5 Tips for Working at Home

5 Easy Tips for Working from Home  | CandidlyKelseyBlog.com

By some crazy accident, I’m managed to get jobs that have left me working from home for the last year.

First it was with the CSAC, where I interned from home (which is what prompted me to start this blog!) and then when they hired me on as a director, I rotated between my couch, one of our schools, and the local Panera Bread as my work stations.

Now at my new job in Chicago, we’re without an office space for a few months so I’m back at working from home again. Funny how that works out, huh?

Basically, I’ve become a master at working from “home.”  Other than the major perk being you can wear whatever you want, there are a few downsides.  And if you lack a specific home office— or even a desk— that can be a huge problem. I’ve talked about how to stay productive at home before but a whole year of experience has added some new hacks to the system.

Thankfully, for those of you struggling with (or without!) the home office, you have me to help you.  Allow me to share my vast experience in the world of working without an office:

1. Start your day like you would if you were heading to an office.

You wouldn’t head to a real office without brushing your teeth or putting on a bra, so you shouldn’t do that at home either. Get up, eat breakfast, and get ready for the day as if you would be leaving the house.  I’m not saying put on a full face of make-up and your business casual, but the actual act of getting yourself ready for the day will help you trick your mind into getting into a productive headspace far better than if you just stayed in your pajamas.

2.  Plan your breaks and stick with them.

Keep your brain in “work mode” by planning your day like you would if you were working a typical job.  Work all the way until your designated lunch time, and don’t allow yourself to get distracted before then. If you work from your couch, it can be super easy to forget that you’re working and just zone out in front of the TV, so make sure you plan for your “break time” and stick to those times.

3.  Don’t work where you play.

In Ohio, I worked specifically from the couch, or the kitchen table. Those were my designated “work spots” and my mind knew that.  Now, in my studio apartment the only real sitting area is my bed (AKA, where I spend all my time) so I’ve designated my workspace as being the floor in front of my bed. Totally glamorous, I know.  But the floor is way better than working on in the same position that I normally watch Netflix and cruise Pinterest.

If I ever feel distracted on the floor (or stir-crazy, because I never leave my apartment) I take my computer down to a local coffee shop, or anywhere with WIFI. Sometimes the change of pace is good and you can re-focus yourself at this new space. Wherever you choose to work just make sure you associate it with only working to help keep yourself focused.

4.  “If you couldn’t do it at an office, you shouldn’t do it at home”

I used to constantly be watching TV when I worked from home in Ohio. I would tell myself I’m sticking to only boring shows for background noise but it was still super distracting. Normal people probably can’t have Netflix playing in the background of their workday, so why should you?

It’s a major temptation, but totally worth it to keep the TV off while you work. Since I’ve been actually making myself follow this rule my productivity has increased so much. You may think you can multi-task but each time you stop what you’re doing you’re losing your focus on your work.  So no painting nails, doing laundry, baking cookies, or cleaning the house while you should be working. Save those for your lunch break.

5.  Create your office atmosphere.

You won’t be productive if you are surrounded by chaos. Especially chaos that is associated with your home life. If you’re lucky enough to have a desk then set up to fit your working style. If you don’t have a specific work space then make sure you have everything you’d need at arms reach, and you have secluded yourself as much as possible if there is chaos around you. Move the basket of laundry that needs folding so it’s not reminding you of other things to do and pick up all the cat’s toys so you won’t be tempted to finally teach her how to fetch.  Where ever you are make sure it’s got a productive atmosphere with no distractions.

If you’re in a public space, I highly recommend getting headphones. I love listening to Spotify EDM playlists when I work. They are full of upbeat songs with very little lyrics to distract me, and the music keeps me awake and motivated. Time passes much quicker when I have Steve Aoki in the background.

And if all else fails, motivate yourself with good food. Most offices have a pizza party at least once a year, right? You’re your own boss at your home office, friend.  Pizza parties can be everyday. Or donut parties. I highly recommend donut parties.

Got any working-at-home tips?  Share them in the comments!

xo, kelsey (2)

Low-Cost Ways to Decorate Your Rented Space

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If you live in a rental, or a sublet like me, then you know you have only a few options when it comes to decorating.  Not only am I living on someone else’s furniture right now (and someone else’s mattress… gross), but I’m in someone else’s home.  None of my decorations can be permanent, which makes personalizing my space a little tricky.

Luckily, I’m a creative thinker and determined to make my tiny apartment feel like my own little sanctuary, so I’ve found a few ways around it.

1.  Coffee beans.  Add them to anything and everything you can.  A big container of whole coffee beans is rather cheap, they smell good, and add some eclectic funk to your decor.  I’ve used them to hold make-up brushes in old jars, and at the bottom of a candle holder.

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2.  Get some funky lights.  Before moving, I got Rose Flower String Lights.  Unlit, they are white fabric, so they look pretty against the white curtains that came with my apartment.  And lit, they add a soft yellow glow to the room.  Drape them over some shelves, above your closet, or above your window, like I did.

3.  If your apartment is severely lacking in storage space, make the things that have to sit out look good.  I took some ceramic containers from a thrift shop, then added some $10 chalk board decals from Crate and Barrel to make fun labels.  Saved myself some cabinet space, but also added some decor to my kitchen.

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4.  Hang pictures and decorations with leaving a mark on the walls with velcro Command Picture and Frame Hanging Strips. I put up my entire gallery wall using just velcro strips.  Each hung-up piece means something to me, which really makes me feel like this is my home.

