Beginners Guide to Working from Home

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I started working a corporate job from home almost 2 years ago and there are things I learned that have made it successful for both the company and me.  The first 6 months to a year were rough.  When people hear you work from home they imagine you sitting in front of the TV, feet up, in pjs working.  Unfortunately, that is so far from the truth.   I struggled for a long time with my identity and trying to find the best work/life balance.   There was no reason to get dressed nice, do my hair, put makeup on because no one ever saw me.  I have learned that I need to take care of both me and work and I wanted to share some tips that have helped me over the past few years.

Work your set hours

If you work 8-4:30 Monday through Friday, those are your hours.  Don’t logon at 7am and work until 8pm because your laptop is there and you feel obligated. Would you be working those hours if you were in the office?  If the work demands those hours, so be it. It happens. There have been many nights where I have worked until 9pm. I also have 2am checkouts. I get it.  But you need set hours so you aren’t a slave to your work.

Designate your work space

When I first started teleworking, I didn’t have a home office that I liked working in.  My office was in the basement (where it was cold), I had a small table I worked at and sat on a folding chair. It was definitely not ideal.  When we moved to our new house last summer, we were very deliberate about giving me a “home office.”  Get yourself a reasonable size desk to work at, ergonomic chair, headset, wireless mouse, monitor, etc to give you that “office” feel.  This was the best thing I could have done.  I hung both personal and professional accomplishments on the wall. It truly is a place for me to work.

Have a routine

Similar to setting hours get yourself into a routine.  This includes taking a shower, getting dressed and making breakfast.   When you look professional, you will feel more professional.  This helps feel more connected and that you’re at “work” rather than at home.  Take breaks. Ensure you eat lunch during the day.  It is really easy to get caught up in a busy work schedule and forget to take those stretch or snack breaks.  (Let’s be honest, I rarely forget to eat!!).

Leave!

Find a destination. Take a walk outside. Go for lunch. Go workout.  Do something outside of your home/office.  Every Wednesday I go out for lunch. This is my thing. I typically go to the same place, but this gets me away from work to have outside conversation and helps me disconnect.   It’s also been a great way for me to meet people and network.  Occasionally I have a friend meet me which is also wonderful!  I’ve really enjoyed having the opportunity to get out and leave for lunch.  Recently, I went and had lunch at the local elementary school with a family friend.  It was so refreshing that my work allows me that balance to work from home so I can go do those things.

Connect

It’s very easy while working from home to entirely disconnect from the outside world. I instant message, I text, I email, but I RARELY found myself talking on the phone. That is one big thing I changed.  I find that I try to talk to people (on the telephone) at least a few times a day.  This helps me feel engaged to not only the work but to people as well.   This has really helped me build better relationships with my work peers.

Send your kids to daycare/school/grandma’s house

This is a question I get asked often or the first assumption (outside of wearing my pjs all day) people make.  No, I do not keep my sweet boy home with me while I work.  If anyone has ever attempted to work with a toddler, there is a lot less work going on than getting milk/playing legos/entertaining.  The only time I have ever been able to work while George was home is while he was napping or sick and snuggled on the couch.  That’s it.

I have found that as long as I consider my office “work” and the rest of my house my home, it has been a perfect working relationship at home.  I am like anyone else, my dishes pile up and I have laundry that needs to be done as well.  However, when I am at work, that is my focus.  I have found as long as I maintain the above, I have been successful.

What suggestions or ideas would you offer to someone who is new to working from home? What has been the hardest thing to overcome??

 

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August Goals

I always admire other bloggers who post their “goals” for the month. I did the ONCE. Yes. one time and it was like 2 years ago – and who knows if I even remotely came close to accomplishing them. Let’s just go with probably not.  I’ve been really trying to push myself with writing so why not set some goals, right? 


My goals.. For August… 

This is the dirt pile in our front yard… 


1. Landscaping.   We have been working on this landscaping since we moved in.  Last summer I pulled a ton of pavers out of the front yard with the hopes to plant grass by fall.  That never happened and this is what our front yard looks like now.  (I cannot wait for another year to show the ENTIRE progression of start to finish!).  Didn’t quite get to this but are starting THIS weekend!


