How to Decide Whether Working at Home Is for You

Working from home has been said to be “the way of the future,” giving employees the freedom to work in an environment that is comfortable to them. There are many advantages to working from home, including the elimination of commuting, increased flexibility with hours, and renewed focus on productivity. However, working from home isn’t for everyone and requires serious consideration before you make the move to telecommuting.

EditEvaluating Your Finances
Set realistic expectations regarding finances. You should sit down and go over your finances to determine whether working from home is a financially sound decision. In some cases, there will be no change in your pay if you are just doing the same job from home. If you will be taking a significant pay cut, you can make a list of ways that you could potentially change your lifestyle to fit your new budget. [1]

Develop a budget. Once you have all of your finances set out in front of you, it may become clear that working from home is not feasible from a financial standpoint. It will be helpful to evaluate if you will have to work an additional job on top of working from home or work more hours to justify the move. Having a budget will clarify whether your life will dramatically change by working at home. [2]
Include all of your necessary expenses such as housing, utilities, groceries, and other regular expenses.

It may be helpful to create a spreadsheet and track your spending currently and compare that to what you will have available with your lifestyle change.

Discuss your interest in working from home with someone who you trust. It will be helpful to take the time to sit down with someone you trust such as a spouse, friend, supervisor or mentor, to discuss your interest in working from home. You will likely need the support and understanding of your employer, family or spouse, and friends if you do decide to continue with this endeavor.

EditManaging the Workload
Create a plan to be disciplined at home. Employees who work from home can be more successful and productive than those who work in the office, if they are disciplined and stick to their work. If you slack off, you will end up paying for it in the long run, especially if you are working for a company that tracks your productivity. [3]
Start by writing down your goals for work. Creating a list will keep you on track and motivated in a potentially distracting environment.

Avoid distractions by downloading extensions for your web browser that block social media or other websites that are not work-related. Additionally, an app for your phone that limits time spent on distracting apps can be helpful for maintaining focus.

Evaluate whether you’re highly motivated and organized. The idea of working from home is very attractive, but it requires a lot of commitment and discipline. You have to be passionate about working from home, in addition to organized, motivated, and attentive. You can take a personal inventory and make a list of the qualities that you possess that will help you with working from home.[4]
You might find that you have to work on being more organized by cleaning up your workspace and clearing your head.

Additionally, you may need to put effort into communicating clearly with your office by being logged into a chat with your coworkers or keeping your phone close by for any calls that might come in.

Speak to your boss or manager about what they are looking for in a remote employee. It is likely that you will be required to communicate about your work more often than if you were in the office. Prove to them in your work that you are motivated, trustworthy, and able to prioritize. Ensure that their idea of an ideal remote employee is the same as what you are looking to accomplish.[5]
You might be required to change the way you communicate with your employer throughout the day, and it will be necessary to know this information as soon as possible so that you can adequately prepare.

Determine if you’re comfortable being alone. Some people find it easy to be alone, but if you are an extrovert or you enjoy being social, then the isolation that comes with working from home may not be something you can tolerate. Spend a practice day by yourself in your home, getting some work done, and see if it is something you could do over long periods of time.

EditBalancing Work and Home
Determine if you have a quiet space that you could use for working. Some people need a separate area that is dedicated solely to working, and you should consider whether that will be necessary for you. Evaluate whether or not you would be able to carve out a space just for working at your home if this is important to you. You will likely need a private and comfortable area to complete all of your necessary work during the day.[6]

Plan a work schedule. This will help you create a normal hourly routine and take your position as seriously as you would any other job. You may have to filter your calls, tell family and friends not to disturb you when you are working, and decline invitations to be social during your established work hours. You should be firm and disciplined with your hours and act as if you are truly in the office during this time.[7]

Ensure that you will have time to devote to activities outside of work. While it can be tempting to commit a lot of time to work, especially when working from home, leisure time is important for productivity as well. Planning to devote time to a hobby, spending time with friends, or just having time to reflect will positively affect your personal and work life.[8]

Rate how important working from home is to your success. It will be important for you to evaluate whether working at home will help you achieve both your personal and professional goals. Try writing down a list of reasons that you want to work from home. Ask yourself if these reasons will continue to motivate you for a long period of time, and if they will help you also achieve your personal goals.[9]

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Today in History for 24th March 2019

