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Working from home instead of the office means trading in one set of distractions for another. Plus, you need to supervise yourself. How can you stay focused when your kids are bored, and Netflix just added your favorite show? 

Remote work has lots of advantages, like greater flexibility and zero commuting time. However, in order to get your work done, it’s important to create a system that keeps you focused and productive.

Photo by: Christopher Shane Photography

You can succeed at remote work by providing your own structure and motivation. Use these ideas for dealing with internal and external distractions.

Dealing with Internal Distractions:

1. Think positive. Build your own morale. Think about the things you like about your job. Appreciate the opportunity to do meaningful work that stretches your skills and helps others.

2. Set goals. Give yourself specific targets to strive for. Know what you want to accomplish each day and over the long term.

3. Write a list. Use paper and pen or a free app to make a to-do list. Block out realistic time for each task.

4. Schedule your day. Figure out your priorities and the hours when you’re most effective. Devote most of your resources to the activities that create real value.

5. Designate a workspace. Carving out an area exclusively for work will help you keep your mind on your job. It can be a spare room or one corner in your studio apartment.

6. Reduce discomfort. Pay attention to ergonomics, especially if you’re working at home full-time. Arrange your workspace for maximum efficiency. Ask your employer if they’ll help cover the costs for equipment like headphones to reduce straining your neck during phone calls.

7. Take breaks. You’ll accomplish more if you allow yourself generous helpings of downtime. Try to pause and relax before you feel fatigued.

Photo by: Katie Charlotte Photography

8. Move around. Exercise reduces stress and restores your energy. Use some of your break time to stretch and jump rope. Go for a walk or do yoga during your lunch hour.

Dealing with External Distractions:

1. Ask for support. Let your boss, coworkers, family, and friends know when you need help. Be willing to return the favor when you see them struggling.

2. Arrange childcare. Finding someone to watch your kids has become more difficult for many parents. Keep in touch with other families to learn about options near you or ask your employer about taking leave if necessary.

3. Set boundaries. Let others know the hours when you’re available for collaboration, and when you need to work without interruptions. Shut your door and turn the volume down on your phone for tasks that require concentration.

4. Interact with others. On the other hand, socializing is a valuable part of your workday too. Participate in virtual happy hours and stick around to chat before and after video meetings.

5. Play music. This is your chance to control the soundtrack at work. Create a variety of playlists to mask background noise or stimulate creative thinking.

6. Eat healthy. Your kitchen can be a distraction too. Plan your daily menu in advance around nutritious meals and snacks. It’s easier to turn down junk food when you feel full.

Check out our monthly meal plan that includes meals for every day of the month, along with coordinating recipes and videos for every meal. All for only $5 per month.

Photo by: Katie Charlotte Photography

7. Limit media. Facebook and streaming videos may consume much of your day unless you eliminate such temptations. Find methods that work for you such as turning off notifications or setting time limits on sites where you tend to linger too long.

Develop the communication and organizational skills you’ll need to excel at working from home. You can be a high performer whether you’re sitting in a cubicle or on your patio.

Hugs and Love,
Nikki

DISCLAIMER: This post is sponsored by H&R Block Online. All reviews and opinions expressed in this post are based on my personal view. I am not a tax professional and you should always consult a tax professional for all your tax questions and concerns.

Getting a jump on tax planning and preparation will save you time and money in the long run. The current tax filing extension due to COVID-19 allows us to get the most out of our tax preparation. Although the tax filing deadline has been extended, it’s best to still file and get your refund faster, as most people need the money now more than ever. However, if you’re not ready to file just yet, rather than waiting until the last moment, missing out on opportunities for using specific strategies, and stressing out about the process, start organizing and preparing your taxes now (but don’t delay you need a refund now). But first, let me share my tips on how to make organizing and completing your taxes easy, affordable and a total DIY.

TIP ONE: KEEP ALL TAX DOCUMENTS IN ONE PLACE

One thing that can cause you to dread filing your taxes is having to filter through all of your paper clutter to find the documents needed to file. This is such an easy problem to resolve:

  • Have one binder or folder for all tax documents. I keep a binder for each tax year. As materials arrive that I need in preparation to file my taxes, I place them in binder. Using a folder can work just as well. It is essential to make sure that your tax binder is easily accessible.
  • Within your binder keep all your documents sorted by category. Example, all w2’s together, 1099’s together etc.
  • Place your previous years tax return in your current years tax binder. This makes for a great reference tool.
  • Keep a tax log. A tax log is a great way to ensure that you received all of the documents needed to file your taxes. Place this log in the front of your tax binder.