5.  Repurpose whatever you can.  I always save glass jars, no matter what.  I turned burned up candle into a wide-mouth coffee-bean-filled glass jar for my make-up brushes, and a old salsa jar holds cotton pads in my bathroom. Adding a shiny spray paint to old items can make them look expensive.  Gold, copper, silver, or whatever on cheap plastic decor can really make a difference.  I did some spray painting myself a a few months ago, and I’m still loving how it makes some of my cheaper finds look more expensive.

Got any other ideas to cheap ways to dress up your rental?  Let me know!

xo, kelsey (2)

Urban Decay Naked 2 Palette Look: Bright “Chopper” Eyes

Let’s try this again, shall we?

Thursday night prompted a little bit of a “treat yo self” frenzy after getting a paycheck and my tax return all in one day.  I celebrated with finally splurging on a few items on my wish list, including the Urban Decay Naked 2 palette.

“Chopper” has to be my favorite color in the whole palette. I just love the bright rose-gold hue of it, especially paired with “Half-Baked”.  Friday was my marathon work day, with opening the gym and then going right to Applebee’s after, so I wanted something bright that would help me look far more awake than I actually felt.

I fell in love with this look and just how alert it made my eyes look– even at 5am.  I started with the Urban Decay Original Potion Primer, then  I finished off the look with a little flick from my Kat Von D Tattoo Liner and some mascara, bing-bang-boom.

This look also earned me a “Wow, that looks professionally done” from one my favorites at the gym.  Nothing makes you feel prettier in your ripped, and stained work t-shirt and dirty leggings than a comment like that, let me tell ya. *hair flips*

PS.  Also, who knew that the 7am sunrise coming through the front windows of the gym and taking a SnapChat selfie would allow me to finally get a decent picture of an eyeshadow look?  Suck it, expensive DSLR cameras.

Get the look:
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xo, kelsey (2)

Idiot Proof Sweet Potato Gnocchi

I had fancy gnocchi at a fancy Italian restaurant in Chicago about two years ago, and it’s been in my dreams ever since.  Chewy potato dumplings in delicious sauces… basically tiny mashed potato balls.  Fancy Italian carbs?!  I’m so down.

So, like all good curious twenty-somethings, I searched Pinterest for an easy recipe to make my own.  And what’s better than regular potato dough balls?  Sweet potato dough balls.  Say it with me: YAAAAAAAAAAAS.
Full disclosure, I was apparently too lazy to actually click the link to the recipe, and instead just followed the directions in the pin description.  My method was as follows:
Step 1: Cook sweet potato (roast it for better flavor, or boil in microwave for laziness)
Step 2: Mash sweet potato.
Step 3: Add flour until it reaches a dough-like consistency, about 1/2 – 1 cup per potato.  Season with salt and pepper.
Step 4: Form into gnocchi shapes, and boil until they float.
Optional Step 5: Toss in butter, shredded parmesan and chicken, and then devour like you’ve been stuck on an island for a month without access to what one could loosely refer to as Italian food.
Optional Step 6: Tease your cat with it.
The pin links back to what looks like a delicious recipe from The Kitchen Paper.  In addition to the sauce she calls for, her recipe for the gnocchi gets kind of fancy, calling for adding egg and cheese to the mix before boiling.  Having made it several times using my very stupid simplified recipe above, I think adding the egg and cheese would probably take this to another level.
If that’s your style, that is.  My style is laziness and low standards, but whatever.
The best part of this recipe is that it’s super hard to screw it up, because even if you undercook the potato or overcook the gnocchi, it’s still chunks of sweet potato.  How is that a bad thing?  
Answer: it’s never a bad thing.
Bon Appetit!

xo, kelsey (2)

Make-Up Tutorials Are F#*@ing Hard: Soft Pink/Gold Eyes

I planned ahead for this one, I swear.

I created a pinky-gold shimmer eye make up look yesterday that I really adored, so I thought I’d blog it.  Who knew meticuliously recreating the look, including cleaning up all the little whoopsies I normally have so they didn’t show up in the picture would be the easy part?
Seriously, WHAT is the secret for photographing make-up looks?  Maybe it’s having a camera better than an iPhone 5s, or having lighting other than the fading Midwest sunlight or the orange glow of your bedroom light?  
I tried different angles.  I tried dimming my lights. I tried moving around my room– including sitting on the floor and creating a mismatched tripod (i.e.– balancing my arms on a few boxes so my phone in my hands wouldn’t shake).  NOTHING WORKED.
Damn, beauty gurus.  Good for you guys.  This sh*ts hard.
So here it is anyway:

 The colors in the palette and in the first picture translate far better than they do on any picture I could get of just my face.  I promise it really looks pinky-gold in real life.

Base:  Maybelline Color Tattoo in “Inked in Pink” all over the lid.
Outer half of the lid:  Naked “Sidecar”
Inner half of lid, and under lower lash line:  Naked “Sin”
Crease:  Naked “Hustle”
Just below brow bone for highlight:  Naked “Virgin” blended down into the crease

Finish off with a light flick of Kat Von D Tattoo Eyelinder in “Trooper” and your mascara of the moment.  I used Cover Girl “lash blast fusion” but any will do.

And that’s it.

If you have any photography tips for me, please let me know.  This sh*t is frustrating.

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xo, kelsey (2)