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Tips For Working From Home

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Who here works from home? Who goes into an office?
Who does a combination of both?

These days it seems like a large number of companies are beginning to allow their employees to work remotely. Being a stereotypical millennial with a "side hustle" (being this here blog, of course), I've been used to remote work for a few years now. However, my first official telecommuting experience was at my day job with Big Brothers Big Sister back when we lived in Arizona. It was only once every other week but I quickly realized that I am most productive when working from home.

Fast forward a couple of years, and my day job now is fully remote. I honestly can't imagine having to go back to the days of driving to and from work five days a week. I am so grateful for the flexibility and independence my job allows for, as well as the fact that it lets me be my most productive self. Actually, my job is not only 100% remote but I also set my own work schedule. (This is such a blessing, and I realize how extremely lucky I am - especially since I get to do what I'm most passionate about by working for the animals!) That being said, however, it did take me a few weeks to get used to this totally new style of work at first; therefore I figured I'd share a bit of what I've learned along the way for today's blog post!

It's a necessity to have a quiet area that is set up just for working (ideally away from other people and companion animals, if possible)

Our house is very tiny (just 750 square feet -- yes, seriously). It may only be a one bedroom but we were still able to create a nice home office space. With the help of a few affordable Ikea and Target pieces of furniture, we transformed one part of our place into a workspace nook (see a sneak peek photo above). I made it visually appealing and comfortable so that I actually want to work there (rather than the couch which yes, is very tempting some days).

I'll preface this next part with this: My pets are the best co-workers I could ask for - they are quiet, respectful, and really, really, really sweet. That being said, they're S'CUTE that it can be downright distracting at times. It's easy to find myself just staring lovingly at them as they are curled up taking a nap or giving in to every toy they bring to me to throw. That's why it's important that your workspace can be kept separate from these types of distractions. (Plus, for example, when I'm on a call I need to be away from the clinking of their collars, potential bark outbursts at the UPS person, play fights, and just dog sounds in general. Ya know?)

Remember that the newfound flexibility can take some getting used to

Like I mentioned, it does usually take a bit to get accustomed to not only the flexibility that telecommuting allows for but also the need to be extra self-motivated to get the job done. With no one breathing down your neck in a cubicle that does mean it is solely up to your own willpower to do your tasks, reach your goals, and be efficient at all times. If you're not used to doing that, it may be a shock at first. You can do it though! Below are two additional quick tips which helped me.
  1. Set a strict schedule for yourself. And then actually follow it. Our team uses Asana but I also choose to utilize Google Calendar. I have it linked to my phone so that the reminders pop up on my laptop and my phone screen throughout the week, days, and hours which really help me stay on track. I also make sure to stick to the schedule I set for myself. For example, every day I have created specific time frames for completing assignments, responding to emails, working on future tasks, etc. It has really helped solidify my accountability.
  2. List your priorities. Writing a to-do list is super helpful as you've probably heard many people say. If you aren't already doing it I recommend trying it out for a week. Personally, having my daily and/or weekly tasks listed out in order from most to least important is vital for my success. (Plus, it's super satisfying to cross them all out!)

Realize that your social life will most likely be less active and, thus, you'll need to be more proactive about having conversations with actual human beings (although I personally love that the majority of my convos are with my pups 😉)

I didn't really realize just how much of my past social life came from my working hours. Matt and I have always been old souls who prefer to spend the majority of our free time cozied up at home with the dogs and cats. We've been lucky to have friends in each city we've lived in who understand that we most likely will not be the ones joining them at the bars on Friday nights. Therefore, even though we do of course hang out with our friends, a lot of our day-to-day chit chat time tended to be with our respective co-workers. Matt still works in an office building setting which leaves me on my own for most hours of the day. I don't mind being alone -- which is probably yet another reason why remote work suits me -- but on the flip side then, I do sometimes have to remind myself to get outside into the real world! Honestly, it can be easy to go days on end with the only time I ever leave the house being to walk the dogs, go to the gym, or do the grocery shopping. In that case, some people like to take their work to a coffee shop which can be a nice alternative when you're feeling stuck at home.

To further help combat those natural semi-reclusive tendencies, Matt and I make sure to also get out for some fun every weekend. We spend almost every Saturday and Sunday starting off with a walk down to the beach, hitting up an open house... or four (none of which we ever actually intend on buying since La Jolla housing prices are about 500x what we could ever afford 😅), and then seeing a movie or grabbing dinner. (This is way off topic but we recently got AMC's version of Movie Pass just to try it out, and it is SO worth it. We've already seen multiple movies that we loved but most likely never would've watched otherwise. Highly recommend!) Because really, when there is no difference between your home and your office, it's extra important to get away from it all sometimes - no matter how much we may love unwinding with Netflix on our couches.

