Monthly Archive for December, 2018

4 Ways to Make The Most of Working From Home

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Working from home can be a fantastic way to live a more flexible life, spend more time doing the things you want to be doing, and living life more on your terms rather than the constraints of the 9-5 lifestyle.

When you work from home your time is much less tied up with busy commutes, pointless meetings, idle chit chat around the water cooler, busy work to keep your boss placated, and constant distractions with colleagues butting in whilst you are trying to get your head down  to do work.

Working from home makes a lot of sense, particularly if you’re setting up a new business or are self-employed, as it can save both a lot of money and time.  In fact, even if you have a job, working from home is a much more efficient way to work, as this way you’re not having to waste loads of time sat in traffic during rush hour or have the expense of peak travel.

That said, working from home is not all positive, there are downsides to working from home, such as the feeling if isolation and subsequent loneliness that can kick in if you are by yourself all day, in your home office, without much contact from the outside world.  Indeed, many people that work from home find they are having to fend off low mood and depression due to feeling so isolated and not part of the world.

Therefore, whilst the morning commute can be a drag, it can also be healthy to feel part of something and have shared experiences – almost in the vein of, “it’s horrible to be sat on a freezing cold train station at 7am, but at least we’re all in it together”.

There’s also the challenge of productivity when it comes to working from home.  For some people, of course, working from home makes them much more productive, as this way they they don’t have to deal with the distractions mentioned above (e.g. colleagues chatting and distracting you)… yet, for most of people, productivity has a tendency to suffer as a result of the lack of accountability and various distractions that are much more tempting  when working from home.

It’s clear that whilst there are often lots of benefits to working from home, there are also some challenges, particularly if you struggle with discipline or concentration.

It’s therefore essential to set up a good space in which to work that will allow you to feel comfortable and relaxed yet focused and productive.  You want this to be secure, quiet and a place where you will not be disturbed.

Many people, when they think about working from home, have images of lounging around in their underwear, working in bed with their head propped up with a few pillows, and whilst this can be nice at first, it quickly gets old and can lead to a real slump in productivity.

Ultimately, you’ll want a distraction free environment that allows you to focus on the task at hand, and ideally will differentiate your ‘home’ from your ‘home office’.

1. CREATE A PRODUCTIVE SPACE

The first step, in setting up your office is to make sure you have a productive space in which to work.  This means you need to be somewhere with plenty of light, quiet, and minimalism so that you can focus on the task at hand.

The first step, therefore, is to declutter the space, as it can be very challenging to focus on a task if there is clutter everywhere.  This is why so many people find it helpful to sit in an art gallery or library when trying to concentrate.

In some ways, setting up your office might feel like an unnecessary waste of time, yet the return on effort is high… as it will help you be much more productive in the long run.

It’s imperative you create a distraction free environment that will allow you to focus, therefore decluttering the space, and ideally having a space that’s a little separate from your home is a good idea – for instance, an annexe, garage, loft, or even shed.  This way, there is some physical and emotional separation between being at home and relaxing and working from home.

This is critical, as otherwise, you will find yourself feeling rather stressed – after all, that “Friday feeling” is a thing for a reason, as is the feeling of getting home from the office… it’s important you create a divide between “working at home” and being at home.

2. COMFORT

Many people find themselves lying in bed, working from home, and this can be tempting but it often isn’t the most productive way to approach working from home.

If you’ve created a space to work in, then the next step is to ensure the space is comfortable – this means having plenty of light, heat or cool (depending on the season), and having furniture that supports you.

You’ll most likely want to get a decent sized desk, as sitting in bed or on the sofa at home is going to cause serious postural issues if you are hunched over your laptop.  The nice thing about having a large desk is that you will be able to spread out and focus your attention where it needs to be, without feeling precariously balanced or boxed in behind all the different documents and devices.

What you sit on is perhaps the most important factor when it comes to kitting out your office, as if you’re like most people, you’ll be sitting in this chair upwards of eight hours per day.  For this reason you’ll want a chair that provides decent ergonomic support and plenty of padding for your back and bottom, as you don’t want to be suffering with aches and pains due to a substandard desk and chair set-up.

