Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Roommate Etiquette

Having a roommate can be a truly rewarding experience.  Sharing your living space helps keep costs down, and gives you someone you can really share your life with.  However, if you and your roommate are not on the same page when it comes to such key things as cleanliness, noise, and houseguests, having a roommate can just as easily be a living nightmare.  To ensure you and your roommate have a solid and functional relationship here are a few things to keep in mind.

Always begin with a frank and honest conversation about how you like to live, what you need in a roommate, and what you simply cannot live with.  We often assume people are exactly like us, but it takes all kinds to make a world, and one person’s understanding of cleanliness is another’s version of total squalor.  As you approach the prospect of moving in, sit down together and really lay your cards on the table.  Remember to be totally honest—this is no time to hide your less than perfect clutter problem, or your unabashed love for ABBA.  The more honest and open you and your roommate are with each other the quicker you will come to a functioning living arrangement.

One of the biggest problems roommates have is cleaning.   A cleaning schedule is a fair and transparent way to keep roommates accountable and aware of who is doing what, and when.  Work out together what each of you expects, and feels capable of doing, and do your best to keep to it.  Beyond these larger cleaning tasks, make sure that you pick up after yourself, and that you clean as you go.  Think of what you would like to see when you come into the bathroom or living room, and try your best to maintain that same standard for your roommates.

This is especially the case in maintaining the kitchen.  After you prepare food be sure to restore a minimum amount of order to the kitchen.  You don’t always have to clean the kitchen from top to bottom immediately after eating, but it is a great idea to ensure that counters and stovetops are wiped, and that pots and pans are soaking.  It is also a good idea to have a mutual understanding about food sharing and communal cooking.  Some roommates fully shop and cook together, others write their names on food.  Whatever your arrangement is make sure it is mutually understood, and that you abide by it.

Finally, be respectful of each other’s right to the apartment.  Do not monopolize the television or the bathroom, do not play your music loudly when your roommates are sleeping or studying, and do not freely entertain guests when your roommates are not into it.  When it comes to roommate etiquette, the more you give, the more you will get back.  If you do your share of the heavy lifting, and remain respectful, and conscientious, your roommate will do the same, and you will reap the rewards of function and friendship that a great roommate provides.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Tips to Working from Your Apartment

These are strange but exciting economic times.  The traditional idea of going to work in a downtown office is fading fast, as more and more people are working remotely, or forgoing office life altogether to try their hand at running their own business.  This economic shift means that more people than ever before are working from home.  Working from your apartment or condo can be a wonderful way to feel more connected to your work and to better manage that biggest of challenges: the work/life balance.  However, there are a few important things to keep in mind as you embark on a work from home routine to ensure you remain balanced and productive.

Stay Focused
Home, as you know, is full of distractions.  Most of us can hold our own when it comes to resisting leisurely distractions, like movies, TV, books, or naps, but the more challenging distractions are the domestic ones.  Since you are already home, you had might as well get the laundry going, and, while you are at, tidy up the kitchen, pop out for cat food, groceries, get dinner started . . . and on it goes.  These kinds of domestic distractions are really had to resist because they are productive; but this is, of course, a misplaced productivity.  You have to remember that this is your time to work on your work, and not to work domestically.  

Results over Schedules
The traditional way to keep one’s self on track is by setting up and following a structured work schedule.  This works for some people, but schedules can come to seem arbitrary and stifling after a while.  Instead, a good technique is to think about the larger aims of your work and devise goals that can be broken down by session, by day, and by week.  This allows you to focus more on results and less on simply time logged.  A results-driven work process keeps you more directly connected to the larger priorities of your job, and keeps you motivated. 

Carve Out Your Work Space
We’ve come a long way from the “home office” of the 90s that tried to reproduce the “macro” office format in the “micro” home setting—complete with clunky printers, and piles of largely useless stationary.  However, the impulse behind the home office to try to draw a line between home and work is still an important thing to keep in mind.  Depending on the amount of space you have to work with, try to find a workplace in your apartment or condo that is physically or even conceptually different from your relaxation space.  Working from your kitchen table or pull-up counter, or setting yourself up in a chair instead of on the couch can help your click out of home-mode and into work-mode a little more readily.