Categories
Work from Home

How To Work From Home With Kids – Built In

Working from home full-time has been a tough adjustment for many people, but perhaps none more so than parents with kids at home. Staying productive can feel impossible when you also have to feed and change your toddler, or make sure the older kids are still doing their school work and staying out of trouble.

A recent survey from Blind, an anonymous network for tech professionals, found that 61 percent of parents working at home with kids right now (about 3,266 respondents), say they need an additional three hours a day to complete their deliverables.

But there are plenty of upsides for working parents right now too. Many are finding the extra time they get with their kids feels really special and they’re making the most of it. A few Bay Area tech leaders shared their tips and tricks for getting creative when it comes to managing childcare duties and getting work done too.

Advice From Tech Leaders for Other Tech Leaders

  • Paul Mumma, CEO at Cerego: “We’re not disrupting anything that already works,” Mumma said. “We’re still encouraging [new parents] to take parental leave even though we’re all working from home.”
  • Tonya Chin, Corporate Communications VP at Nutanix: “Work hours may be different than the traditional 9 to 5. By worrying less about what doesn’t work, we can find what does work and go from there.”
  • Vanessa Colella, CIO at Citi: “Trust that your team will do the work they need to do, but understand that they may be juggling personal priorities.”

 

Adjusting to a Family Friendly Workflow

In the competitive Bay Area tech market, tech companies often have family friendly policies, including flexible work hours and generous parental leave benefits, as a way to recruit and retain top talent.

This has been a helpful advantage for employees who are adjusting to working from home with kids, as their company leadership already prioritizes the needs of working parents.

At least 30 percent of our employees have young kids, so weve always tried to be a very family friendly startup, said Paul Mumma, the CEO of SF-based Cerego, which makes software for online learning.

Cerego typically offers flexible policies so team members can choose a schedule that works for them. That hasnt changed since the company went remote, amid San Franciscos shelter in place mandate.Were not disrupting anything that already works, Mumma said.Were still encouraging [new parents] to take parental leave even though were all working from home.

For people who have a partner that is also working, Mumma advises his employees to split the day in half or switch off days for childcare duty.

My wife and I split our days 50-50, said Mumma, who has three kids under the age of five.One parent is working, while the other does childcare. But if you need to attend meetings and take care of kids on the same day, he added, naptime is a great opportunity to schedule a virtual meeting when you are more likely to get some peace and quiet.

Helium, an SF startup building a peer-to-peer wireless network, also offered flexible work hours prior to the coronavirus outbreak. The company gave employees the option to work from home on Mondays and Fridays, so they were already well prepared for remote meetings and communication.

But with everyone now working remotely full-time, Frank Mong, chief operating officer at Helium, says the company is asking employees to take more time to connect on video, and theyre giving parents time for childcare duties.

We have Bring Your Own Lunch (BYOL) from 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. every day on Google Hangouts, or you can use that time to make lunch for your kids, Mong said.

Helium has also instituted a number of other work-from-home routines that are fun for employees, both with and without kids. One Helium team member lives on a farm and, on Tuesdays, he gives virtual tours of his baby ducklings, vegetable garden, sheep and horses, Mong said.We bring the kids and have them in our laps so they can see the baby ducks.

At Nutanix, an enterprise cloud computing company in San Jose, Tonya Chin, who heads corporate communications and investor relations, decided right away to let her team establish hours that worked best for them while at home.Work hours may be different than the traditional 9 to 5, Chin said.By worrying less about what doesn’t work, we can find what does work and go from there.

As Citi Ventures, Citigroup’s investment arm, began shifting to remote work, the company expanded employee resources like free counseling sessions, virtual meditation and anxiety management classes.

Vanessa Colella, chief innovation officer of Citi and head of Citi Ventures, said she is taking a compassionate approach during this work-from-home period, especially for employees with kids.Trust that your team will do the work they need to do, but understand that they may be juggling personal priorities, she said.It may take time to orient themselves, and their families, to this new way of working.

 

Iain Harlow, Cerego’s VP of Science, with his daughter Klara.
Iain Harlow, Cerego’s VP of Science, with his daughter Klara. | Photo: Cerego

Keeping the kids engaged

Rather than treating them as a constant annoyance, some have embraced the office-home fusion by including their kids in the work day. 

Since Mumma of Cerego has young kids, he likes to choose a fun daily theme for them — last week wasbig African animals day.

On a Zoom call with my team, I put on a virtual background with a bunch of zebras, Mumma said.When my kids walked into the room, they saw dad with the zebras and it felt like it was on theme.

And because Cerego is an online learning tool, Mumma has found that using his own platform has been helpful in teaching his kids at home.We use natural language processing to pull stuff out of text, he said.We can do stuff like help our oldest learn the alphabet, practice locating things on maps or show pictures of different animals, which is really cool.

Chin of Nutanix finds that by leaving her office door open at home (except for important meetings), her kids take more of an interest in what she does for a living.I believe letting them be with us and actually see and hear the work [my husband and I] do has helped them better understand and appreciate our day-to-day jobs, she said.

Mong of Helium has older kids — 11 and 13 years old — which makes getting his work done a bit easier, since the kids are in virtual school for most of the day. To help them stay on track, their daily schedules are up on the wall and iPad alarms tell them when to start their next activity.

Helium also offers team members online resources for kids from Common Sense Media and the online learning platform Youcubed, to keep them engaged in something other than video games.

And Mong recently devised another way to keep his kids entertained while also getting them involved in the work he does. Helium had a promotion for IoT Day on April 9th, so Mong thought it would be fun to get the kids to do a promo video on TikTok ahead of time.Stella created signs about the promo. Dylan edited and cut the video with a music overlay using iMovie. These kids have skills! Mong said.At first, the kids were lukewarm to the idea, but after we got going, they had a blast. Now, were planning our next TikTok adventure.