2.  Running.  My running has been so limited because of my back injury. However, I can start running again (slowly) by adding some biking and other low impact activities.  I only have 1 race scheduled for August and it’s a 5K this weekend (Gopher to Badger).  Last year I was in top shape and ran a great 1/2. This year I’ll be cheering on all the runners looking forward to my next one! (Which I swore last year was my last… but hoping to do Grandma’s in 2018 and MAYBE gopher to badger 2017?!)  Ran Gopher to Badger 5K and didn’t have my best run 🙁 


3.  Cleaning/Organizing/eBaying. I am a clothes hoarder.  This has been a bit of a revelation as I’ve gained and lost (and gained) weight. I cover up with new clothes.  So I’m slowly paring down my closet and selling my shit high quality clothes (several with tags) that I couldn’t live without and have never worn 🙂  Typical, right?   DID it.  Got rid of a ton of stuff!


4. Weddings.  Not mine. HA HA HA.  Two of them.  One which happens to be on my favorite weekend of the year.  Adam is in one so we’ll be doing wedding festivities all weekend the last weekend in August.  They will both be fun 🙂  handled.  One I spent two days recovering from.


5.  Pub Crawling.  Erin Adams’s Hargrove’s 10th Annual Polar Pub Crawl (North St Paul, MN) is this upcoming weekend.  I can’t even handle that it’s been 10 years since she started her pub crawl.  There have been a lot of fun memories, and some not so fun memories (headstands and card cheaters) okay that fits in both columns 🙂   We haven’t made it to all 10 but are really excited about making it this year.  See Instagram. Had a blast!!


6.  Pepper Fest See #4.  My favorite weekend of the ENTIRE year is in North Hudson, WI.  I grew up down the street from Pepper Fest and L-O-V-E going every single year!!  This year will be cut short by a wedding …ahem… please be considerate and check a calendar next year folks… j/k.  Parades, Italian Food, Beer, Music, and old friends!  What more could you ask for?  (Pepper Eating Contest, Spaghetti eating contest, a 5k/10K race, rides for the kids, bags tournaments… ) Seriously, one of the best summer get togethers around!!  Only made it to the parade this year.


7. Help Dad.  Dad is having knee replacement surgery August 15th.. So while he’s pretty humble about his health and what’s going on, he is going to need his army behind him for this one!  While I’ll be covering most days and a few nights, the rest of the family will be helping as well.  So grateful for all that he has done for us and am so happy to be able to give back and help him 🙂    Did this!  He is recovering like a champ!

Grandpa and George taking Sam for a walk


8. Unpack.  Seriously.  We STILL have boxes at Adam’s parents… and we STILL have several unpacked boxes in our basement.  I think until we actually paint and get each room the way we like it, we will have boxes of stuff just waiting to make its debut!  I tackled TWO WHOLE boxes this month.  Hoping for more next month!


9. Go to Church.  I am baptized and confirmed Catholic but have never felt as connected as I once was in Arizona (99-01).  I recently went to a funeral (good time to think about your Faith) and admired how connected the Pastor is to the community.  The following Sunday George and I went to service and the minute we sat down, the pastor walked over and introduced himself. I felt welcomed and knew that was where I needed to be.  George and I have been going to church the past few weekends there and plan to continue going.   This one sadly fell by the wayside.


10.  Be in the moment.  That was last week’s church message.  Just appreciate where you are when you are there.  Put the phone down. Put your tablet down.  Put any and all distractions aside and simply live in that moment.  How often do we meet a friend for coffee, or take our kids to the park only to find ourselves with our heads buried in our phones or thinking about something else?  I AM SO GUILTY!!!   I am trying to simply put my phone down and enjoy a few minutes of whatever it is I’m doing. Simply be.  Oh how I need to remember this one.


11. Live in front of the Camera.  I read a blog post another woman wrote, where she recognized that she was capturing all of her children’s milestone moments but was never visible in any of them. She was behind the camera.  There was nothing to show that while the child blew out his birthday candles and opened presents she was there.  She was taking the pictures.  This hit home with me. I was looking for a recent picture of myself with George and my storage is maxed out but none of them have me in them.  So when I stumbled upon this it truly spoke to me. My goal is to post one picture a day for the next 365 on my Instagram Account.   Go check out my Instagram (shameless plug) @upnorthmama1 for my daily post of in front of the camera!  While I didn’t get a post in every day, I am definitely better about being in front of the camera now!

Dinner selfie – no filter, unedited. 

XOXO

Kristen 

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6 Educents Must-Haves Cheaper than Amazon

I’d love to be able to shop around for the best price always, but sometimes there isn’t enough time in the day!  

I received a list of items that are cheaper on Educents, (one of my favorite online stores for educational resources) than on Amazon. I was shocked to find some items were $100 cheaper on Educents than Amazon. So, of course I wanted to share this time-and-money-saving list with you!


