Chin.Deep.In.Life.

The Snowball Effect


                                                                Photo: Yay Images

When I moved back to the US in 2016, I had to work really hard to rebuild my credit. Shortly before I left in 2010, I was a victim of identity theft. It’s practically impossible, trying to get the IRS to respond to requests when you live abroad. A good credit profile includes a combination of different types of credit (installment, revolving, etc). It’s so damn easy to get into debt. Getting out is another matter. I used the snowball effect to pay off high balances, which meant I had a better-looking credit profile.

If you have not heard of the snowball method, this blog post is an excellent summary. Debt can pile up quickly, becoming overwhelming before you know what to do with it. Fortunately, there are strategies you can employ to pay down your debts, without going broke or insane in the process.

The snowball effect is an easy and convenient method of paying down debts, regardless of how much debt you have. Can you imagine what it would be like to live without debt? Your money would be yours, to do with as you please, instead of feeding the wallets of the rich. You’ll look forward to enjoying guilt-free vacations – paid for with cash – and buying your next car with cash, instead of credit. Picture the life you deserve in your mind and feel the feelings of relief. Next, make a plan to move toward this life, and put your plan into action.

Follow these tips to use the snowball effect for paying off your debts:

  1. Pay off your smallest debts first. When you pay the smallest debt off first, you start a small amount of momentum that’ll build quickly. Write down all of your debts from smallest to largest, and then create a plan to pay off the smallest one first.
  2. Small wins add up. Your personal finance strategy will be more successful if you feel motivated, which is why small wins are so important in the beginning. When you start paying off your smaller debts, you’ll find yourself feeling motivated to maintain your debt-reducing strategy.
  3. Pay off the next smallest debt. Once the smallest debt in your list is completely paid, add whatever you were paying on that debt to the payment for the next debt in the list, essentially doubling your monthly payment on that debt. Once you tackle this debt, you have another win under your belt.
  4. Eliminate all debt. Use the debt snowball to eliminate the rest of your debts from smallest to largest. As each debt is paid, add those payments to the next debt. Don’t worry about term lengths or rates unless two different debts have similar payoff amounts, at which point you should pay off the higher interest rate debt first.
  5. Keep building momentum. Let the momentum continue, repeating the debt repayment process for each debt as you work your way closer and closer to financial freedom. Every payment moves you closer to your goal of being financially free.
    • As you’re attacking the smaller debts first, maintain the minimum monthly payments for everything else. Do whatever is necessary to focus your attention on maintaining your plan and keeping this momentum going.
    • Keep stepping up from bill to bill, paying off the next smallest, then the next smallest, and so on. After your credit card debt is taken care of, you can focus on other debts as well – to where even your mortgage is paid off.

The snowball effect is an effective debt repayment strategy. Utilizing this method of debt repayment will help you keep the momentum as you repay your debts so that you can get the job done and enjoy a life free from the constraints of debt.

Until the next post,

Best,

Juan

Avoid Common Budget Busters And Increase Your Savings


If the balance in your savings account isn’t growing fast enough, a common budget buster might be to blame. Sadly, you’re not alone in missing your financial goals. According to a June 2014 survey conducted by Bankrate.com, 75% of Americans have no savings and live paycheck to paycheck! Are you one of these?

Thankfully, there are steps that you can take to get your finances back on track. Use these strategies to stick to your budget and achieve your financial goals:

  1. Avoid impulse shopping. If impulse shopping is your weakness, resist the temptation. If you go shopping for a needed item, take a responsible friend with you to help strengthen your resolve. Make a list before you shop and then buy only the items on your list. Leave your debit and credit cards at home and only bring enough cash to pay for the needed items.
  2. Seek to understand what triggers your overspending behavior. For example, if you find that you are more tempted to abandon your budget when you’ve had a difficult day, only go shopping when you’re well-rested and under less stress.
  3. Get organized. Adopt a new method of organizing your important papers and receipts. Do “forgotten bills” seem to constantly surface and derail your spending goals? If you forget to pay a bill, you may have to pay a late fee and interest. Those extra charges can add up quickly! Set reminders to cancel memberships and other subscriptions before they auto-renew to avoid paying for services you no longer use.
  4. Shop for better rates. Just because you’re satisfied with your current service provider doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t periodically shop for a better rate. Every few months, review your expenses and seek ways to reduce the amount that you pay for many common services, such as your telephone bill and car insurance. When you contact your provider, ask if you’ll save money by bundling services, or cut back on features that you seldom use. While your provider may not reduce your bill, it doesn’t hurt to ask.
  5. Watch for unusual spending. Periodically review your expenses and see if you can identify an area where you frequently overspend. Most of us typically overspend in a specific category. Challenging categories for most folks include clothing, entertainment, transportation, travel, food, and housing. Once you’ve identified a category of expenses that seem to break your budget, seek ways to make smarter, less expensive choices when you buy things in this category. Reducing your spending in a specific category can be very challenging. 
    For example, if your housing costs are eating up too much of your budget, your only solution may be to move to a smaller or less expensive location. 
  6. Identify specific items that are hard for you to resist and do all you can to avoid them. If there is a certain store or website where you consistently seem to go over your planned spending, find new, less tempting locations to shop.
  7. Get outside advice. If you find that you’re frequently over budget or have difficulty meeting your financial goals seek professional help. Most accountants and financial planners can offer sound advice to help you learn how to plug the holes in your budget and gain control of your finances. You can find lots of free and low-cost advice on budgeting and financial planning online. Many organizations, such as churches and local chambers of commerce, offer free or low-cost credit counseling and financial planning courses to members.

Becoming aware of common budget busters, and selecting a strategy to deal with them, can help you to stick to your budget and increase your savings.

Until the next post,

Best,

Juan

Financially Adjusting to Divorce


                                                          Photo: Yay Images

Dear Readers,

The COVID pandemic has forced us to take a very uncomfortable look at our finances. In the US, images of people waiting hours in incredibly long food lines, have been distressing. No one dreamt it would take such a devastating toll on multiple areas of our lives. There is a new sense of urgency to be better prepared for the next crisis. The average person would not survive a financial apocalypse of sorts when emergency funds disappear. As someone who works with the homeless, I see it all day, every day. Millions are just one or two paychecks away from being homeless. Over the next few months, expect posts surrounding, money, credit, remote working etc, all valuable lessons I have learned over the years, or from people around me.

I believe in ripping the bandaid off in one fell swoop, instead of suffering bit by bit. Let’s face it, divorces happen every day. I watched a recent news report, showing how much divorce rates have skyrocketed since COVID. All of a sudden, husbands and wives have to work from home, all day, every day. Throw 24/7 kid care and chores into the mix. If the marriage was already shaky before, the pandemic pushed many over the ledge. A divorce can dramatically change your socio-economic circumstances, but, like everything else in life, requires us to take an inventory of our lives.

Are you going through a marital breakup? If so, you might feel like you’re in a whirlwind. You’re worried. Will you be okay financially? Take a look at the following points to recognize you’ll likely make it through, with a few adjustments here and there.