3. HAVE A ROUTINE

Working from home can be a blessing but also a curse; as mentioned above with regard to feeling isolated and lonely.

On the one hand your commute is now greatly reduced, as it will be from your bedroom to your home office, perhaps just a few metres away – which has huge benefits in terms of convenience and cost reduction given the congested commutes many people are subjected to, but this “convenience” can negatively impact your productivity.

There’s something about the ritual of getting dressed for work, taking the journey to the office, picking up your morning cup of coffee and saying hello to the same people, each day, that puts you in the right mindset to work.  Essentially, it puts you in a mental state that you associate with “working” – whereas, when you work from home, you don’t have this.

Indeed, many people might not even shower until mid-afternoon and just sit around in their dressing gown whilst working.  This has been proven to reduce productivity and also cause emotional issues such as low mood and depression, even if you are performing a highly paid and highly valued role.

The thing with working from home is that there are many distractions to contend with, from Netflix to the washing up, or just having a nice long soak in the bath.  There’s much less accountability.

In this vein, you need to be a little more regimented with your time and rituals… for instance, you could set yourself a lunch hour between a set time each day, or adopt the approach that many people working from home take, which is to get dressed for work, in smart clothes, as if you were going to the office… this way it puts you in a more focused and productive state than lounging around in your dressing gown.

It’s also important to get out the house in order to beat the isolation associated with working from home, whether this is sitting in a coffee shop, or even a library from time to time.

4. WORK WHEN YOU’RE WORKING

It’s can be very tempting for your attention to drift anywhere other than on work, at the best of times, but much more so when you are working from home.

Previously, we talked about the importance of having separation between  “working” from home and relaxing at home, and this ties in with that.

If you’re in an office environment you are held much more accountable, than when working from home, as there are expectations and measures of accountability within an office environment – for instance, imagine sitting in the office watching Netflix, or getting lost in a Facebook conversation.  It would be noticed!

In this sense, you might want to set up your own ‘parental controls’ that allow you to restrict the content you’re able to access when working in order to remain focused.

This is one of the most significant challenges when working from home, as we all procrastinate, and working from home allows us to.  We are also guilty of “half working” meaning, we will have the TV on in the background, or be watching the kids, whilst trying to get on with work.

The key here, is to work when you are working and rest when you are resting.  This is why having a seperate space to work is so important.

The Go-Getter’s Guide To Aggravation-Free Agricultural Employment

Many entrepreneurs are showing interest in agriculture at the moment. It’s no surprise. We all want more job freedom now than we might have ten years ago. And, it doesn’t get much more freeing than starting a farming business off land you already own. This takes working from home to a whole new level and, as can be seen from this article at www.exponentialprograms.com, there are easy ways to ensure you pull a profit.

Sadly, it can be tricky to get started here without the help of at least a few employees. After all, there’s always something else which needs attention in an enterprise like this. There’s no way that you can keep on top of everything on your own.

Which means that you need to tackle employment and invite those people into your home and onto your land. Employment doesn’t usually leave you this vulnerable, and you may be reluctant to advertise for positions like these on a grand scale. That makes sense given that you would have no chance to control who applied that way.

But, who said you had to sit back and wait with bated breath to see who showed interest? This would, after all, mean entrusting untested sources with your home. Instead, it may be worth taking a more active and reliable role during employment here. Keep reading to find out how you can.

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Ask for industry recommendations

The more you succeed in this industry, the more you’re going to communicate with others in it. You may come to know the owners of neighboring farms, or even get chatting with your delivery drivers. Your best chance of reliable employees, then, may well be to ask for recommendations. You’ll soon start to see that the world of agriculture is a pretty small place in the grand scheme of things. Most people will know of some reliable workers looking for positions. This ensures all employees come with field-specific recommendations. So, don’t be afraid to ask around.

