Tips for Working from Your Apartment

working from homeWorking from home can be a huge blessing for some people: you can drink as much coffee as you want! For others, it can be a death sentence. From childcare and errands to cleaning the house and Sportscenter, some distractions you’ll find at home don’t exist at the workplace. But distractions don’t have to ruin the experience for you. These tips will help you make the most of working from home.

Create a Workspace

This is one of the easiest ways to remove distractions. Create a workspace you’ll enjoy seeing and working in. Make it extremely personal. You can do this: you have the freedom of your home. But whatever you do, leave that television in the living room. And never bring your phone or phone charger to the workspace. You’ll probably want a coffee pot though, right?

Dress like You’re Working

I know, it’s very tempting to stay in your pajamas all day. But it might also encourage you to take a nap, watch TV, or check your Instagram. This is because you’re basically dressed to lounge around. Continue with your normal morning routine when you work from home, but instead of going in to work, you’ll be able to just go to a different room in your apartment. You’ll feel more energetic and ready to work if you don’t make working from home like a day-off.

Take a Walk

When you’re feeling drowsy or uninspired, simply take a break. But don’t just watch TV or check your phone. Get outside the apartment. Take a walk around the neighbor or exercise for half an hour. Make sure you’re off the clock. But getting your mind off work every once in a while might actually boost productivity and energy.

Working from home can be extremely rewarding. Follow these tips and you’ll be just as productive, if not more so, than when you drive to the office.

Boost Cell Phone Reception in Your Apartment

Not much is more frustrating than trying to talk on the phone when your cellular reception is low. From broken sentences to incomplete words, the conversation is pretty much incomprehensible. The most obvious thing to do is keep your phone charged. A full battery guarantees the best hardware performance. But aside from finding the sweet spot in your apartment, there are a few things you can do to improve your cell phone service.

Wi-Fi Calling

Most phones now have a Wi-Fi assistance option. This is certainly the future of voice calling, and it’s free. All you need is an internet connection. And if your phone doesn’t have a Wi-Fi assisted option, you can simply forego your phone’s default voice calling by downloading any of the number of free Wi-Fi calling apps available on app stores. You can also get free texts through these apps also.

Purchase a Femtocell

A femtocell is a powered base station that connects to your internet service in order to amplify your cell phone signal. It’s basically an in-house cell tower. Through the Wi-Fi, a femtocell bridges the gap between the cell phone tower signal and obstructions (such as your house, its walls, and objects inside the house). It also reduces the number of cell phones using the cell tower directly, thus improving your signal.

It’s a fairly inexpensive solution to what might be a long-term problem. Before you go out and purchase one, research which femtocell might be best for you.

Signal Booster

Another option is acquiring a signal booster through your wireless carrier. This device basically boosts signals from anywhere in your house. For instance, if you can get two bars when you stand nearby the microwave by the back door, placing a signal booster in that area will spread the signal throughout the house, and in many cases will improve upon it.

Basically one of the only free options for improving your cell signal is to connect your phone to Wi-Fi (if the option is available). No matter what you choose, be sure to research to determine the best option to fit your needs.

 

Don’t Lock Yourself Out

It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, you want to be prepared. Yes, even today, with all the gadgets you could ever want, you can still get locked out of your apartment. Here are 3 ideas for having your spare key handy when you need it most.

Car floor mat

A great place to store your spare apartment key is right in your car. Just place it under your floor mat and forget about it. And when that faithful day comes, you won’t have to worry about paying a locksmith or contacting your property manager. Simply open the door of your car. And it’ll go anywhere you go. That means you won’t have to worry about thieves finding it.

Phone case

Cell phones are a basic part of modern life. They are everywhere. What better place to store your spare key than with the phone you have in your pocket 24-7? Just slip it in the back of your cell phone case. Then you’ll always have the spare handy.

A friend

Another good option is to lend the key to a friend. But, as Seinfeld taught us, this is a big step in a friendship. Make sure you absolutely trust the person you are giving the key to. Remember, they will have access to your house anytime, any day.

Of course, you can always get back to your cat by contacting a property manager. But this could take some time. And storing your spare key at a strategic location or with a friend could be the difference between feeding Oliver on time and opening the door to a wrecked apartment from a hungry cat.

4 Ways to Save Energy and Money

Saving energy can translate into big savings in your wallet. Here are 4 easy, cost-effective ways to save energy and money.

Use Power Strips

Yes, your phone charger does consume electricity, even if you aren’t using it. And your television. And your lamp. This “phantom load,” according to the EPA, can cost the average home about $100. Try to plug all these objects into the same power strip. Then you can just switch it on and off without unplugging any cords.

Change Lightbulbs

Lighting represents about 11% of your home’s energy bill. By replacing incandescent, old lightbulbs with CFLs or LEDs, you can save up to 75% on your annual lighting bill. You could save that money up for a new fuel efficient car.

