SQUIRREL! Constant Distractions While Working from Home

We all have those moments of ADD…

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat down to write a blog post and then get distracted by something else…

For instance, I wrote that first line, then had to go restart the washing machine. After coming back, I couldn’t remember my thought process, so I left it there and started on the second line. This time, LaMesa wanted outside.

See what I mean? Constant distractions! There are times I feel like my dogs: We’ll be going for a walk in the neighborhood, just trotting along relaxed and happy, when suddenly…. SQUIRREL!

I remember when I first got engaged, the first few weeks I was distracted at my computer when I’d start typing and the office lights would catch my ring…OOOoooo shiny!

Now that I’m working from home, the distractions are easier to come by. For instance, on Thursday I sat down to transcribe some interviews. Everything was perfect: the dogs were quiet, I had the radio on, M was asleep–I could easily get these four interviews transcribed and write some blog posts before lunch time.

That is, until I noticed how (disgustingly) dirty our house was. When was the last time I did a heavy duty cleaning? I tried to ignore the dirt, but then finally I couldn’t stand it any more. I put up my computer and commenced a massive house cleaning. After a couple of hours, the house was cleaned, the lawn mowed, and lunch was eaten. M had woken up and we went to the gym, then my evening was packed. Needless to say, nothing got done.

So I thought I’d look up some tips on how to manage distractions while working from home, to help me and maybe help you as well:

  1. Make a schedule and stick to it. The best way to be productive is to actually have a plan. I’m still doing my workouts in the morning, then walking the dogs. After my shower, that’s when I buckle down to focus on the tasks at hand (which I go over in my mind during our dog walks, figuring out what needs to be done today and in what order.
  2. Separate yourself from potential distractions. This is where having an actual office would be nice. On pretty days, though, I’ve been spending mornings out on the back deck working until the battery runs low on my MacBook. That’s when I know it’s time to take a break.
  3. Be honest with people about your work schedule. Many think that just because you’re working from home means you can easily go to lunch at any time, or chat on the phone whenever. If you’re in the middle of a project, be honest and let them know you’ll get back to them when you’re done.
  4. Have some quiet background music going. Sometimes this works for some people, and sometimes it doesn’t. I find that I write better when I have a constant stream of music on (little to no commercials, so no radio). I can’t handle complete silence.

Now it’s time for me to really focus on today’s tasks.

Your turn: Share your tips for handling distractions while working from home, or even in the office!

I found this here and thought it was hilarious!

I found this here and thought it was hilarious!

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10 Things to Know How to do by 30

So it might be a little odd that I post this now, since I turned 30 in November, but I received an email from The Nest with an article titled “10 Things Everyone Should Know How to Do by 30” and I took a look at it to see if I succeeded in that, now that my 30s are a few months old…

  1. How to budget
    OK, so maybe I’m not the best at budgeting (M certainly has that over me), but I do know when I have the cash and when I don’t, and I’m generally pretty good about not overspending. I do need to work a little closer with M, and not expect him to do all the financial work for me, and that’s why it’s one of my 2013 goals to be more financially fit together. This just poked me into more action…
  2. How to cook (at least one) signature dish
    I would have to say I have at least a couple signature dishes that I make…maybe not on a regular basis, but I still can make them. I’ve expanded my horizons with cooking lately, thanks to Pinterest and healthy bloggers that I follow, so this one is always a work in progress.
  3. How to write professionally
    If there’s one thing a freelancer should know how to do, it’s how to write. But I did take some professional writing classes in college so I knew how to write memos at work, resumes, etc. It’s definitely a different type of writing, and one that everyone, no matter what profession you are, should learn.
  4. How to not part with your hard-earned cash
    This goes right along with #1. I tend to be pretty stingy with money at times, and I always have buyer’s remorse, even when I buy just one shirt! I think for me, I have to learn to be happy with purchases I make for myself and not feel so guilty all the time–I work hard for the little bit of money I earn, so I should be able to enjoy it every once in a while.
  5. How to change a flat tire
    Oh yeah, I’ve got this one in the bag! I knew how to change my own flat tire when I got my license at 16. And when I started hauling our horse trailer to shows and rodeos, I learned how to change the tires on our horse trailer (with and without a horse in it). My dad made sure his girls were very self-sufficient and independent (and poor M is reminded of that a lot).
  6. How to look up your credit report
    I somewhat know how to do this…I’ve done it before. But I’m so worried about how they say the more you look up your credit, it affects your numbers, so I don’t do it very much. Perhaps I should try it to see where things stand right now…
  7. How to manage your money…digitally
    Online banking is the way to be. M does all of our banking online (he doesn’t even have checks, and it drives him nuts that I do–hey, entry fees for agility trials take check, not credit!). I can manage my money online, and have been toying with getting our bank’s app on my phone, but then that scares me if something were to happen to my phone. So I think I’ll wait on that one.
  8. How to swim
    I think this should be something you should learn before you’re 15! Knowing how to swim can save your life. I know how to swim to get by, but I wish I knew how to swim effectively and proficiently. It’d be great to be able to incorporate that into my workouts more (I did do some swimming when I had a stress fracture in my foot a couple of years ago).
  9. How to move on
    From the slide: “We mean this in the broadest sense possible, whether it’s moving on after you didn’t get the job you wanted, after learning that the mortgage for the home you loved is way out of your price range, and, okay, sure, getting over old relationships.”

