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5 Essential Tips to Stay Productive While Working From Home

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Well, it’s official: America’s gone remote. Gallup reports 45% of U.S. employees work from home, and the trend doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon (or ever). But with 14% of workers saying they actually get less done from home, we can’t ignore the obvious: there are often distractions that can make it challenging to stay productive when working from home.

I’m not here to rain on the parade of the remote (my coworkers love that our company is remote!). However, like anything, there are things we can all do to make remote work better—and more productive.

So, here’s a toast to staying productive while working from home, along with five tips to help you and your team do it.

Tips to stay productive while working from home

Not everyone struggles with productivity while working from home. In fact, an overwhelming majority (nearly 60%) are more productive at their residence. But even this 60% is bound to have some dips in productivity once in a while because, hey, we’re all human.

Here are some tried-and-true tips to help you stay on track throughout the day while working from home.

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1. Limit the Zooms

You’ve probably heard about how too many meetings (especially long ones without a road map) can be a huge waste of time. Virtual meetings are no different—but now, there’s an extra catch: Zoom fatigue.

Ever heard of it? Zoom fatigue is burnout associated with videoconferencing overuse. People are getting tired from attending too many virtual meetings, which leads to drops in productivity. The reason for the phenomenon is simple. Virtual meetings require us to excessively stare at not only the people in the call, but also ourselves.

So before you start filling up your and your employees’ calendars with virtual meetings, you might consider:

  • Condensing the number of meetings you have into more meaningful meetings
  • Substituting some meetings with email or another communication tool (e.g., Slack)
  • Hiding self-view (so you’re not staring at yourself!)
  • Turning off your camera from time to time

2. Set up a separate workspace if you haven’t

If you or your employees work out of the living room or bedroom, it may be time for a change. Setting up a separate workspace, if possible, can do a number for productivity. Who wants to work where they sleep? Or sleep where they work? You get the picture.

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A separate workspace can help you separate home and work. That way, you’re less tempted to do laundry or take personal calls during the workday. Likewise, separate spaces can help you and employees truly be done working after the workday ends.

Of course, having a separate workspace won’t work for everyone. Whether you’re in an apartment, condo, house, tiny house, or whatever else, you may not have the space for a full-scale office. The good news is that there are work-arounds. For example, you can set up shop in a corner and use a room divider. Or, you can mentally draw the line between work and home when you step away from your desk for the night.

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3. Map out your days with a list

I don’t know about you, but the days are getting busier and busier. You’re bound to lose track of at least one of the things on your mental to-do list, which could lead to a mess of confusion and frustration.

You can prevent forgetfulness by writing down what’s on your daily agenda. That way, you won’t lose track of the tiny tasks that fly right out of your head. Not to mention, checking off tasks on a list just feels good. You might get a sense of accomplishment that motivates you.

So if you want to be one of those people who makes a list, checks it twice, and enjoys the satisfaction of crossing things off it, you can:

  • Create your list as soon as you start work.
  • Decide on a hierarchy (e.g., do you want to order your tasks from most to least important or least to most time-consuming?).
  • Reward yourself when you cross something off (Now I can get that second cup of coffee!).
  • Stay on one task at a time (because multitasking hurts performance).

4. Invest in the best (technology and tools)

Computer crashing. Speakers not working. Wi-Fi going out. These are just some of the inconveniences workers may deal with when working from home. And let me tell you, nothing snaps you out of a productive state of mind faster than a full-fledged computer shutdown.

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Working from home has the potential for technological mishaps. Heck, working anywhere—even your office—has the potential for some. So rather than worrying about tech mishaps, equip your team with the right tools to get the job done.

Make sure your team has the right technology and tools like:

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  • Reliable computers
  • A communication platform
  • Cloud storage services
  • High-speed internet
  • Printers

You might give your employees computers that come equipped with access to company accounts (e.g., Google Drive). You can also give employees a work-from-home reimbursement to ensure they have a suitable internet plan for the work they do—and depending on your state, you might have to. A number of states (e.g., California) require employers to reimburse employees for necessary expenses they incur working from home.

