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Welcome to the New World Office Blog

This is where I will be posting anything from tips on office procedures, email, file, or time management, email etiquette, and even things I may learn about various software.  Read on and join in!

As Featured On EzineArticles
Thursday
Jan162014

Working From Home

Most people who work from home (including myself) face the same challenges.  You think you'll have all kinds of uninterrupted time to do your work, but in reality you have lots of distractions, just different from what you had at the office.  Even things like household chores (vacuuming, dishes, etc) can tend to pull you away from your work.  How can you focus?

First, a great way to work through your day is to allocate time slots to do specific things.   When allocating time to doing an activity, you want to be realistic about how long you think it's going to take.  If you find you are always spending more time than you thought, then allocate more time next time, then if you have extra time left over because you got it done early, bonus!

Next, when you allocate time to do something, there's the old Nike saying "Just Do It".  You may be thinking about all the other things that need to get done, but if you set time aside to do something, there was a reason.  It must be pretty important.  And that comes from looking at your list of activites and prioritizing them. 

Example - one of my clients works from home but she works for a large company.  She has drop dead deadlines for her work to be turned in.  But, when she's sitting in her dining room, she sees the dishes need to get done, the carpet needs to be vacuumed and oh, what's that, the kitty litter needs to be cleaned out.  But really, right now?  Right when she decides to sit down and do some work?  Really?  It's just the procrastinating brain trying to pull her away from something she really doesn't want to do. And what's her motivation for doing it?  Well, she has a good reputation to uphold with her manager and team.  So, when she writes these tasks down and prioritizes them, she sees she's gotta do the work.  Now.  End of story.

Another client of mine has his own business and works from home.  Same deal.  However, HIS motivation is quite different.  If he doesn't work on this proposal he hates doing, he's not going to get a chance to get the job to pay the bills.  So he needs to prioritize just as well.

If that doesn't work, you can also use those other tasks as "rewards".  You've got to work on the Smith project, but those dishes…ok, work on the Smith project for an hour, then do the dishes.  Or if an hour is too much, even a half hour, then dishes, then Smith project.

Assigning times to tasks can also take away the overwhelming feeling we sometimes get when all of the tasks are floating around in your brain and shows us that really, it's not going to take as long as we think.

Example:

Dishes - 15 min

Vacuum - 30 min

Groceries - 1hr

Smith Project - break this into tasks - spreadsheet - 1 hr, proposal - 30 min, etc

Suddenly, the day doesn't look so bad!

And when worse comes to worse, if you find that you absolutely cannot focus at home, leave.  See about going to a coffee shop, or joining a co-working space.

Monday
Dec232013

10 Quick Tips to reduce your STRESS LEVEL

1. Delegate – evaluate your to-do list and consider what you can pass on to others
2. Get plenty of sleep - sounds simple but sleep is essential to productivity
3. Make a plan for each day
4. Take regular breaks throughout the day
5. Exercise regularly
6. Prioritize your tasks
7. Limit your distractions
8. Learn to say no - Schedule time for important tasks and say no to those that are not necessary
9. Break down big projects into smaller manageable tasks
10. Eat a healthy diet

Saturday
Jun292013

Beep. Beep. Beep. Backing up!

No, no, no, NO!

My heart skipped a beat, then began beating faster than normal.  My hands began to shake and I felt a queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach.  I was staring at my computer screen that was doing nothing.  It should be doing something.  It should be booting up, but it’s not.  The first window that comes up with a status bar is still there, with the status bar stuck ¾ of the way.  It has been like that for an hour.  Crap.

Last night I noticed that my computer had re-booted itself and was sticking at the status bar.  No problem, I thought, it’s probably just really hot and I don’t have the air conditioner on.  So I shut it down thinking it will be fine tomorrow morning.

But tomorrow morning is here and nothing has changed.   In a previous life I used to work in technical support.  Yeah, it was a long time ago, but I still have a little technical know-how in fixing computers.  I reached into the far recesses of my brain, took a deep breath, and started banging my laptop on the desk.   Surprisingly nothing changed.  I went through a few other rudimentary steps, but I always got the same result.  Nothing.

Now my husband jumps into the fray because he is a techno-geek and wants to give it a shot.  I let him have at it so as not to offend his geeky manhood, but I’m already searching my phone for a local tech support person who can fix this FAST.  I run a business that is based around increasing productivity, so I have no time to waste.  Once my husband admits defeat, I bring my laptop to the tech for a new hard drive.  I have all day to work on other things that don’t require my computer, and the laptop is ready for me to pick up that evening.

The one thing in all of this that allowed me to keep (somewhat) calm was that I was backing my files up on a regular basis through an online system.  While my laptop was in the shop, I did a sanity check by using another computer to see if I could see all my data online.   There it is.  HUGE sigh of relief.

Frankly, I don’t care which online backup system you use, but you definitely need to use something! 

Lessons I learned from this event:

  • It could have been disastrous – years of files, photos, letters from friends and family, and work files could have disappeared.  How would you recover from something like that?  Especially my business stuff?  The money I paid for my online backup system was well worth it!
  • It could have been worse – I used to manually back up my files to a thumb drive, but it was so sporadic that I would sometimes go a few months without doing it.  I just got lax about it.  If I had continued with that system,  I would have most of my files to recover, but anything recent would have been lost.  This would have taken a lot of time to fix.
  • It could have been better – I had focused on backing up my data files.  Don’t get me wrong.  They are incredibly important.  But I could have installed mirror image software that would have allowed me to get going again a lot faster by exactly duplicating (with all my old settings) my computer.  Instead, I’ve had to spend a lot of time re-installing software and re-setting up my settings to my particular liking.
  • It could have been less expensive – even without installing the mirror image capability, I should have at least backed up all my software executable files and those registration numbers that I had downloaded off the internet.  Instead, I had to RE-PURCHASE all that software.

Now I’m going to change my backup from being scheduled once a night to real-time backup so that even if my hard drive crashes right now, I’ll be able to recover this article I’m writing right now.  I tried searching statistics to see how many people actually do lose everything each year because they didn’t back up, but in a cursory search didn’t find anything.  Doesn’t matter really, because even if it was one person, would you want to be that one person?