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Op/Ed

What will work be like in the post-COVID world?

(EDITORIAL) After so many changes to adapt to COVID-19 it’s worth asking what will happen once it passes. What will the post-COVID work be like?

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post-COVID office

We have talked about how COVID-19 has forced a whole slew of people to work from home, and how to handle that transition as an employer and employee. We have given resources so that you can make it through this difficult time, but what will the post-COVID work world look like?

I am no Florida fortune teller, I can’t tell the future and haven’t been sued for fraud, but I guess the better way to know what the future holds is to ask, what changes do we want to keep?

So pre-COVID only around 9% of people worked remotely, but currently a figure closer to 42% are now working from home. That is a major shift in how people work day to day, and it has caused a lot of changes. Some good and some bad, along with some being easier and some harder.

No more long commute, but it’s harder to contact someone for info; working in more comfortable clothing, and yet it’s hard keeping the kids/animals/partner out of camera view and embarrassing you. By now though most of these bonuses/detractors have been handled, managed, and are now part of the new normal.

So because there are less commutes, distractions from coworkers, and fewer meetings workers have become more productive. Some have even shown a desire to work more just because they have more time available. This is great for companies and the economy, but it can cause a downside too. Some managers have used this as an example that everyone can work more, and therefore should.

Some companies have begun to, or expanded the use of invasive productivity tracking software, and other methods of employee control. Some of this software keeps your camera on at all times, some take snapshots every 5 seconds, they track mouse clicks, key strokes, and even websites visited for the last week. I understand wanting to make sure your employees are working, but there has to be a strong line when that employee works in the privacy of their own home.

Considering that a few companies are willing to let employees work remotely through October or all year, it’s worth asking your company what they plan to do. Post-COVID having less workers in office can be a good thing for them as well, they can move to a smaller, less expensive office space, or at least pay less in electricity with rotating remote days for workers, and they can raise morale by allowing more remote work for those who want or need it.

Again what will the post-COVID work world look like? Well what good things do you want to keep, and what bad will you no longer accept? COVID-19 has been a very dark cloud for a lot of people and businesses, but maybe this time around we can create the silver lining.

Colin is a Web Producer at The American Genius that spends more time with reptiles than a normal person would expect. Care for animals is one of his many passions alongside writing, drawing, gaming, and thinking of things to add to bios.

Op/Ed

The simultaneous flop and success of house flippers in COVID-19

(OPINION / EDITORIAL) House flipping is flopping this quarter… but house flippers are still filling their pockets! What’s going on?

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Older, beat up interior of a house ready for house flippers to start work.

‘Well, now that all my pleasant distractions are gone, I’ll definitely get to the grinding, difficult projects I’ve been putting off’, said… Well, everyone middle class and up during this pandemic.

It’s not a bad thing to be an optimist (or so I’m told). Something something, opportunity and crisis are the same in Chinese, except Chinese is not technically an actual language, and also
that’s not even true, and also diminishing returns on motivation are to be expected considering he general rise in stress amongst us 99%ers during these plague-ridden days.

Unsurprisingly, that means we’ve been seeing a drop in people willing to tread through the process of buying, oversee the remodeling of, and selling a house for profit. Considering I could
barely will myself to rearrange my bedroom after my nightly round of anti-maskcne treatments, I’m not too shocked.

COVID-19 proper and the layoffs surrounding the virus’ spread are hitting manual laborers hardest, increasingly leaving would-be flippers without the skilled professionals they need to realize their before/after visions, and idealists further down the financial ladder are reconsidering their investment priorities in the face of their own challenges.

As much sense as this makes, it is always nice to have trustworthy data to back up my ramblings. Check out the numbers from ATTOM Data Solutions:

US Fix and Flop Finance Trends

US Home Flipping Profit Trends

US Home Flipping Trends

What did surprise me about the latest trends though is that while numerically, fewer flips are occurring, monetarily fewer flips’ funds are filling fortunes faster! In other, less tongue-twisty words, the houses that are being flipped successfully are bringing even more profit. “Home-flipping again generated higher profits on less transactions across the United States in the third quarter of 2020 as investors continued to make more money on a declining number of deals,” Chief Product Officer, Todd Teta, of ATTOM Data Solutions lets us know.

Best guess here (or my guess, which is really the same thing) is that more experienced house flippers with COVID-proofed access to more resources—networks, funds, quality libations, et cetera have leveraged said advantages and raised the average accordingly. Kudos! The bulk of six-figure profits settled in California and the Pacific Northwest, while Texan metropolises and cities in the South saw lower profits in the teens, and as a Texan myself, I’m slightly saddened… But winning is winning no matter the margin.

What is it we can learn here? I say the lesson is the same we’ve been seeing since we first decided a fistful of gold was better than a fist full of berries—those who already have better tend to do better. Whether my musings hold true still remains to be measured, but no matter what the data shows, to all house flippers, breaker trippers, and hot toddy sippers out there… Best of luck, and I salute you.

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Op/Ed

5 secrets to a more productive morning in the office

(EDITORIAL) Productivity is king in the office, but sometimes distractions and other issues slow you down. So what can you do to limit these factors?

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distractions stop productivity

Regardless of whether you’re a self-proclaimed morning person or not, more efficient mornings can be catalytic in your daily productivity and output. The only question is, do you know how to make the most of your mornings in the office?

5 Tips for Greater Morning Productivity

In economic terms, productivity is a measure of output as it relates to input. Academics often discuss productivity in terms of a one-acre farm’s ability to produce a specific crop yield, or an auto manufacturing plant’s ability to produce a certain number of vehicles over a period of time. But then there’s productivity in our personal lives.