Use job searches in new ways

That’s not to say that job search engines will be no good to you. As you’ll find it you head to options like https://hansenagriplacement.com, advertising isn’t the only thing you can do here. It’s also possible to search the candidates on offer. This allows you to cherry-pick the people who sound most suited to what you have to offer. Then, you’re free to make them an offer instead of the other round. You had just better hope that they say yes.

Trust in agencies

At the very least, it may be worth signing up for agriculture-specific job agencies. These match you with candidates and send them your way, often on a temporary basis. This is beneficial because it again ensures every worker comes with a recommendation. You also have the choice of not renewing their contracts if you don’t feel comfortable. If you do get on with the people the agency sends, though, you could offer them a full-time job and live happily ever after.

Is It Time for You to Take on Permanent Employees?

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Running a small business can be hard work. You have a whole lot on your plate to deal with at all times. Between product design to development, market research, manufacturing, advertising, and marketing, you’re going to find yourself with little time on your hands to deal with customer queries, packaging, and shipping. Never mind networking, collaborations, and breaking deals with business partners. It’s no surprise that most small business owners have little time to themselves and are relatively stressed. But it’s important to remember that you don’t have to bear the weight of the world on your shoulders when it comes to dealing with all of these non-stop tasks. It’s okay to ask for a little help every once in a while. But the big question is, should this help be permanent and is it time for you to take on employees with contracted hours? Here are a few pieces of advice that should help you to come to the right conclusions on this topic!

You Can Outsource

If you find that you have a few one-off tasks to be completed or you have work to be completed that doesn’t require someone’s physical presence in your business’ commercial property, you might want to consider outsourcing. This is when you pass part of your business’ work out to a third party who can complete it independently and hand you the results. When you are outsourcing you can work with a range of individuals. From web designers to product photographers, market researchers, or an IT Support Firm. The main benefit of outsourcing work over taking on full time employees is that you can use these services as and when you need them, rather than having to supply the staff at the other end of the deal with permanent contracted hours. Your responsibility is reduced and they benefit in other ways, such as flexibility with their work and being able to work with multiple clients.

Taking On Permanent Employees

If you find that you need regular work and someone who is committed to a particular role within your company, it’s time to take on permanent employees. But this requires a whole lot more thought, as you take on a whole lot more responsibility. When becoming an employer, it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with employment law. Figure out what is expected of you and ensure that you are providing your workers with everything that they need. Consider subjects such as contracted hours, breaks, pay, responsibilities within job roles, training, and health and safety. Falling short in any of these areas could see you face court cases and forking out for compensation if anything goes wrong. It’s always better to toe the line!

While relinquishing control over certain aspects of your business to freelancers or employees may be relatively daunting, it is an inevitability as your business grows and expands. So, take the time to make the right decisions when it comes to accepting help within your small business!

Money Blunders That Can Cost You Big In Business

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The American dream of owning a business may be alive and well, but for your company to remain this way, you need to avoid becoming a statistic. While the true figure is widely debated, most believe that eight in ten small businesses fail, with many of those being in the first year or so. There are lots of reasons this can happen, but one of the most disastrous is poor money management. With that in mind, here are six money blunders you can’t afford to make.

1. Working Without A Budget

Although it isn’t the most interesting task on the planet, planning a budget for your business is absolutely essential. After all, if you spend money as and when you like, chances are, you’ll spend more than you have. You may also forget about financial obligations, which can leave you with even less cash. To avoid this, you should stick to your budget and update it when needed.

2. Hiring Too Many Employees

No business owner should do everything alone, but that doesn’t mean a team of permanent employees is the answer. If you need a marketing or financial consultant, for example, you could outsource to a freelancer instead. While there are variations in consultant salaries, this will almost always be the cheaper option. This is because training and benefits aren’t required.

3. Waiting To Seek Credit

The absolute worst time for a business to seek credit is when they actually need it. In fact, it’s often impossible to find funding in these circumstances, and, if you can, it will likely cost you much more than it usually would. To save yourself time and unnecessary worry, you should do your research and secure lines of credit sooner, rather than later.

