8 Tips for a Work-at-Home Young Professional

work-from-homeWhen I first found out that both my summer job and internship would involve working from home, I was thrilled. It seemed like the perfect way to enjoy my last summer as a student, while still earning a paycheck and gaining resume-boosting experience. I pictured days spent laying out on my deck with my laptop, iced coffee in hand. However, PR is a team sport and thrives on collaboration. In order to be a valuable part of the team, I had to learn a thing or two about being productive and involved from home.

Here’s what I learned during my summer as a work-at-home PR practitioner:

1. Set your hours
One of the perks of working from home is having flexibility in your schedule. However, it’s still important to have established work days. Set an alarm so you can wake up at a decent time and get a head start on the day, but also remember to stop working on time too. Setting specific working hours helps create a balance between work-life and home-life.

2. Get dressed
Instead of rolling out of bed and grabbing your computer, take the time to shower and get ready for the day. Yes, this means putting on real clothes too. Working in your pajamas from bed is tempting, but you’ll be more focused when you make an attempt to look like a working adult.

3. Establish a routine
Get yourself into a working mindset by creating a routine to start the day. Mine involved making coffee, checking emails and creating a to-do list to work off of that day.

4. Stay connected
You may not be in the office with them on a daily basis, but staying connected to your coworkers and managers is crucial to being productive. Set up weekly or daily check-ins and make yourself available to telecommute to meetings. I made sure that the majority of my work hours happened while they were working too so we could easily go back and forth on projects.

5. Take breaks
Whether you benefit more from taking one long lunch break or several small breaks throughout the day, take the time to step away from work and clear your mind. Get lunch with a friend or take your dog for a walk. You’ll come back feeling refreshed and ready to get back to work.

6. Set boundaries
Whether you’re living with family or roommates, it’s important to communicate when you’re working and shouldn’t be distracted. I found it helpful to work in a main living space, leaving myself open to a few moments of casual conversation throughout the day. Then, when I had an important phone call or needed to focus, I could go to a separate room and shut the door.

7. Turn on music
TV can be a little too distracting when working from home, but I found that turning on new-to-me music provided the perfect background noise. I didn’t know the words so I couldn’t sing along, but I also wasn’t sitting in silence all day.

8. Vary your location
Sometimes you just need a change of scenery or to be around other individuals in order to feel like you’re being productive. Try camping out in a coffee shop or library for an afternoon to spark additional momentum.

Do you thrive or struggle when working from home? What tricks do you use to stay on task?

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Welcome!

I fell into the public relations field because I wanted to find a way to make my passions for content creation, online branding and social media marketing something I do for a living. I tried out the business school and the advertising program, but neither fit what I love to do. Now as a PR major, I’m exploring a new field that blurs the line between all three.

Here on PR & Pencil Skirts, I plan to discuss the importance of social media and content creation for fashion and lifestyle brands. Look for topics including the best strategies for online brand management, brands with a successful online presence that are building communities around their brands, and the use of social media in connecting brands with their publics.

Of course, since I’m currently a senior in the PR program at the University of Oregon, you can expect to see a few posts about my experience during my last year of college as well as advice for other PR students.

Thanks for joining me!

Tracy Wong lecture

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I’m a huge fan of Tracy Wong, chairman and creative director of WDCW. His lecture in my media professions class freshman year was one of the main reasons I decided to try out the advertising major and I really enjoyed watching him on The Pitch (and definitely think “zAMbies” should have won). So when he came to campus for the grand opening of Allen Hall, I definitely had to go his lecture. He gave us some really great advice on how to be a successful creative in the advertising agency, but can pretty much be applied to most careers.

Here are his six pieces of advice from the lecture:

    • Ego can hijack your career
    • 99% of a great idea is strategy
    • The greatest creative weapon you possess is your ears: have an empty mind, not just an open mind
    • Embrace compromise
    • Engage in the “Democracy of Good Ideas” – everybody needs to be involved and anything is possible as long as no one cares who gets the credit
    • How to sell great work: Love your client like you love your dog

My biggest takeaways were that you are not your ideas and that ego can stop you from listening to valuable criticism. I think that this is really important and something I could probably keep in mind. I definitely have a tendency to get defensive of my ideas and it can probably stop me from growing and learning at times.

Follow Me To

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When I saw this article about a Russian couple who documents their travels by taking the same photo in each location they visit, I was spellbound. It’s such an amazingly simple idea – holding hands and being led to new places – and the photo series is just gorgeous.

“The first photo happened in Barcelona while we were on vacation. My girlfriend was a bit annoyed that I was always taking pictures of everything, so she grabbed my hand and tried to pull me forward. That said, it didn’t stop me from doing photos while she was pulling me,” Murad Osman told the Huffington Post.

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Create52

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After writing this post on living a creative life, I thought I’d share a little about my own daily creative pursuits. I don’t usually have super specific New Year’s resolutions (they’re usually more of a general idea of things I’d like to change or do), but this year I decided to take on a specific goal. I have always been crafty and creative – my mom and all of my grandmas are very crafty and creative and so I grew up constantly making things with them – but it’s easy to let those things slip when things like school, work, and relationships take priority in your life. So my goal for this year is to make or do something creative each week. It can be anything from knitting or sewing to sketching or writing to DIYing something for my apartment. Basically, I just want to set aside a little time in each busy week to be creative and invest time in things I enjoy doing. So far, I haven’t really been documenting my progress in this, but I’d like to start so that by the end of the year, I can look back and feel satisfied with how I’ve spent my free time.

Living a creative life

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The other day, I read this article by Bruce Nussbaum from Fast Company on living a creative life. This really hits home with me because I know that no matter what career I end up with, I want to be doing something where I can be creative each and every day. Nussbaum writes, “Creativity is in such demand today that when we apply for jobs, when we join organizations, or when we just meet other people, we are asked to present our creative selves. But we can’t do that unless we understand the nature of our own creativity, locate the sources of our originality, and have a language that explains our work. If you are one of the growing number of ‘creatives,’ or want to become one, you need to lead a creative life.”

The first step to living a creative life, according to Nussbaum, is to be mindful and disconnect. He writes, “Our time is spent responding, reacting to others or absorbing, taking in new information. But we often lack the space, the time, the moment to integrate that knowledge, connect those dots, generate that creativity. Slowing down and disconnecting provides that space. That’s why showers or lingering over that cup of coffee before starting off to work are good places to start your creative life.”

The second step is to understand and delve into the past: “Being mindful of the roots of your knowledge domain, your industry, your creative space can bring greater understanding–and more success–to your own creative efforts.” The third step is to be masterful of both knowledge and skills.

In a commencement address to the University of the Arts, Neil Gaiman gives these bits of advice to the graduating class:

    • Say no to projects that take you further away from your creative goals
    • Approach your creative labor with joy or else it becomes work
    • Don’t be afraid of being wrong
    • “Go and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here. Make. Good. Art.”

I also love this manifesto on living a creative life. All good stuff that I’m filing away so that I continue to be reminded of it and reflect on my own creative life.