Change Shower head

The typical shower head flow rate is about 4 gallons per minute (if your home is older than 1980, it could be above 5 gallons per minute). For a ten minute shower, that amounts to 40 gallons of water! However, by installing a low-flow shower head, the flow rate could drop from 2.5 gallons per minute to as low as .75 gallons. That’s about 25 gallons of water compared to 40 gallons per ten-minute shower.

Toilet Tank Hack

Toilets use anywhere from 3.6 gallons of water per flush to 1.6 gallons. A quick, cost-effective way to reduce toilet water consumption is by filling up an old 2-liter bottle, or one-gallon jug, with gravel or sand and placing it in the toilet tank. That’ll save you at least a gallon of water per flush. Think about how many times the toilet is flushed per day.

Saving energy doesn’t have to break your bank. In fact, it can put more money in your pocket. Try out these energy-saving tips and let us know other ways you save energy!

Tips for Hiring Movers

Moving can be tedious. It can also be fun: when someone else does all the work.

If you’re considering hiring movers, it is important to stay informed on their moving policies and practices. Are they liable if your box of fragile glassware arrives in pieces? It’s also important to know about the business itself. ApartmentHomeLiving.Com provides helpful questions that ensure you or your stuff won’t be left in the dark.

Staying informed can be a chore. An estimate from a professional moving business requires, at times, complicated variables. What must be considered, and what you should ask about, is how long it will take to move your possessions and how they will be handled. Ask about previous experience, and what sort of challenges come with each move.

Before you pack up your stuff, you may want to visualize how you will arrange your things before you arrive. Don’t set unrealistic expectations for your movers. If your new home is a thousand miles away, don’t expect a rush, next-day delivery. And if you do get that rush delivery, you may have moved too fast.

Photo credit: Thad Zajdowicz via Foter.com / CC BY

Why You Should Rent

Blog1-830x1030If you haven’t heard, renting is on the up-and-up. According to Appfolio.Com, “2 million new renter-occupied households were added in 2014, while the number of owner-occupied households decreased by more than 350,000.” But why?

The decision to rent or buy forces a common gridlock, “If I rent, I can move when the lease is over. But if I buy, then I can probably pay lower monthly payments.” Yet both renting and buying are more than monthly payments and lease dates.

For example, homeowners have the privilege of ownership. But with great privilege comes great responsibility. Maintenance is the homeowner’s duty, on top of home insurance, property taxes, and other home owner fees.  Sure, the monthly mortgage payments are low, but you’ll have many unexpected and inbuilt fees.

On the other hand, if you rent, you may have access to amenities that, as a home owner, you would not. You could have access to a 24 hour gym, bark park, and pool. Similarly, you won’t have to repair leaky faucets or clogged drains. Apartment complexes take care of maintenance. Another key advantage to renting is location. Most large cities don’t have room for houses. An apartment building fits the same lot space but, with tall, multi-unit designs, houses more people.

Renting has many appeals, from communal living to basically maintenance-free living. It is not accidental that rental properties are thriving: the numbers don’t lie.

How to Stop Cats from Scratching Furniture

Apartment CatsCat-lovers have taken over the Internet—aren’t they just toxoplasma zombies anyway? And many apartment units are feeling the love, allowing cats only: no dogs.

A common misconception is that cats keep to themselves, are generally low-maintenance. But many have found even cats can be destructive to property. When it comes to cats, let’s just say property destruction is inversely related to physical activity. When the yarn ball isn’t around, or the toy mouse doesn’t squirm around the floor, your cat is going to need some attention.

Whether you play with your cat or not, it needs to burn energy somehow. That may translate into plucked couches or torn curtains. This is an easy issue to fix. Consider purchasing a laser for it to chase. If your cat has claws, get a scratch post for them to use. Sometimes it is best to have a scratch post for each room. You can also purchase anti-scratch tape that cats dislike to touch. Whatever you do, make sure Oliver has an outlet for all that feline energy.

And don’t forget, give that cat a treat!

Photo credit: JamesCohen via Foter.com / CC BY

2 Types of Renters

types of rentNot everything is black and white. Take newspapers for example. They get such a bad rap.

Renters, though, are of a more defined class. There are those that know what they want, know what they will miss if they don’t have it, and know what they can live without. And then there are those that don’t know a deductible from a deposit, let-alone the amount of stress added by a rental without dishwashers and in-unit laundry attachments. The first class of renter is the Grandmaster, whereas the second class is the Novice.

The Novice’s problem is simple. It is a problem of noticing how living arrangements determine the way you live.  In every apartment visited, the Novice envisions ways of utilizing space and coming to terms with no-too-obvious flaws without much effort. It’s not until after move-in the Novice realizes that ways of living are determined by the tools one has at one’s disposal. The water pressure happened to be different, for instance, and the Novice didn’t think to ask about that. Amenities like air-conditioning were also ignored.

