5 Tips for Working Without a Dedicated Office

What do the following three people have in common?

* A parent who wants to add to the family income

* A telecommuting cube warrior

* A successful retiree who’s starting a second career

They each need a home office, or at least some space that can be set aside for it. Ideally, there’s an extra room somewhere in the home that can be converted to a work-at-home environment, but it’s not always the case. Many who work from home have to squeeze office furniture into rooms that are already being used for other activities, yet they’re successful at it. Here are 5 things they know that you may not:

Source: Fabio Bruna

1. Use Physical Barriers to Set Aside the New Office Space

If you’ve chosen a spot in the family room, rearrange the furniture to set your new work space apart from the rest of the room. Use a portable screen or even a curtain hung from a rod to create the illusion of privacy. You might even put a piece of masking tape on the floor where the “office door” should be and ask roommates or family members to pause there and knock politely before entering.

It’s sometimes easier if space in the laundry room or a walk-in closet can be converted, but the idea remains the same. Mark the space as clearly as you can so everyone knows it’s now your office.

2. Treat It Like an Office

This is sometimes harder than it seems, especially if the space is in a room with lots of other traffic. It’s up to you and those who live with you to respect the new space as work space. The children shouldn’t leave toys in there, and laundry shouldn’t pile up on your printer stand. You go to your new office space because it’s time to go to work, not play computer games or chat with friends online. It’s a mind set that can help you make the transition into a work-at-home career more effectively.

3. Make It as Comfortable as You Can

If you can afford to get ergonomic office equipment, do it. A comfortable chair, a keyboard and mouse that are easy on the wrists, and effectively placed lighting are just as important at home as they are in a corporate office.

4. Declutter and Stay Organized

This is especially important for small spaces. Invest in some shelves, filing cabinets, plastic organizers, anything that will fit comfortably in your new office space and provide containers for “stuff.” Once you get it all put away, train yourself to put things back when you’re finished with them. Do all your filing every day so it doesn’t stack up around you. Good organizational habits can make a huge difference in productivity at home.

5. Eliminate Distractions

Ringing telephones, chattering roommates, blaring television, barking dogs, nosy neighbors or spouses – these elements of everyday life can be “death by a thousand cuts” for productivity. If you’re in a room with a TV, you might ask that it not be on during your working hours, or choose to wear a good set of headphones that can block out noise. Turn off the ringers on the house telephones, or set up a caller ID system that will allow you to see. What do a parent looking to add to the family income, a telecommuting cube warrior, and a successful retiree now starting a second career all have in common? The need for a home office, or at least some space that can be set aside for it. Ideally, there’s an extra room somewhere in the home that can be converted to a work-at-home environment, but it’s not always the case. Many who work from home have to squeeze office furniture into rooms that are already being used for other activities, yet they’re making it work.

The challenges that come with the choice to work from home differ from those of working away from home, but they can be met with some of the same strategies. The most important trait you can bring to it is the determination to take your new work seriously and to succeed at it.

6 years ago

Why Teens should attend Seminars and Events

I jus found MeetUp, and I think its great to find some kind of event to attend!

As a teenager, you’d probably be thinking to yourself, why should I attend X, as a teen? Well, if you are somebody with a passion/interest/business in that field then maybe you should.

There are events for any and everything you have interests for. In order to network yourself successfully, you should try to attend some type of profesional event that deals with something you can relate to.

For instance, I am going to be attending WordCamp Miami 2010 in a few weeks. Why you ask? I really have a passion for web design and development; and this will be something I am going to peruse in the future. At an event like this, I can network myself and show older designers and developers what a teen can really do. (Not to mention that an event dedicated to WordPress is something I would attend for fun as well) I have never properly networked myself. But an opportunity like this is amazing to meet new people.

Why Would you Want to Network?

Meeting people can do so much for your online [and offline] presence; for example, lets say you had a small craft business, and you attend (or even had set up a booth to ell) a local crafting event. Fellow (befriended) crafters would mention you in their websites/tweets, or you could even meet a store owner willing to display and sell your products. Even one mention in a large blog could boost web traffic and/or sales tremendously.