TIP TWO: DO-IT-YOURSELF

My office is located next to an accountant’s office. During this time of year they are usually busy. Of course that is not the case this year with the need for everyone to stay socially distant. This makes for the perfect opportunity to do-it-yourself. The cost-effective way to do this is by using H&R Block Online. It allows you to easily file your taxes from your smartphone or a computer.

As a professional organizer, in my mission of living a beautiful life and helping others do the same, I am always on the hunt for four key things to start:

  • Order
  • Function
  • Money savers
  • Time savers

By focusing on these four things it makes many of my decisions a simple process. When H&R Block Online approached me about working with them, I went straight to my list.

ORDER & FUNCTION

Their website is very user-friendly. I was not intimidated one bit! As soon as I hit the site, it was clean and straightforward. I also respect the fact that they are very transparent. Right from the start, you see pricing, options, and customer reviews for each solution under their DIY service. There are no frustrating pop-ups or ads. Descriptions for each service were concise and made it easy to select the appropriate filing service.

MONEY & TIME SAVER

This was huge for me. As a small business owner (and during such difficult times) I found that H&R Block Online is at least $10 less than TurboTax. I also found that H&R Block Online offers excellent value in tax preparation. One thing that I love is that they have online assistance (from actual human beings) for anyone who is needing a little help as they complete their filing. Instead of getting a help menu that is often not helpful and a time-wasting effort, they have on-demand chat service with highly trained tax experts available for DIY filers.

TIP # 3: DON’T FORGET YOUR PETS

No, that is not a typo. You know how much I love my two pups Bentley and Albert, so of course I am going to take this opportunity to include them in my tips. But seriously, May is National Pet Month and I thought it would be the perfect time to share tax some pet-qualifying tax deductions:

  • Moving a pet. Moving expenses that involve a pet can be deducted in some instances. The move has to be work-related, and there has to be at least 50 miles between the new job and your old home.
  • Guard animals. If a dog is used as a guard animal for your business, then some expenses can be deducted. Expenses related to caring for the animal are deductible, and it’s important to save all receipts to show how much they cost. The IRS will allow a percentage of the cost of care to be deducted, depending on how much time the animal spends on guard duty.
  • Pets related to work. Jobs that involve animals are eligible for some tax deductions. Are you a professional dog breeder? Do you love to race horses? Are you a dog walker who purchases supplies to care for the animals you watch? Depending on your job, you can deduct some expenses.
  • Service dogs. Households with service dogs used for therapeutic purposes may be eligible for tax deductions. Guide dogs and service dogs fall into this category. The IRS requires careful documentation, so save all your receipts, bills, and veterinarian notices. These deductions go on the medical expenses form. Food and leashes are some of the common items that can be written off. Trips to the vet and training are also frequent deductions. The actual cost of buying the service dog or guide dog is also included.

Here are two bonus tips:

  • Fostering an animal for a charity allows households to take the cost of caring for the animal off their income. The charity has to be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and registered with the Internal Revenue Service. The animal shelter can provide paperwork proving that your household is fostering animals. Items like pet beds, food, leashes, medication, vet visits, and others are eligible for deductions. The IRS may ask to see receipts, so it’s important to save all of them and keep them separate from other pet-related files to avoid confusion.
  • Sales taxes. States with sales taxes can play a part in writing off some of the cost of caring for a pet. According to the IRS, filing Schedule A and deducting state sales taxes can help some pet owners. The sales taxes include the cost of pet food, supplies and other items purchased throughout the year. Local sales taxes, which differ from state versions, also qualify for Schedule A. Saving your receipts is essential, but the IRS allows you to use Schedule A without them. The optional general sales tax tables let you calculate the deduction on a worksheet. In addition, the IRS has an online sales tax deduction calculator.

Friends, I hope that you found this information helpful and a money-saver for you this tax season. Be sure to take advantage of my 25% discount on all H&R Block Online solutions. This is the perfect time before we get back to our day to day hustle to get a major item off of your to-do list. Hugs and Love, Nikki

professional organizing services summerville

One of my new year resolutions this year was to make changes that would allow me to grow my blog and social media so I can reach and help more people with my content. I have been posting more, I’ve been looking into an organic growth service for Instagram and how bots can be harmful to your page (look on https://nitreo.com/ingramer to find out more), I’ve been collabing with more people, but the one thing I’ve been working on the hardest is a “new look” for my blog to help it reflect me a bit more. And now, all the hard work has paid off!

