4 Simple Hacks for Productivity

Do you feel like you’re due for a reset whenever a new season begins? We’re right there with you! Currently, we’re tempted to edit all areas of our lives, from recipes we’re cooking to how we’re staying organized. Instead of tackling everything all at once (life is better in moderation anyway!), we thought we would do a deep dive into one area: productivity.  

One of the best feelings at the end of the day is knowing you spent your time well, and that looks different for all of us. One person might say they feel like their day is an A+ when they complete every task on their to-do list, while someone else might say they had a great day because they enjoyed a great workout, read a book, or spent time with family. Although our days may look different, the feelings that offer us fulfillment are the same: we did what we set out to do. 

So, here is our question to you: Why limit your great days to those that happen now and again? Here are four quick and easy tips to get your productivity on track so you can give the day an A+ more often than not!

Focus on the Small Picture:

Just like you, we create long to-do lists. However, sometimes we end up feeling overwhelmed by the number of tasks we need to complete rather than energized by having things to do. So, break it down and hone in on the “small picture” rather than focusing solely on the “big picture”.

For example, if you want to organize your closest, you have uncovered your big picture goal. But, a quick look inside will tell you there is quite a distance between how it might look now and the ideal situation you have in your mind. So, create smaller goals. Something like sort t-shirts into groups to keep, toss, or donate groups or place same season clothes together feels much more doable. 

The important thing to keep in mind is each small task you complete acts as a building block. Sooner rather than later you will have built your way toward placing a check mark next your big picture goal! 

Set Three Goals:

Similar to the above, it’s unlikely you will be able to complete a long to-do list in one day. So, choose three goals or tasks to work on throughout the day. It may look like working out, meeting a deadline, and attending a soccer game. If you finish a task or all three, feel free to add an additional goal if time allows. The key thing is if you *only* complete those top three goals, you will still end the day knowing you got your three *most important* things done. And, that counts! 

Limit Your Screen Time:

We see this suggestion time and time again, but we still find we spend quite a bit of time on our phones. Our suggestion? Make physical changes by creating barriers, so your phone truly isn’t an opinion.

Consider charging your phone (or other screens!) in another room if you’re trying to work or even watch TV uninterrupted. Another idea is to set a “screen time” within your phone’s Settings. A message will pop up when you’ve spent too much time on social media, for example. A third idea is to create “no phone zones”, whether that involves not using your phone in certain rooms or areas of your home (the dinner table!) or times when you need to put it away (right before bed). 

By creating physical barriers, you will find you not only spend less time in front of a screen but also that you want to spend more time doing something else!

Block Your Time:

If your high school had block scheduling, this concept will likely sound familiar. Essentially, the idea is to section your day off into specific “blocks” of time. For example, you might start your day off with a block of time to spend with your kids and your dog. Then, you might have a block of time devoted to emails. After that, you might tackle a more difficult project for another period of time before pausing for lunch and to-dos that don’t require as much effort.

The goal with blocking your time is to allow yourself to have the space during your day to devote serious time to focusing on one specific task. That way you don’t feel as though you’re popping from one thing to the next before anything is complete.

What are your best productivity tips? Keep sharing on Facebook!

10 Ways to Combat Anxiety

Have you been feeling more anxious over the past few weeks? It’s safe to say the majority of us are right there with you. There is new information daily about the coronavirus, the timeline for social distancing was extended earlier this week, and many of us are missing our daily routines. To offer a respite of calm to you, we thought we would share 10 ways we’re combatting our anxiety in order to weather the storm for the long haul.

1. Practice Deep Breathing

On Tuesday, first grade teacher Mrs. Lamb shared two great breathing exercises. The first involves inhaling for five counts and exhaling for five counts. The second is called Smelling the Cake and Blowing Out the Candles. Envision a birthday cake and breathe in as though you are smelling it (five counts works well). Then, exhale as though you are blowing out the candles (five counts works well here too). Repeat as needed!

2. Create a Routine

Many of us crave routine, and keeping one in place is a great way to create continuity in your day even if you’re spending the majority of your time at home. In fact, keeping your morning routine in place can work wonders to keep your mind in a positive place. We find one of the keys is to make sure to get dressed daily. Then, be mindful of meal times, and don’t be afraid to work in different rooms in your house if you’re working from home. Keeping your kids on a schedule they know can help to guide them too.

3. Limit News Intake

We find we feel more anxious the more we watch and read the news, so it can be helpful to limit how much information you’re able to absorb. Think about checking for the latest updates in the morning and perhaps once more later in the day rather than receiving information all day long. Sometimes the most helpful thing to do, mentally, is to take a step back.

4. Take a Walk

One of the best ways to keep your anxiety in check is through movement and exercise. It helps because it offers a change of pace and scenery, plus a walk offers the opportunity for a further distraction. Turn on an audiobook, listen to music, or catch up on a podcast! A walk doesn’t have to only occur one time each day either – multiple walks have benefits.

