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Home Buyers Insurance Checklist

May 3rd, 2016 | Comments Off on Home Buyers Insurance Checklist | Posted in Insurance Discount Strategies

14 things every house-shopper should do before signing on the dotted line…

Shopping for your dream house? There are many considerations when looking at real estate, such as property taxes, school district, available recreational opportunities in the neighborhood, to name a few.

But an important and often overlooked consideration is the insurance implications of your purchase.

You will be paying insurance on your home for as long as you own it, which is why you need to do your homework before you decide to make an offer. Why? Thinking through all the costs associated with buying a home will make the process run more smoothly, and it may also save you money.

So here are some important tips to help make all phases of your home search easier and more worry-free.

Before House Hunting:

1. Check Your Credit Rating

A good credit history helps you in many ways. Good credit makes it easier to get a mortgage at a competitive rate, and it may also qualify you for a good credit discount on your insurance.  Get a copy of one or all of your credit reports. Make sure they are accurate and report any mistakes immediately. If your credit is not as good as it could be, take steps now to improve it.

2. Protect Yourself with a Renters Insurance Policy

If you are currently renting a house or apartment, protect yourself financially with a renters insurance policy.  In the event of a disaster, renters insurance can help protect the down payment you’re building to buy your new home, as well as provide useful a insurance history to your prospective homeowners insurer when you go to buy your first home.

While House Hunting

As you search for your new home, remember that the physical characteristics of the house—its size, location, construction and overall condition—can affect the cost, choice and availability of home insurance. Following are some factors to consider when shopping for a home:

3. Quality and Location of the Fire Department

Houses that are located near highly-rated, permanently staffed fire departments usually cost less to insure. This also holds true for homes that have a hydrant nearby.

4. Proximity to the Coastline

Houses located on or near the coast will generally cost more to insure than those further inland. There will also likely be a separate hurricane or windstorm deductible.

In some coastal communities, private homeowners insurance coverage may not be readily available. Instead, you may need to purchase insurance through a state-run insurance program, which can provide less coverage, and in some cases be more costly, than private insurance.

5. Age of the Home

A stately, older home can be quite beautiful—but they can also cost more to insure. Ornate features like plaster walls, ceiling molding and wooden floors may be costly to replace and can raise the cost of insurance. And, plumbing and electrical systems can become unsafe with age and lack of maintenance. If you are considering buying an older home find out how much it will cost to update these features and factor it into the cost of ownership.

6. Condition of the Roof

Always check the condition of the roof. A new roof matters to insurers and keeps you and your family safer. Depending on the type of roof and whether or not you use fire and/or hail resistant materials, you may even qualify for a discount.

7. Is the Home Well-Built and Up to Code?

Find out whether the house has been updated to comply with current building codes. Homes built by careful craftsmen and those built to meet modern engineering-based building codes are likely to better withstand natural disasters.

8. Risk of Flooding

Damage from flooding is NOT covered by standard home insurance policies. If you are buying a home in an area at risk from flooding, you will need to purchase separate insurance. Insurance for flooding is available from the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), and from a few specialty insurers.

9. History of Earthquakes

While earthquakes are most frequently associated with California, they occur in the majority of states and, like flooding, are not covered under standard home insurance policies. Earthquake insurance is available from private insurers as an endorsement to a homeowners policy, and in California from the California Earthquake Authority.  Check rates with your insurance professional—the cost of earthquake insurance differs widely by location, insurer and the type of structure being covered.

10. Swimming Pool or Other Special Feature

If the house has a swimming pool, hot tub or other special feature, you will likely need more liability insurance. You may also want to consider purchasing an umbrella liability policy to provide added protection in the event someone gets injured on your property and decides to sue you.

Before You Place a Bid on the Home

11. Check the Loss History Report

Ask the current homeowner to obtain a copy of the loss history report on the home. Homeowners can obtain either a Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (C.L.U.E.) report, which is available from LexisNexis, or an A-PLUSTM property report from ISO®. These reports provide a record of the type of loss on the home, the date of the loss and the amount and status of each claim—going back five years.  If the report indicates there has been damage to the house, have it checked by a professional.

A home claim history can provide extremely valuable information and should prompt questions from the buyer.  For instance, if there was a claim for water damage on the home, it is important to find out the source of the damage (such as a burst pipe) and whether it has been properly repaired. On the other hand, if there was a claim for wind or hail, which resulted in a new roof, this makes the home stronger and is very attractive from an insurance perspective.