Wherever you go, Think Big

Attending local events like these can be fun, but dont forget to take advantage of the situation. Design some business cards, and hand them out as you meet potential friends, clients, or employers.

What Kind of Events Should I Attend?

A lot of local events aren’t expensive to go to; for example the WordCamp Miami I mentioned earlier was only $30 per ticket. That may sound like a lot, but when broken down, it’s really not.

  • Free Lunch
  • Free Tee
  • Swag Bag
  • Hours of soaking up advice from spakers
  • Networking Opportunities
  • FUN! ūüėÄ

Do some research in your area, and see if there are any events you could go to!

Last minute advice; attend an event that pertains to something you love. For example, if you like Photography, but really have a passion for painting, don’t attend something related to Photography, spend the effort into going to an art exhibit or event. You’ll meet people that can relate to you, and be further inspired to pursue your goals and dreams.

PLEASE NOTE: Don’t go to an event or meet up by yourself. Make sure you go with a buddy, or PARENT, as it isn’t safe to be vulnerable and alone at an event or meetup.

6 years ago

8 Tips for Creating an Office at Home

office
Source: smemon87

Whether you are running a business out of the guest room, working from home in the den, or paying your bills in a corner of the family room, constructing a comfortable, professional space is critical. Use these eight tips for creating an office at home.

 

1. Design an office that meets your needs

The first step in crafting the perfect home office is to settle on its purpose.

  • Will you have sole access, or will it be shared with family members?
  • Will you always work alone, or will you need seating for vendors and clients?
  • What shelves, baskets, filing cabinets, and desk space will you need for storage and organisation?
  • If you will claim your home office as a tax deduction, make sure you meet the Internal Revenue Service guidelines.

 

2. Create a floor plan before making purchases

Before you bring new furniture into the space, you must confirm that it will fit. The same principle applies to wall accessories like bulletin boards and dry erase boards.

The simplest method for fashioning a floor plan is to draw your room measurements on a piece of graph paper, cut out coloured paper to match the scaled size of the items you want, and then try different configurations to until you find the best combination. If you prefer a high-tech approach, you can built your floor plan with a spreadsheet, CAD software, or an interior decorating application.

When you are developing your plan, remember to about one foot of extra depth for open file cabinets and desk drawers. More importantly, make sure you have enough electrical outlets and amperage to accommodate all of your equipment. You do not want extension cords wrapping around the room, and you do not want to trip a circuit breaker every time you switch on your desk lamp.

 

3. Define the space

Separating your office into a professional space will help you stay in a work mindset and remain productive. If you will be using only part of a room, consider designating your space with some type of barrier. Some inexpensive options include a Japanese Shoji screen, painted bookcases, adjustable curtains or fabric panels, or even a row of potted plants or trees.

 

4. Pay attention to the furniture

You will get little work done sitting in an uncomfortable chair for hours. You also risk aggravating back problems. Choose a chair and desk that will maintain your good posture. According to Cleveland Clinic, having a proper sitting position means the following:

  • back straight and shoulders back
  • knees at a right angle, even or slightly higher than your hips, with feet flat on the floor and legs uncrossed
  • elbows and arms resting on your chair or desk with your shoulders relaxed
  • shifting to a different position at least once every half hour.

 

5. Avoid bad lighting

Poor lighting can cause eye fatigue and headaches. Move your monitor to a position that will prevent glare. Take advantage of natural lighting whenever possible, and use soft, ambient light bulbs to complement the space. Keep in mind the placement of task lighting for reading and manual work and the general level of room light for other activities.

 

6. Keep the office fun and inspirational

Surround yourself with pleasant colours, motivating artwork, creative toys, and gallery-like accessories. The items in your office should be calming or thought-provoking but never distracting. Live plants, soft tunes, and aromatherapy products can help form a relaxing environment.

 

7. Keep the office clean and tidy

Do not be tempted to pack items into every nook of your office. Leave some open space, remove unnecessary trinkets and piles, and use creative storage units to keep unattractive cords and clutter out of sight.

