Tips for Working From Home for Lionbridge

Since I’m still looking for full-time employment, a great way for me to still raise some funds has been to work from home for Lionbridge. Lionbridge is contracted by Google to rate and improve their search results. For between 10 to 20 hours a week, I can get paid to rate searches, mobile pages, and other Google services. This has worked out great, because I can still take substitute teaching jobs, run errands, and clean the house while earning money during my “down time”.

Working from home can still have some unique challenges. Here are a few tips for anyone working from home, especially people doing internet jobs like Lionbridge.

1. Give yourself credit.¬†I had a hard first week with Lionbridge because although I fulfilled my minimum number of hours, it didn’t¬†feel¬†like I had done any work. It felt like I had sat at my computer all day. So my first piece of advice is to take time to pat yourself on the back for the work you do, because it is work, and it is valuable.

2. Take active breaks. Sitting at the computer can be rough on the human body, so make sure you take breaks (5 minutes for every 55 minutes of sitting) and make sure they are active. Vacuum a room. Do some plyometrics. Walk up your stairs. Get a drink of water. These will help keep your energy up.

3. Find a good podcast. I listen to podcasts and sermonds while I rate. Because most are an hour long, they are also a good indication of when to take a break. They keep me interested and are a sort of reward for sitting down and getting to work.

4.¬†Acknowledge the brain drain. Programs like Lionbridge are time-dependent. Each task has a time limit, the rating toolbar tracks your time, and you’re expected to track your own time. This means that logging one hour of rating time means you really did one hour of solid rating work. Working under such focused conditions can make you say “It’s¬†only¬†been one hour?!?!”. Most conventional jobs have opportunities¬†for stretching, daydreaming, side conversations, and other small distractions that help to break up the hours. Be gracious with yourself when this happens, and take more breaks if need be.

5.¬†Master opportunity cost logic. Programs like Lionbridge sometimes run out of tasks, and the list doesn’t auto-refresh. So you can sit at the computer and keep hitting F5, or you can get up and do something else while you wait. Getting up runs the risk of missing out on tasks, but refreshing the page might burn up half an hour before you get any new tasks. Only you can judge the best use of your time, so don’t hesitate to set some ground rules and let go of any “what ifs”.

6. Set yourself up for success. Just like any conventional job, make sure your environment is conducive to good work. Keep your space clean, well lit, and comfortable. Get a new desk chair if you have to. Keep water and snacks handy. Make sure there is good lighting and that your keyboard and mouse are functioning properly.

My friend, S., at Northwest Pearls had the opportunity to work from home for her media job, and has some useful information for people who are not doing internet-based tasks: Tips for Working From Home

I hope you found this post helpful! What do you do when you have a long day of computer work ahead?

Mix-and-Match Clean and Hearty Soup Recipe

Mix-and-Match Clean and Hearty Soup || amayawrites

This soup is so versatile, so clean, and so soothing on cold winter days. Let’s talk about all the parts, and then I’ll tell you how I made my most recent batch (it changes every time!). The list below is definitely pick and choose, mix and match, so go wild!

The base: chicken broth, beef broth, vegetable broth, water

The protein: roasted chicken, chickpeas, lentils, navy beans, kidney beans, Italian meatballs

The vegetables: kale, bok choy, bell peppers, tomatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, potatoes, sweet potatoes, celery, spinach

The flavorings: Thyme, cilantro, oregano, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, coconut milk, curry powder, salt, pepper, olive oil, parsley, red or white wine

The toppings (just before serving): fresh herbs, bread, grated Parmesan cheese, fresh pepper, Siracha or Tabasco, sliced hard boiled eggs

Mix-and-Match Clean and Hearty Soup Recipe ||amayawrites

Isn’t this napkin too cute? My sister in law made a set for every holiday!

Instructions:

It’s important to chop vegetables to roughly equal sizes to ensure proper cooking. Cubed is best for most soups, unless you have a sore throat.

Put broth, flavorings, firm vegetables (carrots, potatoes, kale) and protein in a Crockpot on Low.

After 3-4 hours on Low, add soft vegetables (tomatoes, bell pepper, spinach, etc.) and more flavoring to taste.

After 2-3 more hours on Low (6-7 hours total), check for doneness. Potatoes and beans should be soft, kale should be wilted, onions should be transparent, and the other vegetables should be cooked but not falling apart.

My soup today has chicken broth, roasted chicken, lentils, kale, bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, red pepper flakes, and a few tablespoons of olive oil. I will probably top it with Parmesan cheese. This has a pretty neutral flavor profile.

Mix-and-Match Clean and Hearty Soup Recipe ||amayawritesSome other options include:

Curry stew: any base, any vegetables, potatoes, any protein, curry powder, red pepper flakes, coconut milk

Italian Wedding Soup: any base, Italian meatballs, spinach, celery, onions, garlic, carrots, parsley, grated Parmesan cheese

Cold-busting Chicken Soup: chicken broth, roasted chicken, carrots, onions, garlic, celery, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes

Mix-and-Match Clean and Hearty Soup Recipe ||amayawritesI hope you enjoy this recipe!

One Simple Tip to Reduce Clutter

“The weather is going to be just as snowy tomorrow, so I’ll just leave my winter boots in the foyer.”

“I’ll leave my makeup out on the bathroom counter; I’m going to be using¬†it again tomorrow¬†anyways!”

“I might head¬†back out later today. No need to put my coat away in the closet; I’ll just leave it over the dining room chair.”

These are all real-life examples of thoughts I’ve had this week. These thoughts are¬†made with good intentions and meant to be time savers. I’m sure there are many others that you could think of too. Daily-use items, like coats, boots, makeup, bags, and favorite foods could easily save us a few minutes if they were left out in easy reach.

