Outfitting Your Office for Personal Productivity

How your work space looks and functions has a huge impact on your productivity and general mood while at the office, meaning design schemes for your office shouldn’t be taken lightly. Physical environment has a huge impact on your psyche and work output, so it’s in your best interests both personally and professionally to ensure your office is suited to your individual needs. When it comes time to redesigning your space and using strategic décor, these tips and tricks will help you transform your space in the right way.

Block out the Noise

Some of us can handle blaring tunes while we work, some can’t. If you find you’re the sort who is further distracted by AC/DC blasting in your ears, then you may need to consider noise-cancelling headphones. For those sensitive to noise, this can be a lifesaver when the office din gets to unmanageable levels—you know the combination: photocopier going on the left, coworker chatting on the phone to your right. Bose noise-cancelling headphones are designed to block out unnecessary noise while still serving as effective earbuds for your personal listening needs. Grab a pair to cut down on the sounds of office hubbub and see your productivity rates skyrocket.

Comfort is Key

If your back consistently aches when you leave the office, chances are your chair is causing you some serious spinal issues. Ergonomics are important, and if you have the opportunity to ask your boss for a replacement chair from a company like Healthyback.com, don’t hesitate. You should also be wary of your screen alignment. Proper posture requires your computer monitor to be lifted up off of the desk, so that your eyes are looking straight ahead. You should be sitting arm’s length from your computer, which generally means your eyes should be about 24 to 36 inches from the screen for optimal viewing. Make sure your feet touch the floor, and recline in a chair. Use these tests to determine whether a chair will work for your aims.

Come Into the Light

If your office is dark and dingy, it’s time you brighten it up. It might be as simple as a lightbulb change from harsh fluorescents to low-energy warm glow bulb options. If your office has a window, keep the shades open unless the glare is too harsh for your computer. Natural light has a huge effect on our mood, and the more you can get it, the more you should take advantage. You can also add table lamps for shared office spaces that will help you keep your eyes from straining too much throughout the day.

Don’t Skimp on Organization

Devote 10 minutes every day to organizing and cleaning up your space. Utilize personal filing systems to keep loose papers contained and reduce the amount of clutter on your desk. Consider vertical shelving to save room and keep important documents within arm’s reach, and place any unnecessary personal objects, like your cell phone, wallet, purse, etc. into a drawer.

Practical Décor

While too much clutter can hamper productivity, so too can a sterile environment. Make sure you keep your office looking modern and put together in the eyes of any visitors while still maintaining a clear work area. Find modern, practical décor from a company like Touch of Modern that will maintain a professional vibe but still give your office a personal touch.

The Color Effect

We don’t take time to notice how much color affects our mood and productivity levels, but the power of our walls is definitely not something to be ignored. Colors evoke certain emotional and physical reactions, and choosing the colors of your office wall based on these guidelines should help you see a change in your work ethic and mental clarity. Bland beiges and dull greys contribute to feelings of sadness and depression, while muted green and blues can improve our sense of well-being. Yellow is also recommended, as it is said to inspire energetic feelings.

We live fast-paced lives in today’s professional world, and finding the best ways to improve productivity is the only way to keep up. Incorporate these design tactics into your office space and watch your output levels rise almost immediately.


Share the Same Habits as those with Great Credit Scores

Having a great credit score does not happen overnight and it does take some hark work and discipline.  In order to save the most amount of money on interest when applying for mortgages, personal loans, or even credit cards, it’s important to have the best possible credit score.  Whether your score is not as high as you’d like or are just looking for a few simple tips, do not give up and eventually you can certainly enjoy virtually every lender fighting to have you as a customer.

Know Your Credit Report

It is not a secret what is on your credit report, let alone the score, so make sure you know what is on it so you know what you need to improve.  With negative impacts to your score showing up for up to seven years, it’s important to take care of any issues right away, and make sure it does not happen again.  You are able to get a free copy of your credit report every 12 months so once you have it under control, pull your report once a year to make sure it’s up to date.  The free credit report does not come with a credit score, however with credit card monthly statements now showing your credit score, if it’s lower than you expected, you know you need to take action.

Keep Track of Monthly Expenses

In order to ensure all of your bills are paid on time, take note of everything that is due for the month and set up according payments.  With direct bill pays and scheduled online payment available, there is no need to write checks anymore and waiting for items to post.  You can schedule payments on or before due dates, know which paychecks the amounts will come out of, and never have late payments again.  Payments that are past 30 days late will show up on your credit report, and although payments that are made even a day late will be assessed a late fee, and for credit cards, annual percentage rates will rise significantly.

Use Responsibly

Perhaps the most important piece is using credit responsibly.  If you’re using credit, make sure the balances are paid off each month to avoid costly interest.  Stay on top of what your balances you’re your available credit, and check daily for transactions to not only make sure they’ve posted correctly, but to make sure there are no fraudulent charges.

Your Guide to Buying a Vacation Home

As you again search for Airbnbs or available hotel rooms in your favorite vacation spot, you think for the umpteenth time “I wish I had a house here so I could avoid all this hassle.” This thought is pervasive, if the 1.13 million vacation homes sold in 2014 are any indication. While many people are jumping into this type of property investment, that’s not to say it’s right for your individual circumstances. If buying a second home is looking like more of a reality than a fantasy, there are some things you should consider before you begin your search.