 

8. Reduce the noise

Locate office noises and take steps to quiet them. Add a door to the furnace, install carpet or wall hangings to absorb echoes, seal door frames, close windows during peak traffic periods, and let your family know your office schedule so they will control interruptions.

 

With a little planning, you can create a perfect environment for your business activities. As you are pulling together your ideal furniture, equipment, and accessories, keep in mind these eight tips for creating an office at home.

6 years ago

30 Cool Screensavers for Your Hacked Kindle

In my last post, I discussed my brand new kindle! After doing some research, I discovered that you can hack it (kind of like jailbreaking an iPod) to add your own custom screensavers. Lets face it, Emily Dickinson isn’t going to cut it for me. If you follow this tutorial, you can hack your own kindle! The process is¬†relatively¬†easy, just make sure you are comfortable around computers. In this post, I will show you 30 Awesome Kindle Wallapapers!

Is jailbreaking the Kindle safe?

Yes! Amazon even said so. This hack will not void your warranty. Source.

Amazon.com Customer Service does not support or provide instructions for adding custom images to your Kindle to be used as screen savers. However, should you choose to do this on your own it will not void your warranty.

My Kindle Wallpapers
I made two kindle wallpapers today! Use them as you wish; feel free to distribute and enjoy!

 

Click on the images to open them in full size.

Other than the two that I made, the rest of these wallpapers were created by other people. So, here I am giving credit where credit is due! The order these credits are listed is in the order of the screensavers in this post.

Kindle 2 Screen Saver Images (2)  |  Kindleunit Screensaver Content (4)  |  Smile Back (6) |  Disney Illustrations (6) | RobertSKMiles (2) | Kindle Fabric (3) | Kindle Patterns (5)

6 years ago

A No-Nonsense Review of the 3G Amazon Kindle

This review is NOT sponsored, although there are affiliate links.

I have been researching eReaders this past week and finally settled on the¬†Amazon Kindle, Free 3G + Wi-Fi. Weighing the pro’s and con’s between the Nook and the Kindle, I caved for the Kindle :3 I was going to order this online directly from Amazon, but I realized that you could buy them at Target, so I went earlier today and got mine! Because I chose the Wifi + 3G it came out to $200 and change. The list price is $189, but the tax was $11.

It was ready to use out of the box, which was really nice. I went from Target to the mall, and was able to set it up and download books before we reached the mall! In good light, the e-Ink contrast is amazing, but in low light – not so much. I like that there is no glare, but trying to read at night gives me a headache. I’ll need to buy a case with a light!

I am transferring over some eBooks from my computer now, but it’s kind of annoying to convert files and such. I would imagine that an iPad/iPod would be better suited to read regular .pdfs, but I can’t complain about the well formatted plain text books on here.

Ahh, 3G Internet! This was a huge factor for me. If the Nook Color offered this, I would be all over it, but sadly it did not. Regardless, I still think I like my Kindle better. (:D) Now, the browser on the Kindle is experimental, so it may not be ideal at times. Try using a service like Kinstant when browsing the web. Mobile sites run a heck of a lot better than full ones, so it’s best to keep that in mind.

Here is my Pro’s and Con’s list!

Pro’s

Great contrast in bright light.
Access to free ebooks from the Amazon store
3G Internet!
Easy to format text (bigger/smaller etc)

Ready to use and easy to set up

Sync RSS/Web articles to Kindle
e-Ink technology makes it like a real book!
Long battery life.
Built in dictionary

No PC required
No burn on screen

Con’s

Kind of laggy (e-Ink)
Not the best browser, but functional
No backlight
Doesn’t come with a case.
Having to email files/convert
Difficult to gauge where you are in a book or chapter. (or how long it is)
Got headaches.

That’s pretty much it! I really love this thing, and now the only thing left to do is buy a case!