Also, consider implementing a process for employees who are having technology issues. For example, you can outline what employees need to do if they need a new computer (who to contact, how to submit a request, etc.).

5. Get into a groove

Need to listen to music? Have to have at least eight hours of sleep? Whatever it takes for you specifically to be productive, do it. Whether you’re working in the office or in your home office, you’re still you. And, you still have to find and get into the groove that makes you productive.

Here are some rituals workers swear by for productivity:

  • Having a morning routine
  • Listening to music
  • Adding plants to the workspace
  • Taking 20-second blink breaks every 20 minutes (if you’re looking at a screen)
  • Exercising consistently and regularly before or after work

Think of your own work-from-home productivity hacks

If you’re part of the 14% that is more productive in an office, take a stroll down memory lane. What did you do differently? You could get a productivity boost from something as easy as getting dressed as if you were going into the office.

Entrepreneur

Why Digital Freelancing is the Future of Work

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The corporate world has changed more in the past two years than in the past twenty years. It took a pandemic to make people realize that you don’t need to travel for work two hours a day to sit in front of a computer that is connected to the internet anyway.

It is no longer possible to attract people to work at a full-time job in a corporate office because people have realized that the idea of a “safe and secure” job is just a dream that can collapse at any time. There is no need to work at a specific location in a specific city because we all live in the global village called the internet. 

If you have expertise on a specific skill, you can remotely work for the best companies in the world at command earnings that compete with anyone in the world with the same skill. And the best part is that you can work on a contract basis.

So what is preventing people from becoming freelancers and quit their day job (if they are fortunate to have one)? The lack of a personal brand.

The full-time corporate world operates on slightly different rules where you can jump from one company to another based on your personal network and influence. But in the freelance world, having a personal network is not enough, you need a personal brand.

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Building a personal brand doesn’t mean becoming popular. A personal brand is built when you add value to people’s lives through your content, sometimes without charging anything for it.

If you want to build a strong personal brand as an influencer, you need to start with blogging. Write a few articles a month about what you learn, what you know and what you have experienced. Writing is the best way to let the world know that you exist.

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Once you start writing, you will see that opportunities will come your way. Start helping out people with your content and then with free consultations. There are a ton of freelancing opportunities in the world, and you can become a specialist in one category. Let’s say, for example, you are an SEO expert. Start writing about SEO on your blog, share them on social media and post videos about what you know. 

Research companies that you want to help and maybe create an SEO audit report for them and cold-email it to them. If you add value first instead of asking for an opportunity, an opportunity will come your way. 

You cannot demand heat before you throw in the piece of wood. Set up a calendar that shows your available times and let people book a free 15-20 minute consultation call with you. This is how you add value and then get a sale, without asking explicitly for the sale.

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Freelancing makes you an entrepreneur where the product is yourself. This is the first step in your long journey of building something for yourself, that eventually becomes greater than yourself. 

Freelancing also requires professional relationship skills, sales skills and the skill of adding more value than what you are getting paid for. This skill is vastly different from the skill of being an employee.

If you are not in a full-time corporate job right now, it is time to start freelancing instead of trying to find a job in the post-pandemic, new world order. 

If you are already in a corporate job, you need to start freelancing as a side-hustle as soon as possible. Even if you are just building your brand and doing free consultations, it is more than enough to start with because it creates the foundation for your future freelancing journey. 

ALSO READ:  These 26 High-Demand Freelance Skills Pay You The Most

You might have friction getting started in this journey if you are an employee or have been one. Because the typical mindset of an employee is to look for security and “something guaranteed” for every piece of effort that you put in. Getting started with your freelancing career is the first step in dealing with career and professional uncertainty.

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I cannot tell you what opportunities you will get once you start building your personal brand. But I can say with conviction that once you start, you will start getting opportunities.

Via Entrepreneur

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Why You Need a B2B Influencer Marketing Strategy–And How to Build One

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B2B influencer marketing has essentially been around since the beginning of commerce. When the dairyman told all the bakers on his delivery route that they should purchase flour from a certain miller, and when the miller gave the dairyman flour for his household as repayment, B2B influencer marketing was born. So, how can you make this marketing strategy work for your business, and why should you want to?

