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!


Spring Cleaning Organizing Hacks

I’m not sure if it’s because all I’m seeing are Spring Cleaning articles, or if it’s just that unfortunate womanly instinct that requires us to nest whenever the weather gets warm, but I have been itching to do some reorganizing.

spring cleaning, organizing, DIY hacks, helpful cleaning hints
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I already had an organizing and closet clean-out a few weeks ago, but somehow my crap seems to have multiplied again.  Since I am about as good at organizing as a dog does calculus, I’ve been browsing Pinterest (follow me!) for some new DIY or cheap organizing hacks and thought I’d share a few that I am actually planning on doing in my own life.

DIY organization, up-cycling, recycling, decorating
Using an old small bottle, like the prescription bottle, candy tin, whatever: decorate it and use it to hold small items in your purse.  Bobby pins, hair ties, stray earrings, or other important bits you don’t want floating around.  This pin actually comes from Jen at iHeart Organizing (the pin is from A Prescription to Organize), which has a lot of super cute and useful tips!
beauty organizing, make-up organizing, DIY home decor, organizing, spring cleaning

The idea is originally for Guest Room Beauty Samples, but I think it’s super cute for the bathroom, or bedroom to store your own items.  Store nail polishes in a glass jar, or just cute looking products that you don’t use that often.  I have a glass jar I found for $8 at Walmart that looks just like this, except I use it to hold my bath bombs instead.  It’s functional and adorable.

DIY organizing, recycling, upcycling, up-cycling, organization, home decor

This one is the “Back to School Homework Caddy”, and I actually did something similar (but not nearly as pretty) with an old Amazon box and some masking tape to create a drawer organizer for my dressing table.  It cost nothing and I could cut it down to the exact size I needed for it to fit the drawer, and make the compartments big enough for exactly what I needed.

She used duct tape for decoration, but you could use fabric, paper and mod podge, or pretty much anything to make it cute if you want it to sit out and look cute.

diy spring cleaning, organizing, scarf organizing, closet organization, closet clean-out
And this one is something I will be definitely doing! Currently, my scarves are hanging on a decorative rack behind my door, but it’s becoming a bit crowded.  Some shower rings from the dollar store and a hanger would be perfect for the overflow.  That pin also has some other great ideas for scarf organization as well.
DIY make-up storage, DIY spring cleaning, make-up storage, beauty storage, make-up, organization, recycling
And finally, take a storage container you already have, make it a little cuter!  Small containers, as well as those bigger plastic drawer containers can be easily dolled up with a little spray paint or some decorative paper or tape. This is actually my make-up storage now, and sits atop my dressing table.  It’s cute and also very convenient.
Pro Tip:  If you have any plastic drawer sets in your house, even the larger ones for office supplies or clothes, create a more refined look with minimal effort: tape paper to the inside front of the drawer so you can’t see the contents of the drawer.  Even if it’s just white paper, it gives it a much more refined look than having all of your belongings on display.  It makes it look much less disheveled for no cost.
And that’s all I got at the moment.  I’m sure the urge to clean will fade quickly, but while I have it I figured I better go hog wild.  Got any other simple organizing hacks for me?  Let me know below!


Got that Midas Touch

This weekend I went HAM with a can of gold spray paint, and a gold metallic Sharpie.  Nothing plain or out of date was off limits–including my nails, which will now probably be gold-painted for the next few weeks.  Not that I’m complaining.

Though I am in money-saving mode, I was also feeling a DIY itch I couldn’t quite shake, so when I popped out to pick up tooth paste, I picked up a bottle of gold spray paint (as one does).  I did a quick walk-through of my room and bathroom, and ended up with a small pile of unsuspecting goodies.

Gold Accessories, DIY, Cheap Home Updates

Step 1: Clean your crap (with soap).
(Secret Step 1.5— Properly prepare the surfaces you are painting.  Plastic, metal, etc. etc.  Some may need sanding or priming to promote longevity so that they won’t chip.   Google your object to double check!)
Step 2: Protect the parts you don’t want to be painted.  I used plastic grocery bags and masking tape to cover the important parts.
Step 3: Throw a paint party.
Step 4: Wait (24 hours– or 12, if you’re super impatient like me).
Step 5: Seal your masterpieces, with either spray enamel or Mod Podge.  Do not skip this step unless you want your hard work to chip off.

Originally, I had an old glass salsa jar, a plastic container leftover from college that was holding pens, gross, out-dated dresser knobs on an old dresser, and an old, stained mirror.

Instead, I now have cute new make-up storage drawers, a matching make-up brush holder, a glitzy stand mirror, and an slightly updated dresser.

Home Decor Updates with Spray Paint, Spray Painted Crafts

DIY Mini Home Make-over, Cheap DIY

And all for under $5. Suck it, Pottery Barn.


Organizational Tips to Increase Productivity

I’m not the tidiest person, neither in the physical world nor my mental world.