Historical Events

1545 – German Parliament opens in Worms
1877 – University boat race between Oxford and Cambridge ends in a dead heat
1926 – The Beehive in the Hague opens 1st escalator in Netherlands
1945 – Operation Varsity: In the largest one-day airborne operation of all time, British, US and Canadian paratroopers land east of the Rhine in Northern Germany
1953 – US performs nuclear test at Nevada Test Site
1986 – Suriname army capt Etienne Boerenveen arrested for cocaine smuggling

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Famous Birthdays

1703 – Jose F de Isla, [Francisco de Salazar], Spanish Jesuit/writer
1951 – Earl Williams, American-Israeli NBA player, born in Levittown, Pennsylvania
1970 – Lara Flynn Boyle, Davenport Iowa, actress (Donna Hayward-Twin Peaks)
1975 – Krisdayanti, Indonesian singer, actress and diva
1975 – Julia Bikbova, dance skater (and John Lee), born in Kiev, Ukraine
1990 – Keisha Castle-Hughes, Australian-born New Zealand actress

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Famous Deaths

1603 – Elizabeth I Tudor [Virgin Queen], Queen of England and Ireland (1558-1603) and daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, dies at 69
1844 – Bertel Thorvaldsen, Danish sculptor (Dying Lion), dies at 73
1974 – Yoshida Isoya, Japanese architect (modern sukiya style), dies at 79
1977 – Saburo Moroi, composer, dies at 73
1991 – Sir John Kerr, Australian politician and the Governor General who dismissed the Whitlam Government, dies at 76
2008 – Chalmers “Spanky” Alford‎, American guitarist (b. 1955)

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How to Play Flamenco Guitar

Flamenco is more than a guitar playing style. It is an art form that originated in the Andalusia region of Spain, and incorporates music and dancing. You don’t have to be from Spain to learn to play flamenco guitar, although familiarity with the culture may help. Flamenco uses the guitar in ways that may be unfamiliar to you, even if you’re a more experienced guitarist. The techniques can be difficult, but with patience and persistence you can master them. If you want to learn to play flamenco guitar, it helps if you already know how to play classical guitar.[1]
EditLearning Fingering Techniques
Warm up your wrist and fingers before practicing. Flamenco guitar requires tremendous dexterity and coordination in your strumming hand. Even if you’ve been practicing these techniques for a while, warm-ups are important to prevent cramping or more serious injuries.[2]
Stretch your fingers gently, and do the picking techniques slowly until your fingers feel loose and nimble. Then you’ll be ready to play.

If you feel your fingers start to cramp up while you’re playing, pause and stretch them out before playing again.

Practice hammer-ons and pull-offs. If you’ve played any rock guitar, you may be familiar with this technique. Flamenco guitarists call it legato, and it gives you the ability to play alternating notes on one string more quickly.[3]
To play a hammer-on, play a note on one string and then add a finger to the same string so that you’re playing a higher note. You’ll play both notes while only plucking or strumming with your other hand once.

A pull-off is the same as a hammer-on in the opposite direction. Instead of adding a finger, you pull a finger off. This enables you to play a lower note on the same string.

Start strumming with the 5 stroke tremolo. If you already have experience with classical guitar, you may already know how to play 4 stroke tremolo. This flamenco technique simply expands on what you already know by adding another stroke at the end.[4]
Play the base or root note on the lowest string with your thumb. On the higher E string, play 4 strokes continuously using your index, ring, and middle fingers. You’ll play a total of 5 strokes in this order: thumb, index, ring, middle, index.

The goal of tremolo is to play as fast as you can. Play slowly when you’re starting out until your fingers get used to the pattern. Then start gradually speeding up.

Exercise your fretting hand to build strength and dexterity. Your fretting hand must have the strength to move quickly between notes and chords, fretting them all cleanly. Practicing chords and moving between chords without strumming is a good way to increase speed in and strength in the fingers of your left hand.[5]
Commit to doing strengthening exercises for 10 to 15 minutes a day every day. You may not notice a huge difference at first, but over time you’ll notice that fretting becomes easier.

Try basic strength building exercises, such as pressing your thumb and the tip of each finger together. You can do these exercises while reading or watching TV.

EditPlaying Chords and Scales
Focus on Major scales. Major scales figure prominently in flamenco music. If you’ve already been playing guitar for a while, they are likely some of the first scales you learned as well. Try playing the scales in a way that emulates the basic rhythm and meter of common flamenco styles.[6]
For example, the flamenco style Alegrías is typically in C Major. Since this is a fairly simple scale with no sharps or flats, it can be a good place to start.