4. Having No Emergency Plan

Of course, if you plan for an emergency now, you won’t need to put yourself into debt by borrowing money later. This is why you should make sure that you set aside some cash each month and build a business emergency fund. If you’re on a tight budget, this can be tricky, but it’s a crucial task nonetheless. For this reason, you should work to cut down your business costs.

5. Using The Same Account

Keeping the money for your business and personal lives in one account may seem like a convenient choice, but it can actually make your life a lot harder. After all, when all of your money is mixed together, it’s almost impossible to tell what belongs to you and what belongs to your company, making it likely that you’ll spend what isn’t yours. Opening a business account can prevent this.

6. Avoiding The Essential Purchases

With money being such an important asset in the business world, it’s no wonder that so many entrepreneurs do everything that they can to spend less of theirs. However, that doesn’t mean that you should eliminate spending altogether. If you want to grow your company, then you need to invest in the essentials required to make that happen, like equipment and professional services.

Money keeps the business world turning, so take care of yours by avoiding the blunders listed above.

Making An Impression During Your Work Experience

It goes without saying that you will want to get the most from your work experience. The aim is always to try and secure a permanent position, and, if that is not possible, you want to make a positive impression so that you make contacts and open the door to opportunities in the future. But, just how do you do so? Read on for all of the tips you need.

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 Why doing work experience is important:

Before we reveal what to do to make an impression on your internship, first let’s take a look at the reasons why an internship is so important.

·       Chances to network – You will get the opportunity to build up your contact book by networking with professionals in the industry. You never know what opportunities could arise from meeting such people and getting their contact details.

·       Accumulate new skills – You will learn plenty of skills during your internship, all of which will be vital because they are clearly skills that are required in the real working environment.

·       Introduction to the field’s culture and etiquette – All sectors have a specific way of doing things, and the only way to truly learn about the etiquette and culture of your field is to be immersed in it.

·       Learning experience – Learning in a classroom can only take you so far. With an internship, you will gain real-life working experience, which will stand you in great stead for future jobs.

·       Apply classroom coursework to the position – You will have learnt a lot of theory in the classroom, and your internship allows you to put this into practice. It connects the dots so you’re ready for the future.

·       Gain confidence – One of the great things about an internship is that your confidence will increase more and more as time goes on. After all, there is no one to hold your hand during an internship – it is all on you. Once complete, you will feel a great sense of pride and achievement, and you will feel more confident when starting a job in the future.

How to make an impression during your internship:

·       The right attitude – Having the right attitude is vital if you are to make the best impression during your internship. You need to be enthusiastic and willing to do any task that is thrown your way. If you do not seem interested or you are reluctant to do certain things, you will make an impression but it will be the wrong type of one. You also need to make sure you are learning outside of work. A lot of people take online courses, such as those at SCU online, while they are interning, so they are getting the qualifications and experience at the same time.

·       Be punctual – Turning up late is always frowned upon. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get to the office. Before your internship starts, it is always a good idea to do the journey so you know how to get there and how long it takes.

·       Dress appropriately – Don’t turn up to work in a T-shirt or a short skirt. Make sure you research the dress code beforehand, as what you wear will largely depend on where your internship placement is. Nevertheless, if you are in an office environment, as most interns are, then you should wear conservative yet professional clothing. For example, men should wear a lightweight suit and tie while women should opt for a blouse, knee length skirt or trousers, or a suit.

·       Greet everyone with a smile – You know what they say – ‘you never get a second chance to make a first impression.’ First impressions certainly count. If you don’t greet your co-workers with warmth and a smile, they will remember it. Something so simple can make a massive difference.

·       Find a mentor – In most cases, you will be assigned a mentor to assist you during your internship. This is the person you can ask questions if you are unsure, as they are there to show you the ropes. If you are not assigned a mentor, don’t be afraid to ask for one. Otherwise, you will find yourself sitting there with lots of questions and no one to get the answers from.

