5 Tips for Working at Home

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.  I used to be so bad at this, but 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, set up to fit your working style.  If you don’t have a specific work space, 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 folded so it’s not reminding you of other things to do, and pick up all the cats 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!

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Totally Fool-Proof Guide to Living Alone

living alone, studio apartment, chicago

Hey, hi, howdy, hello and welcome to Kelsey’s Guide.  I’ll be your tour guide, Kelsey. Today we’re going to be talking about living alone.

Have you recently moved to a new city and are living by yourself?  Great! So am I! Allow me to share some of my wisdom with you:

Step 1: Adopt a cat.  Extra special bonus points if you came with a cat already with you.  So when all of your friends are busy and you have no reason to leave the apartment, you can cuddle your cat while looking out the window and crying as you watch all the people with social lives walking by.

Step 2: Never put on pants.  Remember, this is not just specific to living alone.  Pants at home should be optional all the time– especially when you forget that the cable guy is coming and you told the company it was okay to just come on in, as you probably won’t be home. This also doubles as a really great way to meet new people! If you want to really go for the gold, go braless as well.

Step 3: Only own 3 forks.  Because you live by yourself, duh.  Why would you ever need more than 3 forks?  You’ll obviously wash them immediately after each use, so why bother keeping any spares around?  You can totally eat your frozen lasagna with a spoon when you forget that all 3 of your forks are in the dishwasher.  Don’t forget to use your shirt as a napkin too.

Step 4: If you think you may need a third or fourth hand to do something, just forget it and try anyway!  Though it may have hurt like hell when your curtain rod fell on your head the other day while you were laying in bed, you should totally be able to put it back up by yourself with no help at all. Your cat can let you know if you’re hanging it straight.

Step 5: Never worry about your safety, like being home alone or letting anyone know where you are going.  Don’t worry about keeping any sort of safety measures in your apartment, like mace or a baseball bat by your bed– you can totally handle it all on your own if someone breaks in at night.  Going out? Got a date with at total stranger?  Perfect! Make sure not to tell anyone so that if he turns out to be a psycho, nobody has to know!

Step 6: Eat anything you want.  Because there’s nobody around you judge you.  And I’m being serious on this one.

Hope these tips helped!  Anyone else living alone?  What are your extra fun tips?  Let me know!

PS.  I’m kidding about #5 (but only #5– the rest were totally legit). You need to be safe. Seriously– Wasp and Hornet spray from any hardware store and keep it by your bed.  That sh*t sprays from super far away, so you can get someone as they come in your door.  Also, it makes like a super cute decoration next to your brand new bedspread!

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Dress Up The Dullness & “Mini Happies”

glitter, blog, coffee, happiness, mood booster, working, happiness, motivation, mini happies, sprinkle of glitter, sprinkle of chatter, candidly kelsey, lifestyle blog

One thing I’ve been struggling with the last few months at home has been feeling like my life is in a rut.  I feel like all I do is work, blog, and work some more.  I’m averaging about 60 hours of work per week, so it’s not like that is totally untrue, but I’ve recently decided that feeling bad about it is a choice.

When people ask me, “What’s new?” and I literally have no answer for them, it’s not a good feeling.

Working can be monotonous.  Everyday can feel the same when you are going back and forth to the same things, the same schedule, the same places.  I am craving new experiences, new adventures, and new memories to add my life.  A little glitter to sprinkle on all of the day-to-day boring.

Which is how I think I became so involved with beauty products the past few months.  Until now, I got my little glitter by just living; everyday being different was a product of growing and learning while in school.  Now, as I’m in this place of working, saving, and waiting, there is very little natural glitter.

So I’ve decided to make my own sparkle.  New make-up looks, beauty products, cute things to add a little glitter and light to my everyday tasks.  It may not seem like a lot, but there is something a little thrilling about wearing a new make-up look with your regular, plain work uniform.  Or seeing a brand new notebook next to the same computer keyboard you stare at for 30 hours per week.

If you can’t get a change scenery, then change your existing landscape yourself.   Create your own glitter if you can’t find it naturally.

Lately, Sprinkle of Glitter has been doing this series on her Facebook page about listing her days’ “Mini Happies”.  (Choosing the phrase ‘a sprinkle of glitter’ for this post was sort of a happy coincidence, but check out that seamless transition, huh?).  She is encouraging everyone to look for the tiny happy things to help make everyday a good day.  I’ve been loving reading her updates, so I decided to start doing my own in my own private journal.  I thought it’d be fun to share some here too.

Mini Happies:

Even though I got stiffed by two incredibly rude tables yesterday at work, I had one table of a sweet older couple tip me $15 on their $30 dollar bill.  I’m not sure if they did it because they knew how crazed I was (with a party of 10 people, plus four other tables), or because they were genuinely nice people, but I almost cried when I saw it.