  1. Do the math. Figure out if you can support yourself financially with the dollars you now earn. Remember to include other funds that will be coming in, such as child support, alimony, or stock dividends.
  2. Act now. If you’re going to need a new or different job or additional income, start doing something about it now. If you begin bringing in additional dollars right away, it’ll take some of the pressure off later.
  3. Determine monthly expenses. How much are your monthly outgoing expenditures? Can you count your basic expenditures on one hand: mortgage or rent, car payment, utility bill, food costs, and phone/internet charges?
  4. On the other hand, you’ll have insurance, entertainment, and savings. If you have a lot of monthly payments like 2 or 3 credit cards and more than one car payment, it’s time to consider spending cuts.
  5. Don’t panic. If you need to make some reductions, decide what you’ll cut out. Maybe you can sell one of the cars to eliminate a car payment and reduce your car insurance. Perhaps you’ll decrease cell phone charges or cut out paying for your phone landline.
  6. Maybe you can combine your 2 or 3 credit card payments all onto one card for 1 monthly payment for everything you owe. If you must, cancel your Netflix account or whatever extra accounts you can do without, at least for now.
  7. Once you have your expenses under control and know how your money situation will be, you can add back services you want.
  8. Take an honest look. Are you living equal to or below your means financially? Do you and your child really need to live in a 2,700 square foot home? Or could you be perfectly happy in a home that’s half the size? Consider this: you’d be paying half the electric bill (you now pay) every month plus lower rent.
  9. Once you get some time as a single person under your belt, you can upgrade your standards later.
  10. The point is to ensure you’re not living right up to the edge of what you make. If you are, it can make for a rather nerve-wracking life. With some planning, you might be able to reduce your expenses and still live a financially comfortable life.
  • Heads up regarding your tax return (if living in the US). If you’re not yet divorced as of the last day of the year (12/31), you can still file jointly if you both agree to do so. Also, if you’ll have custody of your children the most, ensure your attorney declares in your divorce decree that you can claim them as dependents.
    If you’re paying alimony, have your attorney include that in your decree. This way, you can claim the amount you pay as a tax deduction.
  • Take care when splitting up retirement funds. This issue gets sticky. Talk with your attorney about the best way to handle such funds because, depending on your age and how you do it, you might have to pay early withdrawal fees plus taxes on the withdrawn amount. There are ways to do it without paying these penalties.

When it comes to making it through a divorce financially, recognize millions of people have survived it and you can, too. Can you recall the toughest financial times you’ve had? The smarts you possess got you through. If you follow the above suggestions, you’ll be well on your way to successfully surviving the financial consequences of a divorce. You will be okay!

Until the next post,
Best,
Juan 

#WFA


15 Legitimate Ways to Work From Home

Did you have a goal to either work from anywhere, in an effort to improve your economic circumstances? If you are already employed, chances are you have considered how this can be achieved, with your current commitments, or even on a full-time basis. Now more than ever, with millions out of work due to the impacts of COVID, we realize the importance of securing a location independent role. The “work from home” field is filled with scams and empty promises. It’s very unfortunate scam artists are busy looking for ways to steal from others. Most of us are simply looking for ways to earn money, stay safe, and keep the lights burning in our homes.
Typical red flags include vague job descriptions, being asked to deposit checks into your bank account before you start work, conducting interviews on social media platforms, grammatical and spelling errors in the job notice, etc. However, there are ways to legitimately make money from home. Always do your due diligence (review websites, cross-check the company, pick up the phone and call the numbers listed especially if you have never heard of the company before, etc). The key is to leverage your strengths and ensure that any companies you’re working with have a good reputation. Avoid doing too much work until you’re paid for the first time. Then you should have an idea of whether the offer is legitimate or not.

Stay at home and pay your bills:

  1. Be a consultant. Many small businesses don’t have a need for a full-time whatever-you-are. But they might need someone with your skills and knowledge for a short period of time.
  2. Transcriptionist. This type of work is available and can be worth your time if you can type quickly. There’s software available that can transcribe with reasonable accuracy. You might be able to make a decent hourly rate without working too hard.
  3. Freelance work. Writing articles, creating videos, performing search engine optimization, or creating graphics are just a few examples of freelance work that’s waiting for you.
  4. Work for a call center. Some businesses want to take your call but are too small to have bodies dedicated to answering the phones 24/7. You can work at home for a call center and receive those important calls.
  5. Teach a language. English is in high demand, particularly in Asian countries. Italki is one website that will allow you to take advantage of your English ability and make $20+/hour.
  6. Virtual assistant. The creativity of your employer will determine your tasks. You could be making travel plans, balancing the books, or researching chocolate cookie recipes.
  7. Rent a room in your home. There are several websites that will connect you with renters, both long-term and short. If you have space you’re not using, consider monetizing it.
  8. Be a juror. Lawyers will pay you to review a case and give your opinion. Think of it as a practice trial before heading to court. Ejury is one such company that will pay you for your jurist skills.
  9. Test and review websites. User Testing is the most popular company. You’re paid $10 for a 20-minute task. That’s $30 per hour if you stay busy.
  10. Take surveys. This field is full of scams, so be sure to check out the company before wasting your time. Never pay to join a survey organization. A few companies with good reputations include Harris Poll Online, Pine Cone Research, and Swag Bucks.
  11. Sell vegetables from your garden. At times, your garden is providing more than you can consume. Visit the local farmer’s market and sell your excess.
  12. Mechanical Turk. This is a service provided by Amazon.com. You can perform small tasks for money. Most of the jobs are very quick and easy. The pay is very low per task, but you can complete multiple tasks per hour.
  13. Tutor at your home. $25/hour isn’t out of line. There are also places to tutor online. Check out Chegg Tutors.
  14. Affiliate marketing. You can sell someone else’s product online and get paid for each sale. For example, Amazon.com has an affiliate program, people earn six figures on Clickbank. There are so many more.
  15. Pet sitting. It’s possible to earn $25/day or more for watching someone else’s pet. Unlike daycare laws, most areas don’t have a limit to how many dogs you can keep in your home! Rover.com is a popular option to connect with pet owners.