Why is B2B influencer marketing important?

At its core, influencer marketing is a field of marketing that focuses on using key leaders to drive or showcase a brand message to the larger market. Rather than selling directly to a big group, instead you can inspire, hire, or even pay market influencers to promote what you have to offer.

In the world of networking, we see B2B influencers guide, direct, and even enhance the experience a business has with another business. While we would like to think that slick ad campaigns and ad spend are directing traffic, it is still the word-of-mouth influence that guides people and businesses to each other.

A quick guide to B2B influencer marketing

Where to find influencers

Ask yourself who your current advocates are. Who already speaks highly of you? Who refers business to you?

Advocates aren’t always clients or customers. Sometimes, they can be our vendors and suppliers. Other times, we must look at other professionals related to our industry. Advocates speak highly of your people, products, or services.

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Do your clients connect on social channels? Do they tag referral partners? Do they recommend services and providers to their own clients as a value-add? Where are they also sharing information on non-social channels, such as podcasts, speaking events, and books?

Consider sponsoring a speaking event where a potential B2B connector will be presenting. Build a relationship with them off-stage in order to get their shout-out on-stage. Feature potential B2B influencers on your own company podcast. Showcasing your relationships with influencers and companies will add to the trust factor so that other businesses will be comfortable connecting with you.

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Build a B2B influencer connection

Think about tires. If you are a fleet manager and you are purchasing new tires for vehicles in your fleet, you might discover you need brakes. You might then mention to the tire dealer that you need to have some new decal work done. Your tire provider suggests a brake shop that specializes in fleet maintenance, and suggests a painting and decal service that one of their other clients uses.

Did the tire provider need the brake guy or decal person? No. Most likely the brake shop and the decal creator reached out to create a B2B connection which would benefit the tire dealer (and themselves). If you know of other businesses that your clients regularly utilize, your business can build a B2B influencer connection with benefits for all.

Did the tire provider need the brake guy or decal person? No. Most likely the brake shop and the decal creator reached out to create a B2B connection which would benefit the tire dealer (and themselves). If you know of other businesses that your clients regularly utilize, your business can build a B2B influencer connection with benefits for all.

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Make sure to vet any potential connections

It is easy to speed forward and engage a B2B business as a possible connector or influencer. However, you need to take some time to vet the affiliations and relevance of the connection. Checking affiliations and relevance is as simple as doing a Google search, website review, or social media audit.

While it might seem like a particular business would be an ideal connection and influence, their affiliations and company culture may not be a perfect fit and could create some reputation, brand, and image problems in the long run.

What is your plan for co-creation?

If you are just hoping your B2B influencer is sharing your service/product accurately or is referring potential clients through the right contact at your company, you are not going to receive the impact you are looking for through this influencer.

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B2B influencing is about co-creation. Co-creation means you are working together with the influencer—it is collaboration and partnership. It is developing a relationship, not just a tactical means to an end.

In a number of instances, a company hires an influencer from a transactional perspective, and only provides the influencer with what is needed to achieve a given result. However, the more you develop a relationship, and provide the influencer with the education and resources to make the most impact for your company, the better the result and outcome.

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How do you plan to compensate influencers?

Not all influencer marketing requires you to pay for time. Sometimes, B2B connections are made that are just about giving valuable connections.

Could a “paid” influencer provide value? Absolutely. But you should determine the best influencer for your product or service first. Then determine if that influencer relationship should be a compensated one or a value/connection one.

B2B influencer marketing and your business

Just a few years ago, B2B businesses would have balked at the idea of using influencer marketing as a marketing strategy; it was considered “celebrity” and a hack. However, businesses have been using this technique long before it was given a trendy name and celebrity status.

Influencer marketing is all about relationships—your relationship with an “influencer” and their relationship with your client/customer or prospects. The key is to know the purpose, audience, and tools necessary to make it work effectively. Knowing your audience and the key influencers in your industry, professional network, or community can make the biggest difference.

