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The Struggle is Real: How to Overcome a Slow Wi-Fi Connection (Guest Blog by Sarah Pike)

The following post comes to us from returning guest blogger, Sarah Pike. Sarah is a freelancer and teacher with a passion for sharing innovative ideas about entrepreneurship, productivity and company culture. Be sure to visit her author’s bio below to learn more and connect or read more of her guest blog posts!

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The Struggle is Real: How to Overcome a Slow Wi-Fi Connection

How to Overcome a Slow Wi-Fi Connection

When you’re participating in a professional development webinar, Skyping with a client, or simply emailing journalists—a strong Internet connection is essential. Without it, you’re not getting the most from your Wi-Fi the way you should. Don’t let the slow Wi-Fi struggle get you down. Below are some tips to help you overcome slow Wi-Fi and get back to being on top of your work game.

Cut back on the number of devices using your network.
If you’re running nine devices on bandwidth designed for five, your Wi-Fi will be sluggish. Fortunately, you don’t have to guess at how many connected devices are too many. This tool tells you how much Internet speed you actually need, whether you’re video conferencing, streaming music, or just emailing clients.

There are too many networks in your area. 
There are a limited amount of radio waves that transmit wireless signals in any given area. If you live in a busy city or an apartment building, with hundreds of networks competing for space, your Wi-Fi will be slow. You may be able to reduce interference by changing your wireless channel.

Your router is in a bad place.
The further your connected device is from your router, the slower your connection. Move the router to a central location in your home or the spot where you most frequently need fast Wi-Fi, like a home office, to help improve your signal.

You’re running apps or programs that are bandwidth-hogs.
Some apps, like BitTorrent and Steam, use a lot of bandwidth, but you may forget they’re running. This will slow your connection. On the other hand, if you’re trying to simultaneously download massive amounts of information, upload photos, and watch a video, you’re overloading your bandwidth (and possibly your device’s memory). Stick to one bandwidth-heavy process at a time.

You expect too much from Wi-Fi.
Your Wi-Fi can only do so much, and that certainly isn’t as much as a hard-wired Ethernet connection. If you’re stuck with slow Wi-Fi and need to use the Internet, optimize your browser for a slower connection by viewing mobile or HTML versions of Web sites and disabling images. Take care of tasks that aren’t as bandwidth-intensive and save the massive downloads for a time when you have access to an Ethernet connection or faster Wi-Fi.

Maybe It’s Not Your Fault After All.
Slow Internet may have nothing to do with your routers position, the apps you’re running, or your high expectations for today’s technology. Sometimes your Internet Service Provider (ISP) is having trouble. These may stem from the central office, the connection going into your home, or the cables at the street. If that’s the case, give your ISP a call.

Once you establish what the problem is, whether on your own or by talking with your ISP, take action. The sooner you do, the sooner you’ll be back to work without fear of lagging Wi-Fi interrupting your progress.

Have you ever had the frustrating experience of working through a slow Wi-Fi connection? Share your tips for overcoming this challenge by commenting below!

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About the Author: Sarah Pike is a freelancer and teacher, with a slight productivity app obsession. When she’s not writing or teaching, she’s probably reading about career-pathing and wellness. She also enjoys following far too many celebrities than she should on Instagram. You can find Sarah on Twitter at @sarahzpike.

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How to Love Your Career on the Days You Don’t (Guest Blog by Sarah Pike)

The following post comes to us from returning guest blogger, Sarah Pike. Sarah is a freelancer and teacher with a passion for sharing innovative ideas about entrepreneurship, productivity and company culture. Be sure to visit her author’s bio below to learn more and connect!

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How to Love Your Career on the Days You Don’t

How to Love Your Career on the Days You Don’tYou went into public relations because you loved it – the challenge, the juggling of projects, the deadlines, and the satisfaction of pulling off a mind-blowing coup in the nick of time. But the reasons you love it might overlap with the reasons PR was named one of the top 10 most stressful jobs for two years running.