6 years ago

10 Great Yearbook Module Ideas

A module is a small space on a page dedicated to a specific subject. It is often related to he page it is on, but has its own characteristics — kind of like a sidebar. Are you and your yearbook staff out of ideas? At times it can be difficult to come up with fresh new ideas, and I understand. It’s hard for me too! Try some of the modules on this list for your book!

1: Poll on Sidebar

For a Student Life page, take a poll of a good amount of students on a topic related to the page. If your spread is on Technology, try taking a poll asking students which iPod they prefer – Nano, Shuffle, iTouch, etc. See if you can get 20-30 students. Or to make it easier to calculate, get 25 responses and multiply each number of votes time four to get the percentage. Otherwise you could just show a bar graph.

2: People Matching

Take awkward pictures of random people and make a ‘matching’ game out of it. For example, align and crop the pictures to the same size and number each picture. Below the row of pictures, have the names of the people with a letter next to it. so your pictures would be ‘1, 2, 3, 4’ and corresponding names would be ‘A, B, C, D’. On the bottom of the page, upside-down write the answers!

3: Student Profile

Are there any successful and talented students in your school? Showcase them! Dedicate a small area to 2-3 sentences of copy and a small photo. You can repeat this module about 10 times in your book!

4: ‘Anatomy of A’…

This module would work really well on sports pages. Take an action shot of a player. Try to get the whole body of the person because you will be cutting them out. (In Photoshop, removing the entire background and keeping the person) Place the cutout on the page and give it a¬†cutesy¬†title. For example, lets say that you have a football player. Try naming your module, ‘Anatomy of a Football Star’. Then, add lines pointing to parts of their body. Interview them and ask them questions like, ‘Do you wear special shoes? Give us some thoughts about your¬†helmet‘ and use those for your lines!

5: Graph / Chart

Yearbooks can bring instant reader interaction with a chart or graph! I covered a poll in #1, but this is different. Collect statistics as you gather information for your pages. Are you interviewing a coach? Don’t forget to ask him for wins and loses for the season. You can then turn that into a really cute chart! This works for more than just sports. Try test scores, averages, polls, and different kinds of graphs.

6: Fun facts

In addition to graphs and charts, try adding fun facts! These can be just a box with a sentence in it. I created a quick example, which can be seen to the right. It probably took me a good 10 minutes to create, and you would be able to do so just as easily. My suggestion would be to create the background (the green part) and just add text on top (in InDesign, or whatever program your school uses).

7: Collage

Make a mini collage from some filler photos. You could make them look like Polaroids, or just place them directly next to each other. These could be members of a team or club. This way you can get many more people on a page without wasting so much space!

8: Teacher Spotlight

Shine a light on an inspiring teacher. This could even be your teacher of the year, but it could be anyone! There are usually a handful of teachers that really stand out, so try recognizing them in your yearbook.

9: Funny Photos

If you have been on a yearbook staff for some time, then you have probably seen the mirage of funny photos kids (and teachers!) take. Most of the time we see them in picture day photos of seniors, because they only get their senior photos in the book. You can use some of these funny photos in a small module here and there!

10: Spotlight Quote

Use an inspiring quote from your teacher, principal or fellow student and feature it! I’m thinking something similar to the fun fact box above. A small, unobtrusive module! It could even go next to their photo or on a relevant page.

That’s all folks! I hope you and your staff were able to learn something from this. Did you use any of these tips? Comment below and let us know how!

6 years ago

Understanding Web Hosts: Free Vs. Paid

Hello all! Here is the first post in a new series called ‘Understanding Web Hosts’. In this handy guide, I will be showing you what to expect when purchasing hosting and what to look for when doing so, as well as other aspects in web hosting. In helping you understand the logistics of all of this, I won’t go into lots of technical details. This helps you grasp the concepts and it makes it easier for me to explain! To start off, I’m going to explain the difference between Free Vs. Paid Web Hosts.

Free Hosts

Free hosts generally have a lot of limitations. They aren’t in it to help you, they are in it to make money. (I do realize that there are good people out there who do like to help others and offer free hosting, sometimes they are few and far between.) The people I am talking about are the larger, impersonal ones. Like 000webhost. Features are very limited. No free host can really offer you the support and services that a real paid host can offer. At the end of the day, your site is in their hands. All that hard work can be gone in an instant.¬†Why free hosting is a bad idea:

Not professional

Very limited features

No domain

Bad support

Would you like me to think of more?