Know the Rules of the House

While you may be considering buying a home that you can rent out the weeks or months that you’re not there, local regulations may bar you from making this a reality. If you buy a home that belongs to a homeowner’s or condo association, they may have a list of rules regarding rentals. Some housing communities prefer to handle the rental process themselves and will take a large portion of the profits gained from renting it out, cutting your bottom line in half.

Purchase Price is just the Beginning

Before deciding to take the plunge, you’ll have to do your research to determine all the costs associated with your purchase. Beyond the purchase price, you may need to pay homeowner fees, insurance, property taxes (which may vary greatly from what you pay for your personal home if the destination is in another state), and you’ll have the costs of furnishing an entire second home. You’ll also have to pay utility costs whether or not the home is inhabited or not.

Don’t rely on rental income to offset these costs, as many vacation homeowners find that the costs outweigh the income received, at least for the few years after the initial investment. Remember that you’ll have to pay for cleaning costs, any damage caused by the people you rent to, and depending on how many weeks out of the year you rent the home out, you will also most likely be required to pay rental income taxes. Don’t forget the transportation costs that come along with your own journeys to your property. As you can see, expenses add up.

Locating the Capital                                                                                                                        

It is relatively easy to qualify for second-home financing, dependent on your credit score and the current amount owed on your first home’s mortgage. There are other ways to find the capital to make your purchase, however. You can use a private money lender like www.hardmoneyfirst.com, take out a mortgage, or use a peer-to-peer lending website to find the capital for your vacation home goals. It’s always a good idea to speak with your financial advisor before making such a huge purchase, as it could cause changes in your budgetary aims and have an effect on your retirement goals, whether that be a positive or negative effect.

If You Will Be Renting

If you plan on renting out this vacation home for the bulk of the year, you’ll need to draw up a business plan of sorts to see any sort of returns. Will you manage the home from afar? Will you be placing it on a website like Airbnb or VRBO? Would you prefer to hire a property management company? These are only a few of the questions you need to answer before putting a down payment on a second home. You’ll also have to plan out the other essentials, covering who will clean the home between visitors, how the guests will get into the house without you being there to greet, and how you will accept payments from your renters.

Maintenance From Afar

If you choose to forgo hiring a management company, you’ll have to deal with any emergencies that come up from afar and have the proper resources on call to help out your renters. A list of the general basics is a go-to plumber, carpenter, and tech person. Assume that whatever can go wrong definitely will at some point.

Take these guidelines into mind when you’re determining whether or not a second home is a viable investment for you.

Building the Ideal Rental Listing

Competition in the rental market is fierce, and if you’re looking to secure the best tenants you can find, you need to craft a rental listing that will attract their attention. According to some statistics, you have a three-second window in which potential tenants will look at your listing and decide whether or not to move onto the next posting. The first impression of your property starts with your listing, and if you’ve not done all you can to create the perfect rental listing you may be missing out on the long term tenant of your dreams. Use this guide to fashion your listing and fill a vacancy with the best renter available.

The Perfect Headline

Crafting an ideal headline is arguably the most important part of your posting process. If it doesn’t immediately appeal to the tenant, you’ll lose their attention immediately. Shirk creativity and go for practicality; your headline needs to notify the tenant that they’ve found the things they’re looking for and draw them in to the main posting (where you can insert some of said creativity).

Provide Specific Details

Make sure to include incentivizing details that will keep tenants interested in your property. Be sure your descriptions are straightforward and accurate. List your price, unique features, and geographical aspects that might appeal to the majority of the renting population. This is also the time in which to pull out those creative writing skills. Use luxurious adjectives strategically: think wondrous views, lush garden, and brand names where applicable.

The Photos

Never shirk on your responsibility to provide a large quantity of high-quality photos, and make sure the home is in perfect order before taking said photos. Put as many photos as allowed on whichever listing site you choose, and make sure the photos cover every area of the house, not just the living room and bedrooms. Hire a professional or borrow a friend’s camera for well-lit, detailed photography that will draw the eye. You may want to stage the unit for your photo session to help potential tenants imagine themselves there—and look beyond the bare bones appeal of an unfurnished place. If you’re really wanting to go above and beyond, include a short but sweet video tour that will serve as the first “showing”.

A Little Bit of SEO

Once you’ve got your listing masterpiece created, use a few SEO tactics to your advantage and position your listing to get the most online traffic possible. An easy way to do this without hiring professional help is to make use of keywords that will help your readers understand exactly what you’re offering with your property, i.e., fully furnished, indoor laundry, or stainless steel appliances—anything that’s sought after and likely to be searched. The better your content, the more likely search engines are to present your posting to more visitors.

Listing Websites

You can make it easy on yourself by using websites that will put your listing in front of a cache of potential renters. Oodle and Hotpads will let you post your rental for free, but take note that these sites can be very time consuming and the high saturation of rentals found there may make finding yours an experience akin to locating a needle in a haystack. Other listing websites that require fees may jockey you into better position for searching renters, like Trulia Pro and Rentals.com. With aggressive marketing, user-friendly interfaces, and SEO advantages, the small investment is often worth the pool of candidates you’ll find. You can also post on Craigslist, but be wary of opportunistic scammers that tend to hang out on these websites waiting for their next fraudulent conquest.

Once it’s Done

You’ve done it, you’ve found a great pool of awesome candidates. Now that you’ve captured their attention, make sure you find the right fit for your rental. As discerning as you were with your posting, be more so with your screening process. Use a background and credit check that will tell you about a potential renter’s credit score, criminal history, and any prior evictions. Taking the time to do your research on a tenant now will definitely be worth it in the long run.