following up with the employer in one or more of these ways:

Sending an email thank you note

This is one of the easiest and quickest ways to follow up on an interview. Write a short and friendly email to the employer thanking them for taking the time to meet with you. You also have the opportunity to touch on anything you talked about in the interview and reiterate your desire for the position. Make it short and sweet however, as the employer will not want to read several pages about how much you dream of working for them.

Mail a Thank you Card

Taking the time to use snail mail rather than email will certainly make you stand out from the rest of the applicants! By actually mailing a card, you will be creating a memorable impression in the employer’s mind which will help them associate your name with someone who goes the extra mile.

Use Social Media

Use a social networking website such as Twitter or Linked In to send a quick thank you to the employer. Again, the message doesn’t need to be long but can be a simple “thanks for your time” or a “nice to meet you”.

The advantage of this is that it connects the employer to your online profile, and if you are using social media well this should lead them to a website or an online portfolio which further showcases your brilliance.

Taking the time to follow up after an interview is the special touch that will make your application stand out and it just might help you achieve that dream job!

How to Make Cleaning the House More Fun

The dust bunnies in the corners are starting to stare back at you, and you need to take a running jump onto your bed to make it over the mountain of dirty clothes.

You forget what color the floor in the kitchen was originally under all of the dirt, and you have gottenHouse Cleaning Made Fun into the habit of eating dinner straight out of the pan because all of the plates have caked on grime.

You know that you need to clean the house, but you never get to the task because cleaning is so boring!

Cleaning the house is certainly not as exciting as horseback riding down the beach, skydiving, or going to a music festival, but it doesn’t have to be the most un-enjoyable thing in the world either.

If you can make cleaning a bit more fun and entertaining, perhaps you won’t put it off for so long?

Also, if you are having fun when cleaning you will work quicker and be less distracted, so that your house will be sparkling clean sooner and you can get on with the more exciting things in life.

Here are some tips for spicing up your cleaning routine:

  • Set up an open garbage can or recycling bin across the room as a basketball hoop, and see how many scraps of junk mail, food wrappers, and other junk you can toss into can without missing. Try to break your own record!
  • Break the task into small jobs and reward yourself after you finish each one. For example, if you wash all of the dishes on the kitchen counter you can enjoy a chocolate, or if you organize your entire closet you can go out to a movie.
  • Try to beat the clock! Give yourself a deadline for finishing each task and try to get through it as efficiently as you can. The faster and more focused you are, the sooner you are finished and the more free time you have.
  • Try a new cleaning product. For example, did you know that there are cleaning slippers with scrubbers on the bottom for washing the floor with your feet? These sorts of unusual and quirky cleaning implements will turn your household chores into a fun game.
  • Crank up your favorite tunes and do a little dance as you clean. It will put you in a happy and productive mood.

Make cleaning more fun, and before you know it your home will look fantastic!

That wasn’t so bad, was it?

Fear of Failure? Tips for Keeping Your New Years Resolutions

Have you made yourself a New Year’s resolution?Goal Setting

The turning over of the calendar usually inspires us to resolve to make positive changes in our lives, but more often than not we fail to follow through on our promises to ourselves.

If you struggle to keep your New Year’s resolutions, perhaps these tips will help you stay on track:

Be more realistic.

If you set goals for yourself that are completely unattainable, you will become discouraged and give up quickly.  For example, if you want to start losing weight and gaining muscle, don’t expect to look like a body builder two weeks into the New Year. 

Make a goal to visit the gym every second day instead, and if you stick to this reasonable goal you will eventually start to see results.

Make a plan. 

If your New Year’s resolution is to pay off your credit card debt, you won’t get far if you keep on spending in the same way. You need to make a plan to do things differently to get different results.

Your plan could include creating a budget to see where you can save money, and then paying off a set amount per month until the debt is gone.

Talk about it.

If you keep your resolution a secret, there is no one to keep you to your word if you decide to give up. If you tell your friends about your goals they can encourage you and motivate you.

Break the goal into small manageable chunks.

Losing 30 pounds seems overwhelming, but losing five pounds is not so daunting.

However, if you focus on these small goals and lose five pounds six times throughout the year, you will be down to your goal weight of 30 pounds less!

These are just a few tips to help you achieve your New Year’s resolutions.

Experts say that it takes approximately three weeks for a new habit to form. If you can stick to your resolution for this long, your positive habits will soon become second nature. 