And where there’s stress, there’s bound to be days when thefeeling of dissatisfaction rears its ugly head and has you wondering if you made a huge mistake. But just because you’re having an off day – or week – doesn’t mean it’s time to switch careers. Here are eight strategies to help you love your job again, even on days when that feels impossible.

1. Walk Down Memory Lane

Remember why you chose this career in the first place. Picture your first big win and remember how that felt. Think about the last time you felt really excited at work, and identify what the difference between that day and today is. By re-engaging with positive feelings about your work and looking for what might have changed, you can turn your day around for the better.

2. Look at the Bigger Picture

There’s a reason you work, and a big part of that reason has nothing at all to do with the office. You work so you can have everything else in your life. Reminding yourself that your career is why you are able to take fabulous vacations or live in a neighborhood you love can help take the sting out of career disillusionment. Virtually no job will give you 100% satisfaction each and every day. Take the good with the bad and remember that work is sometimes (more like often) “work” but it helps support other things in life you love.

3. Take up a Hobby

Sometimes you’re just overloaded and burned out. If there’s no immediate way to change your current workload or the project you’re working on, look outside the office for a sense of fulfillment. If you’ve always wanted to take a cooking class or learn a language, get started. Give yourself something else to look forward to and, once you start feeling accomplished after work, the nine-to-five will likely become more bearable.

4. Dress to Impress

It may seem too simple, but putting on that power suit or your favorite pair of strappy heels can totally turn your day around. You’ll instantly hold your head a little higher, walk with a little more purpose, and all those compliments you’re bound to get won’t hurt either.

5. Tell Someone

It may seem counter-intuitive to your career ambitions to let your boss know that you’re less than thrilled about your current position or tasks, but he or she might actually be the best person to help. Chances are your boss has felt exactly the same way, been able to fight through it, and not only stay in the field – but progress. And your boss may even be able to help mix up your current assignments to help you get over the hump and back to a place where you look forward to coming in every day. Connecting with a personal career coach is another way to help you identify actionable (and proactive!) strategies to turn your career around.

6. Connect with Colleagues

Even if you don’t feel connected to your current list of to-dos, you can still enjoy the workday by fostering supportive, fun relationships at work. Having a friend to look forward to seeing at the office is the next best thing to loving that pile of work on your desk.

7. Give Yourself a Break

Sometimes we need to unchain ourselves from our desk, computer, or tablet. Build regular breaks into your day where you can stand up, stretch, and take a breath of fresh air. If you have some flexibility in your schedule, keep heavy meetings for the middle of the day so you don’t start or end your day on a stressful note.

8. Reignite Your Passion

Look at people in your industry who are on fire. Study them, and if you have someone in your company or city that exudes love for their job, ask if they’d be willing to mentor you. Enthusiasm is contagious, and just being around someone full of passion for PR can get your career fires burning again.

No matter why you’ve hit a slump, there’s nothing worse than feeling miserable eight (or ten) hours a day. There’s a reason you jumped into the PR world with both feet, and you can reconnect with that initial excitement. All it takes is a little perspective and a healthy dose of compassion for yourself – we all go through tough times. Just don’t let one bad day ruin the rest of a rewarding, promising career!

What do you do to get through a tough day (or week) at work? Share your tips by commenting below!

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About the Author: Sarah Pike is a freelancer and teacher, with a slight productivity app obsession. When she’s not writing or teaching, she’s probably reading about career-pathing and wellness. She also enjoys following far too many celebrities than she should on Instagram. You can find Sarah on Twitter at @sarahzpike.

 

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5 Ways to Create a Culture of Empowerment (Guest Blog by Sarah Pike)

The following post comes to us from returning guest blogger, Sarah Pike. Sarah is a freelancer and teacher with a passion for sharing innovative ideas about entrepreneurship, productivity and company culture. Be sure to visit her author’s bio below to learn more and connect!

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5 Ways to Create a Culture of Empowerment

5 Ways to Create a Culture of EmpowermentIf you’re tired of obscure strategies about more meetings and holding monthly birthday parties, try out some of our ideas to help your team feel empowered (and maybe even a little inspired). While communication and making sure employees feel heard are important, they are hard to quantify. The five tips listed below can help you take empowerment out of theory and put it into practice.