I would like to imagine Kelseyland looks something like the Spongebob Squarepants fine dining episode where all the tiny Spongebobs inside his brain freak out, but with tiny Kelseys instead and there are like 3 slightly more sane tiny Kelseys running around behind them with brooms trying to clean up after them, screaming “Guys, stop it! It’ll be okay!”

With also more pink, glitter, spilled cups of coffee and random bobby pins thrown around on the floor.  Probably.

Forgetting an assignment was due until the day of class, or accidentally misplacing an important document was not uncommon for me in college, and is still a bad habit I am trying to work on today. I am queen of the to-do list, and then promptly forgetting I made said list, or meticulously copying things down into a planner, and then leaving my planner in the car during an important meeting.

Some habits are harder to break than others.

However, I have learned, especially since my life has switched from having a library or a designated “work space” during school, to working from home now, that there are a few key things that can increase productivity when you feel overwhelmed.

And, as I’ve learned the past few months, that all starts with getting organized.

1.  Designate a workspace.

This one is tricky, because if you are like me at the moment, you may not have a standing workspace.  It is my current dream to have a home office space– or even just a desk– that I can set up camp at whenever I need to do CSAC stuff.

If you can, designate a spot that is for work only.  Do not take breaks, watch TV, browse the internet, or do non-work things here.  Let your mind associate this spot as a “It’s time to get sh*t done” space, and ride that wave.  Step away from the spot when you need a break, so when you come back, your mind is wiped fresh and you go right back to getting things done.

Keep this space clear and stocked full of everything you need do your thing.  Keeping it cute is a must, but don’t let the style overpower the actual function of the space either.

2. If you don’t have a specific workspace, create one via the “desk-in-a-bag”

This is my current life hack.  My most-used workspace is my bed, because it is the only place in my Mother’s house that I feel like I am away from everything (her, the animals) and able to concentrate.  This is less than ideal because I do a lot of other things in my bed too, like watch TV, browse the internet, read… basically everything I said not to do in #1.  If I can, I will also use the kitchen table, the floor, a table at Panera bread, or anything else to get things done, but usually it’s my bed.  Sometimes you gotta get crafty.
I have learned to work around this constant change by keeping anything and everything I’ve ever needed for my work in one bag that I can tote with me to wherever I need.  I love my work bag, a black monogramed, convertible tote from a ThirtyOne party I hosted last year (which, for some reason, I cannot find online anywhere! Sorry!!).  It’s the perfect size for me to carry my laptop, chargers, my planner, my notebook, the accordion folder I keep documents in, pens, pencils, stapler, envelopes, stamps, post-its, and anything else I might need.  I keep it pretty stocked with my usual supplies, so that I can set up a desk at wherever I need one.
AKA, your adult back-pack.

3. Keep it clean

Avoid clutter wherever you are working.  Keeping your space organized will cut down on time used for searching for things, and (if you’re like me) cut down on the time where your brain feels like it’s fried and you’re so overwhelmed by everything around you that you can’t think and you just end up clutching the sides of your face in anguish.
Invest in de-cluttering strategies.  I’m a big fan of accordion folders, plastic organizing containers, websites like DropBox to organize virtual storage, and cute little pencil bags to hold things.  If everything has a place, you’ll be more likely to put it back in those places and keep your mind cleared.
And, as always, Pinterest is an amazing resource for DIY hacks to organize everything.  You should definitely go look at mine (subtle self promotion, eh?), because lately desks and office spaces have been an obsession of mine.  Check the “Future Home” section for sure. 

4. Write it all down– before, during, AND after work!

If you are a pen and paper kind of person (like me), or even a tech junkie who prefers the latest app, get into the habit of recording everything.  Pick a go-to notebook or app, and stick with it.
Before you start working, set up whatever note-taking tool you desire, and keep it handy.  
Create a to-do list before you start, and decide what you are going to get done.  But don’t let the list go far, because chances are you’ll come up with new tasks, or new ideas while you’re working.  Then, reevaluate the list when you’re done.  Transfer items to a planner, if applicable, or to a calendar app on your phone. 
Pro Tip: If you are able, copy important things, like syllabus dates if you’re a student, calendars for work, schedules, etc, and not only transfer those dates into your planner of choice, but also stick the actual hard copies all same place in your planner, or other organizational space of choice.  Keeping them all in one place (like… say your desk-in-a-bag!) makes them easy to grab and double check things.
The key is to make sure everything important is recorded in the same place, so you always know where to check back to if need be.  Learn to reference this spot before and after work to make sure you’re not forgetting anything– like your 60-point nutritional assessment project that you forgot about until 1am on the last day of Fall Break, and pulled an all-nighter to finish it, and then drive 5 hours back to school to go to class.  But I’m not talking from experience or anything.
The more organized you are, the more quickly you can get things done, and the sooner you can take a nap (or browse Bloglovin’).  It’s a win-win either way.