I brought my Chocolate Chip Cookie oatmeal with me to work yesterday morning, and a bunch of coworkers tried it and asked for the recipe.

It’s 70 degrees and windy this morning, so I am writing from the back patio with my animals curled up next to me.  It almost feels like summer.

I woke up to coffee already made, which was amazing.  Coffee + a pretty morning = happy Kelsey.

Do you have any ways to add some glitter to your life?  Or any mini happies to share?  I’d love to hear about them.

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Pretty Monday Words

 I don’t know about you, but I feel like I have been hanging on to the past few weeks for dear life.  Working too much with too many challenges, and I’m feeling kind of burnt out.  Whenever I feel like this, I like to hit up Pinterest– like any true twenty-something gal would– and look at quotes.  In between the Audrey Hepburns and quotes about not needin’ no man, there are a few good ones.

Here are some of my current favorites:

Inspiration

Inspiration

Inspiration
Inspiration
And, for when you are just beyond the motivation part, there’s always the second option:
Inspiration
Motivational Monday’s fun cousin: Margarita Monday.
Have a good week!

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HOW TO: Fit in at the Gym

(Paul Revere voice)

“The Resolutioners are coming, the Resolutioners are coming!”

Yes folks, ’tis the season of not being able to find parking at the gym, and your usual routine being interrupted by someone you’ve never seen before using your machine.  Happy January!

As both a gym employee and gym goer, I have enjoyed seeing both sides of January.  The annoyed but trying-to-be-patient face of the gym-regular AND the newbie with eyes as big and round as dinner plates (Mmm, dinner) as they try to figure out how to adjust the weights on the machine that said gym regular is waiting to use.

 Everyone was a newbie once, so I am definitely not knocking anyone trying to better themselves (I am trying to do the same right now,  but more on that at another time).  I’m just saying, it can be a rough time of year for all involved when it comes to gym.

Which is why I thought I’d help out some of the newbies by sharing a few tips from the inside.  As an employee, I see everything and hear everything, so I thought I’d share my knowledge that I’ve picked up over the years.

Exercise tips

1. Grunt.  It makes you look like you’re working really hard and is super impressive sounding.  If people stare at you, don’t worry.  It just means you’re doing it right.

2. Slam around weights.  Again, it’s all about being seen and heard at the gym.  The louder, the better. Assert your dominance and show them that you belong by illustrating your comfort with the equipment.

3. If you see someone’s water bottle or towel hanging off a machine, just assume they forgot it there and the machine is free.  Go ahead and use it, it’s fine.  And if someone comes back and gives you the  stink eye while you’re working out, it’s probably just because they’re jealous of how fit you are.

4. Make sure to leave your sweat stains on the equipment.  It shows how hard you worked and will motivate the person after you to work harder.  Cleaning it off when you’re done may seem like the responsible and clean thing to do, but it’s really just the opposite.

5.  Make sure you go out and buy special clothes just for the gym.  T-shirts and comfortable, stretchable pants/shorts just won’t cut it.  And the more expensive, the better.  And gentlemen, the cotton shorts are your best option.  You know, those ones that are super thin and basically just look like giant boxer shorts?  Those are perfect.  Gotta make sure you let your boys breath, ya know what I’m saying?  It’s just healthy.

6.  If you use chalk when you lift, make sure to sprinkle it all over the floor and leave some still on the bars when you’re done.  The person after you will be so grateful that you left some for them to use too, even if they don’t use chalk.  You’re so thoughtful!

7.  It’s totally okay to give someone unsolicited advice.  If they’re doing an exercise you’ve never seen before, then they probably are wrong and would love to have your help.  After all, there is only one way to do things when it comes to exercising.

8.  Pre-workout and protein are non-negotiable.  Get a GNC Gold Card and make sure everyone sees it.  Also, like #7, if someone is drinking a brand of protein that you don’t like, make sure to let them know.  They probably had no idea how bad it was and will appreciate your advice.

9.  Don’t worry about reracking your weights or picking up your equipment.  That’s what the gym employees are for, and it just gives everyone a little extra cardio when they have to walk around and look for the equipment they need.  So, really, you’re just doing everyone else around you a service by leaving the place in shambles.  Good job, you.

10.  Gym hours are just a suggestion.  If it’s closing, but you still have a few sets left to go and still wanted to shower, that’s totally fine.  The staff will totally wait, it’s not a big deal.

And finally, the most important rule:

11. It isn’t supposed to be fun.  You’re here to work, so act like it.  Smiling, laughing, or enjoying yourself of any kind shows weakness.  Just keep your head down, finish your workout, and then go post about it on Facebook.  Exercise is serious business.

So there you have it.  Follow all of my tips and you’ll be a gym expert in no time.  Happy January!

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