June 2017 archive

Big Ideas

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It’s easy to slip into routines. Even things that originally seemed novel can become a normal (and not especially exciting) part of your day to day life.

For the last year I’ve worked toward creating a life that allows me to basically function on autopilot. It was very deliberate- I wanted to get all my ‘ducks in a row,’ so to speak, live in the right location, make the right amount of money, and become comfortable with the new schools I’ve been working for online (mostly to prepare for the wonderful and exhausting chaos that will come with having a child).

However, with routine and the luxury to relax and get comfortable also comes a lack of imagination and creativity (at least, that’s been my experience).

I like to think that I’m a self aware and proactive person, so when I started realizing that my conversations with friends were growing stagnant and less intellectual, and long talks with my husband were gradually moving from energetic and inspiring, to a bland rundown of our work day, I decided to come up with as satisfying (and easy) a solution as I could. I decided that if I could be more deliberate about how I’m spending my time in the car, putting away groceries, and procrastinating on my laptop, I could work in some much-needed ‘educational listening.’

That’s when I got a simple idea that I’ve already fallen in love with:

Listen to 2-3 TED talks or one educational podcast weekly, and write down 3 conversation-generating thoughts from each in a notebook (which I call my Book of Big Ideas, because I’m cheesy :)).

This purposeful listening and note-taking has worked out perfectly (and keep in mind, it has required virtually no extra time out of my day), and it’s provided me with plenty of new thoughts to explore on frequent one-hour-long walks with my husband (naturally one simple idea spirals into multiple ideas that can keep us talking for hours, which is a huge win in my opinion).

Following through on this simple idea has also inspired me to think outside the box more often, it feels good to have some added mental stimulation, and it’s kept me from falling into that all-too-familiar ‘sit on the couch and watch TV/Netflix/YouTube endlessly after work until you go to bed’ rut that I know can become so easy to fall into.

My Book of Big Ideas plan is fairly new, but so far so good. Having been out of school for 6 years, and having finished writing my most recent book two years ago now, I figured it’s important to keep my creativity alive and to continually challenge myself mentally.

Some people enroll in free online college courses, or do crossword puzzles to stay sharp, but for anyone who’s looking for a different solution to help them break out of that weekday TV rut (and tired of feeling like they’ve lost a few IQ points), I recommend starting your own Book of Big Ideas and see what kind of inspiration strikes.

Happy learning and happy living!

5 Reasons You Should Consider Working From Home (and Why I Love It)

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I may not write about it on the blog as frequently as I could, but almost daily I tell my husband how much I love working from home and teaching online.

It’s fun to get into the classroom once a week and do things traditionally, but if you have the discipline and a solid routine, you really can’t beat working from home, regardless of what type of job you have (see these Forbes articles for more details: Five Reasons to Love Working From Home and One In Five Americans Work From Home, Numbers Seen Rising Over 60%).

Here’s why:

  1. You get to create your own work and life schedule. If I want to relax over the weekend, I can make a plan to get my work done during the week. However, if I find that there are more exciting things happening during the week, I can switch things up and get my work done over the weekend. I love that I can move things around this way. As a result, I frequently enjoy long Tuesday lunches with a girlfriend, midday hourlong phone calls with friends who live out of state, and some solid time writing for my blog.
  2. You end up saving money. As much as I sometimes wish I had coworkers to buy cookies for on their birthdays, or a ‘lunch crew’ to leave the office with on Fridays, I realize that I can still incorporate these things into my life (and do on occasion) without spending as much money. I also don’t have to update my work wardrobe, pay for gas money and tolls, or put wear and tear on my car, all of which results in some pretty decent savings.
  3. It’s easier to eat healthy and workout. Sometimes for lunch I’m chopping up vegetables in my kitchen, baking chicken, or digging into a huge piece of cantaloupe- none of which would be appropriate in a traditional office setting. I also have a little workout space in my house where I enjoy listening to bad 90’s music and lifting weights for about 30 minutes twice a week in the middle of the day. It’s the best way to put off getting work done while still doing something good for yourself.
  4. ‘Going to work’ turns out to be kind of relaxing. This might just be me, but some days life can feel hectic- running errands, taking care of household items, going to appointments, etc. During the uninterrupted time during the week that I need to work from home, life is quiet, unrushed, and predictable. It might just be my personality type, but sometimes it feels like a break from the chaos of everyday life.
  5. I can stop wondering if life would be better if I worked from home. I have a number of friends who wonder if they’d be better off working from home- some are new moms who are trying to figure out what to do with their career, some aren’t crazy about their coworkers, and others just feel that working from home is becoming so popular that it might be a decision they’ll need to make in the future. I know a handful of people who love working out of a home office and coffee shops, and I know a handful of people who regretted the move (the isolation and pressure to get yourself moving each day can definitely become overwhelming, especially in the beginning) and went back to the office within a year. Luckily, I know what works for me, especially with a baby on the way, so that’s one less major life decision I’ll have to worry about in the future.

It may seem that working from home is the next big trend, and it just might be, so if it’s something you’ve been thinking about, consider my 5 reasons why working from home is (at least for me), one of the best decisions I could have made, and decide if it might be a realistic option for you in the future.

Happy living!