Hot tip: Use code GETREADY to get free shipping on every order, no minimum required or WELCOME16: 15% off + Free Shipping with no minimum for new customers

Hooked on Phonics Learn To Read Kit for PreK-2nd – Save $170.00

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Hooked on Phonics is one of the most trusted brands in teaching children how to read. This set is for Pre-K-2nd graders who are looking to create a strong foundation in phonics. This set includes workbooks as well as access to the HoP online learning portal. Retail Price – $299.99 / Amazon Price – $265.00 Educents Price – $129.99 

Maestro Classics Musical Stories Set – Save $112.00

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This 12 CD collection features perennial classics you’ll remember from childhood like Peter and The Wolf, The Nutcracker, and The Tortoise And The Hare. Each disk also includes activities to complete for students after they have finished the story. Retail Price – $200.00 / Amazon Price – $93.43 Educents Price – $88.00

Times Tales Animated DVD  Save $10.00

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Times Tales is one of the best ways to teach kids multiplication – period. One mom said, “Best money spent on math. It really worked. Within a week my 9 and 11-year-old completed 110 problem text with scores of 99% and 100% respectively. Wow.” Audio, visual, logical – what’s more to ask?Retail Price – $29.99 / Amazon Price – $28.99 Educents Price – $19.99

Reusable Human Body Sticker Set – Save $9.00

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The Mona MELissa reusable sticker playsets are an amazing way to create a hands-on learning experience in your home, classroom, or anywhere with a wall. Teach kids all about anatomy – and make it stick (literally!) – with this scientifically accurate set. Retail Price – $28.99 Amazon Price – $24.99 Educents Price – $19.99

Tegu Magnetic Building Blocks: 40 Piece Set – Save $27.50

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Tegu blocks are the wooden magnetic blocks that are captivating children’s attention worldwide. Aside from being an outside-of-the-box toy, Tegu cares about creating social good, and hires workers in Honduras to create these wonderful toys. Plus they plant a tree with each purchase. 🙂 Retail Price – $110.00 Amazon Price – $110.00 Educents Price – $82.50

Hooked on Phonics Spelling Program  Save $20.00

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Spelling Bee here we come! The Hooked On Spelling program is no exception to the quality of Hooked on Phonics programs and teaches spelling in a way that’s unique and fun at the same time.

Retail Price – $79.95 / Amazon Price – $130.22

Educents Price – $59.95

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Staples: Back to School Supplies! Under $10!

It’s that time of year again!  Wait… it’s only July. Yes! It’s time to start thinking about Back-To-School already!  School supplies are on crazy discounts right now at many of the major retailers.  Although I don’t have school age kids, I am a teacher at heart and can’t resist a fresh pack of new markers…crayons..notebooks… you get the idea 🙂 (I’m also SUPER thrifty and love finding a good deal… you can read my post about other ways to save here and here).  This is not a sponsored post but may contain affiliate links.

One of my favorite bloggers is Collin over at Hip2Save.  If you aren’t already following her, get on her email list. Yes, you will get daily emails full of amazing deals.  Trust me, it’s the only email I religiously look forward to and read, every-single-day.   I was able to score an amazing deal on several school supplies.  I didn’t grab all the supplies in her bargain, but I did get some.  Staples in Woodbury, MN has an AWESOME supply of all these items, so no worries about fighting to get them.  The sale is on through July 23rd. Don’t miss out!

What did I get?

10 Notebooks (5 College/5 Wide Ruled).   These were .17 each = $1.70 (limit 30)

2 Packs of Markers – .97 each = $1.94 (limit 30)

2 Packs of Crayons – .50 each = $1.00 (limit 30)

1 Pack of Erasers – .25 =  $.25  (Hard to pass up, but I think I have plenty of these on hand!) (limit 5)

4 packs of Pens (1 Black, 1 Blue, 2 Purple) – $.75 each = $3.00  (limit 5)

Colored Pencils – .97 each = .97 (limit 30)

My total BEFORE tax was $8.86.  I simply cannot complain!!  There are other great deals out there as well. I know Target has .50 crayons this week as well as ongoing school supply deals.

Here are a few other deals at Staples:

Purell Hand Sanitizer $2 (reg. $2.49) – (limit 30)  (.75/1 Purell Coupon here – making even less!)

Two-Pocket Paper Folders $0.17 each (reg. $0.55) – (limit 30)

Buy 1 Staples Composition Notebook $0.50 (reg. $2.29) – (limit 30)

Also, if you’re in the market for a new backpack, when you purchase one you get an additional 25% off on your school supplies!

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