How to Survive Working from Home

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I started working from home at the beginning of January and quickly learned that there are a fair share of cons to go along with all of the pros.

Working from home has eliminated our issue with getting deliveries since someone (me) is always home to sign for them. It has also saved me a lot of money – £6 per day since I’m not commuting, and £7 more since I’m not going out for lunch! I also get to wear comfy clothes to work, which I really can’t complain about!

The two things I’ve struggled with most, though, are 1) productivity, and 2) not leaving the house. While I still get all of my work done, my desk is in my bedroom, and sometimes it’s far too hard to resist the temptation of my warm, comfy bed! I’ll admit that I once had to add two hours on to my work day because I fell asleep after climbing in! I’ve also been going a bit stir crazy, and my FitBit is probably crying inside on the days where my step count barely reaches 500. I feel like I’m moving around during the day, but I can only take so many steps in this one bedroom flat! Over the weekend, I realized that I actually hadn’t left my house the entire week and it made me want to cry.

I’m still getting into the groove of this and have a lot left to figure out, but here are some of my tips on how to stay productive (& sane!) while working from home:

Get dressed everyday 

You don’t have to put on a pencil skirt, but get out of your bathrobe! Following your routine to get ready in the morning, even though you aren’t going anywhere, will wake you up and kickstart your day. Hey, if you make your bed, you’ve already started your day with an accomplishment!

Keep yourself busy

Like with every job, you will sometimes run out of things to do. When you’re at home and that moment strikes, it’s very easy to throw on some Netflix and completely forget about the work day. Try to keep a running list of low priority items – these could be updating the text on the website, researching some new job posting websites, or completing additional testing on an upcoming feature. When you’ve finished all of the work you are meant to do, start working on those smaller tasks. At least you are still doing something to benefit the company, and it will keep you busy until you can link up with someone else.

Set small goals daily

I find this to be one of the most important items. When you don’t have human interaction with your colleagues on a daily basis, it is easy to get discouraged and feel disconnected. If you set small personal goals, at least you can still feel like you are accomplishing something – a major confidence booster! These goals can vary from completing a task you have been working on for awhile to reaching out to touch base with a chunk of your customers to getting through all of the emails that come through to you on that day. When you achieve your goal, it will give you a productivity boost to keep pushing through the rest of the day!

Work away from home at least a few hours per week

Do you have a local cafe that you absolutely love, or a library where you know you can get some peace and quiet? Leave the house for even just a few hours a week and try working in a different environment. This could mean sitting outside your house for a few hours when it is warm out or commuting across the city to a public workspace. Mixing up your environment will keep you feeling fresh, and a break from the everyday distractions such as your growing pile of laundry and half-assembled bookshelf will keep you focused on your work.

Take every opportunity to leave the house

This could be anything from volunteering to go to a conference to meeting with a client based within commutable distance in person instead of over the phone. Research networking events in your area, make yourself known to your clients in the area, and ensure all of your coworkers know where you are based. Make your case for attending a relevant event and it is likely your company will support you. A quick lunch meeting could be much more productive than a three hour phone meeting – and it will get you out of the house!

I’m sure this list will grow as I get more comfortable working from home, but it’s a great start for anybody just starting out. If you give these tips a go from the beginning, you’ll feel more productive and focus more on the positives of working from home, as opposed to driving yourself crazy with the negatives!

5 Tips for Interviewing for a Position in a Start-up

I never thought I would have a career in Human Resources – in fact, I specifically did not want one. However, I ended up in an HR role during a placement and it changed my outlook entirely. Not only do you get to spend the majority of your time with people, but you make the decisions that determine what direction the business is going to go it. Human Capital is the single most important aspect of a business (at least in my eyes!) and to be the one to determine who the company invests in is incredibly rewarding.

I have only been deeply involved with the hiring process at one startup, but I have sat through so many interviews in this time – both for internships and full time positions – that I have come to develop a short list of things I look for in each candidate that comes through. These are five broad areas that, if a candidate can tick off all, make someone stand out in my eyes. I recommend having a look and trying your best to follow the below model in your next interview (especially if it is a start up).