12. Get the House Inspected

You’ll need to have the house properly inspected in order to get your mortgage approved. Accompany the inspector and make sure he she does a thorough inspection of the home. The inspector should:

  • Check the general condition of the home
  • Look for water damage, termites and other types of infestation
  • Review the electrical system, plumbing, septic tank and water heater
  • Show you where potential problems might develop
  • Double-check that past problems have been repaired
  • Suggest important upgrades or replacements

If the inspector raises questions, your insurance company will as well. And, be sure to find out if there is an underground oil storage tank, as many insurers will not provide policies for homes that have one.

13. Estimate How Much It Will Cost to Maintain the House

Routine maintenance is your responsibility as a homeowner. Losses caused by failing to properly care for your home are not covered by standard homeowners insurance policies. So make sure you factor these costs into the overall price of owning the home.

14. Call Your Insurance Professional

Don’t wait until the last minute to think about insurance. Ask your insurance professional if the house will qualify for insurance, and get an estimate of the premium. The sooner you act, the smoother the process will be. Don’t be shy about asking for estimates on more than one house. Insurance is an important consideration when purchasing a home. If you are uncomfortable with the cost of insuring a particular house, keep looking for one that better fits your financial situation.

Source: iii.org

Started your spring cleaning yet?

May 3rd, 2016 | Comments Off on Started your spring cleaning yet? | Posted in Personal Tips, Trips & Traps

The tips below outline basic techniques that will help you clean almost every surface (or object) in any room. The tasks on the next page are broken down by location, including outdoor spaces. The final page of this foldout focuses on window washing and upkeep, which is essential if you’re going to let the sun shine in on the bright days to come.

*Click below to see more tips!



Coffee May Combat Alcohol’s Effect

May 3rd, 2016 | Comments Off on Coffee May Combat Alcohol’s Effect | Posted in Live Well, Work Well

Coffee May Combat Alcohol’s Effect on the Liver

According to researchers, drinking coffee may help reduce the risk of cirrhosis, a liver disease that is associated with the overindulgence of alcohol.
Cirrhosis is a potentially fatal disease that kills more than 1 million people worldwide every year. Its causes include immune disorders, excessive alcohol consumption and fatty liver disease, which is linked to obesity and diabetes.
Studies of over 430,000 participants indicated that the risk of cirrhosis was reduced with each additional cup of coffee consumed per day. That risk was reduced by the following percentages when compared to participants who didn’t drink any coffee:

  • One cup – 22 percent lower risk
  • Two cups – 43 percent lower risk
  • Three cups – 57 percent lower risk
  • Four cups – 65 percent lower risk

While the studies accounted for alcohol consumption, none accounted for other cirrhosis risk factors, such as obesity and diabetes.

View more Live Well, Work Well tips here.

New Telemedicine Service

May 3rd, 2016 | Comments Off on New Telemedicine Service | Posted in Family Health & Safety
*click to enlarge

CareFirst Launches New Telemedicine Service ..

Happy Mother’s Day!

May 3rd, 2016 | Comments Off on Happy Mother’s Day! | Posted in U-Tube

A time to celebrate mothers

As the second Sunday of May nears, it’s time to think of ways to celebrate mothers – although, of course, that’s a worthy pursuit at any time of year!

At Hodge, Hart & Schleifer, Inc, we thought it would be fun to give you a little of the history behind Mother’s Day, as well as a few ideas to honor the special women in all our lives.

Ancient beginnings

According to MothersDayCentral.com, the ancient Egyptians held an annual festival to honor “the mother of the pharaohs” – the goddess Isis. This is one of the earliest historical records of a society celebrating a mother.

How Mother’s Day came to be in the U.S.

In 1870, Julia Ward Howe, a social activist and poet (and author of the lyrics for “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”) had became distraught by the toll of the Civil War. She issued a “Mother’s Day Proclamation” that year, calling on mothers to protest the killing and create a day celebrating peace and motherhood.

Howe’s proclamation did not result in a national Mother’s Day, but in 1908, Anna Jarvis of West Virginia took up the cause. She wanted to accomplish her mother’s dream of making a celebration of all mothers. By 1909, more than 40 states were holding Mother’s Day services, even though it was not a national holiday.

In 1912, according to Wikipedia, West Virginia was the first state to officially observe Mother’s Day. Jarvis continued to promote the day until President Woodrow Wilson made it an official national holiday in 1914.

She later regretted creating the holiday, believing that it had become too commercialized.

Enough with the history – where are the gift ideas?

Like us at Hodge, Hart & Schleifer, Inc, we know you might have more urgent concerns on your mind, like last-minute shopping, so here are the most popular Mother’s Day gifts, according to MothersDayCentral.com.