If you find yourself between jobs or need to make some extra money, working from home can be both convenient and lucrative. Many work at home offers aren’t worth your valuable time, but others can provide a full-time income if you’re willing to work hard. If you are looking for remote, full-time work, be mindful of sites that sell your personal information, such as Indeed and Ziprecruiter. If you find a role that interests you on their job board, it’s advisable to apply directly from the company’s website. The following is a list of reputable websites to get you started:
www.ratracerebellion.com (sign up for job alerts)
www.upwork.com (get paid for your skills/talents)
www.flexjobs.com (well-known companies)

Until the next post,
Best,
Juan

Re$et Your Wealth


HAPPY NEW YEAR!

If you are reading this, you made it through the hand that 2020 dealt us. I am so happy we made it. Happy to be back to blogging after being on a break! Seems like forever. Here are some lessons I learned from last year; have more than one source of income, learn how to properly invest and plan for retirement, and the importance of stop trading my time for money. Towards the end of the year, I began taking concrete steps to become financially independent. I have started my FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) movement, as I have some catching up to do. 

Perhaps you are already years ahead in the FIRE movement. Keep at it. Maybe you are already retired. Enjoy these precious years, they go by quickly. However, if you are like me, and have no idea where to start, you are in the right place. It all starts with a belief, that you deserve every good thing that could possibly come your way. You must affirm it. Whether you realize it or not, every word you think or speak is an affirmation. Affirmations are declarations, observations if you will, about you and the world around you. The concept seems simple enough until you realize that what you affirm, positive or negative, is what you internalize and make a part of your reality. Suddenly that statement you made last week to friends about how you will never be able to get ahead isn’t so innocuous, right?!

You can change the way money shows up in your life though, simply by using daily positive affirmations. Eventually, these positive thoughts and words will replace the negative self-talk you’ve had for so long. And when that happens, you’ll begin to enjoy wealth in a way you never thought possible. Affirmations work because they replace the ideas and beliefs that you’ve held for years by replacing them with new statements, that define you in every aspect of your life. That is why it’s so important to use positive affirmations in your life, at every opportunity. That’s especially true for the behavior you want to change, or in how you wish to feel about yourself.

When developing a wealth mindset, affirmations become vitally important. Whatever you affirm, becomes your truth regarding money. Negative thoughts and negative talk about your money make for an impoverished you. What are some positive affirmations regarding a wealth mindset that you can use instead? Try saying these things:

  • I practice good habits that will lead me to success.
  • My intellect is sufficient to lead me to untold wealth.
  • I have what I need to live the life that I want.
  • I am a tribe-gatherer who brings together people and resources that will enable me to reach my goals.
  • My actions are positive and designed to increase my wealth daily.
  • I see opportunities where others do not.
  • I deserve the wealth I desire.
  • I am comfortable asking for help from mentors for what I need.
  • I already have everything I need to become wealthy.
  • I find connections and know-how to leverage my resources.

