If you're like me, you're probably running out of gas when it comes to working remotely. While it's convenient because you can roll out of bed and log into work, the lines have become very blurred between work and home. You end up working way more hours because there is no commute or true lunch hour to break up the day, and you can work until late at night and just get back into bed. Worst of all, your day is filled with back-to-back Zoom meetings where people don't know how to use the unmute button or chat function effectively. (How are they STILL struggling?)
After eight months of this routine, burnout may be starting to creep in. If you're wondering what you can do to better manage those feelings of exhaustion and overwhelm, I've got you covered! Here are some key tips that can help you stay energized:
1.Create calendar boundaries.
Don't go straight from your bed to your desk and log on to your laptop. Block time at the beginning of your day to have breakfast, work out, or just breathe. Don't answer any emails or schedule any meetings during that time. If someone seeks to schedule over your time, provide them with an alternate time block. If you're someone who needs to work late, block some time in your afternoon as well to ensure you're breaking up your day, giving your body and eyes a break, and you can refresh your brain before hopping back into it. You will not be able to work at your peak performance (or enthusiasm) level if you're working for 8+ hours without coming up for air.
2.Prioritize your work schedule.
You don't have to get ALL the things done at the same time. Speak with your manager to understand what work truly needs to be done and when. Understand what decisions are being driven by the tasks you're doing so you can put those items to the top of the to-do list. For the other items that are "nice-to-haves" but not essentials, you can put them lower on the priority list and get to them later. Prioritizing will allow you to better manage your workday so you can create balance and not unnecessarily overwork yourself.
3.Begin taking real lunch breaks.
Don't just hurriedly throw something in the microwave and continue multitasking. Block your calendar for your lunch hour, and actually go eat elsewhere. Sit at your kitchen table or on your patio. If your favorite lunch place is open for pickup, physically go and get your order (socially-distanced with a mask of course!) Take that time to rest your eyes from computer and phone screens and just enjoy the break.
4.Analyze your work schedule, and ask for something more flexible.
You may have heard this saying before: "We have not because we ask not." If you take an inventory of your work day, and you realize how it's currently scheduled is keeping you stressed and unproductive, ask your manager if there is an opportunity to modify your work times. Can you start later or earlier? Will that impact your deliverables or clients/work groups you serve? If the answer to both questions is "no", there is no reason why you can convert to a more flexible arrangement.
5.Get up and get ready.
Make the choice some days to get out of bed a little earlier, shower and get fully dressed. Put on a full face of makeup and style your hair as if you were going out to the office. It seems simple, but this tactic can help you to feel refreshed and break up the monotony of being a workhouse in pajamas. You feel that extra burst of energy when you're dressed like a boss.
6.TAKE YOUR VACATION TIME!
If you have skipped over all my other tips, please read this one. Many of us have justified not taking vacation this year because we're in quarantine and can't REALLY go anywhere safely. But the fact is, you have PTO/vacation time for a reason. Just because you aren't physically going into the office doesn't mean you don't need a break away from work. And you don't have to justify taking your earned or allotted time off. It's part of your benefits package for you to use to its full extent. Even if you aren't ready to take a full week off or anything, just give yourself a day or two to relax. No work calls, emails, meetings, nothing. Just time for you to rest, relax and recharge.
While working remotely does offer many benefits, if we aren't careful, we may find both our mental and physical health suffering as a result. The major key to successfully managing (or better yet, avoiding) burnout is to prioritize self-care and setting boundaries. You are not a machine. Don't work yourself like one.
Featured image by Shutterstock
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In xoNecole's series Dope Abodes, we tour the living spaces of millennial women, where they dwell, how they live, and the things they choose to adorn and share their spaces with.
Annisa LiMara has called this space her home for two years. Her Atlanta sanctuary, which she aimed to give the look and feel of something you'd see in the glossy pages of Architectural Digest, embodies her vision of "stunning, yet functional and cozy."
"My home is a reflection of my brand, The Creative Peach Studios, and I am the 'Creative Peach,'" Annisa explains. "It was so easy to reflect who I am and my personal story in my space. When you walk into my home, you know that it is Annisa’s home. I’m so proud of that. So grateful."
On the journey to becoming a homeowner, Annisa looks back on her experience as a "rough one," detailing that she officially started house hunting in March 2020. It had become so expensive to rent, and the 30-something lifestyle influencer decided she would rather invest the money she spent renting into owning a home. However, nine days into house hunting, her search was put on hold for a year. The following year, in 2021, the process of finding the right home and going under contract took a total of four months.