5. Get Cozy

Although stores may be closed for the foreseeable future, there are plenty of great deals to enjoy online. LOFT has great sweatpants and joggers, Carter’s and OshKosh B’gosh have colorful and fun layers for kids, and Old Navy and Gap have athleisure pieces that are on par with more expensive brands at bargain prices. Plus, you can also stock up on essential oils and beauty products to have an at-home spa day, and there are weighted blankets you can purchase online.

6. Enjoy Screen Time

Sign up for a new Hulu membership and get lost in a new series (we’ve heard “Little Fires Everywhere” is excellent!), make progress on your “must watch” movie list with help from FandangoNOW, and more. TV and movies have the great ability to transport us to other places, and that’s definitely necessary right now.

7. Create a Playlist

Like TV and movies, music offers a great source of distraction. Create a playlist of uplifting songs or even those known to calm you down on your go-to site for streaming music. We’ve seen more than a few playlists titled “Quarantunes”, and we think the name is great! You might find your playlist is one you turn to during other moments that are known to cause stress even after our current climate shifts.

8. Socialize

A great conversation with a friend can make you feel so much better, so don’t be a stranger to friends and family! Schedule Zoom calls, Facetime, or simply talk on the phone. Everyone feels very similarly during these times, and it’s helpful to hear about someone else’s day to keep that in perspective.

9. Pursue a New Hobby

If there’s a hobby you have been wanting to try and you can easily pursue it from home, now is a great time to start! There is not a need to become an expert over the next few days and weeks, but jumping in is the very first step. Maybe you want to learn how to bake or cook; perhaps sewing or learning how to play the guitar are on your agenda; maybe taking up running or cycling have been on your list. Whatever you’ve been considering, give it a try!

10. Look to the Future

Even though we’re uncertain when our social distancing and unsettling newsfeeds will officially come to an end, all sources are pointing to the fact that this, too, shall pass. Remind yourself of that fact often. Consider making loose plans with friends and family to have dinner, meet for ice cream, or go to the beach once we’re able to gather again. Sometimes simply having a date (that can be altered!) on the calendar helps because it means you’re looking ahead.

What are some of the best ways you have found to stay calm? Chime in on Facebook  and join us later today as we go LIVE on our page for a yoga class!

10 Work from Home Tips

With our current climate, many people have had to jump into working from home without having the opportunity to properly prepare emotionally, mentally, and physically. It’s safe to say, it’s a big shift all around! Understandably, you might feel as though you’re attempting to determine your new normal as you go. To help you create a work from home life you can grow to enjoy, we thought we would offer our top 10 work from home tips. For many of our Shopkick teams, working from home is part of our weekly routine. So, here’s how we get things done:

10 Work from Home Tips:

1. Keep Your Routine

If you had a morning routine you enjoyed before the quarantine went into effect, make sure to keep that going! If you like to get up and workout first thing, continue doing that. Maybe you look forward to drinking coffee and checking social media – keep it up! Routines help us to feel “normal”, and having that sense of normalcy will keep your productivity going throughout your day.

2. Get Dressed

Shopkickers, getting dressed it key! We know it’s tempting to stay in your pajamas all day because the option of going out is suddenly no longer a true possibility. But, getting dressed will likely make you feel more alert and ready to tackle your day. Again, this also relates to the above of creating and continuing your routine – getting dressed will likely make you feel better. And, for that reason, it’s worth it!

3. Explain Your Work to Family

Working from home can feel tricky, especially if you’re home with kids, other family members, or partners who aren’t joining you by working from home. Your loved ones might spot you and think because you’re also home, you’re free to spend time together. So, set work from home boundaries. Maybe your signal to be interrupted is an open door, or perhaps you step away to enjoy a snack or lunch together. Reminding those you love and who also love you that you’re still working even though you’re home will help everyone to adjust through the transition.

4. Create Your Workspace

If you typically work in an office setting, you likely spend your days at your desk. However, the options will likely feel endless at home. Decide where you would like to work, but don’t feel limited in your options. If you have a desk at home and you enjoy working there, go for it. But, if you would prefer to work from your table or living room, that’s fine too. As a general note: kitchen counters, especially those that have bar height counters can serve as excellent standing desks. Move around your house! It may help your productivity and inspiration.

5. Soak in the Sun

We’ve all woken up to a rainy day and felt like going back to sleep. Working without natural light in sight has the ability to make you feel tired before you begin, so work where you can see the sun. Natural light helps us to feel energized, and working by a window also offers the opportunity to enjoy a nice view and even catch a glimpse of people walking outside.

6. Don’t Snack

One of the top questions many people ask when they’re first starting to work from home is how to avoid snacking. The answer is simple and complicated at the same time: don’t do it! To go back to the first point we mentioned about keeping a routine, keep your breakfast and lunch times intact throughout the day. This will help you to feel satisfied because you will already know when your next mealtime will occur. The other tip: choosing not to work from your kitchen (and the source of the snacks) will likely help if you feel like your willpower is in question.