Give Snaps

This idea is a twist on the usual public acknowledgement idea – and it was inspired (without any shame) from the movie “Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde.” Everyone on the team writes down something positive about another member of the team and puts it into the “snap cup.” In my former office, it was a pineapple bowl.

Then the facilitator of the activity reads each compliment out loud, and everyone gives snaps (literally snapping their fingers) for the person being acknowledged. I sometimes ran entire snap meetings centering on just one team member. It may seem like a silly idea, but I saw my team start looking for positive things in one another – and then expecting great things. It was a simple, non-threatening way to create an environment of positivity and to form a stronger team.

Pass the Mic

As the leader or manager, it’s easy to monopolize meetings with all the important things you have to say. But when your team only hears one voice, they become stagnant and can start to feel disengaged. There’s no better way to get them engaged than to give them the floor. You can either ask for volunteers or make assignments, but every team meeting should include some kind of training from at least one team member.

You can outline parameters for the kinds of training you’re looking for, but if you really want employees to take ownership, leave it as open-ended as possible. I’ve seen employees read “The Giving Tree” or turn the culminating battle scene in “Braveheart” into an inspiring message about taking risks and going for it. And the best part of this practice is that you, who are usually the one filling everyone else’s cup, get a chance to be inspired as well.

Give Feedback on the Spot

Employee surveys are just fine, but if you want to see immediate results and truly empower employees you need to speak up when you see something happening. If a team member just went out of their way to make a customer happy, go out of your way to make sure they get acknowledged for their efforts. If someone found a creative way to resolve a recurring problem, give them props and ask them to put together a training to share at a team meeting so everyone can benefit from their resourcefulness.

And encourage everyone in the office to do the same. You shouldn’t be the only one giving feedback. This is a discipline, though – it doesn’t simply happen. Set alerts on your calendar to remind yourself to look for on-the-spot opportunities. Once you start looking every day, it will become a habit. And this habit puts that open communication you’ve been striving for into practice.

Use an App

When it comes to employee empowerment, there’s an app for that. Motivosity is a program designed to automate, track, and facilitate employee engagement and acknowledgment. To have a truly collaborative workplace, you need to have a culture of empowerment and creating or transforming a culture takes discipline. Motivosity helps you get there.

From birthday and work anniversary acknowledgments to peer-to-peer rewards, this website/app combo streamlines your empowerment program and reminds everyone to give props to their coworkers. Motivosity also provides a fun, engaging way to capitalize on the competitiveness of your team by turning company and team goals into a game. And the program tracks everything that happens, which helps you identify which strategies are working and which ones are a waste of time.

Give Them Some Control

One of the best ways to help an employee feel empowered is to give them control over some aspects of their professional life. Whether it’s letting them decide how to transform the office break room or giving them the option to work from home part of the time, a sense of control can be more powerful than a raise.

Letting employees have input – especially in regard to their work schedule – shows you trust them and value their contribution. Remote work is becoming more common, especially for PR-related roles like social media managers and bloggers who rely solely on the Internet. And the benefits in regard to employee satisfaction and productivity definitely outweigh any perceived risks.

Whatever you decide to do to create a more inclusive, empowered workplace, make sure to be consistent and keep it going. Stopping and starting random initiatives only erodes trust and enthusiasm. While there isn’t one magic answer for helping your employees feel appreciated, you can start making a positive difference by implementing simple, concrete strategies that get everyone involved.

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About the Author: Sarah Pike is a freelancer and teacher, with a slight productivity app obsession. When she’s not writing or teaching, she’s probably reading about career-pathing and wellness. She also enjoys following far too many celebrities than she should on Instagram. You can find Sarah on Twitter at @sarahzpike.

 

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How to Ease the Transition to Working from Home (Guest Blog by Sarah Pike)

The following guest post comes to us from Sarah Pike, a Community Outreach Coordinator for BusinessBee, an innovative and resourceful company that helps small companies successfully manage and grow their businesses. Sarah is also a college writing instructor. Be sure to visit her author’s bio below to learn more and to connect!

