6 Tips for Working from Home and Staying Productive

Having my current job as a supervisor in a healthcare facility has meant that throughout the pandemic, I have been considered an essential worker. There were no initiatives for me or my staff to work from home. That said, I was able to bargain with my team, and convinced them to let me work from home if need be, this only happened when I had large reports to do and getting them done in the office seemed like an impossible feat.

From that experience and after talking to my cousin who has been working from home since the start of the pandemic, I have compiled a shortlist of tips and tricks to being as productive as possible when working from home.

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  1. Create a separate space for yourself in your home where you go to solely focus on work. I’ll be honest, sometimes I follow this and sometimes I don’t, I think on occasion it is good to change things up, and switching up your environment is part of that. As humans, our subconscious minds are quite smart. We learn to associate things from past experience. For example, have you ever been walking down the street and came across a familiar smell or song and have been brought back to a memory from your past? This is association and your mind will do the same thing when you try to bring your worklife into your home. This is why it is so important to have a separate area for your work if you have to work from home.
  2. Before you start your day, bring some drinks coffee or tea, and water, as well as some healthy snacks to your workspace so you can take micro-breaks without losing momentum.
  3. Take full breaks – it may feel like you don’t need them as much when you’re working from home, because you’re in your own space, you don’t have as many things or people pulling you away from your work, etc. But do take a full 30 min to hour-long break, to reset your mind and stretch your legs.
  4. Get yourself ready just as you would if you go into work physically. If that means you get up and shower, style your hair, and do your makeup, then do that. This will get you in the mindset that you are going to work and will break the association your subconscious mind has that it is time to relax when you are at home in your pajamas.
  5. Let your family know your working hours, obviously, young children are an exception to this. But, if you are able to avoid getting pulled away from your work during your work hours, you will be far more productive than otherwise.
  6. Track every expense and keep all of your receipts. When tax time comes, this will be super helpful for you and you will be able to claim some of your business expenses for tax credits.
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Working from home can be very different from working at your workplace and it can impact your work-life balance if you are not careful about setting boundaries between the two. I hope the tips above will help with navigating where those boundaries lie. If you have any good tips to share please do in the comments below!

Stay tuned for more.

Until then, keep on keeping on folks.

Why I Stopped Bullet Journaling. Planner Fail and How to Fix It.

The Bullet Journal, a planner system invented by Ryder Caroll, has been one of the most popular planning systems on the internet since the Filofax. I’ve been using planners for at least a decade, through my years of being a student in high school and then university and working full-times jobs throughout.

My Planner Journey

I started off my planner journey by buying a cheap, undated, Martha Stewart notebook from Target and making it eseentialy into a bullet journal, but before Ryder Carol actually created the concept of bullet journalling.

I took my notebook around with me everywhere and basically turned it into a DIY planner. Some pages would have lists on them or general notes and some were strictly planner pages with to do lists and my work and class schedules. I used crayola markers as highlighters to spruce it up.

One day while shopping at Winners I lucked out and found a Malden Filofax and this is where my planner journey truly kicked off. The binder was stunning, it had beautiful and bendable black leather, that only improved with age. The Malden was my sidekick, I carried it everywhere I went and it housed everything.

Black Personal Sized Malden Filofax
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I used my Filofax throughout my victory lap in high school and at several jobs. But eventually, the small amount of writing space and the annoying binder rings drove me to buy a bigger A5 sized Fusion filofax. This one i loved as well, with more writing spcae and room to decorate i was able to use it for more. But eventually, the bulkiness of this binder sarting becoming a nuissance and I stopped using it as my daily planner.

I will still use this binder, I’ve put a lot of my language learning matierals in it.

Black A5 Fusion Filofax

After the Fusion, I purchased the Nude Original Filofax. Again, another great binder, but I couldn’t use it for long, for the same reasons as before, writing space and the binder rings. It was around this time that the Bullet Journal was starting to become popular and I was going into my first year of university and was on the hunt for something simple and effective.

So I went to Target and bought a plain black, lined Moleskine and started my first Bullet Journal. And it was amazing, it was the best planning system I had ever used because it was built by me for me. I used the bullet journalling style as an inspiration but made it my own completely. For my daily spreads, I printed out Chronodex Diagrams and glued them into my planner, I would put labels around the Chronodex in the top half and on the bottom half, I had my “Bullet Journal List” including, appointments/events, to-dos, notes, reminders, etc. It was fantastic and now that I am thinking about it, I might have to go back to it if my current solution doesn’t work out.