Don’t be a Novice. Know what you need to live the way you want. That’s how you’ll put your best foot forward when choosing a new home. That’s how to be a renting Grandmaster.

Photo credit: Helgi Halldórsson/Freddi via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Prepare Your Clothes for Storage

Prepare Clothes for Storage

It’s time to put those summer clothes away for the season. Here are some tips to help prepare your clothes for storage.

Clean

You probably don’t want to pack away clothes with bad odors. But don’t forget your clothes might be stained too. And those stains will become permanent if you let them sit for half a year. Just be sure, wash all the clothes you plan to put in storage.

Pack

Everyone has boxes of some sort lying around. You’ll be tempted to use them. But purchase some plastic containers to store your clothes in. These containers secure your clothes from insects and rodents. And if you have clothes from the drycleaner, don’t just leave them in the drycleaner plastic. They could get water damaged.

If you use a storage facility, like Infinite Self Storage, you can purchase wardrobe boxes to hang up your clothes while they’re in storage. Then you won’t have to worry about creases or folds.

Label

You might think you can just throw everything together. And that’s fine, if you are just going to get everything out once spring arrives. But if you have a more variegated clothing selection, you’ll want to label your items by season or, even, activity. Then you can keep your harvest season clothes in storage while it’s planting season.

Store

Sure, it’s reasonable to think plastic bins will protect your clothes from temperature changes. But they won’t. In fact, they could compound the effects condensation has on your clothes. If you have an expensive wardrobe, invest in a temperature controlled storage unit to protect your clothes from condensation.

If you have any more questions about storing clothes, we encourage you to contact one of our professional storage team members. At Infinite Self Storage, we have solutions to all your storage problems.

How to Break Old Habits and Adopt a Healthy Lifestyle

How to Break Old Habits and Adopt a Healthy Lifestyle

Now the holidays are over, and the New Year’s resolutions are kicking in, it’s time to think about sustainability. Whether you are resolved to eat healthier this year, exercise, or even learn a new instrument, you’ll have to think long and hard about how you’ll accomplish your by-the-end-of-the-year goals. The good thing is you’re not alone. Gaining traction on your New Year’s resolution is a matter of forming a new habit. So it’s important to understand how habits work.

Habits are like Cycles

In an interview with NPR, Charles Duhigg discusses his book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life And Business. Everything we’ve made into a routine, from exercising to cooking, from brushing teeth to cleaning laundry, begins with the same “psychological pattern.” This is called a “habit loop.” It’s really simple, actually: every habit begins with a cue, proceeds by routine, and ends with a reward. That’s it!

Let’s look a little closer. A habit begins with “a cue, or trigger, that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and let a behavior unfold.” Then the routine occurs, which is the behavior itself, or the habit. Lastly, the reward is “something that your brain likes that helps it remember the ‘habit loop’ in the future.”

The interesting thing is habits are formed in the part of the brain that has a major influence on “emotions, memories and pattern recognition.” It’s called the basal ganglia. Why is this interesting? Because it’s a separate from the region of the brain responsible for decision making – the prefrontal cortex. And, as a result, when automation kicks in, when habit loops initiate, the prefrontal cortex goes into hibernation.

This is readily available knowledge, at least by quick reference to experience. Think about how difficult the very basics of reading and math once were. We learned by rote memory, by memorizing the alphabet and times tables, and this period of learning required intense concentration. But after a while these things became second nature. It’s because, like any other habit, our focus, determination, and persistence eventually formed habit loops.

Lessons from in the Loop

Because all habits begin with a cue and end with a reward, it’s important, especially if you have big plans for your health this year – to exercise three or four times a week, to cut out sugar from your diet, etc. – to figure out some sort of consistent pattern to follow when you eat, go to the gym, or whatever you may do.

Maybe before a trip to the gym you listen to music you really like as you prepare, and afterwards you treat yourself to some yogurt. When some people crave a sweet snack, they cut up some apples and eat those as substitutes instead.

With new habits, especially healthy habits, old habits are broken. And this means the power of the reward system established by the old habit loop becomes more and more powerless. As you exercise more, your desire to lay around all day will weaken. And as you stay away from sugar, your cravings will diminish.

For more information on habits and the science behind them, you might also be interested in Scientific American’s podcast episode where Dr. Art Markman discusses things like “How to know you have a habit,” “How to work in league with your psychology to from new habits,” and “How we are more likely to succeed when we view failure as part of the process.”

Conclusion

But, most importantly, remember that habits are like cycles: as you reinforce them, they eventually become as automatic and predictable as the sunrise in the morning. Don’t be discouraged by failure. Every mistake is an opportunity to learn, an opportunity to change, and an opportunity to become better at what you are trying to do.