Passion/enthusiasm about the concept

Startups need fresh minds to bring in cutting edge ideas. They also need their employees to believe in the business. When a company is just starting, the founders and employees are the best salespeople because a) they’re the first to know about it and b) they are the best, if not only, salespeople. Be familiar with the product/service, be prepared to engage in a conversation about it (do not be afraid to ask questions if you are confused about an aspect or genuinely want to know more!), and if it something you are really interested in, be sure to show that. If your interest is genuine, don’t hold back in fear of sounding too eager.

Be yourself

Most small companies are all about the people – the team culture makes all of the difference. If you are 100% your genuine self in an interview, it will help you no matter what. Either a) the company feels that you would be a great fit which could put you at an advantage over other candidates; or b) the company (or you) do not see it as a match made in heaven which will be beneficial to your long term happiness. It may be upsetting to “not fit in” but you also do not want to spend 80% of your time with people you do not feel comfortable with.

Demonstrate your flexibility

Like in any company, change can come at any time. With small companies in particular, it could be hard to find someone to step up implement that change. If you demonstrate your flexibility from day one, be it regarding which department you work in, what tasks you do, or even your availability outside of your scheduled work hours, your interviewer will see you as someone they can put on any task.

Be as open as possible about exactly what you want to do

Most start-up job descriptions are very inaccurate. Being a part of a growing, changing business means that things come up and everybody needs to be ready to adapt. If you are open about what you want to do, it could open up an opportunity for the company (maybe they’ve always outsourced their web design, but you are a practicing coder in your free time) but could also result in a position you are much happier and confident doing on a daily basis. After all, there is no rule saying all technical stuff had to happen in the IT department.

Say yes!

This ties into both enthusiasm and flexibility, but is probably the most important point in my eyes. If you see the opportunity to say “Yes!” in interview, it’s a good idea to do so – unless you feel uncomfortable or would be lying!

Tube Reads

Reading Kindle on a train

[I got this photo from the Guardian because I felt too creepy taking my own!]

One of the things I had to sacrifice while at university is reading time. I absolutely love to read (always have) but could never find the time between studying, having a job, and doing all those things that college students do.

Since moving to London, I’ve thankfully gained this time back in my morning commute. I think I’ve finished more book this year than I did throughout the entirety of my time at BU! I have 20-30 minutes in the morning and evening where I honestly have nothing better to do than read. And this has resulted in me reading more in my free time at home, as well. Now, I’m just powering through book after book.

So…..my favorite reads? Here we go:

Time Out

Oh how I look forward to Tuesdays. For someone like myself, who loves trying new restaurants and bars and knowing about all the random pop ups in London, Time Out is the place to go. Granted, it also compels me to spend more money going to more restaurants than I need to, but it’s still my favorite nonetheless. Not to mention – these people can read my mind. I swear, their feature is always exactly what is on my mind at the moment (boozy brunch and rooftops recently!). I always feel “in the know” after my Tuesday commutes…..and have a full calendar!

Stylist

Where Time Out can appeal to the masses, I find that Stylist appeals directly to me. From successful women to fashion events and general beauty tips, Stylist gives me the motivation to conquer the rest of the week. It’s issued on Wednesdays – the perfect Hump Day read! I also love how they stalk celebrities as much as I do – check out their Instagram roundup (it makes you feel like you’re friends with the celebs, doesn’t it?).

Chick Lit

I’m a huge advocate of reading novels which are 10 years below my reading level. That’s what makes reading fun! Chick li has always been my favorite and I love that new novels are popping up that are meant for adults but still have the funny, easy style associated with young adult chick lit. They leave me laughing out loud, tearing up, and often reluctant to get off the tube. My most recent read was The Royal We and I am looking forward to starting The Knockoff next (I am currently reading A Hundred Summers, but it does not quite fall into the YA chick lit category!).