Black Hardcover Moleskine
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I stayed with the Bullet Journal for years and enjoyed it very much. Sometimes I miss it, but I also want to keep trying new things. I did fall out it bullet journaling in my last notebook. For quite a few reasons, but namely, because I was trying to use it for both work and my personal life and it wasn’t working for me anymore.

I bought an iPad Pro and figured I may as well try out digital planning. But I knew I didn’t want to do a free hand planner digitally, so I went through Etsy and picked the planner that looked the most versatile, the most filled with features, and had a minimalist aesthetic (shoutout to forLittleLion on Etsy). I used the digital planner for a few months and moderately enjoyed it. But I was using it for both work and my personal life again, and it truly wasn’t working for me. I was also running into issues with wanting to use my planner’s work notes as documentation but couldn’t because I have personal notes written on the same page.

Today, I use the Clever Fox Planner Pro. I have only been using it for about two to three weeks, but so far I am loving. Stay tuned if you want to know why I love it, a full review is coming soon. I have an entirely different solution for work, and so far, I think this is going to work for me for a while. Stay tuned for a post about that work solution. The only thing I see as maybe changing in the future is my personal planner, because it may get boring for me.What is the solution to planner fail? I think the solution to planner fail, really depends on the problem itself, so the answer will definitely not be the same for every person. For me, the issue was that after I got the job I have now, I was struggling to mesh my working life and my personal life into one planner. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t make it work.

Yellow Clever Fox Planner Pro

If you followed the progression of my planner story, then it should be obvious as to what the first step is, it is to diagnose your issue. Really take the time to reflect on your planning goals, needs, and wants and think about the ways in which your current system supports that and the ways it does not. This will help you narrow down your options and determine what you need to make things work for you.

Once you diagnose the problem. Start working on the solution.

Make sure to sign up for my email subscription and follow me on social media, so you don’t miss out on the follow-ups to this post.

As always, thanks for reading folks and all the best on your journey to planner peace!

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3 Keys to Studying as a Working Professional

In my first post, I mentioned that I am not completely settled in my career. I am happy where I am, but there are places where I can improve. And, as it turns out, I have found a way to improve that will open up opportunities for me in the future. So, I’m working on doing that. I am taking a certificate course.

The thought of doing coursework while working a full-time job can sometimes feel overwhelming. But, I did it for years, and just signed myself up to do it again. So, it is definitely possible. Below are my three keys for working a full-time, professional job, and completing a course or degree at the same time.

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  1. Find time wherever you can. I have been dedicating my mornings to working on the blog. This is the productive – get something done – step of my morning routine. For more information on that check out my last post. I plan my course around my partner’s schedule, if he is working an evening shift I work on my course as much as possible, so when he’s off earlier I can spend more quality time with him.
  2. Make your course as accessible and flexible as possible. If you can do certain aspects of your course on your phone while commuting or taking your lunch break, do it. Read course related materials on the go. When I was a full-time student in school (and working a full-time job), I would read my school materials from my phone and dictate my notes to the Evernote app, this was especially good for English Literature courses. I maybe looked a little crazy, walking around the world talking to myself, but this was truly a fast way to work. Then when I got home, my reading was done, I just had to organize my notes and get started on my assignments and quizzes or studying. Make notes in a smaller notebook, it will be easier for you to take around. At the moment, the course I am taking is 100% online. It’s also 100% web-based which makes doing work on the go a little bit more challenging. That said, the course has a few recommended readings, that are usually articles in PDF form, so when those come around, they are downloaded to my drive and read on the go.
  3. Otherwise, this all boils down to time management. The first step, for me, is to find out how much time it takes to make progress in your course. For example, my course is broken down into lessons. Each lesson consists of several modules, which are just lengthy information dumps. Then, you have five assignments and one quiz. I know that each module takes between 5-20 minutes to get through depending on how long it is. I also know that each assignment takes between one or two hours, give or take. Once I have that information, I sit down with my planner, the course outline and I jot down my goals for the week. Taking into account my own schedule, work tasks, personal tasks, and my partner’s schedule, so I can maximize my time with him as well. Plan your time out well, and stick to that plan. Use techniques like calendar blocking to manage your time or pomodoro. Use strategies like the Eisenhower Matrix to prioritize what needs to be done now. Do what matters most and is the quickest to do first. Do what matters most and is the longest to do next. Do your work-work first and your studying later, but make sure you find time for it.