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How to Ease the Transition to Working from Home

working from homeThe ability to work remotely grew 80 percent between 2005 and 2012 and it shows no signs of stopping.

Research shows working from home might be harmful to your health, but there are a lot of benefits you can gain from it too. If you’re nervous about making the transition from office work to working remotely, here are some ways to help make that transition a bit easier.

Learn to make yourself “present.”

Many people feel like they’ll miss out on opportunities by working from home. To combat this, make yourself as “present” at the office as possible without actually being there. Connect your smartphone and laptop to your office. Have instant messengers and email open at all times while you work. You can give the impression of being physically in the office by being easily reachable during your normal work hours.

Find more ways to connect.

Working remotely doesn’t necessarily mean working from home. Keep your options open. There are apps available, like Work+, designed to help you find available Wi-Fi connections no matter where you are. This way you won’t feel compelled to stay in your house all day, which can end up feeling just as confining as an office.

It’s been shown Internet access directly correlates to a person’s happiness, so having a good connection is essential to creating the perfect work-life balance. Make sure you have a reliable Internet connection at home or that you’re going to a coffee shop you know has a strong Wi-Fi connection. You’ll need a stable connection with speeds fast enough to handle your workload. If you’re unsure if your at-home Internet is up to par, this test can help you check your speed.

Set your schedule.

You can easily fall into a trap of staying in bed all day when working from home. To prevent this, sit down and define your schedule. It should follow a similar schedule you’d have if you were in the office. Begin work each day at a set time and stick to it. Just remember to end at the specified time each day too. Overworking when you work from home is an easy trap to fall into when you’re working in a solo setting.

As Ariana Huffington discusses in her book “THRIVE,” overworking can lead to sleep-deprivation. Not only can this lead to serious injury, as in the case of Huffington, but it can also lead to a fall in productivity and happiness.

Take breaks.

It’s easy to work without stopping when you don’t have people coming to chat with you or when you don’t have a break room to visit. In the same vein of setting a work schedule, you need to schedule break times. Set aside 15-minute breaks and a lunch period each day—and take them. Studies show people are more productive when they take their breaks.

Create your own commute.

For many people, the drive to work is the ideal time to mentally prepare for the day ahead. You may think you lose that period of reflection and preparation when you work from home, but you don’t have to. Take time each morning to walk to a specific place, maybe your neighborhood coffee shop, and back home. You’ll mimic the morning commute and give yourself time to relax and prepare before the stress of the workday takes over.

Avoid unnecessary distractions.

When you’re at the office, you don’t have the option of throwing in a load of laundry or starting to prep for dinner. When you work remotely, you need to stay disciplined to not do these things. These are distractions only serving to keep you from getting your work done. Set aside time to do your home-life chores when your work is done, not in the middle of it.

Make sure you still socialize.

Studies show that workplace socialization is paramount to getting ahead in a job. Not only does it make you more productive and help cultivate ideas, but it also builds trust among colleagues. Find social groups via sites like Meetup.com to help develop interaction or form a weekly or monthly get together with colleagues.

Over 75 percent of employers with remote work programs in place report happier employees. Clearly, there’s something to be said for working somewhere other than a cubicle. The key to making it work is finding the right balance for your schedule and needs. If you’re considering transitioning to working from out of the office, try out some of these tips to give you the confidence you need to get started!

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About the Author: Sarah Pike is a Community Outreach Coordinator for BusinessBee and a college writing instructor. When she’s not teaching or writing, she’s probably binge-watching RomComs on Netflix or planning her next camping trip. She also enjoys following far too many celebrities than she should on Instagram. You can find Sarah on Twitter at @sarahzpike.

 

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How to Stay Productive When Working from Home

How to Stay Productive When Working from Home

More and more people are realizing the benefits of working from home and making the transition into a virtual work environment. The core benefits are obvious, but there are also pitfalls to avoid. The biggest is hitting unproductive roadblocks when you’re in full control (and fully accountable) for your own schedule.

So what are the best ways to stay productive when working from home? Here are my top pieces of advice for anyone working from home and wanting to maintain a productive virtual work environment!