"The resell route didn’t work out, so my realtor suggested a new construction home, which turned out to be the better option," she tells xoNecole of her experience. "Although it requires more patience, it turned out to be a much easier process and a lot easier to maintain since it’s brand new."
As it turns out, the open floor plan three-bedroom two-and-half-bath would prove to be a blank canvas for Annisa to flex her creativity and design skills.
As a new construction, she watched the townhome get built from the ground up, and due to the "cookie-cutter" nature of new builds, Annisa knew immediately that she would change everything about it. The best part about it? All of her updates were cosmetic, so transformation could occur without having to do major renovations to achieve the look and feel she desired.
"The first things I updated were all the lighting, adding built-ins around my fireplace, and installing wallpaper in my bedroom, office, and dining room! I also had board and batten installed in the upstairs loft to make a statement and the kitchen island," Annisa details.
"Lastly, we painted the loft a soft blush pink, the kitchen island is a gorgeous terracotta, and added contrast with black on the doors, fireplace, and stairwell banisters."
In total, she spent $15K in renovations (plus the cost of furniture and decor). And although she says the second level of her home is a "work-in-progress," two years in, she considers the transformation nearly done.
Annisa defines her decor style as "organic modern meets midcentury modern with a touch of boho," and with thoughtfully placed touches like plants, warm tones, and organic textures, her perspective can be felt throughout. "I found my point of view as a designer in my work and as I worked on my home, so it all came together organically based on what I was naturally drawn to."
"The organic modern meets midcentury modern with a touch of boho' is definitely my signature style. You’ll always see greenery, warm tones, brass, and rattan or wicker in just about every room. My color story is based on my brand [The Creative Peach Studios] colors: blush pink, ivory, olive and sage green, terracotta, and nudes," she adds.
It was her brand colors that would be the jumping-off point for her approach to decorating and styling her space. That, and a picture she had of what would become her sofa from Albany Park. She recalled her decor decisions, "It was their olive Park Sectional Sofa, and I knew instantly I wanted it, and it aligned with my brand colors naturally, so it was a no-brainer."
By drawing inspiration from Pinterest, favorite design brands like CB2, Arhaus, and Souk Bohemian, and through her work, Annisa allowed herself to be guided by her signature style as well as her instincts when making decor and color choices for her own home. "Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason; it just feels right."
Some of the aspects of her home that she regards as her favorites include her bedroom and its little nook where her bed is positioned, the open upstairs loft, and the open concept because "it really allows you to see all of the details I put into the design all at once." Another of her favorite finds is a purchase she copped from the thrift store years ago.
"I have this little brown and gold chair that I picked up for $6 at a thrift store in Jersey six years ago. I couldn’t afford much in my little studio, but the chair was beautiful and unlike anything I had ever seen."
In addition to accent walls featuring blush pink and terracotta tones throughout the space, her gallery wall is another element that immediately draws the eye of any guest who enters. Annisa recalled a fond memory of a fine art piece she purchased from a Black woman artist when she first moved to Atlanta that she now prominently features in her living room. "It was a Black villager from her travels in Africa, and I fell in love with it because it felt like an ancestor I never met. I later found out that she was the sister of one of my very first design clients two years later," she shares. "Talk about a full-circle moment!"
Cultivating a space takes time and patience, and that is a sentiment Annisa echoes when advising people who are looking to infuse more of themselves into their own dope abodes through design. "It is not a race, and you’ll spend more money if you rush into designing without really being intentional about the vision for your space," Annisa concludes. "You just need creativity and patience to do it! And most of all, make sure you feel like it’s an oasis for you!"
For more of Annisa, follow her on Instagram @annisalimara.
Tour Interior Designer Annisa LiMara's Modern Meets Midcentury ATL Home | Dope Abodes
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It’s always a good time to start saving. Whether you have a few bucks or hundreds to set aside every payday, putting away a little amount of funds over time can lead to financial security later down the road.
As life would have it, there’s always something that we’re striving to obtain that may take a little more than the everyday cost to cover. No matter if you’re saving up for the deposit to your big girl apartment, putting money aside for a girls' trip, or simply wanting to start a new financial discipline, establishing a savings account dedicated to our financial goals can help keep track of your progress and ensure that funds are aside for when you need them the most.