I had a busy week. I got a handful of last-minute substitute teaching jobs, the weather was bad so my car had to be scraped off every morning, and some afternoons I was so exhausted that I left chores undone. So my boots made puddles in the foyer, my makeup stayed on the counter, and my coat stayed in the dining room. By the end of the week, I was picking up my things all over the place and spending a good deal of time returning them to their homes.

There are very good reasons to keep daily-use items in easy reach, but the reality is that items out of place, even useful items, are still clutter. And I can’t tell you the number of times when, even when I leave yesterday’s items out, I reach for¬†something different the next day. Double the clutter! So my one simple tip for reducing clutter is this: live for today.

Living for today means you’re not thinking about what to leave out for tomorrow; you’ll decide what you need¬†when the day is fresh the next morning. Living for today means ending it gracefully by putting away what you used. There are fewer loose ends, less frustration in the morning when you can’t remember where you left your things, and a calmer environment.

It’s helpful to save time where you can, especially for small matters. However, it might be time to judge the scales and ponder if that time-saving is taking peace from your space. This week, I challenge you to pick five items and use them one day at a time, putting them away when you are finished using them. For me, mine will be:

  • My coat
  • My winter boots
  • My makeup
  • My coffee fixings
  • My office supplies, like my pens and post-it notes

What will you choose? Let me know in the comments if you try this little experiment, and how it made you feel at the end of the week.

Using a Kettlebell and 3 Workouts to Try!

At the end of January, it was too cold to run outside and too cramped in my tiny living room to do heart-racing HIIT. So I ordered a kettlebell and started sampling some workouts. Here are my thoughts on this workout method, as well as my three favorite routines.

Why Kettlebells?

A kettlebell is basically a weighted ball with a large, solid handle on top. The reason it is an excellent workout is physics. In most kettlebell moves, the weight is held far away from your body. The kettlebell turns your entire body into a lever and fulcrum. By adding more weight to the end of the lever, the rest of your body has to work harder to move it around. This gets your heartrate up doing simple, static exercises. Muscle-building kettlebell moves are slower and more stationary compared to dumbbell sets; your body is already working hard enough to try to stabilize the extra weight at the end of your wrist!

The only downside to kettlebells is that form is vitally important to prevent injury, and therefore cannot be modified. With other workouts, like Pilates, there are easy modifications within the form for beginners. With kettlebells, the only modifications are fewer reps or a lighter weight.

Kettlebells worked out great for my small space and my boredom with repetitive routines!

Picking out your Kettlebell

Kettlebells come in weights ranging from 5 pounds up to 40-50 pounds (ridiculous). Kettlebells should generally be heavier than the dumbbells you might typically use, because in general you will be holding or swinging the weight and not lifting it.

I use a 15 pound kettlebell, for reference. I’m 5’0″ and I’m not carrying extra weight, but I’m not muscular, I can do about two chin ups, and I can hold a plank for ages. The 15 pound kettlebell feels appropriate for most parts of my workouts. In all of these videos, there are some moves that I simply have to do fewer reps on.

The best way to pick out a kettlebell is to try one in stores. Brush up on the form for a few kettlebell moves, like the rack and the windmill. Try these out (carefully!) next time you’re at a sporting goods store. They should be challenging but not unbearable, and shaking is not a good sign. Once you have your ideal weight, shop around for the best price. I found mine on Amazon.

All of the routines I’m about to suggest show no one in wrist guards. I can’t imagine the bruises on these instructors’ arms after their routines. Before you do too many racks, Turkish get-ups, and locks, get yourself some wrist guards. I like¬†these ones, because they’re bright and the padding is all the way around. Having the wrist guards on gives me the confidence to be more aggressive with the kettlebell

The Routines

For Cardio: This one has plenty of modifications, and it really gets my heart rate up.

For Total Body Toning: After doing this one, my laterals were so sore for the first time in ages!

For a Quick Boost: I did this one on a day when I was tired from a lack of sleep. It was a really nice pick me up!

Do you use kettlebells? What are your favorite routines?

Quick and Easy Spring Rolls

Quick and Easy Spring Rolls || amayawrites

Quick and Easy Spring Rolls || amayawrites

I have had a hankering for Asian food this year. Back in Spokane, there was a delicious restaurant called Taste of Thai that I may have eaten at twice a month last fall.

Now that I am home, there are many less spontaneous Asian¬†food runs. But I still get my fix with these spring rolls, which I eat almost every day for lunch. To be honest, the “fix” is for peanut sauce, but I can’t just eat that with a spoon now, can I?

Once a week, I make a big bowl of vegetable “coleslaw”. For my simple tastes, I just toss red cabbage, bell pepper, and cilantro. You may enjoy adding hot peppers, lettuce, tofu, carrots, pork, shrimp, avocado, jicama, radish, cucumbers, and other herbs. When farmer’s markets open again, this would be a great recipe to help you shop the season and use fresh produce.

To soften the rice paper, just run it under cold water and let it rest on a plate. In a few minutes, it’ll be pliable and ready for fillings. No soaking required!

And talk about budget-friendly! Even in the winter, the vegetables for these rolls only cost about $5. The package of rice paper wrapping will last about a month and is $4.

This is a great recipe for clean-eating, too. The vegetables are raw, high in water, fiber, and vitamins, and low in fat. I don’t feel guilty dressing it up with peanut sauce or chili garlic sauce. And if you don’t like messing around with rice paper, this “slaw” goes great on top of rice noodles or in a vegetable-based soup.

It’s easy for me to ignore or snack my way through lunch, but as part of my vision for 2015, I am committing to putting time into making food that I enjoy. Do you like lunch, or could you pass on it?