These are my three keys to studying while working full-time position, I hope they help you with working out how to better manage taking a course while working. Sometimes, it can be really discouraging and it can feel like you don’t have enough time in a day or week to get things done. When this happens, it’s a good idea to step back and reflect on what is truly important and focus your time and energy on that.

There are a lot of strategies and tools out there that can help you maximize your time and productivity. Phone apps, philosophies, planners, and much more!

Stay tuned if you want to see more about managing your time and increasing productivity and the tools that can help you do that. I have posts planned on planners (no pun intented), Getting Things Done, Eisenhower’s matrix, Pomodoro technique, and more!

Thanks for reading folks! As Disney once said, “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing”. So, go start doing!

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How to Find Work-Life Balance?

What is work-life balance?

Work-life balance is the equilibrium between your career, its impact on your life, and its relationship with your personal, home life. Work-life balance in the sociological lens generally has a stronger focus on family-life for working mothers and fathers. The sociological lens outlines the difference between paid work and unpaid domestic work and the impact of women’s paid work on families. I don’t have children at the moment, so I can’t really relate, but I can say I can only imagine the numerous challenges that mothers and fathers face when they go back to the workforce and essentially double their workload. But, for now, that’s not really what this post and blog is about.

You do not have to be a parent or have kids around to have a need for work-life balance. Everyone needs equilibrium between how much focus and energy they put into their work versus their home life.

Why is work-life balance important?

If you do have kids, you should find a way to balance your work life and family life for the betterment of your children’s lives. Finding this balance would contribute to a healthy and happy family. For a lot of professionals, that means keeping your paid work at work and focusing on your family when you’re at home. Make dediciated time to your family when you are off, so you can focus on and build those relationships.

Prioritizing work-life balance would also help with making your relationship, if you’re in one, stronger as well. If you’re not in a relationship, finding a good work-life balance will give you time to date.

Prioritizing work-life balance is also beneficial, for most importantly, yourself! It means you’re prioritizing your own physical and mental health. It means you are putting your happiness first in all aspects of your life, without hindering your career progress or your personal relationships and health.

If you work from home, snuggle up with a fur baby! They make almost anything more enjoyable!
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How do we achieve a work-life balance?

Making time for the people in your life. Foster a strong support system at home for yourself and your family by focusing on them when you have the time. Put your emails on quiet mode when you’re off so you are not needlessly distracted at work. If you’re like me and are in management you may need to keep an eye on your emails, so make an effort to check once an hour or two instead of having notifications on. Another email tip, if you use Outlook at work, set rules to automatically file emails into relevant folders. This will not only keep you organized with less effort, but it will also limit the amount of notifications coming your way. If something is automatically filed, you won’t get a beep notifying you of it.

As someone who works in management, I have found that it can be really difficult to set aside time to sit down and eat your lunch. Set aside a lunch hour and either close your door or physically leave the office for lunch. If you can’t manage to do this, your meal will likely be interupted.

Same thing goes for getting exercise, which is especially important and difficult if you work at a desk. If you have an hour for lunch, I would highly recommend setting aside half of it for eating and relaxing and the other half for getting some exercise. Go for a walk around or within the building you work in.

Make sure you are prioritizing your health over your work. Eventually, your health will catch up with you and impact your work, so it is best to prioritize it and prevent any health issues that can be prevented.

Obviously, if you work a physically demanding job, exercise is less important. But, meals are even more important than those who work at a desk. Your body needs fuel to support your work and if you don’t supply it, you’ll be running on empty. You’ll likely lose weight too fast and won’t gain any muscle mass. In the long term it can cause you to gain weight because your body will get into the habit of retaining fat in order to burn calories to support your work.

Mental health is also very important to maintaining a healthy work-life balance. I highly recommend meditation as a means of bringing your mind back to a settled place. Meditation can look different for everyone, there is no right way and no wrong way to meditate. As long as you are working to clear your mind, you are on the right track. Journalling, or some other source of reflection is highly recommended as well. It is important to touch base with yourself regularly and reflect on whether you are on the right track to meeting your goals.

If you’re interested in achieving a work-life balance, stay tuned! I will be consistently posting about the topics above and how they contribute to a healthy work-life balance. Let me know in the comments below if there are any topics in particular you’d like me to dive deeper into.

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5 Things You Need to Do Every Morning to Increase Productivity!

How you spend your mornings is so important to setting the tone for the rest of the day. This is why it is a good idea to get a productive start and thrive on that momentum.