The way you communicate with your coworkers will be very different but it's still possible - and important! - to have relationships with them

Take for example my own day job -- our team is spread across the country; thus, weekly Zoom calls and daily messages are just a standard part of our schedules. While it really is nice to be able to see your fellow employees in person (both for the social aspect and for the ease of being able to physically pop into their cube for a quick question, rather than 20 back-and-forth email chains), that's obviously not possible to do as often when you're separated by hundreds or thousands of miles. I recommend making it a point to get to know and bond with your team even if you don't physically see each other very often.

Make sure you stand up and stretch out

This one may seem too obvious to even warrant writing it out. However, exactly like in an office setting, it's just as important to remember to get your blood moving every couple of hours or so. It's much easier to get deep in the zone and forget to move when there aren't any other humans making noises around you to break that concentration! The best part, though, of being in the comfort of your own home means that when you do take one those 15-minute breaks, you can fit in a relaxing stroll around your neighborhood, do a fast exercise, or even complete a quick chore like vacuuming!

^ My coworker sleepin' on the job ^ 

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I have now seen throughout my career that there are definitely pros and cons to both going into an office and telecommuting. While my personal preference may be to work from home, I know a lot of people who say being alone that much would make them go crazy. I did love getting to see the amazing friends I've made in past roles in person five days a week, that is for sure. But I also love the fact that since no one has to drive to an office, our team's carbon footprint is smaller (plus we are all vegan so ya know, that means an even tinier environmental impact to further toot our own horn 😜). And on the more superficial side, I enjoy how I get more sleep than I used to now that there is no waking up and having to get all done up for the day. If I'm being very blunt, since the only person who generally sees me during the workday is, well, me, the majority of my weekdays now entail leggings and zero makeup. Some people say they'd miss that aspect but I think it. is. MAGNIFICENT. I mean, I still always have the option to get ready if I am feeling like it, but it's no longer a nonnegotiable every day which actually makes those days I do get "done up" more fun! 

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What are your thoughts on the topic? I'd love to hear your opinions so please share in the comments!

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Cozied Up Cardigan | Sweater + Tee + High-Waisted Jeans + Ankle Boots

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Hi, I'm back! And with this first outfit post of 2019, I present to you... me... with blonde hair 🙆😱

Really though, this means it's been a BIT since I shared an OOTD! As I previously mentioned, I went blonde-ish on a whim back in early December while I was visiting my family in Ohio. I am a natural brunette (you can check out any blog post from pre-spring 2018 to see my real hair color because last year was the first time I ever dyed it in my life). It's by far the biggest physical change I've ever made but a kinda fun change. Will I keep it? Will I go lighter in the future? Will I go back to balayage? Will I get sick of upkeep and dye it back to simple, all over dark brown? The answer is... yes -- to probably all of those 😉 Because now that I've caught the bug, I think I'll keep trying new things every once in a while. I used to just cut bangs when I got sick of my hair but now that I've dyed it, I truly get the obsession. It really is fun! My hair may be fried, and my white hairs still frustratingly pop out after just a few weeks, but I'm havin' fun embracing the changes, baby!

Burgundy oversized knit open-front cardigan: Target
^ I recommend sizing down. I didn't but wish I had!

Gray v-neck t-shirt (also seen here, here & here): Old Navy

Raw hem high-waisted skinny jeans (also seen here & here): J.Crew

Nude ankle boots with cutout detail (also seen here, here & here): Target

Gold half-moon necklace (also seen here, here & here): c/o Happiness Boutique

Cognac belt (also seen here, here & here): Gap

Gold cuff bracelets (also seen here & here): J.Crew Factory - currently on sale for $7.50! - and c/o oNecklace

What kind of changes have you made in the New Year? Matt and I just embarked on another plant-based Whole30 yesterday. I turn 30 in March so it seemed like a good idea to close out my 20s with some healthy living, ya know what I'm sayin'?

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A New Year & My Veganniversary

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy 2019! 

The first LunaVida post of a brand new year always feels kind of special. It's just nice knowing the next 365 days are a fresh start. I mean, yes, every day, every minute, every second are all a chance for a new start. But there's something extra about January 1st specifically. Whether you make New Year's resolutions or not (personally sometimes I do, sometimes I don't - both usually with no rhyme or reason), this is such a good time to make - and welcome with open arms - change.