Practice switching between different scales. This will give you the ability to switch keys while you play, a technique known as modulation. This technique figures prominently in pieces performed by many famous flamenco guitarists.

Practice basic barre chords. Barre chords require significant finger strength, but they are essential to master if you want to play flamenco guitar. Barre chords allow you to play more chords up and down the fretboard, and to transition between those chords more quickly.[7]
To make a barre chord, you place your index finger over the fretboard so that you’re pressing down all of the strings at the same time.

If you’re just starting out, placing your middle finger over the top of your index finger can help you understand the pressure required to press down the strings cleanly. Press your thumb into the back of the neck of the guitar and apply even pressure to stabilize your hand.

For example, you can make an E Major barre chord by barring the 8th fret with your index finger. Place your ring finger on the 10th fret of the 5th string, and your pinky finger on the 10th fret of the 4th string. Then place your middle finger on the 9th fret of the 3rd string. Strum and adjust your fingers until you have a clean sound.

Play your chords as arpeggios. You know how to make chord shapes with your left hand, but you’re probably used to just strumming the chord altogether. With an arpeggio, you play each of the notes of the chord individually.[8]
You can practice different playing techniques using an arpeggio before you advance to learning flamenco melodies.

Arpeggios can also be a good way to stretch and warm up your fingers.

Use the picado technique to play scales. For the picado technique, you’ll strike the strings of your guitar by alternating your index and middle fingers. If you already know single-line scales, you can use them to practice this flamenco technique.[9]
For the picado technique, strike the string downward, rather than plucking the string up as you would in classical guitar. This difference can take some getting used to, especially if you have a lot of experience with classical guitar, so be patient.

Even though you’re supposed to play picado very fast, start out by playing slowly until your fingers are used to striking the strings correctly.

EditExperimenting with Different Styles
Watch flamenco guitarists perform. There are as many as 50 different styles (or Palos) of flamenco. Most flamenco guitarists specialize in 1 or 2 styles rather than trying to learn them all. By watching a variety of guitarists, you can hone in on the styles you like the best.[10]
You can find free videos online of flamenco guitarists performing. Look for videos that are relatively close up, so you can pay attention to the guitarist’s hands.

Some classic flamenco guitarists you should search for include Sabicas, Niño Ricardo, Ramon Montoya, and Paco de Lucia.[11]

Start with the Rumba style. While flamenco is divided into styles rather than songs, Rumba is a flamenco style that has a song structure similar to the pop or rock musical genres. If you’re familiar with that basic song structure, the Rumba style may be the easiest for you to pick up when you’re just starting out.[12]
The Gypsy Kings are a group you can listen to who are well-known and are popular for their flamenco rumbas.

Focus on the rhythm and meter of the different styles. The rhythm and meter of a style determine which beats are stressed. Each style has its own rhythm and meter that distinguishes it from all the other styles.[13]
For example, a tango has a series of 4 beats, with the stress always on the first beat.

Use the Phrygian mode and Major scales to improvise melodies. Once you’ve mastered the rhythm and meter of the flamenco style you want to play, you’re ready to start building melodies based on common flamenco scales.[14]
The Phrygian mode will probably sound most “flamenco-like” to your ears. Sloeá, tangos, and bulerías typically use the Phrygian scale. It is similar to the natural minor scale except for the lowered second note. For example, the E Minor scale is E-F#-G-A-B-C-D-E, while the E Phrygian scale is E-F-G-A-B-C-D-E.

Add in percussive taps with golpe. Many styles of flamenco incorporate this method. Tap your fingers on the body of the guitar as you play, either above or below the strings. Use this method to add more rhythm to your flamenco guitar playing.[15]
If you’re tapping above the strings, be careful not to tap too hard or you could damage the body of your guitar. Real flamenco guitars have a tap plate on the top side of the guitar for this reason.

Each flamenco style has its own rhythm, but flamenco is based on improvisation. Learn the technique and make it your own – don’t worry about whether you’re doing it the “right way.”

Flamenco guitar is played with nylon strings. Some nylon strings are specifically labeled as “flamenco strings,” but classical guitar strings will work just as well. Choose the strings that you are most comfortable playing.[16]
Since you use your nails to strum the strings when you play flamenco guitar, nail care is very important. Keep your nails fairly short, filing them straight with a soft angle on the side. Condition your nails or protect them with a vitamin-infused polish.[17]
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