Working From HomeBuilt In’s Collection of Tips, Advice and Resources for Remote Work

 

Get outside as much as possible

Work responsibilities and childcare duties come first for these leaders, but they also make sure to get outside with their kids every day — which is easy to do in the typically sunny Bay Area.

Were lucky that a lot of the parks here remain open, said Mumma, who lives in Berkeley.Every time I take my boys to the park I see half a dozen moms or dads with their AirPods on a Zoom call, while the kids run around at a safe distance.

Mong urges parents to remember that kids need to stay active but it might take a little encouragement. Even though hes being more lenient with screen time these days,sometimes you have to tell them to stop the video games and go outside, he said. The family has been playing four square, tossing the football around and riding bikes together.

Colella of Citi Ventures also encourages parents, and everyone, to stay active.As much as possible, take a walk, stretch on the floor, or dance with your family, she said.Movement creates serotonin and can instantly boost happiness, something we all need right now.

Categories
Online Work

Viewpoint: During the Crisis, Teachers Need the Freedom to Focus on Student Needs, Not Online Metrics – Labor Notes

My first teaching assignment was in a special education classroom in an elementary school basement; above the door in red were the words “Shelter Inside.”

I read those words every morning on my way in. The relationships inside the classroom were our shelter, and the community we built together made learning possible.

Now school districts across the globe have been closed due to the COVID-19 crisis. Some school districts have taken the position that by giving a student a Chromebook they have flipped a switch: remote learning is now in place.

This rushed, corporate approach doesn’t address the needs of our students as whole human beings.

First of all, many districts don’t even have enough laptops for every student. Millions of families live in communities without free internet access, and don’t have the means to purchase it. Some school districts are putting hotspots in school buses and driving them out to neighborhoods. Philadelphia Public Schools actually told its students to park in public library parking lots and use library Wi-Fi.

Beyond that, simply providing a device and internet access is no guarantee that a student is being served.

At the Milwaukee Teachers Education Association, we are trying to use this time to strip back what has been wrongly imposed on our students—relentless standardized testing, scripted curriculum, one-size-fits-all online interventions—and work toward a way of teaching that honors relationships as the foundation of learning.

STUDENTS HAVE A LOT ON THEIR MINDS

In March, MTEA pressured our state and school district to keep students and workers safe by closing schools. Once the schools were closed, we began a meet-and-confer process with the administration to hash out working conditions and student supports.

Many students are naturally thinking less about grades, standards, and learning intentions right now. They’re thinking more about their parents getting laid off, or their parents working in frontline jobs that put them at greater risk for exposure to COVID-19.

Students and families are stressed out. They’re managing changes in their daily lives and schedules, while trying to remain economically whole and physically safe. They are looking for supports, many of which have been ripped away by austerity measures that weakened our already threadbare social safety nets.

So many of our students’ families were already living with very little margin. All the underlying racial inequalities are exacerbated in the pandemic: residential segregation, not enough access to health care, differential treatment when they do get health care, and food and housing insecurity.

Parents and families deserve grace. They need our solidarity and advocacy.

BUILDING SERVICE WORKERS’ SAFETY MATTERS TOO

During this limbo period, in Milwaukee teachers have tried to stay connected to students and families by mailing personalized work packets of assignments and articles, sending handwritten postcards and letters, texting, FaceTiming, creating YouTube storytelling and yoga videos and lessons, and even dropping off food, art supplies, puzzles, games, and work packets at students’ homes.

Now is the time for unions to embrace all that we know to be true about child and human development, leaning heavily on the basic needs: food, water, warmth, rest, safety, and security.

LABOR NOTES RESOURCES

ORGANIZING IN A PANDEMIC

For news and guidance on organizing in your workplace during the coronavirus crisis, click here. »

Our negotiations with administration are anchored in these needs and start from a clear position:

  • No to inauthentic, top-down, administrative instructional mandates that are harmful to students, like requiring and enforcing daily attendance, forcing students to engage for four to five hours daily with online work.
  • No to administrative directives that put members’ personal safety at risk.

We’re demanding safe working conditions for all members we represent. Unions must refuse to agree to conditions of work where teachers get to work safely from home while low-wage workers are made to work on-site.

Our administration tried to force building service helpers back to work May 1 to clean schools unnecessarily—even after the governor had extended Wisconsin’s Safer at Home Order through May 26.

Building service helpers are largely workers of color, earning low wages and mostly relying on public transportation to get to work.

COVID cases in Milwaukee are climbing. MTEA has already lost two members to this virus, both Black men working as educational assistants. We will not allow the administration to put our lowest-paid members’ lives at risk.

FOUR PRINCIPLES

At MTEA we are holding to these four principles:

1. Keep students and staff safe by keeping the schools shut down until there is abundant access to the testing necessary to determine who can return to work on-site and when. Ensure that schools are clean and safe for students and educators upon their return.

2. Join with our students and community to make common-good demands such as waiving rent, a freeze on evictions, waiving mortgage and utility payments, ensuring immediate housing for the homeless and basic health and safety protections for essential workers who are risking exposure, and economic relief and health care for undocumented people.

3. Beware of privatization. A crisis like this is when the vultures descend. Public schools in New Orleans post-Hurricane Katrina are now 100 percent private charter schools, with no oversight from a publicly elected school board. There are no public schools left there, and the city became the blueprint for the country. Corporate privatizers are licking their chops to devour the rest of the country’s school districts.

So we must be careful that the COVID-19 public health crisis does not lead to further experimentation on already marginalized students, families, and communities. Black and Latino students, especially in majority-minority cities like Milwukee, have been experimented on enough. Prepare for your state legislature to make moves to further slash public education funding (see New York and Wisconsin).