Below is a list of 5 easy things you can do to help achieve a sense of accomplishment in the morning and set yourself up for a prodcuvitve day.

  1. Drink a glass of water and eat a small meal or snack (unless your an intermittent faster or not into breakfast – but the water is a must). Drinking water quenches your thirst after 6-10 hours of being dehydrated from sleeping and, not drinking water. Your body and brain will be pleased with you. You will defog your brain and switch over to a high alert mode.
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  1. Do a mind sweep or a brain dump. It is hard to be productive when you have a list of to-dos and reminders swirling around in your mind. Start your morning by sitting down with your beverage of choice and your favourite notepad, and jot down pretty much everything that comes to mind. You want to empty out your brain. As soon as you get something on paper, your brain will ease up on the constant reminder, because you have implemented a fail-safe to avoid forgetting.
  2. Set your intentions for the day. Now, exchange that notepad for your planner, phone app, journal, or whatever it is that you use to plan out your day. Setting your intentions for the day will increase the chance that you will do what you set out to do. Avoid making a long list of chores for yourself, your list should be attainable. I usually set out a maximum priority task, along with 2-3 high priority tasks. Your maximum priority task should be the unmissable task of the day, the task that, if completed, you will feel like you did what you needed to do today.
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  1. Get something done first thing (even if it’s small) in the morning to get your momentum going. This could be literally anything! Work on a personal development course, read a book, listen to a podcast, work on your side hustle, learn a new language or skill, clean, workout … literally, anything. This will make you feel productive and will inspire you to keep chopping away at your priority to-do list.
  2. Do something that makes you happy. It’s a good idea to make sure you start the day off with something that makes you happy – this will contribute to attaining your perfect work-life balance and will make it so that you are looking forward to your mornings as opposed to dreading them and hitting the snooze button a hundred times. Small enjoyable things you can do in the morning can be, putting on your makeup, listening to music, hugging a loved one, snuggling a fur baby or whatever else puts a smile on your face.
This is me snuggling with the pooch! The snuggles started my morning off right!

Mornings can oftentimes be stressful. But, if you give yourself enough time to get ready for the day and do these 5 things every morning to maximize your productivity, you will find mornings can actually be quite enjoyable.

Is there anything that you do daily that contribute to your productivity? Let us know in the comments below!

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Why am I here?

Remember me? Probably not. But that’s okay. I am here to let you know that I am rebooting my YouTube channel and putting up a blog. And, why should you care? Well, let me tell you.

But first, a little bit about me. I am approaching thirty years old. I graduated from university a couple of years go and my current job has absolutely nothing to do with my degree. That doesn’t bother me so much, I mean, the skills I learned in school are transferable and I could always go back in a few years if I really wanted to. But, I do catch myself wondering what it is I should be doing? Do I have a specific career “calling”, because if I do, I haven’t heard it yet. And I guess you could say I am losing time.

Anyway, the job I have now is pretty good. I supervise a small, non-clinical office within a hospital, and I really do enjoy it. Yet, there is progress to be made. With a little bit of education and skill building I should be able to find a better position within this industry.

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So, I’m starting a blog and a YouTube channel? Why am I telling you about my career?

If you’ve seen my YouTube videos from the past, you know that I have an interest in productivity, planning, organization, and personal development. I love stationary and finding excuses to use it. I love pens, pencils, highlighters, paper, markers, notebooks, and planners. I enjoy working on my own personal development and striving for improvement. I am also a Libra. And naturally (probably moreso, coincidentally), I walk around touting the importance of balance. And at this point of my life going forward, I am working to achieve the perfect work-life balance. I want to truly enjoy and be proud of the work I do and I want to be able to be happy and at peace when I am at home.

The plan for this blog is to document my journey establishing the perfect work-life balance (for me) and this will include covering various topics on personal and professional development, for you! Topics will include, but won’t be limited to, organized living, healthy-ish living, personal development, career development, book reviews on similar topics, 30-day challenges, personal budgeting, fitness, and much, much more!

Why? Well, I am doing this for a couple of reasons. First, I keep finding myself looking for a way to make my free time more productive. Second, I need a new creative outlet, and I am not an artist by any means. I am more of a writer and as some of you may know, I have dabbled in video making and editing in the past.

Why does this all matter to you? If you’re looking for ways to improve your life, if you’re looking for ways to prioritize your work-life balance, or if you enjoy lifestyle content, then stick around, you might like what you find!

If anything above sounds like something you are interested in, please follow along, and subscribe!

Thanks for reading, and welcome to By The Scales.

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