Define a real office space

When working from home, it’s ideal to have a defined and closed off environment that is designated as your work space. I have been guilty of not following this very advice, and can tell you that when you blur the lines between what area is for work and what area is for living, you do neither efficiently in those spaces.

For example, I used to work from the living room sofa. It was comfortable and convenient. But I found it difficult to unplug each evening because sitting in the living room made me feel like I needed to be doing work. It’s funny how easily we are trained!

While a true room to call your office is the best case scenario (for tax purposes too), this additional space is not always available in a busy home. Find an area that you do not tend to use for other “living” at least on a regular basis. Maybe this is a guest room, your dining room table that is only used a few other times a year, or a nook in your bedroom or finished basement that can accommodate a small desk. Just because your office environment is virtual, doesn’t mean it needs to be portable! Establish roots and you will be amazed how much more “grounded” you feel when working from home each day.

Limit your “social” visitors

When you work from home, people can often mistake what you do during the day for sitting around watching soap operas and eating Bon Bon’s. Work of all types and magnitudes can and does occur from people’s homes every day.

While I strive to make my home a relaxing space during my off hours, I am also a nose-to-the-grindstone type of worker when I need to be. The precious hours I dedicate to work are easily disrupted by a social phone call or pop-in visitor. Beyond the actual time conversing, I also lose the time it takes to get back into the work mindset.

Just because you’re at home during the day, doesn’t mean you are available for a mid-afternoon coffee date any more than people who work in a traditional office environment. My advice – schedule even your social appointments like work appointments. You will see how they add up throughout the week and steal productive hours from your day. If possible, save them for the evenings or weekends just like most other people do!

Don’t waste work hours on too many personal tasks

I have the tendency to want to multi-task (even though I know this is not an effective use of time). When working from home, I’m always finding household chores vying for my attention. I can lose hours of my workday to sweeping floors, tidying up and doing laundry. Here and there, these tasks can be fit in when I need a break from writing and help me to free up my evenings for more family time. But I try not to allow them to eat up more than a total of ½ hour of my day.

Another big time eraser is running personal errands. If I tack on grocery shopping after a client meeting, I lose at least another hour of my day by the time I can sit down and get in the work zone again. Inevitably such personal tasks may need to occur on work hours, but try to resist the temptation to use them as a way to procrastinate completing the bigger work projects you are simply trying to avoid.

Meet with clients outside the home

It’s a good argument that getting clients to come to you for meetings is the epitome of efficiency – but is it? I highly discourage hosting client meetings from your home. When you meet in a neutral space like a coffee shop or café, you both have the ability to make an exit whenever you need to.

In contrast, when you invite someone into your work space, you become a hostage to however long they wish to chat. Also, a home environment feels more casual and invites people to stray from business conversations or arrive late because they figure you’re going to be there anyways. All of these little things add up and eat away at your efficiency, leaving you less time for personal time at the end of the day.

Get help with childcare

If you are a hybrid mom or dad who works from home, there can be a lot of pressure to save money on childcare by handling it yourself since you’re =home during the day. The fact is that you already are saving a good bit of money by working from home and it’s not in the best interest of you or your children to try and juggle their care with your work. Someone will always lose.

When my son stopped sleeping the majority of the day, I realized I needed help with childcare. I was never fully present with him or my work. We have a nice schedule where I get four dedicated work days a week and he gets to see a variety of children his age and loving adults who offer him great care. The money I make during the hours he is in care more than offsets the investment. Plus, I am able to dedicate much needed attention to my first baby – my business – which all around makes me a happy mama!

Remember to strive for balance and flexibility – but it’s a work in progress!

Finally and most importantly, be reasonable with expectations for what can be accomplished in a day. Your workday is meant for work, but it should still be enjoyable. And working from home is a real treat that not everyone will get to experience!

Distractions, unexpected illnesses and other setbacks will occur, believe me. They do for everyone. Foremost, try to keep your sense of balance – and humor – before you try to do it all!

If you work from home, how do you preserve your productivity and avoid distractions? Share your ideas in the comments below!

 
 

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