March 23, 2016

7 Best Practices for Homeowners Who Are Working From Home

Whether you’ve gone into business for yourself or convinced your boss to let you telecommute, you’ve joined the 37% of Americans who work from home at least some of the time!  Here are 7 tips to help you stay efficient and motivated even if you’d rather be watching midday TV!

1.     Set regular and consistent hours. Working from home also means you’re always at work. Stick to your schedule! Separating work time from personal time is key to preventing burnout. A home office can help you keep work “at work.”

2.     Communicate. You can work when you’re most productive, whether that’s 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., but make sure you know when you need to be available. Also make sure your supervisor, colleagues, clients and customers know when they can reach you.

3.     Get out of your pajamas. Your ducky PJs are great, but they’re not work clothes. You don’t have to sit at home in a three-piece suit, but it’s important that your brain gets out of relaxation mode and into work mode so that you’re focused, motivated, and energized.

4.     Break up the day. Plan your workflow and make sure you get up from your desk. Get some fresh air, eat a snack, and try to have a face-to-face conversation with someone. This will help you refresh, reset, and get ready to attack the next set of tasks.

5.     Set boundaries. Let your family and friends know they shouldn’t interrupt you when you’re working. One of the best things about working from home is the flexibility, but constant distractions--be it from Dave in Accounting or your adorable toddler--will break your concentration and make it harder to stay focused.

6.     Exercise! You’re not wasting time commuting anymore, so go to the gym, head out for a run, or take a walk in the brisk morning air. Exercise boosts productivity and improves your energy levels. Plus, working from home can be lonely, so getting out and about can help improve your mood.

7.     Discipline yourself. Avoiding Twitter and Facebook is hard enough when you’re in an office. Now that you’re home, and you’ve got the TV to provide extra temptation, those little distractions can seem harmless, but studies says it can take as much as 30 minutes to regain your focus. Shut down unnecessary programs, turn off instant notifications and leave the TV alone. Focus on the task at hand you’ll be more productive and produce better work.

March 8, 2016

It’s Almost Spring… Time To Spruce Things Up A Little!

It’s been a long, weird winter, so we’ve decided to spruce things up by getting some spring cleaning done.  (Did you ever notice how spring cleaning puts a smile on your face?  Maybe it’s because we know that summer is right around the corner.)

Anyway, here are a few helpful tips on cleaning your home up for Spring.

1. Safety first! Change the batteries in ALL of your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.  And make sure the unit is free of dust.

2. Light fixtures can be full of dust. Take a minute or two to clean easily accessible light fixtures, lamps and ceiling fixtures. Don’t be surprised if everything looks a bit brighter when you’re finished!

3. Take your area rugs outside for a good shake down and maybe a few hours of airing out. Your wall-to-wall carpeting could probably use a good cleaning too, so break out the steam cleaner! It may help with those seasonal allergies, too.

4. While you’re in cleaning mode, wash down your walls. Dust and dirt sticks to vertical surfaces, too. The easiest way to clean your walls is with a good soft sponge and warm, mild, soapy water. On flat painted walls, try using a dry microfiber cloth. It will work well on removing dust.

5. Your windows and blinds could probably use a good scrubbing, too. Take down your heavy curtains/drapes and send them to the cleaner. Let the sun shine in!

6. What about your furniture? During the winter months, it collects dust, dirt, body oils, and germs. (And if you have a pet, it has also collected pet hair and dander.) Time to haul out the vacuum cleaner. You can steam clean furniture as well. Just make sure you test an unobtrusive spot to make sure that the detergent from the steam cleaner doesn’t fade the color or ruin your upholstery.

7. Head for the kitchen! When was the last time you gave your fridge a good scrub down? Go ahead and throw out those leftovers that you’ll never actually use. Check out your condiments. Bet you have a few that have expired. Now that your fridge looks like it has been raided by a horde of teenage boys, get cleaning. A magic eraser or a sponge and hot soapy water will get the stuck-on grime. Clean the outside too. And don’t forget a fresh box of baking soda to help absorb any odors that may be lingering.

8. While you’re in the kitchen, give the stove, cabinets, walls and counters a going over with a grease-cutting cleaner. You’ll be amazed at how nice they feel when they aren’t sticky anymore!

9. Embrace your OCD tendencies! Organize that closet that doesn’t close, or those shelves that have been making you twitch. Throw out, donate or repurpose as much as possible.

10. Don’t forget the outside chores! If you don’t have them, add extensions to your gutter downspouts to keep water flowing away from your foundation. Clean out the gutters in case there is debris leftover from fall. Blow out the air conditioning condenser with a leaf blower to clean the filter. Call your sprinkler installer to get your system set up for warm weather.

We hope that these helpful hints will get you started on your spring cleaning adventure.