Paid Hosts

There are many great and affordable web hosts out there, that can take your site to the next level without hurting your budget. Paid hosts really can make a huge difference in a hosting experience. If you have never had an experience with a paid web host, you really should try.  Now, there are many different features that may confuse you when purchase hosting, but I will cover that in the next post.  Features of most paid hosts:

Good Uptime

Freedom with your site

Installers (Fantisico!)

Other cPanel Resources (Stats, Email)

Add-on Domains

Option to Upgrade

Friendly and prompt service

Payment discounts

Money back guarantee (sometimes)

Alas, hosting can be expensive, but it doesn’t¬†necessarily¬†have to be. In my experience, I have been hosted by these two companies; A Small Orange and Jolly Works Hosting. JollyWorks has a hosting plan for only $1 a month. I actually used to be hosted on this plan, and I have no real complaints. Good customer service, good prices, good uptime. I don’t remember why I switched, but I did. And that was to A Small Orange (Coupon Codes). In the time I have been with them, I have had¬†relatively¬†no downtime and excellent customer service. I pay $5 a month for about 6 or 7 websites. (Add-on domains) To me, you really can’t go wrong here! If you are considering buying web hosting for the first time, go with one of these two companies!

Now, not every paid host out there is as¬†glamorous¬†as I have told you above. The ones I have mentioned here really are great. Before you purchase ANY kind of web hosting,¬†research! Look at reviews! Don’t invest until you know everything. Ask someone who is hosted by a certain company what they think of it. Just promise to do your research!

6 years ago

5 Steps to Better Blog Posts

Nowadays, everyone can be a blogger. There are many types of blogs and bloggers out there though. For instance, this blog is for resources, articles and tutorials, not for personal posts. Therefore, posts like these usually follow ‘unspoken rules’. Below, I will show you some! Most, if not all, popular posts on popular blogs do these things. So, if you have a resource-like blog, listen up! Even though I might be the one showing you this, I still have a lot to learn and need to follow some of these rules myself.

 

Descriptive and Formatted Post Titles

Post Titles are the most important thing in a blog post. It’s the very first thing that a reader sees and with your title, you need to draw in your readers to make them want to stay and read your post. You need to make that person click on your title! If not, then no one will ever get to your blog. For example, which headline wold you be more atttacted to? This, ‘how to get readers‘ or ‘15 Sure-Fire Ways to Attract Readers‘? Check out these articles on writing better headlines:

9 Proven Headline Formulas That Sell Like Crazy

65 Exciting Words to Spice up Your Blog Headlines

Why Some People Almost Always Write Great Post Titles

 

Images and Post Formatting

When reading an article, the impending doom starts to set in once I see long paragraph after long paragraph without breaks. The text may be interesting and informative, but there are¬†definitely¬†‘sighs’ along the way. Some people don’t even take another glance if they see lots of text. Try breaking it up with images here and there. Other than images, frequent like breaks and formatting really do help. I’m talking about headings, bolded words, italics, that sort of thing.

 

Use Your Voice

When you write, make sure to keep a piece of you in your writing. Blogging is not like essay writing in the least. As a freedom from such tedious tasks, blogging helps you release your voice. Write as if you were speaking. That¬†doesn’t¬†mean use slang and obnoxious things, but things should be kept casual. Here, no one is checking for big words and transition words or¬†theses.

5 ways to set your unique blogging voice apart
5 Ways to Build Your Blog’s Voice

 

Keep Your Readers In Mind

When writing, keep your reader in mind. Who are you writing to? Kids? Teens? Adults? Your writing should be appropriate. When writing with adults in mind for instance, don’t use simple talk. Or, think about what they would like to see. Who is your audience? You need to revolve your blog design and posts around them.¬†After all, its your readers that can make or break your blog. You need to keep them¬†coming¬†back, keep them¬†interested. Give them a reason to stay.