Gift baskets
Personalized gifts
Spa gifts

Of course, perhaps the best gift of all is getting in touch and letting the moms in your life know just how much they mean to you. Happy Mother’s Day!

History of Mother’s Day

May 2016 Festivals and Events

May 3rd, 2016 | Comments Off on May 2016 Festivals and Events | Posted in Spotlight on the Community

shutterstock_258885743Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival
Through May 1, 2016, Winchester, VA. The annual celebration of spring showcases the blooming apple trees in the Shenandoah Valley with more than 45 events including the Coronation of Queen Shenandoah, the Grand Feature Parade, band competitions, dances, a carnival, a 10K run, Firefighters events and more.

Fiesta Asia Silver Spring
May 1, 2016, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Silver Spring, MD. Celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month with an Asian street fair in the heart of DC. Enjoy live entertainment and interactive displays.

National Cathedral Flower Mart
May 6-7, 2016. Enjoy the grounds of the cathedral, floral displays, children’s activities and musical entertainment.

Passport DC – Open Houses at Washington, DC Embassies
Throughout May. The multi-cultural event, sponsored by Cultural Tourism DC, features a wide range of performances, talks, and exhibits at DC’s foreign embassies.

Green Festival
May 6-8, 2016. Washington Convention Center. Washington DC. The event focuses on sustainability education and green products and services including authors, leaders and educators, hands-on DIY workshops, green films, kids’ activities, live music and more.

DC Funk Parade
May 7, 2016. U Street Corridor, Washington DC. This is a one-of-a-kind street fair, parade and music festival bringing to life one of the city’s liveliest entertainment districts.

Virginia Gold Cup
May 7, 2016. The Plains, VA. The annual steeplechase in Virginia horse country features horse races, Jack Russell Terrier races, tailgate competitions and more.

Around the World Embassy Tour
May 7, 2016, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. The event showcases embassies from Africa, Asia, Oceania, the Middle East, and the Americas, with artists and artisans, performers, lecturers, teachers, and others.

Charity Walks in the Washington, DC Area
Improve your own health and raise money for worthwhile Washington, DC area charities at the same time. A variety of events are held throughout the spring season.

Outdoor Movies in the Washington, DC Area
Watching movies on a large screen outdoors has become a popular outdoor activity. Find the schedules of outdoor movie festivals in Washington, DC, Maryland and Northern Virginia

Spring Theater in Washington DC
Check out the spring theater scene in Washington DC. With dozens of performances around the capital region, here is the schedule of the top shows for the 2015 season.

Washington Nationals Baseball
The Major League Baseball’s National League East plays 81 home games each season atNationals Park. Enjoy a fun-filled day cheering on DC’s baseball team.

Greater Maryland Tour de Cure Bicycling Event
May 7, 2016. Howard County, MD. Help raise funds and awareness about diabetes by participating in this annual event. All experience levels welcome.

Georgetown Garden Tour
May 7, 2016, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. The Georgetown Garden Club sponsors a tour of eight Georgetown gardens.

Mother’s Day
May 8, 2016. Looking for a special way to spend Mother’s Day this year? Here are some ideas of ways to spend some family time with mom on Mother’s Day in Washington, DC, Maryland and Northern Virginia.

Europe Month
Throughout May. Events include speeches, seminars and workshops on issues; film screenings, concerts and cultural programs related to the European Union.

National Police Week
May 12-21, 2016. The annual event honors the service of U.S. law enforcement officials. A candlelight vigil and memorial service are open to the public.

Mount Vernon Wine Festival & Sunset Tour
May 13-15, 2016. An elegant evening of wine, live entertainment, reenactments, and tours of the rarely open cellar vaults of George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate. Advance tickets are required.

Maryland Craft Beer Festival
May 14, 2016. Carroll Creek Park, Frederick, MD. More than 25 breweries present over 175 different brews. This family-friendly festival features live music by popular regional artists, kids’ activities, exhibitors and a variety of food.

Bethesda Fine Arts Festival
May 14-15, 2016. See the works of 140 contemporary artists and enjoy live entertainment, children’s activities and downtown Bethesda restaurants.

Marine Corps Historic Half, 10K and & Semper Fred 5K
May 15, 2016. Fredericksburg, VA. The 13.1 mile Historic Half course runs from the retail hub of Central Park through Fredericksburg’s historic downtown with impressive landmarks and splendid scenery. The new Historic 10K traverses the final 6.2 mile portion of the Historic Half course.

Taste of Arlington
May 15, 2016, noon-5 pm. Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA. Enjoy a lively street festival, complete with local entertainment, children’s activities and, of course, lots of food!