4. Negotiate the terms under which educators will teach and students will learn, with an eye to taking more control of what the work is and how it gets done.

Great care and flexibility must be guaranteed to both students and educators during these exceptional times. The aims of our work should be relationships, regular communication, and offering students opportunities for enrichment, practice learning, and support.

GRADES ARE NOT ESSENTIAL

In practical terms, that means that for the rest of this school year we are advocating for:

  • No teacher evaluations.
  • Grades must be pass/fail.
  • Student GPAs must be held harmless—that is, frozen at the level they were before schools closed.
  • No new graded instruction.

Here’s a partial list of questions we are considering:

  • Inclusion. How do all students get served: special education, English language learners, refugee/newcomer families, homeless students, medically fragile and homebound students? What about students who require hands-on, experiential, project-based, concrete learning opportunities that can’t be replicated remotely?
  • Tech and supplies. Do students have a laptop/tablet at home for learning? What about students who only have access to a cell phone to log in? Do students have pencils, erasers, pens, crayons, and paper? Do students have reliable, high-speed Internet access at home?
  • The time crunch for parents. What about parents working from home who can’t work and help their children with school? What about parents working outside the home who can’t provide as much support?
  • The time crunch for students and educators. What about older children who are now caring for younger siblings as their parents continue working? What about students, parents, and educators who are caring for elderly and at-risk family members who need support?
  • The virus itself. What about students/families who have family members sick with COVID-19? What about students with family members who have succumbed to COVID-19? What about students who are suffering from lack of motivation, depression/anxiety, or other mental health issues?

Amy Mizialko is president of MTEA.

Categories
Online Work

Is The Online Fitness Boom Here To Stay? – Forbes

The online fitness industry has seen a major boom since the COVID-19 outbreak, but is it here to stay? For brick and mortar gyms, franchises and boutique fitness studio’s, the damage has been devastating. 24 hour fitness is contemplating bankruptcy while Soul Cycle is now selling their bikes for $2,500 to compete with Peloton amidst their studio closures.

The almost $100 billion fitness industry has quickly shifted into a virtual world for those who have been able to quickly adapt. However, those who haven’t implemented a digital strategy may not make it out alive and if they do they may never be able to fiscally recover. Now the spotlight has come down to at-home equipment, streaming services and virtual trainers. With no one leaving their homes a $1,495 mirror that doubles as your personal trainer doesn’t seem so bad after all. “Sales have more than doubled since the advent of Covid-19,” MIRROR CEO Brynn Jinnett Putnam told CNN Business. She added that MIRROR’s team has been “working around the clock to launch our digital product earlier than originally planned.”

Smaller boutique fitness studios such as The Studio (MDR) have taken to Zoom to replicate their in their studio Lagree Method experience with booty bands, gliders and light weights. Gyms and studios that have adapted to the online space realize things won’t be going back to normal anytime soon. For instance, Gold’s Gym is planning on setting markers on the floors of their gyms to keep people at least six feet apart and only operating their classes at a 50% capacity. This past week gyms in Beijing City were forced to re-shut down due to fears of a resurgence. That fear of a resurgence is very probable in the states which will prolong gyms and studios to getting back to their status quo. Frankly, until proper nation-wide surveillances are set up and a vaccine becomes readily available, life won’t be going back to normal. Until that normalcy returns, which could take a couple years, many will stick to at-home workouts for their own health safety. The other factor that contributes to the online fitness boom is cost. People can now find free workout routines with little to no equipment on IG Lives and Youtube plus streaming memberships cost significantly less than a yearly gym membership. With many finding themselves unemployed a $200 monthly gym membership isn’t quite as feasible.

Many fitness experts and trainers that started their streaming services or apps long before COVID-19 have seen unprecedented growth in the last two months while others have quickly shifted their strategies to keep up with the demand. They weigh in on how the online fitness boom has impacted their businesses.

Alo Moves

Alo Moves of Alo Yoga has been around since 2012, but in the last few weeks, they have seen a 300%+ increase in engagement their platform and their YouTube channel where they host free classes for the community at large has seen an increase of over 40% in views and up to a 50% increase in watch time. “With everyone’s schedules and routines shifting, people seem to be looking for variety — they want a platform that can meet all of their wellness needs. Now that we’re spending increased time at home, people are feeling less constrained by their usual schedule and might be willing to try longer classes, commit to a larger goal (such as handstands), or try a new style of class or workout as a fun activity. This global situation has also increased stress for so many people, and they’re looking for online platforms that offer more than just fitness. People are seeking out stress relief through yoga, meditation, and sound baths, classes that we are proud to offer to the community on Alo Moves,” says Paul Javid, CEO of Alo Moves.

Javid has had to adapt new tools to enhance user experience due to demand. For example,  the site released a new feature that recommends daily classes to each user based on their goals and preferences. Users can take a survey anytime to customize the classes recommended to them. Additionally they just released visual meditation journeys, relaxing audio meditations layered over scenic video from around the world, and a selection of free community classes on the Alo Moves YouTube channel. “With more people aware of the virtual options for maintaining their fitness and wellness, I think people will continue to include online classes and workouts as a part of their overall wellness routine. The key factor here is variety — people want their workouts to work for them, and they enjoy being able to customize their classes to their ever-evolving lifestyle. It’s also a great way to keep people connected to their favorite instructors and world-class teachers that they might not be able to practice with in real life,” added Javid.

 Melissa Wood Health

Melissa Wood started her platform four and a half years ago right after she had her first son because she wanted to create a motivating at home solution to getting workouts in. Since quarantine started, Wood has seen an increase on her platform of 48.7% in March and 28.9% in April to date so far. “People are looking for workouts using your own body weight because there’s a delay in ordering props right now due to the current situation. I believe people are also looking to workout with a teacher that they connect with that makes movement approachable at all levels,” Wood says.