The Most Popular New Years Resolutions in North America

What are the most common things that North Americans make goals to accomplish in the coming year when New Year’s comes around? HereHappy New Year are some of the most common New Year’s resolutions, and tips for making them happen.

Spending More Time with Family and Friends

The polls have suggested that more than half of Americans vowed to spend more time with their loved ones in the New Year. As the years pass by we realized that one of most important things about life is who we spend our time with, and the urge is there to reconnect and enjoy quality moments with people we care about.

Why not set up a weekly date with a friend or a family member to enjoy a favorite activity together?

Lose Weight and Become Healthier

One of the most common New Year’s resolutions year after year is a goal to shed pounds, build muscle and eat better. January is a bumper month for gym memberships, personal trainers, and weight loss programs. It’s great to have a goal to lead a healthier lifestyle, as obesity is becoming a serious health threat to our nation.

However, creating and maintaining a healthy physique requires a long term change in habits and not just a short lived fad diet so make sure that the changes you are making are sustainable.

Quit Smoking

Many people make the vow on January 1st to put down the cigarettes forever, saving themselves from a higher risk of lung cancer and a host of other respiratory ailments. They are rewarded with better health and a sense of accomplishment if they are successful in kicking the habit, but it’s not easy.

Cigarettes are so addictive, and the statistics say that %99 of people who try to quit will fail the first time. However, don’t give up if you have tried to quit and failed. Get your friends to help you commit to kicking the habit, and promise yourself a reward every time you get through another week smoke free.

Get Out of Debt                               

Many Americans have a nasty debt hanging over their heads, whether it is a credit card, student loan, car loan, or something else. One of the most popular resolutions for the year for many people will be to eliminate that debt and get finances their back in the black again.

If you want to be successful in eliminating your debts, make a budget and a financial plan where you reduce your expenses and put a chunk of money every month towards paying off your loans. Stick to the plan and you will be debt free by the end of the year!

These are a few of the most common New Year’s resolutions in North America. What is your resolution for the year ahead?

Celebrating New Years Eve with Your Kids

If you have young kids and you cannot get a babysitter on New Year’s Eve, you will likely not be hitting the nightclubs and dancing until the kids new years partybreak of dawn.

If you are planning a quiet evening in with your little ones, you can put together a great New Year’s Eve party that the whole family will enjoy! Here are some tips for celebrating New Year’s Eve with your kids:

Decorate the House Together

You and the kids can have a great time in the afternoon decorating your house for New Year’s Eve. String up lights around and set up candles to create a party atmosphere. You can staple together colorful strips of construction paper to make homemade garlands. Get some balloons from the dollar store and some little noise makers that the kids can play when the clock strikes midnight.

Prepare for Staying up Late

If your children are quite small, it might be difficult for them to last until midnight without falling asleep. To help them have enough energy to ring in the New Year when the clock strikes 12, put them down for a nap in the evening or the late afternoon.

Invite Other Kids

If your friends or relatives are going out for the night and you are planning on staying at home with the kids, why not offer to babysit their children as well. The party at your house will be more fun when your kids have a few friends to play with!

Try to keep in small so that it is still easy to manage. Make sure that you have lots of fun games and activities planned! Why not go in the backyard with flashlights to play games or watch the stars, or have a dance party?

New Year’s Goodie Bags

A fun idea to make your New Year’s Eve party memorable is to put together special treat bags for your kids that can only be opened on the stroke of midnight. They can have small toys, books, calendars, and other little gifts for the New Year in them.

If you are celebrating New Year’s with the kids, it doesn’t mean that you are missing out on the fun! On the contrary, you can create a very special New Year’s Eve that you and your kids will remember forever.

What Color Are Your Underwear? Strange New Years Eve Traditions from Around the World

Your family might have an unusual or funny tradition that you enjoy every New Year’s Eve, such as cooking a certain dish or watching a particular movie, or perhaps you like to go to a party with your friends and tie one on until the sun comes up.New Years Party noisemakers

However, how do your local festivities compare to these strange New Year’s traditions from around the world?

Dangerous Danish Customs

In Denmark, the thing to do on the stroke of midnight is to climb up on the nearest chair and leap off into the air. It is believed that this will banish bad spirits who are trying to follow you into the year ahead.

Just make sure that you are careful where you land or you could kick off the New Year with a broken bone.

Another destructive thing to do in Denmark on New Year’s Eve is to throw plates, glasses and other crockery at the front door of your best friend. This brings good luck, and the family who has the most broken dinnerware in front of their house is considered very lucky because they have the most loyal friends.