By repeating these phrases every morning when you get up and again in the evening when you go to bed, you create a habit of thinking positively about money. These affirmations become powerful in rewiring your feelings about wealth and money, and will then subconsciously begin to guide you in ways to make these words a reality. Affirmations have a way of making what you say come true. So be careful of your words. Guard your thoughts. Stay positive and make bold statements about yourself and what you’re out to accomplish. Only then will you seize wealth and leave poverty behind.

Where and how do you start taking control of your financial future? There is a plethora of information to go around. Choose FI (financial independence), offers one of the best courses I have seen on the topic, which I strongly recommend. It will change your life! I am not affiliated with the company in any way, but I am part of the worldwide FIRE movement. believe when we commit to helping others grow, it adds to our wealth. It goes without saying, please do not ever compare your journey with anyone else. The important thing is to start where you are!

Millions have taken the course and started on their own path to wealth. The course is completely free to anyone, regardless of where you live.I hope you found this post helpful, if so, feel free to share on social media or leave a comment below with suggestions. Start your journey to financial independence

To Your Success,

Juan

what to do when


Dear Readers,

I am almost finished with the WFH series. In my own life, the past several months have taken more from me, than I had to give at the time. Like everything else in life, you persevere, dust yourself off, and keep it moving. Working from home can be a real struggle when you aren’t used to it. However, it can be a lot worse when you don’t have supportive employers or managers, especially during difficult times. So, what can you do if yours isn’t? Here, you’ll discover some key steps you can take if you feel you aren’t being fully supported.

Take time for self-reflection
Take a look at your colleagues; what have they earned in the past several years? Which characteristics and skills helped to get them promoted? Consider your own goals, and whether or not this is a company fully aligned with your own goals. Do you want to be promoted within the next year or two? Are there opportunities for growth?
Consider how you have communicated with your manager in the past. What type of relationship do you have with them? How do you perform in meetings-do you sit back and let others take the lead? Have you communicated with your manager about your goals? Provided you have not taken on the role of a victim, and are ready to be assertive, let’s look at the other tips below.

Let them know how you feel
The first step you should take if you feel your employer or manager isn’t being supportive is to talk to them. This can be intimidating, but your employer may not even realize the extent of your concerns. Unless your manager can read minds,  most are very busy trying to put out multiple fires. Consider writing down what you want to say. Think of ways you feel they could be more supportive. They may ask you what you’d like them to do or how they could help, being prepared helps. Communicates your feelings, diplomatically, and honestly.

Team up with other coworkers
Did your efforts to have a conversation with your employer fail miserably? It might be worth teaming up with your coworkers. In all likelihood, someone else is being treated in the same manner. Things do not happen in a vacuum. There is a lot of power in numbers. You’ll stand a better chance of changing how you are being treated if you stand together. Again, try and talk to your employer together, or if that fails try and speak to someone higher up in the company.

Talk to HR if necessary
While your manager is usually the first point of contact, they sometimes cannot resolve all your concerns, and it might be time to speak with HR. Policies need to be followed, and it’s the HR teams’ job to make sure they are implemented. Reported to them as quickly as possible, as some issues can be time-sensitive.

Search for a new job
If all else fails and your employer still isn’t being supportive, take your talents elsewhere. In the current economic situation, it sounds impossible. However, if you’re at home it’s never been a better time to search for alternative employment. The pandemic won’t last forever. When it’s over, do you really want to continue to work for a company that doesn’t support you? Consider taking online courses too if you need to top up your skills. This will make you more employable once you’re ready to make the switch.

No one should have to deal with an unsupportive manager or employer. Do not let anyone deter you from being able to grow within our chosen careers. Times have always been tough, but the majority of us are stronger than any storms. Remember, the current situation is temporary. Support is always available online. With the right attitude, you will attract opportunities you’ve been working towards your entire life.

Until the next post,
Best,
Juan

 

Parenting, Working, and Teaching: help is here!



The coronavirus outbreak meant that millions of parents across the globe are now facing the impossible task of being a parent, worker, and teacher. Getting through your day is difficult enough when you’re trying to work from home with children. However, when you also have to home school, it can be very challenging. If you’re trying to find the right balance in these unprecedented times, there are some tips you can follow. Here, we’ll look at some of the steps, you can take to accomplish your new role without losing your mind.