DC Yoga Week
May 16-22, 2016. Try a free or discounted yoga class this week at one of DC’s yoga studios. Practice with other yoga enthusiast on the National Mall on May 22.

Bike to Work Day
May 20, 2016. Join thousands of Washington, DC area commuters by bicycling to work as a fun and healthy way to get to work.

Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival
May 20-22, 2016. Reston Town Center, Reston, VA. See artwork by more than 200 painters, sculptors, fine-crafters and jewelers. Also enjoy musical performances, festive foods, beer garden, and artist demonstrations.

National Asian Heritage Festival
May 21, 2016, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Washington DC. Celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month with an Asian street fair in the heart of DC. Enjoy live entertainment and interactive displays.

Gaithersburg Book Festival
May 21, 2016, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Gaithersburg, Maryland. The annual festival features 100 best-selling and award-winning authors who will participate in panel discussions and book signings throughout the day. Other activities include interactive writing workshops, a Children’s Village, musical entertainment and more.

DC Dragon Boat Festival
May 21-22, 2016. Thompson’s Boathouse Center, 2900 Virginia Avenue, NW, Washington DC. Sponsored by the Chinese Women’s League of Washington, DC, the event features dragon boat races on the Potomac River, cultural performances and hands-on activities.

Beyond the Garden Gates Garden Tour
May 21-22, 2016. Frederick, Maryland. Enjoy a self-guided tour through some of the area’s most beautiful public and private properties.

GI Film Festival
May 21-29, 2016. See classic and premier films celebrating the heroic stories of the American Armed Forces including a variety of films presented by award-winning Hollywood actors and directors. Participate in panel discussions with soldiers, journalists, authors, and filmmakers.

Blue Angels Air Shows
May 25 and 27, 2016. Annapolis, MD. The Blue Angels Air Shows demonstrate choreographed flight skills of the U.S. Navy’s Flight Demonstration Squadron.

DC Capital Fair
May 27-June 5, 2016. RFK Stadium Grounds, Washington DC. The summer carnival features dozens of rides, games, foods and live entertainment.

Memorial Day Weekend in Washington, DC
May 28-30, 2016. Find out about special events, concert, parade for Memorial Day in the nation’s capital.

Rockville’s Hometown Holidays
May 28-30, 2016. Rockville, MD hosts a three-day street festival in celebration of Memorial Day with live music, children’s entertainment, a parade and more.

Delaplane Strawberry Festival
May 28-29, 2016, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sky Meadows State Park, Delaplane, VA. The annual festival includes live entertainment, children’s games, pony rides, hayrides, a petting zoo, a 5K fun run, a raptor exhibit, antique cars, food, crafts and strawberries.

Source: dc.about.com

Recipe For Financially Literate Kids

May 3rd, 2016 | Comments Off on Recipe For Financially Literate Kids | Posted in Lifestyle

What topic makes you clam up in conversation with your kids? Surprisingly, 58% of parents reported being at least somewhat uncomfortable discussing finances with their children.

Things don’t bode well for kids if their parents don’t step up to the plate and start talking about money. This doesn’t mean divulging salary details to your brood, but parents should take advantage of teachable moments at least once a week to help their kids gain a strong financial footing. That’s according to Stuart Ritter, a CFP and senior financial planner at T. Rowe Price.

The firm’s new study surveyed more than 1,000 parents of kids aged 8-14. Only 33% of parents cleared the bar of discussing financial topics once a week or more.

There’s no doubt that kids will inevitably learn about money with or without parents’ help just as they do with other touchy topics like death and sex. For the most part though, it’s in their best interest to get the correct information at home. Fourty-four percent of kids surveyed report they talk about money with their friends “a lot.” Thirty-five say their parents are uncomfortable discussing money with them.

Ritter says opening up the dialogue signals to children they can approach their parents with any pressing money questions and concerns.

How young is too young?

Forty percent of the parents surveyed, all of whom have children between 8 and 14, say their kids are too young to talk about money and finances. They are wrong, according to Ritter’s philosophy.

Ritter was taken aback when swiping his credit card at the grocery checkout prompted his 6-year-old daughter to ask if she, too, could partake in plastic paying.

If you have a credit card, you just show it to them and you can have anything you want in the store, she rationalized with her financial planner father.

pexels-photo-large (2)

“She was already coming to conclusions about what was going on. It was my responsibility as a parent to give her more context,” says Ritter.

When to start? Sooner than you think, probably around age 5. “As soon as they realize money can do things,” says Ritter. He realized it was time to start having money conversations with his daughter after their checkout chat.