7. Socialize

The biggest complaint many have to offer about working from home is the lack of socialization. You likely went from eating lunch with coworkers and attending in person meetings throughout the day to being by yourself for hours on end. So, make it a point to meet with coworkers for meetings, meals, and even post-work cocktails over Zoom and Google Hangout. If you’re leading work meetings, start things off by asking everyone round table style how they’re doing. A quick catch up has the ability to remind everyone that though you’re not all physically together, you’re still equally as connected virtually.

8. Go for a Walk

It’s easy to not even realize how many steps you take walking to and from your car into work and throughout your workplace during the day until you’re at home without the need to move around as much. So, get outside! Take a walk in the morning before you start working, plan to walk again after lunch, and consider taking another walk at the end of your day. Use this time to listen to music, an audiobook, or a podcast. You’ll feel refreshed and energized to keep going, and you’ll get your steps in.

9. Log Off

When you’re working from home, you’re likely working from your computer, which is now just feet or a few rooms away from you at all times. The temptation to work at odd times or to keep working into the night is definitely there. But, if you typically walk away from work when you work in-person, keep that up! The best way to make sure this happens is to sign out of all of the apps and programs you use rather than keeping them open on your desktop. Knowing you have to login oftentimes provides enough of a barrier to keep you from continuing to work.

10. Plan Your Evening

The other thing that will help you to sign off from work and feel as though you still have separation between your personal and professional lives is to make plans during the evening. Schedule a call with friends, let your family know you want to have a movie night together, remember to watch your favorite TV shows, workout virtually, make dinner, catch up on chores, etc. Knowing you have things to do will make you feel encouraged to use your time well during the day so you can rest at night.

Do you work from home? What do you find helps you to embrace it? Let us know on Facebook!

Top work from home jobs for Moms

After I had my daughter I wanted to earn extra money, but I knew I didn’t want to put my daughter in daycare to do it. I started looking for work from home opportunities and — after sifting through the scams and pyramid schemes — I was happy to see just how many great opportunities are out there that offer a flexible schedule and other features that were important to me as a mom. I ended up finding work that let me be the stay-at-home-mom I wanted to be while still bringing some income into the household.

A few of my friends asked if I could help them find something similar — here are a few of the best work from home jobs I found during my search.

Get Paid to Talk on the Phone

No, you won’t be chatting with your friends, but this is work almost anyone can do, and there are plenty of work from home customer service jobs out there. Many of these opportunities don’t even require past experience so as long as you have a little office space, you’re qualified!

Get started at: LiveOps.com, ariseworkfromhome.com, arise.com, windycitycallcenter.com, workingsolutions.com, careers.concentrix.com

Write the Next Great American Novel

Ok, not really. But if you have a knack for writing, graphic design, or some other creative talent, you may be able to find work as a freelancer on sites like Guru and Upwork. I did this, and I was able to earn some money while the kids were watching Frozen again.

Get started at: Upwork.com, Guru.com

Help Companies Market Their Widgets

I had a friend who had worked at an ad agency for years before she left the workforce to raise her kids. She missed the work, so she was pretty thrilled when she learned that there were many stay-at-home opportunities in the marketing field. She was able to find remote work with an agency that offered her the flexible schedule she needed. Plus, she never missed the kids getting off the bus!

Get started at: Guru.com, Upwork.com, Flexjobs.com, Jobspresso.com

Watch TV and Earn Money

Yes, there is more to it than that. You’ll also have to caption the videos that you watch. Some of the video caption companies that offer remote work don’t require any experience, and you set your own schedule. One mom who did this said she loved the fact that she was able to stop and start instead of having to work a set number of hours all at once. That’s something that any mom would appreciate!

Get started at: Rev.com, abercap.com/careers/, captionmax.com

Influence the Next Generation

Several of my friends are teachers who truly loved the work they did. One said she loved challenging the kids to be their best, and that she really missed it when she quit to stay home with her twin boys. When her twins were about a year old, she found a remote teaching job, and she’s been doing it ever since. She only works a few hours a day, but could work more if she wanted. She teaches kids in the U.S. and in other countries and calls her job “the best of both worlds,” because she gets to raise her boys and do the work she loves.

Get started at: t.vipkid.com.cn, apus.jobs, connectionseducation.com, tutor.com

Help Heal the Sick

Of all the remote opportunities I found, I have to say this one surprised me the most. I didn’t think there’d be any work-from-home jobs for my nurse friends, but I was wrong! One friend explained that she really just wanted a way to keep her skills sharp (she’s an RN) while also taking a few years away from her hospital job to spend time with her daughter. She landed a remote nursing job that lets her keep her skills up while still being home for every one of her daughter’s milestones!

Get started sykesassistance.com, piedmontcareers.org, altegrahealth.com/careers, 83bar.com

Have you found a great work from home opportunity? Tell us on twitter @Shopkick