Today is such an exciting day! We have a “new look” friends. I finally feel like my website and brand represents me well and can be an enjoyable experience for all of my friends. I’ve even decided to use a good hosting company like hostiserverto make sure that everyone can enjoy my blog, thanks to improved speed and loading times. For a few years, I have struggled with trying to create the look that would not only make me proud to call it mine but one that would communicate my vision. If you’re struggling to make a website that speaks to you and speaks of you, you could look into sites that can help you create a website as well as give you design tips, so you can educate yourself on different aspects of site building.

It is no secret that my passion is sharing my tips and ideas on how to to make your home your beautiful haven. I am passionate about my Lord and Savior, my family and my home. They give me my strength, happiness and desire to be the best person that I can be each day.
My journey to reaching ultimate happiness with my brand did not come easy. I made many errors, I learned a lot, and made some amazing connection with some great people. I do not regret anything about this journey because it has made me wiser and more inspired to provide you with consistent and fabulous content!

I could not have this beautiful new website and brand look without the help of a few wonderful people:

With Grace & Gold

After searching high and low for the perfect company to rebrand At Home With Nikki, I was so relieved when I found the branding company With Grace & Gold. When I reached their website, I immediately knew I found “the one.” After meeting with the owners Andra and Kelly I knew that I had made the right decision trusting them with bringing my vision to life. They listened to my vision, they advised and educated me on a variety of things as it related to my goals for At Home With Nikki. I am going to miss interacting with them each day. I guess I will just have to stalk their beautiful Instagram page to keep up with them:).

professional organizing services summerville

Christopher Shane

Now that I had the perfect branding company I needed the perfect photographer to capture beautiful photographs of my home and all those wonderful DIY projects I have shared with you over the years. This was one of the easiest decisions on this journey. I knew that I wanted Christopher Shane for the job. I met Christopher two years ago when First for Women magazine hired him to photograph me in my home for an article. It was such a fun shoot, and I have been a fan of his photography ever since.

The At Home With Nikki Team

I am grateful to the At Home With Nikki team for all their dedication to the rebranding project. It is one thing to have a beautiful website, but my mission goes much further. In addition to sharing tons of weekly content with my online friends, I want to reach out to my community and share my tips and help others organize their spaces. I want to do workshops and work with social service agencies to help families that may not be in a position to hire a professional organizer. One of my most exciting missions is helping with military families with tips to enhance their home life. To get all of this done, it takes a team, and I feel so blessed to have my dream team!

Of course, none of this would be possible without YOU! Your support has been so important to me and is the reason I have my dream job. Many of you (my friends) have been with me since the beginning, and I am excited that you are still with me now. I get up every day thinking what can I share or do to give you something to benefit your life. If I can help you solve a home organization issues, organize your handbag, show you a killer deal at Target or put a smile on your face, it all brings me joy. Thank you for all your support and friendship. I have so much in store for you!

Blessings & Love

Today I am announcing the winner of the “Mini Workbag” give-a-way that I hosted on my Youtube Channel “At Home With Nikki”.  I was so happy to be able to do this give-a-way.  Most of you already know that I am such a fan of having a great workbag.   To be able to give one away just makes my day.  So the winner is……………………………….

I have sent the winner a personal youtube message.  Please respond to that message within 48 hours.  Thanks to everyone who participated.  The winner was chosen using random.org.

Many of you know that I have a second YouTube channel called “At Work With Nikki”. This week on that channel I shared some office accessory dupes.  These are accessories for your office that look similar to other higher end accessories.   I just love sharing budget ideas that look expensive and beautiful but don’t break the bank.  I hope you will enjoy the video. 
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Having a home office that promotes positive energy is so very important.  This is why I have spent time learning the art of Feng Shui.  Having good Feng Shui in your home office basically means to have a harmonious environment.  One that promotes productivity, peace and tranquility.  This is the vibe that I strive for in my home office.  In my video below I share with you my 5 tips that I have learned to basically have Feng Shui in my home office.  I hope you will enjoy and find helpful.  
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