Create and work from a schedule
Creating and maintaining a schedule during this time is invaluable. Children need a schedule. You also need one to help you keep up with your increased duties. Start with making one for the kids. You can include educational activities, playtime, and mealtimes. When they know what they are working on, and have a schedule, it makes it so much easier for all involved. Kids need a routine and they’ll be a lot happier when they’re following one.

Make time for physical and physical activities
When you need to get on with an important project, it can help to get the kids immersed in an engaging activity. Craft projects tend to be a popular option. They are fun and take a while to complete. You’ll find hundreds of craft project ideas online. Try and find something which utilizes supplies you already have in the home. Then, they can be getting on with their crafts while you complete your important work tasks. For a comprehensive list of indoor activities, grab your copy of the Ultimate Guide to Indoor Fun. It can be tough trying to work when the kids have bundles of energy. So, why not help them burn off that energy so you can work in peace? Getting them to partake in physical activity helps to wear them out as well as keep them healthy. So, encourage time running around in the back yard. You could create a mini assault course or look online for physical games you could play. Once they’ve finished their physical activity, they will more likely want to play quietly for a period of time.

Don’t try to become a teacher
Now that the kids are off school, you may feel like you have to become a teacher. You really don’t. Some parents chose to intensely research and familiarize themselves with the topics covered at school, and in the process become overwhelmed and frustrated. Instead, focus on educational activities they can do such as reading. You can also set up things such as sensory buckets and let them use educational apps. If the school provided digital work they can follow, don’t forget to utilize that too. If you look online, you might also find free workbooks.

Talk through any issues with your employer
If you are having issues juggling everything, don’t be afraid to talk to your employer. They may give you additional days off, so you can get used to the new arrangement. Remember, there are a lot of people going through the same situation right now. It’s not easy but remind yourself that it is only temporary.

Take advantage of nap times
If your kids are still quite young, make sure you take advantage of nap times. These are the perfect opportunity for you to get a bulk of your work done without having to worry about keeping an eye on them.

Ensure you have a quiet workspace
One thing you’re going to need when you’re working from home with the kids is a quiet workspace. It should be away from all distractions and ideally, space where you won’t be disturbed. Of course, this can be tricky, but if you explain to the kids that you can’t be disturbed and why it’s important, you’ll find they are typically willing to listen.

Utilize technology
In usual times, you try to limit your child’s exposure to technology. However, when you’re trying to work from home, you’ll find technology can be a real help. When you don’t want to be disturbed, let the kids watch a movie or play on a smartphone or tablet device. This will keep them occupied for a longer period of time, allowing you to take that conference call for example. It’s not easy working from home with kids, but it isn’t impossible either. Follow the above tips to make it that little bit easier during these difficult times.

Until the next post,
Best,
Juan

#isolationchallenge


Several major US blue-chip companies have recently announced employees will continue working from home for the rest of the year.  Last month, several news outlets reported Twitter employees can now do so permanently! Sounds like a dream, right? Living in NYC, on any given day, you share the subway with millions of straphangers. The service operates 24/7 (until a recent temp change, due to COVID), no matter what time of the day or night, commuters ride the trains. I would welcome this transition, but can I do it permanently? I am not sure. So many pros and cons. I recognized working from home will be part of the new normal, as employers scramble to keep their workforce safe while operating. 

If like me, you’ve been working from home for the past several months, you will agree, that one of the pitfalls of working from home, is how isolating it can be. When you’re used to working in an office setting surrounded by colleagues, it can suddenly feel quite lonely working by yourself. That’s why it is important to keep connected to the outside world. So, how can you stay connected when working from home? Consider the following tips.

Host regular group chats with colleagues
As you won’t be seeing your colleagues face to face, it’s important to keep in touch digitally. Hosting regular group chats can really help. Ideally, you’ll want to set aside specific times to do this. Having a group chat first thing in the morning before you start work is a good idea. That way, you’ll be able to get clarification on any projects you’re working on together.