    I have a hard time with this. I’m afraid of letting go or change, so moving on from things like an unsatisfactory job, friendships that aren’t fulfilling, etc., is hard for me. However, things like the house, etc., that are more physical and I can see money being taken away from me is easier to handle. I tend to hold onto friendships that might have been dying for months, just because I have a glimmer of hope we might be able to rekindle things. And it’s draining for me in so many ways.

  10. How to strike a balance between work and life
    I think I have a decent balance between work and life, because it’s my life that helps relieve the stress from work. But I need to strike more of a balance in my life outside of work–see more friends, expand my horizons to learn more and do more, etc. I think it’d lead to me having a happier and more fulfilling life.

How do you stack on this list? 

Workplace Insights

The following is mostly just a stream of thoughts put to the keyboard…but I feel it’s an important topic that everyone should feel open to discuss.

They say you spend a very big portion of your life working. You spend at least a third of your day working. So you want what you do your a living to be enjoyable, right? But it’s not all 100% just about you, but about the people you work with is just as important. You have to be able to get along with your co-workers and your management.

So what do you do when you’re unhappy with your work? I’m not talking about myself at this current moment in particular, but just talking from experiences in my past and some of my friends’ experiences.

It’s imperative that whoever you are, wherever you work, you have a support system at work. Now this is different from the support system I talked about in a previous post, but the support you should receive from someone like your boss and your coworkers.

I’m lucky to currently have a boss that cultivates creativity and has the back of her employees. If we need a day off, she’s all about finding someone to help make sure our job (which can basically be 24/7) is taken care of. She works hard to make sure our jobs aren’t too difficult, yet she challenges us to think of new ideas and concepts to help the company.

Some might not be so fortunate–they might feel stuck in their position, pigeon-holed to stay within the lines and not be able to stretch their legs outside of the job description that’s on paper. Or they have a boss that might believe in the “do as I say, not as I do” mentality because perhaps they feel entitled? They might forget that they were once in the position of their employees (hey, we all started somewhere, right?). But it’s a leader like that can create a stifling environment, which can be unpleasant for anyone. You don’t want to work in an unpleasant environment after a while–it eats away at your soul and your heart. This can make life move slowly…miserably.

Yet, in this economy, we feel trapped. If you have a job, you’re darn tootin’ going to do your best to keep it–that is, until you are able to find something better–but still, you’re afraid to shake the boat because you need that income and those benefits.

So what is someone to do when they’re unhappy? Right now, you just keep plugging along. You keep your chin held high and your head to the brimstone and do your job and pray for things to get better.

Or, you can take that leap and hope for the best…you just have to plan a little for the future before doing so.

So which is it? 

Going Left at the Fork in the Road

Ever since I was in grade school I wanted to be a journalist, and as I grew up I focused on equine journalism because it combined my love of horses and writing. So I took that dream to the perfect school, for me, and graduated cum laude with aspirations of covering some of the largest horse events in the country and seeing my name on glossy magazine pages.

I paid my dues with freelancing, interning at one of the premiere horse associations and publications, and then started on ground level at another top international horse association and its publication. Ready for a new step, and another area of the horse industry to dominate, I moved East five years ago for a horse health publication that was another world than I was used to. Instead of writing a lot, I did more on the back-end–illustrating the magazine with photos, curating newsletters, and cutting my teeth on social media. It wasn’t the direction I saw myself going, but I was still learning and my name was still printed on a glossy magazine page.

Just like where I was exactly five years ago, desperate for a change and a step in a new direction, I’m back there again. Being a righty (right-handed person), when it comes to a fork in the road, I typically go to the right–it just comes natural. So when I was presented with two options (hence, a fork in the road), I wavered between two different directions that, quite frankly, the girl I was seven years ago would never have thought I’d have to go. After all, the choices you make at 20 years is the choice you stick with for the next 20 years, right? Wrong. Circumstances and life can change, and that’s what happened to me.

Unfortunately the job market isn’t what it was five years ago, so when it’s time for a change, you can’t expect to have a plethora of options at your beck and call. I was lucky enough, though, to be part of a company that set its sights on the future of publishing and what it needs to do to regrow from the economic downfall. With eyes forward in the company, two positions were created to help with a new digital media group and I was given the options for my new path. Would I be back to covering prestigious equine events? Far from it. Would I be back to at least writing? Only if I’m freelancing. Instead, I turned left and chose a path that some may not have seen me do–working on the back-end of web sites as a web producer (a glossy computer screen, rather than a glossy print page).

Am I nervous about my decision? Heck yeah, I am! This is virgin territory for me and I don’t know if I’ll ever be 100% positive that I made the right decision, but I know that a decision and a change had to be made, and it had to be made rather quickly. I am excited, though, for the opportunity to learn many new skills and see if my passion can be ignited again, like it was seven years ago. Everyone needs a new start at different times in their lives, and this is my latest re-start.

Meanwhile, on a fitness side of things–all the stress of “the decision” has killed my healthy eating, cumulating with today’s Mardi Gras celebration at work. I’m hoping I can calm down the nerves and get back on track, but I’m worried that the transition phase at work will only increase my stress and nerves…not what I need right now. Any tips to manage work stress, eating, and training?