The Art of Writing Damn Good Blogs

 

Grammar and Spelling

Although the blogosphere is your oyster, its bad practice to publish a post with grammar and spelling errors. Yes, I have done it before too, but I have learned that it’s best to get posts proofread. That way, someone else can catch errors that I have overlooked. Most browsers and blog platforms have spell check, use it! If you have mistakes in your writing, people can see you as inexperienced and unprofessional. Now, I know that some bloggers first language is not English, so people reading their writing would be able to nitpick at grammatical errors. In this case, its crucial to have someone else proofread your work. This is in the best interest of your readers. You want to make it as clear as possible. If they have a hard time reading, then they won’t want to come back, or may look at you harshly.

5 Tips for Blogging in English

 

That’s all for now! I hope that you were able to learn something, I know I did! Does anyone else want to add to this list? Are there any methods that you are using in your blog posts?

Photo Credit

6 years ago

22+ Ways to Make Your Christmas a DIY Christmas!

Christmas is fast approaching, and Do-it-Yourself and Frugality is IN this season. As a crafter myself, I like creating things – especially gifts! People love¬†knowing¬†that¬†I spent time on something rather than just purchasing it. I know that this title says ‘Christmas‘, but these crafts can easily do well if you celebrate other holidays! I ¬†just made a Christmas tree from an old magazine! It was fun, and I even made little ornaments! ūüėÄ I will be using many of these techniques when wrapping gifts and even making gifts. Happy Handmade Holidays!

 

Gift Packaging

  

  

  

1. How to make a paper gift box. 2. How to Make simple gift tags. 3. How To: Quick and Easy Hand-Printed Wrapping Paper 4. How To: Super Easy Mod, Hand Drawn Snowflake Gift Wrap 5. Paint-Swatch Gift Tags 6.How To: Make Typographic Gift Wrap

 

For the Home

  

  

1.¬†How to Make a 3D Paper Snowflake 2. How To: Make Modern Paper Holiday Garland (on the Cheap!) 3.¬†Lolly Chessie’s Famous CP Christmas Trees 4.¬†DIY Teeny Trees

 

Ornaments

  

  

1. DIY Striped Paper Ornament 2. How To: Make Modern Paper Ornaments 3. Make Wool Tree Ornaments from Felted Sweaters 4. pattern for a half eaten gingerbread man

 

The Gifts

  

  

1. DIY Holiday Gift Idea #2: Handmade Soaps, Eco & Easy 2. TOASTER PASTRY IPOD COZY 3. Handmade Paper Beads 4. DECORATED CHALKBOARD GIFT IDEA

 

Extras

1. Wintry Scene Cutout for Gift Wrap

2. Make a Folded Felt Gift Box

3. How To: Make Easy Literary Leaf Gift Tags (Free Template Included)

4. Typewritten Gift Tags

5.DIY Modern Paper Orament

6. Tutorial: How to Make a Felted Holiday Garland

7. That’s a Wrap (Wrapping Ideas)

8. Paper Flower Ornaments

9. Postage Stamp Gift Wrap

10. How to make 5 pointed paper snowflakes

6 years ago

Honeysuckle, the 2010 Color of the Year!

It’s bright. It’s intense. It’s the new ‘it’ color. Pantone just named Honeysuckle the 2010 Color of The Year, and it is beautiful. It was chosen to lift spirits and inspire others in this time of struggle throughout the world. Its refreshing and uplifting, while giving you just the right ‘feel’.

From the Official Post:

In times of stress, we need something to lift our spirits. Honeysuckle is a captivating, stimulating color that gets the adrenaline going ‚Äď perfect to ward off the blues,‚ÄĚ explains Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute¬ģ. ‚ÄúHoneysuckle derives its positive qualities from a powerful bond to its mother color red, the most physical, viscerally alive hue in the spectrum.

Check out Honeysuckle in the wild!

So, what are your thoughts on the color of the year? Love it? Hate it?

6 years ago