Take advantage of social media
While you’ll want to limit social media while you’re working, it can still prove useful for staying in touch. To ensure you don’t waste time on it, a good idea is to set aside specific social media times. This gives you the opportunity to keep in touch with friends, family, and colleagues without it negatively impacting your productivity. 

Utilize video calls
Technology has come a long way over the past decade. You don’t need to be in the same room, to keep in touch with clients and colleagues. Instead, you can utilize video calling software. Whether you use something like Apple’s Facetime or Skype, the ever-popular Zoom, you can feel much more connected to people. The ability to hear and see them can make a big difference in limiting how isolated you feel.

Set reminders for birthdays and events
You can still celebrate special occasions and events such as birthdays, by setting yourself calendar reminders. This will ensure that even when you’re out of the office, you still stay connected with colleagues during these special times. I had a birthday during the lockdown. Since I had to cancel my trip to Central America, I decorated my space with traditional colors from each country, ate like locals do, listened to their music, and watched travel stories. I tried to follow the day’s exact schedule of activities as much as I can, virtually.

Respond to communication quickly
If you receive emails from colleagues and clients, make sure you respond quickly. When you’re working in isolation, waiting hours, or even days, just to get a reply can be tough. So, ensure your colleagues and clients don’t feel ignored by responding as quickly as you can to communication.

Look into networking opportunities. There are meetup groups, business networks, and other opportunities to get together with other like-minded people. You might even grow your business (if self-employed) through these activities. Get out of the house on a regular basis and mingle. Go to meetup.com and get started.

Create a routine. It might not make sense, but having a routine can help to beat feelings of isolation. It’s easy to sit and stare out the window when you work alone. Having a schedule prevents this. You’ll also know when your next dose of human contact is coming. Make a routine and force yourself to stick with it.

Get a pet (if you can). Consider getting a dog. A fish or cat might be more your style, but dogs are more interactive. Your dog will always be happy to see you. The cat might not care. No one will understand just how brilliant you are more than your dog.

These are some of the best ways to stay connected when you’re working from home. It isn’t always easy, but if you make the effort, you’ll feel much less isolated. It can be a real shock to the system moving from office to home working. So, allow yourself a period of adjustment to deal with the changes and adopt a more flexible working approach. Isolation and self-employment, and or working from home, don’t have to go hand-in-hand. With a little planning, you can find plenty of people to share part of your day. You don’t have to suffer just because you work at home. There are options for enjoying regular human contact. Take advantage of them and leave your isolation behind.

Until the next post,
Best,
Juan

Distraction-free zone


I had every intention of posting much earlier than today. As a person of color living in NYC, as you can imagine, recent events surrounding the death of George Flloyd in MN, USA,  have captivated our attention. I needed time to step back, reflect, and decide what is next. I know you are bombarded from news all over the world already, but let me just say this, if you have supported the cause and movement in any way, THANK YOU. Now onto my WFH series!

One thing you have to master when you work from home is minimizing distractions. Household chores, TV, social media, and kids are some of the big ones. So, how exactly should you deal with these distractions to ensure you can work more efficiently? Below, you’ll discover some great tips. I hope you find them useful.

Turn distractions into rewards.
Distractions don’t have to be a bad thing. They can be used to reward yourself after completing work tasks. For example, if you love nothing more than to curl up in front of the TV watching your favorite shows, allow yourself the opportunity to watch something after completing a big project. Similarly, you could use social media in the same way. Once you’ve completed a task off your to-do list, reward yourself with a short period of time on your social media channels. Using distractions as a reward can help to keep you stay focused, and boost your motivation to get your work done.

Consider working in various parts of the home
It’s common to set aside just one place to work from. However, did you know you may find it more productive to work in various areas of the home? It’s all about adding variety into your new working environment. Some days, the spare room may be the best place to get work done. Other times, you may find it more beneficial to work on the dining room table, or in the back yard. Don’t limit yourself to where you can work, mix it up, and watch your productivity levels increase.

Add a little background music
This tip might not be useful to everyone, but many professionals claim working with background music, can limit their distractions. You’ll want to focus on calming music, rather than something that makes you want to sing along. Alternatively, listening to podcasts and audiobooks in the background can also work well. So, if you struggle with productivity, try adding a little background noise and see if it makes a difference.