She is doing more live-stream workouts to stay connected with her members and community in real time. Since the frequency of her users has gone up, Wood’s also increased the amount of content in her library from 60+ workouts and meditations to 100+ videos available to users at all times. “I believe people have now realized how efficient, yet effective working out from home can be. I think digitally guided at home workouts will continue to be a part of people’s daily routines,” she says.

P.Volve

Although they had to shut down their in person studios, since March, P.volve has seen a 160% increase in sales and double digit growth in online subscriptions. They don’t see that slowing down anytime soon. “I think now, more than ever, people are looking for ways to move their bodies at home that fit within their new schedules. For instance, if you have young kids at home or you’re on calls all day, schedules vary from person to person and finding a solution that works for you with your time is what people need. People are also looking for platforms that don’t require a lot of space to do the exercises—low impact workouts that don’t make a ton of noise (like jumping up and down) so you don’t disturb your family in your home or your neighbors in an apartment,” says Rachel Katzman, CEO co-founder of P.volve. “That type of flexibility is what people need right now, as they try to create some type of structure that works for them in their unique situation. We allow our streamers to filter their workouts by how much time they have (we have workouts that vary from 10 minutes to 1 hour), body focus, and which equipment they have access to, which makes it very easy to log in and find the perfect video to fit your needs at that specific day and time. Our main goal is to help people move on their schedule.”

After stay-at-home orders started coming in, Katzman immediately opened up P.volve’s streaming services for 30 days free to all new streamers throughout March and April. They also started pushing out free content on their social channels at different hours of the day and are offering Live classes that you can sign up for through Mindbody that are taught via Zoom twice a day. Instead of launching their health coaching in studio they are now offering it virtually. Katzman anticipates to reopen their studios dropping down the number of people in a class so that everyone can stay six feet apart while they focus on growing their streaming platform even more. “The reality is there is definitely a large portion of the population who never considered or thought it was possible to workout and focus on their health from their home. This pandemic changed that and has given many the insight that you can have the flexibility to focus on your health on your own time and on your own schedule—and that’s extremely powerful,” she says.

The Sculpt Society

Megan Roup is a celebrity trainer and fitness expert that only recently launched The Sculpt Society in November of 2019. “Since we launched relatively close to the pandemic, I never got a great baseline for comparison. If we accept that it is almost impossible for me to completely separate the two events, it is safe to assume that my 700% positive growth has been affected, exponentially, from the rise in at ‘home fitness as a necessity’,” says Roup.

Roup is focusing on community more than ever now. With thousands of #TSSfam members her private Facebook, members get to connect and have a deeper more meaningful sense of community. “To foster this community I also go LIVE on the TSS App multiple times a day, giving members consistency and accountability that they are craving. I also make time at the end of every Live workout to have a coffee chat with everyone tuning in. They can comment on the video and we can have a Live chat and get to know each other better,” explains Roup.

Instead of using a studio or gym to record her workouts for The Scultp Society, Roup decided to go live from her small NYC apartment instead. “A lot of other apps record their workouts in a studio or gym, but I think my community prefers to see these live workouts done in my living room. Not only can they relate, but It shows them that they don’t need a lot of space or fancy equipment,” says Roup. She is confident the online fitness industry will continue to boom as quarantine has proven to the skeptics that you can get a fantastic workout at home. “There will always be a place for IRL fitness classes, but online fitness will continue to grow as we are able to connect virtually. Plus, online fitness is so much more cost effective. If a member uses my app 3 times the entire year it pays for itself, as 1 class with me IRL is $35,” she says.

Y7 Studio

Y7 Studio is a hot yoga studio known for their candlelit music-driven practice, but once COVID-19 hit they had to close down their New York, Chicago and Los Angeles studios. Sarah Larson Levey, founder and CEO of Y7, had to quickly pivot and build an online platform from scratch.“We had been looking at online platforms before this all started and were taking our time as we were focused on expanding our physical locations. The shutdowns and quarantine motivated us to up our timeline to get Y7 Online to launch which is exactly what we did in order to adapt to our new situation,” explained Levey. Y7 Online launched April 14th and Levey is certain digital/online platforms are here to stay.

Bala

What about fitness accessories? Bala bangles are one pound weights that can be used on the wrists or ankles to enhance body weight exercises. The brand has seen more of an increase in sales since quarantine than after their appearance on Shark Tank. “Though Bala was already growing, we’ve seen a 600%+ increase in YTD sales relative to the same time last year. We aired on Shark Tank on February 28th, weeks before the world began sheltering in place. Anecdotally, we’ve seen more interest in the brand during quarantine than we had in the Shark Tank-fueled weeks just prior,” shared co-founder Natalie Holloway. “If you’re trying to stay fit, you’re likely looking for products that can amplify the intensity and benefits of the exercises you can do in relatively close quarters. Interestingly, Bala Bangles are the perfect compliment to an at-home workout. Many of our customers that might normally use Bala at the gym have instead incorporated Bala into their daily at-home online fitness routines. We are also seeing people go on daily walks to destress and enjoy the outdoors.”

Bala has had a difficult time keeping up with demand as global supply chains have been disrupted. The brand has introduced Bala-fueled workout videos at shopbala.com/workouts and is hosting IG live workouts a few times a week while they work hard to develop new products set to be launched in June. Holloway believes that many of the habits of quarantine will endure. “Online fitness has proven to be an invaluable outlet and we’re quite certain it will continue. At first, folks will be timid to go back to the gym, but we’ve also realized that we can push ourselves from the comfort of our own homes, sweatpants and all,” she says.