While spending money is fun in the moment, committing to the habit of making regular contributions to our savings account is a practice that will delight your future self. And setting realistic savings goals is the best place to start. “One of the easiest ways to set realistic savings goals is to start by knowing how much money you're bringing in,” Dr. Melody Wright, P.D. AFC, tells xoNecole. “That's going to be how much income you have and how much money is actually going out in the form of expenses. Based on what you have left when you subtract your expenses from your income will determine how much to put into savings.”
How To Set Realistic Saving Goals
Setting savings goals can feel like a daunting task, depending on how much you seek to put aside and how much cash flow you’re currently working with. That’s why when it comes to creating your savings plan, Dr. Wright says to consider what you can mentally manage first.
“Let's say you have a goal to save $10,000. For a lot of people, that large amount is going to overwhelm them because they're only going to be focused on saving that $10,000,” she explains. Instead of allowing the big, end-goal numbers to fluster you, breaking the amount down into your first $500 or $1,000 and tracking your progress from there can make the goal feel more manageable.
There are various options for savings accounts, and having the right clarity on what separates a traditional savings account and a high-yield savings account is an important distinction to make to ensure you’re getting the best return on your savings. “Whenever you're thinking about opening a savings account, you want to make sure that it has no minimums, has little to no fees, and is FDIC insured,” she says.
The FDIC provides deposit insurance to protect your money in the event of a bank failure, allowing your deposits to be automatically insured to at least $250,000 at each FDIC-insured bank.
Traditional savings accounts, commonly found in brick-and-mortar banks, typically offer an average annual percentage yield (APY) of around 0.30%. In contrast, high-yield savings accounts, depending on the type, can yield significantly higher returns, sometimes over 15 times more, with rates reaching as high as 5%. The key factor is that the higher the APY, the more money your funds will earn while they sit in the account. This increase in earnings is attributed to the power of compounding, where the money in the account generates returns and begins to work for you.
What is a Roth IRA?
The mention of a Roth IRA is a common term in financial planning discussions. A Roth IRA is a type of individual retirement account with distinct features. “IRAs come in different flavors,” Dr. Wright explains. “Two of the main flavors that you'll see are traditional IRAs and a Roth IRA. With a traditional IRA, you're putting money in that hasn't been taxed. However, when it's time to take that money out, you're going to get taxed on that money.”
Unlike a Traditional IRA, contributions to a Roth IRA are made with after-tax dollars, meaning they are not tax-deductible. However, qualified withdrawals, including earnings, are tax-free in retirement. Roth IRAs provide tax advantages, flexibility, and a unique approach to retirement savings within the framework of individual financial planning.
It’s important to note that there are stipulations when it comes to setting up a Roth IRA, which is why the traditional option is available. Roth IRAs come with certain income limits, and based on whether you are married or single, if you make over a certain amount, you won’t be able to invest in a Roth IRA.
Organizing sinking funds for short-term savings goals involves establishing a systematic approach. Sinking funds are useful for saving towards specific objectives like a trip or wardrobe revamping. The key to effective organization lies in the planning process.
“You want to set the sinking funds up based on priority and how soon you'll need that money,” she says. “Once I establish which fund I’m going to need to use first, then I start to put more money into it. When you think about it, you want to prioritize them based on how soon you'll need that money and how much money you'll need to be saving.”
Consider categorizing sinking funds, determining contribution amounts, and creating a dedicated account for each fund. This structured approach ensures that funds are allocated appropriately, making it easier to track progress and meet short-term financial goals.
Overcoming Limiting Beliefs Around Money
For those feeling intimidated or overwhelmed by the prospect of planning their savings accounts, one thing to keep in mind is that even taking the first step towards saving is a commendable one. Whether you’ve had a savings account that you’ve had to use, or starting from scratch, Dr. Wright reminds us that saving is something you can start and restart anytime.
“A lot of times, we feel like we have to put a lot of thought into it, but the idea is that you want to start saving as early as possible and as much as you can,” she says. “If all you can save is $5 or $20, start saving that because as you continue to save those amounts, they’re going to build, and it’s going to be earning money for you.”
Dr. Wright often tells her clients to “prepare for famine while they're feasting,” because we don't know what tomorrow is going to bring us. “When life is good, and that money is flowing in, you want to make sure that you're putting some money aside for those times when that money is not as abundant or when those seasons are a little bit drier so you can have that to fall back on.”
She continues, “The goal is for you to start putting money in that savings account and not touching it unless you have a true need so that money can grow for you.”
Remember, financial planning is a journey, and progress is more important than perfection. Happy saving!
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