Check emails sparingly
Checking emails is important when you work from home. However, it can also take up a lot of time. Try to limit how many times you check them during the day. Ideally, first thing in the morning, then after you’ve completed each task you’re working on. Some adjustment is required, depending on the type of work project.

Turn off notifications
Finally, a great tip is to turn off those notifications. Social media, news, and app notifications can prove really distracting when you’re working from home. It’s not always easy limiting distractions when you work from home, but it can be done, and with practice, it will become a norm for you.

Until the next post,
Best,
Juan

#officeessentials


Let’s be real, the pandemic caught many people with their pants down. The list is long. There is more than enough coulda, shoulda, woulda, to go around. Millions were not prepared to work from home. However, we managed, we quickly adapted to our new normals. Have you now made plans to change how you live and work? Do you no longer want to be tied to your 9-5 desk? Reopening NYC will take place in stages, however, we are getting close, and it looks like sometime next month, the majority of us will be back on the road. Last month, the only Birthday promise I made to myself, was to not let the next one, find me slaving away for an employer. No sir. I am getting ready for a full-time self-employed role, working from home!

So, how do you and I set up the “office” environment to accommodate the new and emerging trends? If you want to boost your productivity levels when working from home, it helps to set up an office. Having an area purely dedicated to working will help you to separate work from leisure. The question is, how can you set up an effective home office environment? Here, you’ll discover some of the best ways to do so, and other key things to consider.

Consider how long you’ll be working from home.
The first thing you need to think about is how long you’ll be working from home. If it’s only a very short period of time, it would be pointless investing in an entire home office set up. In this case, it would be better to invest in just the essentials. However, if you have the budget, and plans to continue working from home, it could be worth setting up a permanent home office. Do it once, in the right way, and it will pay off in the long run.  

Making sure you have the right equipment.
You’re going to need some level of equipment to work from home. At the very least, a laptop or desktop computer and a desk. If you aren’t setting up a permanent home office, you can use things such as the dining room table or a makeshift bedroom office. Some people are even getting creative and using an ironing board as a stand-up desk option. Space needs to be dedicated to working and away from general foot traffic. Chances are you will be accessing private information for companies and other employees. Don’t be fooled into thinking that because you are home, it’s okay to leave your computer unlocked, when you step away. Consider how you would react if you found out, your personal information was left unprotected. Another important thing to consider is a reliable, secure internet connection. So many American companies are now requiring WFH employees to use a wired, Ethernet connection. Personally, I hate slow internet connections! Last year, I upgraded to 1Gig speed, I can’t go back. 

You need natural sunlight.
When you’re stuck indoors, you won’t be getting as much natural sunlight as you usually would. This can have an impact on how productive and motivated you are. Numerous studies have revealed the damaging impact limited natural daylight can have, on workers in an office setting. The same applies to the home. Try to set up your home office space in a part of the home, which helps you to benefit from some form of daylight. If there isn’t a space available, you might want to consider investing in a daylight bulb. These are designed to replicate natural daylight.

Focus on Comfort
Your home office should be a comfortable place to work. This means, providing plenty of support for your back if you’re working at a desk for example. If you aren’t comfortable, you’re not going to get much work done. Whatever you do, please invest in a proper chair. Thank me later. You’ll also find it beneficial to surround yourself with things that make you happiest, such as photos of the family, plants, or flowers.

Take Meaningful Breaks!
If you are not mindful, you will work five or six hours before stopping for lunch. Give your eyes a break from the screen. It’s so tempting to have your phone close by to check social media, during your break. Get up and move around. Meaningful breaks include taking a walk, doing some stretches, reading a chapter from your favorite book, meditation, listening to music, etc. Make that time count. The 3pm slump will have nothing on you, and won’t leave you feeling drained and unproductive

These are just a few basics to consider when setting up a home office. Whether you’re setting up a permanent or temporary office space, your environment should encourage productivity,  be comfortable, and gives you more than just freedom. Next week, we will look at how to deal with distractions.

Until the next post,
Best,
Juan

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