News

I never have time to read the news, or at least that’s what I’ve convinced myself. My favorite morning read is The Skimm, but that comes around 11am UK time, so in the mornings I like to catch up on news by reading the Economist Espresso (short snippets covering the most important stuff…it also allows me to check exchange rates so I can determine whether to use my $ or £ accounts on a given day). If I really want to be informed, I refresh the NY Times before heading underground and that can occupy me for quite awhile.

Emails

Although I hate to admit it, there’s something about having no service to receive new emails that makes it so much easier to answer old emails. This is more of a plane thing than a tube thing but I love going through and catching up on emails and drafting responses when I am without cell service. It’s a distraction-free method that leads to much better responses on my part…and I can get through so many so quickly!

Nothing

Sometimes I’m just too tired. And sometimes it’s so nice to just say “forget it”, put the kindle away, and listen to my music with my eyes closed or just watch people. The only downside of this is when the train changes destination and I don’t hear the announcement…its always exciting for a morning commute to end up in the wrong place!

On My To-Do List: Make a To-Do List

I haven’t breathed since Monday. Yes, I know that would make me dead, but you understand the idea.

At work, people think I’m superwoman and can do absolutely everything. I’m spread across three departments, training people while still learning myself, and trying to get caught up on the work I fell behind on while working remotely. I love the challenge but the stress of wanting to crush it is exhausting. I’ve had so many tasks thrown at me that I didn’t even have time to write them down.
So I actually wrote down “make a to-do list” on my to-do list. It had to happen.

At home, I haven’t completely settled in so I never actually feel like I am resting. My towels still haven’t arrived. Two large suitcases remain unpacked, making my search for clothes in the morning a nightmare. Groceries here expire faster than any reasonable person can use them, so I find myself with less food options everyday.

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{My new home is almost home – that post will follow!}

Then, there’s this blog. I love writing, but it takes time. Time I don’t have. But I feel the pressure to keep it up because I never have in the past. So I’m trying to make time. But then – there’s my life.

Yes. There exists an area outside of work/learning to live on my own/other priorities. There’s this thing where I try to save some time for fun. To cuddle with my boyfriend who I haven’t spent time with in months. To explore new neighborhoods and try new restaurants. To bond with the girls I’m going to be living with for the next year. This is the area to always get sacrificed first, but I don’t want to do that. I’m all too quick to choose lonely nights in bed over a quick drink down the street, or watching TV over someone’s birthday dinner. It’s so easy to get caught up in exhaustion and stress and frustration, but it’s an endless cycle – sure, fun may make you more exhausted, but you’ll never get out of an exhaustion and stress funk without making time for fun.

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{Yes, I sometimes have time for friends….it’s called Saturday}

So I’m three days into my full time job/life routine and I’m already stretched thin. So I’m going to go for a drink tomorrow. And probably fall a bit behind on work at some point. And maybe I’ll only post here once a week. But I’m going to stop trying to juggle and I’m going to have fun.

Introduction

I find my life to be a bit of an oxymoron. I try to stay up with the latest fashions when it comes to my purchases but end up throwing on leggings and a top every single day. I truly enjoy fine literature but tend to opt for trashy young adult novels when I get a few minutes of free time. I constantly dream of fancy soirees that require nice dresses, but dread the thought of wearing heels. I’m well beyond my years in terms of professionalism but care more about traveling the world and would give up a career to do so in a moment’s notice.

Most importantly, I love blogging, but  I’m so terrible at keeping up with blogs. This is my sixth I believe. The good news is that I can hold onto a blog longer than I can hold onto a relationship, but that’s not saying much anyway.

So this is the introduction message that I’ve written too many times to count, introducing my new blog–a fresh start. But this is the one that is the most me–a place to write about traveling and wandering around cities but also to write about my professional discoveries, my entrance into the real world, the struggles of a twenty-something. I guess I shouldn’t use the word “corporate” yet since I am still technically a business student, but that’s the other thing to note about me: I think about three years in advance.

So here I go!