My guess is that you have already been using this technique or are an influencer yourself. You just didn’t know you were doing it. Now, do it with purpose!

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Via AB

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Will Employer know if you are self- Employed

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The quick answer? No, your employer won’t automatically find out if you’re self-employed. In this day and age, having a side hustle is becoming pretty commonplace. Supplementing a salary with a second (or even third) source of income is a great way to expand your skills offering and of course, bump up your bank balance. It’s a great way to earn some extra cash, grow your network, indulge in your passions and continue to diversify your talents.

However, if you are going to go down the route of secondary self-employment, alongside your regular ‘day job’, there are some things you need to consider. For example, if you earn more than £1,000 from self-employment activities in a tax year, you’ll need to let HMRC know by registering for Self Assessment. And then, of course, submitting tax returns so that you pay the right amount of tax on your earnings.

Informing HMRC is one thing, but what many side-hustlers are concerned about is their employer finding out about their extracurricular activity.

Can you register for self-employment if you’re already employed?

Absolutely! Even if you’re on the payroll for a full-time or part-time job, you’re still allowed to work for yourself outside of those hours. For example, somebody who works in marketing might do some freelance copywriting or social media management on the side. This secondary source of income classes as self-employment and can run parallel alongside their regular employment.

The benefits of working for yourself as well as for an employer are many, but the most common include:

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  • Earning more money – perhaps the most appealing advantage and most common motivation.
  • Being able to develop and explore the skillset you use in your regular role.
  • A chance to dip your toe into the water of new or alternative skills that you aren’t able to fulfil through your employment.
  • Expanding your network of contacts.
  • Being able to turn a passion into income.
  • You get to learn a great deal about business ownership and being on the other side of the books.
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Will a full-time employer find out if you’re self-employed?

Unless you tell your employer directly, there is no reason why they should have to find out about your self-employed work. The only other way they might find out is if you tell a colleague or mutual connection about your side hustle and it gets back to your employer that way.

However, in terms of tax codes and self-employment registration – two things that many employed people are concerned will give them up – you’ve got nothing to worry about.

Your tax information is highly confidential so HMRC will never inform your employer if you register as self-employed. Nor would that be necessary as your PAYE income and self-employed earnings are entirely separate in the eyes of HMRC. The only reason that this might change is if you ask HMRC to collect your self-employed tax through your tax code.

What if I register a limited company?

The only other way this might become a potential issue, if you’re hellbent on hiding your side job from your employer, is if you register a Limited Company.

These details are shared publicly on Companies House so all your employer would need to do is a quick search to find information about your business. That said, it’s highly unlikely they would do this unprovoked, or without prior knowledge.

Is honesty the best policy in this situation?

Although it’s very unlikely that your employer would find out about your self-employed work without you telling them directly, is it worth being transparent with them about it?

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Honesty is usually the best policy, but the decision is yours alone to make. Just consider:

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  • There might be something in your employment contract that forbids you from having any additional work, which means a side job would be in breach of that.
  • Transparency lays the foundations for a healthy relationship with your employer – something that is going to be pivotal in your future success within your role there.
  • If your employer is supportive of your self-employment, they might even be able to help you out with some contacts or advice.
  • Again, if your employer is in support of your side hustle, making them aware might mean they can be more flexible around things like annual leave and working hours to accommodate your other commitments where possible.

Our top tips on balancing more than one job

If you are juggling both regular employment and self-employment, it can be tricky to strike a healthy balance between the two. The aim of the game is to find a balance that means you can maintain your own wellbeing whilst ensuring that you’re doing your best possible work for all involved.

Here is our advice on how to master the juggling act:

  • Be realistic about what your clients can expect from you – and be honest with them about it!
  • Identify your goals. Are you hoping to make some extra income, or to become fully self-employed, for instance? Keep these in mind – it will help you remember when it’s time to say no!
  • Know when you’ve reached your capacity so that you don’t get burnt out.
  • Make sure you’re registered as self-employed so that you can report your additional earnings to HMRC and pay the necessary deductions. Failing to do so could land you in some serious trouble.Via FN
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