Tone It Up

Karena Dawn and Katrina Scott launched the Tone It Up app in 2018 and since quarantine downloads have increased by 950% and they continue to grow. “Now more than ever, community is key. As we’re all isolated at home, women can connect with an entire community of supportive, inclusive, and empowering girlfriends through the Tone It Up App. We can work out together, hold each other accountable, and cheer each other on. Community has always been the foundation of Tone It Up, and that has been a major reason why even more women are turning to our app during quarantine,” explained Dawn and Scott. The pair also launched a brand new mood channel in the On Demand section of the app. These categories are curated by themes such as Energy Boost, Chill Vibes, and Focus + Driven, which include a variety of workouts and meditations. “We want to provide a place where women can easily find whatever serves them in the moment. We’re excited to support our community during this quarantine and long after!” exclaimed the pair.

Categories
Work from Home

How to Work From Home, According to Neuroscience – Vanity Fair

I once heard a story from a book agent about an older gentleman who wrote novels for a living, and who did so working from a home office. The man would wake up each morning, go down for breakfast with his wife, and then go through a morning ritual that he had done every single weekday, without fail, for almost five decades. He would shower, shave, and then get dressed in a three-piece suit, replete with a bow tie and matching pocket square, grab his briefcase, and then kiss his wife goodbye, before walking about 10 feet into his home office, where he would close the door, and spend the morning writing. The man, apparently, had deduced that the only way to work from home was to act like he wasn’t actually home. Self-deception is normally considered a psychopathology—but in the case of working from home, it actually might be the only way to maintain mental health, a mind game you have to play against yourself.

Science actually seems to back this up. I’ve spoken to neuroscientists, psychologists, and technologists (along with plenty of writers) about this challenge, and while the approaches may be different, the reigning theory seems to be that you constantly have to trick yourself into thinking that you are not, in fact, at home. So getting dressed like the older gentleman is highly correlated with being productive. Granted, you don’t need to wear a bow tie, or a pantsuit with high heels, but it’s advisable to tell yourself, and your brain, that you’re now about to do something new, and an important first step is to get dressed each morning. But that’s only the beginning.

Years ago, when I was struggling to juggle numerous work projects (writing a book and writing news stories and doing a podcast), I reached out to Gary Small, a professor of psychiatry at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience & Human Behavior, who told me that the brain is always going to find the path of least resistance to do something (us humans are pretty lazy at the end of the day, and our brains are no different), and so you have to trick yourself into being able to concentrate. Small’s advice was to allocate different places in the home that are dedicated work spaces for specific projects. For example, for me, when I worked on journalism-related pursuits, Small suggested sitting in one specific place, say a dedicated chair, and trying to place other markers that the brain would quickly identify nearby: a scented candle, a specific type of flower, anything that says, “I am in this space, doing this thing.” When I had to work on my book, the advice was to find a dedicated spot in my house to do that, with very different markers, a different kind of chair, another smell from a different candle, or even just an altered form of lighting. It doesn’t take long for the brain to recognize that if you’re working in one space, with all those little innocuous cues, you’re working on one thing versus another. For me, it was a game changer. This theory is not saying you need to build a home office in your backyard in order to be productive; it’s simply saying: don’t work from your bed or your couch. Find a place that is dedicated to work and nothing else. Even if it’s just a different seat.

Given how much of a role technology plays in our work lives, the tech we choose to use for work can also contribute to our ability to actually be productive. Applying Small’s theory that the brain finds associations with everything, I truly believe that “working” on your phone is disastrous and should be avoided at all costs. Think about it: We text with our friends on our phones, watch funny meme videos, rage-tweet at Donald Trump, flick through photos, swipe on dating apps, and then, on that same little device, we think we can clack out a really important work email? I never, ever, work on my phone—unless it’s an emergency.

Categories
Digital Marketing

This mega-bundle can get any new entrepreneur up to speed on digital marketing – The Next Web

TLDR: The 14 courses in The 2020 Complete Digital Marketing for Beginners Bundle explore social platforms, SEO, email marketing, content creation, sales and more.

Over the past 20 years, digital marketing has surged from a lazy river to a freakin’ ocean, spreading out in innumerable directions. Even if you’re focused on SEO, content distribution, ad servicing, email contacts and social platforms, there are still a dozen other venues that need to be addressed to keep an organization’s digital efforts optimized and running smoothly.

And if you want to do the job right, you can’t sleep on any of those avenues. 

The Complete Digital Marketing for Beginners Bundle ($44.99, over 90 percent off from TNW Deals) is a smart place to start for anyone ready to tackle the full gamut of what commerce in 2020 on the web really looks like. 

This training collection is huge, featuring 14 courses packed with over 100 hours of targeted instruction. 

Since sales are at the core of all marketing, the Sales and Negotiation Skills: Selling Masterclass 2020 course sets the stage. After that, you can dive into other key digital areas like how to generate content like blogging around your brand (Content Marketing Masterclass: Create Content That Sells and Blogging Masterclass: How to Build a Successful Blog), how to launch an effective email sales campaign (The Complete MailChimp Email Marketing Course) and how to create web buzz and traffic through search engine optimization (SEO + Local SEO: Get More Customers from Google Search and SEO 2020: The Complete WordPress SEO Blueprint). 

Of course, the power of social media can’t be left out of the equation, so this package also includes courses covering how to reach audiences on 10 of the most impactful platforms around as well as focused looks at Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and even emerging social power TikTok. There are also side excursions to more deeply explore leveraging the power of Amazon and eBay competitor Mercari as well as the freelance hub Fiverr.

All this coursework would regularly cost you almost $2,800 to learn it all, but in addition to the already slashed price of $74.99, there’s an added $35 price drop in effect right now, bringing the total to only $34.99 for all these courses.