The Dead are the Life of the Party

Even if you are dead, you can still join in on the New Year’s Festivities in Chile. The people of Talca, Chile are known for celebrating the New Year in the cemetery with their deceased relatives.

They set up the graveyard with decorations and candles, and everyone socializes amidst the tombstones.

Love under the Mistletoe

In Ireland, unmarried women place the leaves of the mistletoe plant under their pillows because it helps them to attract the love of their life. They also believe that it will bring them good luck in the New Year.

Let Your Underwear Do the Talking

If you are celebrating the New Year in Brazil, Mexico, or Bolivia, you will want to put some thought into the color of your underpants. People here wear undergarments of particular colors on the last night of the year to signify what they wish for in the New Year.

For example, wearing unmentionables of red will bring an exciting love life, and yellow underpants grant the wearer economic prosperity.

These are just a few of the fun and unusual New Year’s Eve traditions that are celebrated around the world!

Tips for Hosting a Fantastic New Years Party on a Budget

New Year’s Eve is a time to party and celebrate with friends, and you want to plan your own evening get-together so that you can count down to midnight in style. However, after the expenses of the holiday season you don’t have much left over to spend on throwing a big bash!

Don’t worry; you can still ring in the New Year with a great party on a low budget. New Years Party

Here are some tips for cutting down the costs of your celebration:

Plan Ahead

Many people make their plans for New Years at least a month in advance and sometimes more, so if you are planning on hosting a soiree this year make sure that you get your invites out as soon as possible.

Also, planning your party in advance will give you lots of time to comparison shop for the things that you need and wait for party supplies to go on sale which will save you money.

Keep it Simple

You don’t need to cook up a three course meal to impress your New Year’s Party guests. Instead, start your party later in the evening so that guests will have eaten dinner before they arrive, and provide a few finger foods and snacks instead.

Buy the budget versions of pretzels, potato chips, and dips and then place them in your nicest bowls so that they look fancy.

Also, your friends won’t mind if you ask them to bring a few snacks or drinks to contribute.

Buy Cheap Liquor

If you are making mixed drinks at your party, you don’t need to buy the most expensive top shelf liquor. You will not be able to taste the difference in quality when you add all of the other fruity ingredients.

You also don’t need to buy name brand sodas such as Coca Cola or Pepsi when the cheaper versions taste pretty much the same when mixed with alcohol.

You could also consider making up a batch of Sangria, which can be made with very cheap wine and still tastes delicious.

Make Your Own Decorations

You can create a fantastic look to your party with a little bit of creativity, and save money on expensive party decorations.

Try stringing up your Christmas lights around the room to provide interesting lighting, and use lots of candles for a fun atmosphere.

Ask your friends to email you their favorite photos of the last year, and print them out. Display them on the walls to show off the best moments of the last 12 months.

You could even tape a large piece of paper to the walls and provide colorful markers so that guests can write their hopes, dreams and resolutions for the New Year.

Creating a Holiday Savings Fund

Do you find that every January, you stare at your credit card bill and your bank balance in horror, shocked at how much money you spent in credit card billsDecember on presents, holiday treats, decorations, special outings and more?

The holidays can be a very expensive time of year, and many people tend to get carried away and sentence themselves to a January of barely scraping by.

However, if you plan ahead for next Christmas, you will be able to buy all of the presents you need without even batting an eye or seeing your bank balance dip even once.

How can you do this?

Create a Holiday Savings Fund

It’s quite simple. All you need to do is to open a new bank account the week after Christmas and set up an automatic transfer to pay a small amount from your paycheck into the account every week. The amount can be as small as $10 per week.

Now, $10 per week will seem like nothing to you and you won’t even miss it. After all, it’s less than $1.50 per day. It’s the equivalent of two cups of coffee and a muffin at Starbucks every week.

If you can buy things on sale when you go grocery shopping, you can easily shave $10 per week off your shopping budget without even noticing the difference. You will get so used to having $10 less to spend each week that you will forget it was even there in the first place.

It All Adds Up

However, if you stick to the plan and save $10 per week by next December you will have a fantastic surprise. You will look into your bank account and find $520 that you have saved up effortlessly over the last 52 weeks.

$520 is a big chunk of cash, and it will probably be enough to cover all of the Christmas presents for your family! The best thing is that you can splurge on your holiday treats without having to go into debt.

A Holiday Savings Fund is an easy strategy to save up for the holidays, and you will always have enough to make the season special!