Two years ago this January 3rd, I made the decision to finally make a change in my life that I had been thinking about for half of my life at that point -- I went vegan. (If you read LunaVida you most likely already know this. If this is news to you please check out this blog that I posted when I made my very personal decision very public.) This one choice has changed the entire reason and path of my life. My daily life changed. My career goals changed. Mine and Matt's relationship changed. The primary purpose of writing LunaVida changed. And every single one of those changes was, without a shred of doubt, entirely for the better.

Going plant-based is the single most important decision I have ever made, hands-down. And as I come up on my second veganniversary on the 3rd, it makes me think back to almost exactly two years ago. This was when Matt and I had decided that in lieu of making resolutions we would instead complete a plant-based Whole30 (you can read all about that experience here). My intention was actually to utilize it as a jumpstart to a permanent lifestyle change into vegan-dom. (Matt was simply being a supportive partner who also happens to like a healthy self-challenge. While he was a vegetarian at the time, and a lifelong animal lover too, he had no real interest in going vegan. That quickly changed, however - which was a shock to both of us - and he's since become such a dedicated advocate, I'm happy to say!)

Now that I have seen firsthand how life can so drastically change from making small, everyday changes (such as simply eschewing dairy in favor of cruelty-free nut milk alternatives) I thought it'd be fun to share a few ideas that may help all of us, our nonhuman animal friends, and Mama Earth for the first LunaVida post of 2019!

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Make a concerted effort to stop using single-use plastics

Like many people, I started drinking from reusable water bottles years ago. I now finally remember to grab my reusable shopping bags more often than not (woo hoo!). We have started to use paper, metal, and glass straws (these are my personal favorites) in place of traditional plastic straws. These are all easy (and cost-effective!) changes to make that will have a lasting impact on our planet. They are undoubtedly a great place to start. We, as a society, desperately need to level up our commit though. I have a lot of room to grow in this space if I'm being brutally honest with myself. For example, I've previously discussed my love of Trader Joe's but the amount of unnecessary packaging they use for a lot of their products is downright painful to stomach. Their bags of prepackaged fresh produce are generally cheaper than if you buy said fruits and veggie individually; thus, I tend to grab the baggy of seven limes that costs $1.29 -- even when I don't need that many -- versus just picking three up for the same price but involves zero packaging. It's a life lesson I am trying to get through my thick skull, and I intend to make 2019 the year it finally becomes an ingrained habit.

Cut out environment-destroying household products

For so long I had absolutely no idea that our typical cleaning products (think Windex, Tide, etc) are actually full of harmful chemicals. They are damaging to our own health, our waterways, our air, and our environment in general -- and most of them are tested on animals. As we've used up the ol' standard products under our kitchen sink we have been replacing them with all cruelty-free and less toxic brands to reduce the risks. (Next up for me is delving into clean beauty!)

Up the activism

Becoming an "activist" had literally never crossed my mind. That is until I learned about the realities of factory farming and the constant abuse it places on the billions of animals. And discovering what industrialized agriculture has done -- and is continuing to do -- to our environment gutted me. I couldn't passively stand by and let it happen. So as these things typically work, I started out with me and personal changes I could make. I changed my daily habits by cutting out all animal products and switching to cruelty-free alternatives. Then I shared what I learned with my boyfriend (making sure to never preach or patronize - it's not my style, and it often does more harm than good). He went vegan! I started to look for volunteer opportunities in the movement. I leafleted about making compassionate food choices at a farmers market for the first time ever. I applied for jobs in the animal rights realm. I worked with the Prop 12 campaign. I met activists. They inspired me to get involved more. Matt and I changed our annual contributions to only giving to nonprofits that don't pay for animal suffering. I got a job within the AR movement. I signed up as a volunteer to help with an amazing organizations' campaigns. I organized my first ever protest (just last weekend actually which was very exciting!). And then, here I am today. I'm still fired up, and there's still a seemingly overwhelming amount of work that needs to be done. I don't ever want to become complacent and think "I'm doing enough as it is" because, quite simply, I'm not. There is always more room to grow, opportunities to educate, and compassion to be spread. This year I want to stretch myself outside of my comfort level and try out new forms of activism that I have yet to experience. And I'd love for you to join me in 2019!

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Remember: This is a New Year, a new opportunity to save innocent lives, a new chance to leave the planet better than we found it, and a perfect time to make positive change.

Wishing you the best 2019 ✨

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What are your resolutions?

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