Prices are subject to change.

Read next: TNW Couch Conferences welcome tech experts to share strategies for the current crisis

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cajun cooking

Bored of the same recipes? Here are 4 new ones for chicken! – WDIV ClickOnDetroit

That Italian Chicken goes great with everything!

It’s week (what ?) now of quarantine, and if you are like me, you are starting to get bored of your own cooking. You’ve already made all your stand-by recipes and you are looking to spice things up, literally! Well, I have 4 ways for you to cook up fresh or frozen chicken, that I think you will love!

1)Italian Chicken

Michelle's Italian Chicken on pesto tortellini
Michelle’s Italian Chicken on pesto tortellini (WDIV-TV 2020)

Ingredients:

Bottled Italian Dressing

Chicken

Method:

This recipe comes from my mom. It is super simple and tastes good in a variety of meals. My mom’s favorite way of cooking it up is putting the marinated chicken on kabob skewers with onions and peppers, grill it up, and serve it over rice. You can also serve it on top of pasta, or with a side of potatoes and vegetables. All you need to do is put your chicken (fresh or frozen) in a plastic bag, cover it with Italian dressing, seal the bag and leave it in the fridge at least 8 hours or preferably overnight. You can grill it up if it is a nice day outside or cook it up in a skillet or cast iron pan with a bit of olive oil.

2) Asian Marinated Chicken

Asian Marinated Chicken served on shrimp fried rice
Asian Marinated Chicken served on shrimp fried rice (WDIV-TV 2020)

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon minced garlic (or 4 cloves minced)

1 teaspoon Sriracha or chili paste

1 tablespoon sesame oil (can substitute with olive oil)

Chicken

Method:

This recipe is inspired by one I found on Epicurious, and it turned out delicious. Just combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Just a note: Add as much of the Sriracha as you want. This is where the spice comes in so add it to your taste. Coat your chicken in the mixture, and let it marinate in the fridge for at least 8 hours or preferably overnight. You can cook this up in a stir fry with other veggies using sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, and sriracha to make a sauce. Or you can grill it up and serve it over fried rice.

3) Lemon Garlic Chicken

Lemon Garlic Chicken with fingerling potatoes, broccolini and mixed veggies
Lemon Garlic Chicken with fingerling potatoes, broccolini and mixed veggies (WDIV- TV 2020)

Ingredients

Lemon Juice

Olive Oil

Garlic

Salt and Pepper, to taste

Chicken

Method:

This recipe comes courtesy of one of my friends, and it is another simple recipe that pairs well with a lot of sides. If you are using frozen chicken, let it thaw first so that the meat is able to be scored. Lightly cut the surface of the chicken to score it so the marinade will seep in. (You can actually score the chicken in any of the earlier recipes too). Then salt and pepper the chicken and massage in minced garlic. I recommend 1-2 cloves per chicken breast. Then mix 1 part lemon juice to 2 parts olive oil to make the marinade. Put the chicken in a bag with the marinade and leave it in the fridge at least 8 hours or preferably overnight. Grilling this chicken tastes best, but you can also cook it in a cast-iron pan, or the skillet.

4) Blackened Chicken

Michelle's Blackened Chicken served on top of am black bean and corn salad.
Michelle’s Blackened Chicken served on top of am black bean and corn salad. (WDIV-TV 2020)

Ingredients

Paprika

Cajun Seasoning ( Like Slap Ya’ Mama)

Garlic Powder

Onion Powder

Salt

Pepper

Chicken

This is a recipe I made up and it works well on chicken or white fish! I do not have exact measurements, it’s all sort of to taste, but I will describe what to look for. For this recipe, the chicken must be fresh or completely thawed because after you season your chicken, you want to cook it up! So first, cover the chicken in lots of paprika, making sure to get both sides. When I say a lot, I mean a lot! You should not see much of the chicken, it should be thoroughly coated. Then add the Cajun seasoning. I add quite a bit, though not as much as the paprika. This is where the spice comes in, so do it to taste. Then I add on a couple of shakes of garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper to each side. This chicken is best cooked up on the grill, or in a cast iron skillet with a bit of oil. It’s popping with flavor, and I would recommend serving it with a lime wedge, especially if you do this on fish. I serve it with a side of red beans and rice, often getting Zatarain’s.


About the Author:

Author Photo
Michelle Oliver

Michelle Oliver is a Multimedia Journalist for the 10 a.m. lifestyle show, “Live in the D.” She is known as “the food girl” because of her two popular food franchises, Dine in the D and Find Your Fix. Michelle also covers stories on homegrown businesses, style, and other fun things happening in the D.

Categories
Louisiana gumbo

Clubhouse Eats: TPC Louisiana puts a spicy (and satisfying) spin on its Bayou Bloody Mary – Golf.com

The Bayou Bloody Mary at TPC Louisiana

The Bayou Bloody Mary at TPC Louisiana begins with a house-made bloody mix.

Courtesy

Welcome to Clubhouse Eats and Drinks, where we’ll introduce you to our favorite food and drink at some of the best golf courses, golf resorts and golfy locations around. Cheers!

Late spring in New Orleans. The swelter of summer has yet to settle in, but the air is warm and still: cocktail weather. At TPC Louisiana, which had been on tap to host the Zurich Classic this week, the signature drink is the Bayou Bloody Mary, a bartender’s classic, done Big Easy-style.

Before we proceed, a bit of history. How and when the first Bloody Mary came to be is a matter of some dispute. Origin stories alternatively place it in the 1920s or 1930s, in either Paris or New York. Whatever the case, there’s no better place for a cocktail of hybrid birth than the cultural gumbo that is New Orleans.