Your own daily productivity can be defined in a variety of ways. But at the end of the day, it’s about getting the desired results with less time and effort on the input side. And as a business professional, one of the best ways to do this is by optimizing your morning in the office.

Here are a few timely suggestions:

  1. Eliminate All Non-Essential Actions

    Spend the next week keeping a log of every single action you take from the moment your eyes open in the morning until you sit down at your desk. It might look something like this:

    • Turn off alarm
    • Scroll through social media on phone
    • Get out of bed
    • Eat breakfast
    • Take shower
    • Brush teeth
    • Walk dog
    • Watch news
    • Browse favorite websites
    • Starbucks drive-thru
    • Arrive at office
    • Small talk with coworkers
    • Sit down at desk

    If you do this over the course of a week, you’ll notice that your behaviors don’t change all that much. There might be some slight deviations, but it’s basically the same pattern.

    Now consider how you can eliminate as many points of friction as possible from your routine. [Note from the Editor: This may be an unpopular opinion, but] For example, can you skip social media time? Can you make coffee at home, rather than drive five minutes out of your way to wait in the Starbucks drive-thru line? Just doing these two things alone could result in an additional 30 minutes of productive time in the office.

  2. Reduce Distractions

    Distractions kill productivity. They’re like rooftop snipers. As soon as they see any sign of productivity, they put it in their crosshairs and pull the trigger.Ask yourself this: What are my biggest distractions and how can I eliminate them?Popular distractions include social media, SMS, video games, news websites, and email. And while none of these are evil, they zap focus. At the very least, you should shift them to later in the day.
  3. Set Measurable Goals and Action items

    It’s hard to have a productive morning if you don’t have a clear understanding of what it means to be productive. Make sure you set measurable goals, create actionable to-do lists, and establish definitive measurements of what it looks like to be efficient. However, don’t get so caught up in the end result that you miss out on true productivity.“There’s a big difference between movement and achievement; while to-do lists guarantee that you feel accomplished in completing tasks, they don’t ensure that you move closer to your ultimate goals,” TonyRobbins.com mentions. “There are many ways to increase your productivity; the key is choosing the ones that are right for you and your ultimate goals.”In other words, set goals that are actually reflective of productivity. In doing so, you’ll adjust your behavior to come in proper alignment with the results you’re seeking.
  4. Try Vagus Nerve Stimulation

    Sometimes you just need to block out distractions and focus on the ask at hand. There are plenty of ways to shut out interruptions, but makes sure you’re also simultaneously cuing your mind to be productive. Vagus nerve stimulation is one option for doing both.Vagus nerve stimulation, which gently targets the body’s vagus nerve to promote balance and relaxation, while simultaneously enhancing focus and output.
  5. Optimize Your Workspace

    Makes sure your office workspace is conducive to productivity. This means eliminating clutter, optimizing the ergonomics of your desk, reducing distractions, and using “away” settings on apps and devices to suppress notifications during work time.

Make Productivity a Priority

Never take productivity for granted. The world is full of distractions and your willpower is finite. If you “wing it,” you’ll end up spending more time, energy, and effort, all while getting fewer positive results.

Make productivity a priority – especially during the mornings when your mind is fresh and the troubles of the day have yet to be released in full force. Doing so will change the way you operate, function, and feel. It’ll also enhance tangible results, like income, job status, and the accolades that come along with moving up in your career.

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Op/Ed

Want to move past your burnout? Stop using multiple lists

(EDITORIAL) How my evolving understanding of “burnout” helped me learn an important distinction between being busy and being productive.

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too busy to burnout

When I used to hear the word “burnout” I would picture the freaks from the gone-much-too-soon series, Freaks and Geeks, as they would bum around outside, smoking in between classes. Now when I hear the word “burnout,” I think of myself a few years ago as my brain was being fried by life.

I wasn’t smoking between classes, rather running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to figure out how to manage all of my tasks at hand. I’d make a to-do list, see everything I had to do, and drown in overwhelm.

I’d spend my days fretting over how busy I was, and nights catching up with friends via phone, talking about how busy I was and how there just wasn’t enough time in the day.

Notice that nowhere in here was I actually doing anything productive. I fell into a vicious hole of being so consumed with how much I had to do, I wasn’t taking the time to do anything but stress.

At first, it made me feel interesting and somewhat important that I had so much going on. I quickly realized that no one cares and it’s not that interesting (I also quickly remembered how much I love to just relax and not have something planned every day of the week).

This is where I learned the of the most important lessons to date – being busy does not equal being productive.

It got to a point where I was running on fumes and eventually had this epiphany that how I was operating was doing nothing to help me. This was in part brought on by seeing someone close to me behave the same way, and I was able to actually look at how defeating it was.

From there, I made it a point to change my tune. Instead of wasting time writing and re-writing to do lists, I challenged myself to make one master to do list and accomplish at least one item upon completion of writing the list. This helped shake off the cobwebs and I was able to feel a bit of weight off of my shoulders.

The ideas surrounding the hustle mentality had me so consumed and all I was doing was hustling my way to nowhere. After feeling the burnout, seeing someone else operate that same way, and seeing that hustle mentality mocked, I was finally able to break free and get stuff done.

And, guess what? I have even more to do now, but feel more calm and collected than ever. I just have to repeat the mantra: Being busy does not equal being productive. Being productive – especially in silence – is so much better and much more rewarding.

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