·       Respect others – This of paramount importance; you need to behave appropriately in the workplace. You should never make personal calls, unless they are urgent, nor should you make inappropriate jokes, swear, take office supplies home, or talk negatively about coworkers.

·       Email etiquette – You need to learn how to email effectively, and you need to learn quickly. Your messages should be short and to the point. You shouldn’t send personal emails from work. You also need to include a subject line, check your grammar and spelling, and ensure that you are straightforward, as tone can be easy to misinterpret over email.

·       Take the initiative when you introduce yourself – Don’t wait for people to introduce themselves to you, take the initiative. It can be nerve-racking, but people will respect you for it. If you wait for people to introduce themselves to you and they don’t, it will only get more awkward as time passes by.

·       Listen and take notes – There is a lot to take in during an internship, especially on your first day. So, make sure you have your notebook and pen handy so you can take notes. It may seem like a lot of effort, but you will thank yourself later. You will have your notes to refer to later on, and this can make a massive difference. You also need to display that you are engaged. You can do this by making eye contact as well as nodding and smiling. If you simple sit there, empty handed, thinking about what you’re going to have for dinner or what you’re doing on the weekend, it will show. Those at the company will assume that you’re simply there to get the internship on your CV and you’re not really interested in anything else.

·       Say ‘yes’ – Get used to saying yes, whether this is yes to making the coffees for your co-workers or yes to a lunch date with them. Take every networking opportunity you get and be enthusiastic about all tasks, even the small, seemingly pointless ones.

·       Ask questions – Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Of course, you shouldn’t inundate your mentor with a million questions a day, but if you do not know something you should always ask. No one is going to expect you to come into the company and know everything about how things work there.

If you follow the advice that has been mentioned above, you are guaranteed to make a positive impression during your internship while you will also extract maximum value from the experience.

What Not To Do In An Interview

An interview can be a nerve-racking and tense experience, especially if you have your heart set on the job in question. With careful planning, you can ensure you ace the interview so that you have the best chance of securing the position. After all, there is no such thing as too much preparation. With that being said, read on to discover what not to do in an interview:

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  • Looking down at the floor or to the side of the interviewer – Making eye contact with the interviewer is of paramount importance. Recruiters have stated that one of the main reasons for rejecting a candidate is that they were unable to make eye contact.

  • Not asking questions – Employers want to see that you are interested enough in the position, and thus asking well-placed questions can make a positive impression.

  • Speaking negatively about your current employer – No matter how bad your current employer is, you should never badmouth them, as this will only reflect badly on you.

  • Falsifying information – Under no circumstance should you ever lie during an interview. Not only does it look bad if you are caught out, but it is a potential legal liability to both you and your future employer. Not only could it lead to you losing the job if you get it, but it could result in a legal lawsuit.

  • Giving textbook responses – Remember, these guys have conducted numerous interviews, and thus clichéd statements such as “I’m a real people person” do not impress. It is vital to show your personality; try to be honest and open about your strengths and skills.

  • Dressing inappropriately  - Did you know that around one-third of bosses know within the first 90 seconds of an interview whether they will hire someone? Therefore, dressing inappropriately can rule you out of the running before you even answer your first question.

  • Allowing inappropriate behaviour – No job is worth being subject to inappropriate behaviour from the interviewer. Hire an employment attorney if this has happened to you.

  • Missing chances to prove yourself – If you do not respond to questions with ESR (Example, Specifics, Results) answers, you miss out on the chance to ace the interview.

  • Failing to do enough research on the company – One of the most common mistakes job seekers make is failing to research the company. You need to show that you have an understanding of the company’s history and culture, and why it appeals to you.

  • Using your phone – Your phone should be tucked away in your bag and it should be on silent. You should never use it during an interview.

  • Over-explaining why you lost your last job – Over-explaining why you lost your last job is one of the most common mistakes made in a job interview. You don’t want to dwell on this too much or draw too much attention to it.

  • Turning up late – Turning up twenty minutes late and blaming it on bad traffic will not go down well. Leave early and give yourself more than enough time to get there. If the building is unfamiliar, do the journey a couple of days beforehand.