Blueberries a la Fred, National Tavern at Reynolds Lake Oconee
By: Josh Sens

The TPC’s “bayou” version is based on a double shot of Grey Goose Vodka, shaken with a tangy house-made bloody mix that’s spiked with horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper and picked jalapeño brine. That’s all poured over ice, then garnished with pickled okra, spicy green beans, jalapeño stuffed olives and a floater of locally brewed brown ale. As a final touch, Cajun-blacked salt goes around the rim, followed by the coup de grace: a beef jerky swizzle stick. Bam!

In November 2019, TPC Louisiana underwent a substantial makeover that included the re-grassing of greens and fairways and the renovation of all pot bunkers. So next year, when the Zurich rolls around again, the grounds will sport an updated look. Count on this, though: the signature cocktail will be very much the same.

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Golf.com

A golf, food and travel writer, Josh Sens has been a GOLF Magazine contributor since 2004 and now contributes across all of GOLF’s platforms. His work has been anthologized in The Best American Sportswriting. He is also the co-author, with Sammy Hagar, of Are We Having Any Fun Yet: the Cooking and Partying Handbook.

Categories
Online Work

Most local govt staff have work – Otago Daily Times

Councils in the South are not joining Invercargill’s in cutting staff pay while they grapple with operating in Alert Level 3 but some employees have been doing different work and costs are being trimmed.

Some Invercargill City Council staff will receive half their wage under Level 3, which can be topped up with annual leave, but other councils are taking a different approach.

Dunedin City Council chief executive Sue Bidrose said staff mostly had been able to undertake their usual roles from home or they were being employed in other ways.

Some were tracing contacts of patients with Covid-19, helping the drive to eliminate the coronavirus in New Zealand.

‘‘The Dunedin City Council is not cutting staff pay or requiring leave be taken, because we have very few people who haven’t been able to be redeployed,’’ Dr Bidrose said.

The council had not renewed fixed-term contracts and had slowed recruitment.

‘‘We are in the fortunate position of being able to redeploy about 15% of staff whose roles are ‘public facing’, and cannot be done remotely, into essential services or other roles during Alert Level 4.’’

Dr Bidrose anticipated this continuing through Level 3.

Many council services would return in Level 2.

Otago Regional Council chief executive Sarah Gardner said all staff had been working during Level 4.

Services such as flood monitoring, drainage maintenance and pollution response were considered essential under Level 4.

‘‘Some ORC staff are also involved in the Emergency Management Otago response to Covid-19 and have balanced this with usual workloads.’’

Other staff worked from home and carried out desk-based duties.

The council was resuming some fieldwork during Level 3.

‘‘We have not reduced pay or asked staff to take leave.

‘‘Instead, we have been flexible about when staff work to enable them to balance work and bubble demands.’’

Gore District Council chief executive Stephen Parry said most full-time staff whose roles were indoors had been working at full capacity.

Level 3 had enabled more staff to resume normal duties.

However, work for some part-time staff could be at an end.

‘‘There are some part-time positions where there’s no short-term prospect of normal duties resuming, and the council is working through options with the staff involved.’’

Staff at the Queenstown Lakes District Council had been paid their full salaries.

Consultants had been asked to do less work, QLDC media and channels adviser Jack Barlow said.

Many staff were putting in longer hours than before the lockdown began, he said.

‘‘For staff that cannot be redeployed, we are considering options for how we might deal with payment to staff in the medium term, which depends largely on when key services such as our sport and recreation centres can be reopened.’’

Environment Southland chief executive Rob Phillips said all staff would receive full pay during Levels 3 and 4.

More field staff were returning to work this week.

– Grant Miller

Categories
Online Work

Mahnomen street closures begin May 11 for railroad work, detours announced – Detroit Lakes Tribune

CHS will be laying railroad track through Mahnomen in mid-May, which will cause a few short street closures while that work is completed, according to a news release from CHS, an agricultural retailer operating inMahnomen.

Beginning on May 11, Washington Avenue will be closed for five days where it crosses the Canadian Pacific railroad tracks near U.S. Highway 59 just north of the CHS facility in Mahnomen. Drivers proceeding east into downtown Mahnomen are asked to detour from U.S. Highway 59 onto Jefferson Avenue past the Mahnomen Health Center to North Fifth Street/County Highway 9 to avoid the road closure.

Once that work is finished, the project will continue north to Highway 200 where it crosses the Canadian Pacific railroad tracks. Again, Highway 200 will be closed in that area near the Burger Hut for five days and drivers will be detoured along Jefferson Avenue east and then along North Fifth Street/ Country Highway 9.

Watch for signs announcing the closures and directing drivers to detour routes.

“As we work to improve the railroad tracks in this area, we are working with the City of Mahnomen and local businesses in that area to make sure work is completed quickly and safely,” says James Hardy, general manager, CHS. “Once completed, this project will allow our facility to load shuttle trains, which improves our ability to stay competitive in the market.”

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Online Work

Trying to track your stimulus check online? Here’s why Get My Payment might not work – CNET

money-cash-dollars-stimulus-payments-pay-7102

Need your stimulus money? You’re not alone.

James Martin/CNET

For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.

If you’re having problems tracking your coronavirus stimulus checks or setting up direct deposit with the IRS, you’re far from alone. Get My Payment is the online payment portal set up by the IRS to help you. It’s a two-in-one tool designed to set up direct deposit and also track the money’s progress into your bank account

Millions of people eligible to receive the government’s economic relief payment have flocked to to Get My Payment tool rather than waiting for a physical check in the mail. Direct deposit is likely to get you your stimulus money faster even if you haven’t signed up for it yet. The postal option could take up to 20 weeks at the IRS’ rate of mailing 5 million checks per week, Congress said last week

There’s just one problem. The IRS tool doesn’t always work.

“It stops at ‘payment status not available,’ and ‘we can’t determine your eligibility,'” CNET reader Tabmowj said in a comment. Another commenter, Pecabot, said, “In my case the IRS already has my bank account information, but they are not using it for direct deposit; rather they are using it for direct withdrawal, which is something else.”

We did some digging — mostly in the IRS’ help page — and found several reasons why the Get My Payment tool may not be working for everyone as intended. Note that this list is not exhaustive and may not apply to your particular situation. We’ve also reached out to the IRS multiple times for more information about these issues.  

As for the solution? We’ve been trying to learn more about that, too, without much luck. In some cases, the IRS may not have a fix yet. There may be nothing to do but to wait and try again with the Get My Payment tool or you may find that your check arrives in the mail instead of in your bank account. If you’re worried about making rent or car payments before your stimulus money arrives, or you need information about filing for unemployment, we have some additional resources to help.

Read moreWhat to expect when coronavirus lockdown ends and cities reopen

Try typing your address in all caps

Now, we haven’t been able to verify this one with the IRS, but we did reach out to ask about it. Apparently, Twitter users who haven’t previously been able to complete setting up their direct deposit were able to do so by filling in the Get My Payment fields using uppercase letters, Mashable reports. It’s certainly worth a shot.

You checked at the ‘wrong’ time of day

The IRS only updates information once a day, so if you happen to time it before the update comes in, you may be out of luck. You can always try again later in the day or keep checking at the same time each day.

You entered your information incorrectly

The simplest reason the IRS might not be able to match you with your stimulus payment status could come down to your keyboard. If you accidentally entered a typo, the wrong address or a different name than the government has under your record, the tool may not be able to find you. This one is simple enough to correct — so try again before assuming the worst.

You used Turbo Tax, H&R Block or other tax-preparation apps to file past taxes

Your total stimulus allowance is based on your 2018 taxes, or your 2019 taxes, if you already filed them before the government extended the federal tax deadline to July 15

If you filed your taxes using popular tax preparation software, like Turbo Tax, H&R Block and others, like millions of people (myself included), you may run into issues. 

According to The Washington Post:

Several million people who filed their taxes via H&R Block, TurboTax and other services were unable to get their payments because the IRS did not have their direct deposit information on file, according to the Treasury, companies and experts.

The IRS and Treasury departments are aware of the problems and are working on a fix, the Washington Post also said. We have repeatedly reached out to the IRS for more information.

Turbo Tax provided this statement in an email to CNET:  

The bank account information for TurboTax filers is transmitted to the IRS as a part of the tax return. The IRS has the appropriate banking information for all TurboTax filers that received a refund electronically, which can be used by them to distribute stimulus payments. This is true regardless of whether a customer chose to receive their refund on a debit card, selected refund transfer or other services.

Any TurboTax customer who selects a refund transfer or a debit card and gets a stimulus payment sent from the IRS to those accounts will receive those stimulus payments without delay or fees into the account they received their tax refund.

The IRS is responsible for determining taxpayer eligibility for receiving a stimulus and, if a taxpayer is eligible, how and when the stimulus payments will be delivered to them. The IRS would be the best source for additional information related to their online stimulus tracking tools and payment details and timing. 

money-bank-bills-coins-dollars-1053

money-bank-bills-coins-dollars-1053

The waiting is the hardest part.

Angela Lang/CNET

You haven’t filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return

It the IRS can’t determine if you’re eligible in the first place, you may see an error message that reads “Payment Status Not Available.” If the IRS doesn’t have your tax information, this message could flash on screen.

Your 2019 return hasn’t been processed yet

If you filed your 2019 taxes ahead of the original April 15 deadline, but the IRS hasn’t had a chance to process you, it won’t be able to determine if you’re eligible for a stimulus payment of how much you’d receive.

Now playing: Watch this: How to direct deposit your stimulus check and not get…

2:23

You don’t usually file a return, and your information isn’t in the system

You may still be eligible to receive a stimulus payment if you don’t usually file taxes for a number of reasons. The IRS has a system in place for nonfilers (“Non-Filers: Enter Payment Info Here”), and for people who receive SSA, RRB Form 1099, SSI or VA benefits. The IRS advises that if you see the message “Payment Status Not Available,” your information may not have been processed or loaded into the system. The advice is to try again later.

You’re not eligible to receive a stimulus check

If you see the message “Payment Status Not Available” and you don’t belong to the group above, it may be you aren’t eligible to receive a stimulus check. It might be that your adjusted gross income from the previous year is high enough that you don’t qualify, or you might be in the specific age range that is excluded. We have a handy primer on eligibility, or you can check the IRS website directly. 

Now playing: Watch this: Coronavirus stimulus checks: Everything you need to know

2:06

You didn’t answer the security questions correctly

The Get My Payment tool asks you for security questions to help verify your identity. If you get those wrong, it could lock you out of the system — temporarily, of course.

You’ve temporarily been locked out of the Get My Payment tool

If you see a cryptic message that only says “Try again later,” you might be locked out of the tool.

According to the IRS, “If the information you enter does not match our records multiple times, you will be locked out of Get My Payment for 24 hours for security reasons. There is no need to contact the IRS.”

Now playing: Watch this: Contact tracing explained: How apps can slow the coronavirus

6:07

Your bank is struggling to keep up with demand from people checking their accounts

If you’re receiving an error message from the IRS and are turning to your bank for answers — like to see if a deposit has been made to your account — you might find you’re having trouble taking a look. Some banks have reportedly had issues keeping up with the high demand, especially on Wednesday, as customers look to their account balances for the stimulus money.

We’ll continue to update this story with new information as the situation develops. Meanwhile, here are ways to spend your economic stimulus money, five things not to do when coronavirus quarantine ends and a new perspective on boredom during lockdown.