Concepts as simple as the mechanics of money and earning money for hard work are good places to start with young children, says Ritter. Involving children in the process of prioritizing money is another way to encourage them to make positive financial choices. Some parents do this with allowances (80% of juvenile respondents say they get an allowance and 69% have to earn it), but it all depends on how your child learns, says Ritter. “You know your child best.”

“Help them reconcile the idea that not everybody can have everything,” says Ritter. Another family may go on an exotic vacation while your family drives a new car, he says. Kids will notice other people’s money choices so help put those into context.

Money On Their Minds

Opportunities to introduce kids to financial concepts arise every day and parents should be having mini-money conversations at least once a week. Says Ritter, “This is not a formal sit-down eye-rolling living room conversation that takes 6 hours. ” It won’t happen on its own, however. Parents need to be proactive.

Saving is not something children are able to naturally observe; 33% of kids say they don’t know if their parents set money aside for saving each month but they do know their parents should be saving.

Ninety-one percent of kids surveyed agree saving for emergencies is important. However, just as with adults, acknowledging something’s important is a far cry from effectively putting it into action. Show kids exactly how to ‘walk the walk’ so they don’t become adults who only know how to ‘talk the talk.’

Changing the language can help kids appreciate an emergency fund–call it the “Life Happens” fund or something kid-friendly and creative. Showtime’s ‘Shameless’ Gallaghers call theirs the ‘Squirrel fund’ and everyone over age 8 has to pitch in for winter expenses. (Just be sure to keep yours in the bank rather than the kitchen to protect your cash cushion.)

Another way to relate to kids is by sharing money missteps. Buyer’s remorse is not exclusive to adults. Kids know the pain of shelling out allowance only to soon tire of the latest toy or gadget. Reflect together on mistakes you’ve both made and learn from that process.

Encouraging older children to add personal finance courses to their class schedule is a good way to help them be accountable for their own learning. (For more resources on how to start the conversation go here.)

Contextualizing College

The most important financial decision anyone under-18 makes is, of course, college tuition. The price of higher-education is more money than most 16-year-olds can wrap their heads around.

Growing up during what many have coined the student-debt crisis, young people are understandably debt-averse. Seventy-eight percent of kids surveyed would attend a cheaper college to avoid loans.

Perhaps the alarming headlines and trending stories of saddling student debt have done more harm than good to the generation growing up in the so-called crisis.

“The concept of college has become this big giant idea in their head, this colossal overwhelming expense,” says Ritter. He says today’s teenagers even so far as see college as a binary option: a college that costs a quarter of a million dollars by the time you’re done or no college at all.

In reality, there are many different price points, including community college and part-time curriculum on the lower-end of the spectrum. “The latest data shows that 1 out of 3 kids graduate from college with no debt,” says Ritter. “That story often gets lost.”

College is a value judgement that will be easier if kids are familiar with making financial decisions based on their greater priorities. If $50K a year isn’t worth it to your family, that doesn’t rule out college entirely. Consider public state universities or something more local like community college. The average cost of yearly tuition and fees for public four-year college is $9,139, compared to a whopping $31,231 for its private counterpart, according to The College Board. Help your prospective college student identify what they want out of college and how different options align with their goals. (See Forbes Best Value Colleges list).

Parents should open the discussion about the cost of college and accompanying budgeting topics far before their child takes the SAT and pens college essays. Encouraging new drivers to yield on the quality of their first car or the luxuriousness of their Spring Break trip, for instance, can help them prioritize and save more for college.

The thrill of admission makes it easy to skip the value judgement part of enrolling in a college, but it’s a crucial step for your wallet and your child’s future. If you’ve done your job of discussing money early and often, they’ll already know what opportunity cost is, so outline specific trade-offs involved while making the college decision together. For instance, attending a cheaper college may allow more financial freedom to attend graduate school or study abroad.

Any parent knows you can’t choose your kid’s priorities, but teaching them to align their finances to fit their goals is a gift any parent can afford.

Source: forbes.com

8 Tips to Set Up Your Home Office

May 3rd, 2016 | Comments Off on 8 Tips to Set Up Your Home Office | Posted in Lifestyle


Productivity flourishes in environments where creative thoughts bloom, distractions are minimized, and healthy atmospheres invigorate us. Many modern workplaces are cleverly designed for employee productivity, but our home offices lack these innovations. Luckily, those of us who work from home can learn a lot from the revolutionary designs of green, organized, and innovative workspaces.

Whether you’re starting your own business, you work from home full time, or you occasionally conduct business from your home office, you can benefit from optimizing your workspace for serious productivity using these tips.

1. Incorporate Your Own Style

According to a study from the University of Exeter, making design decisions about your workspace improves productivity, as well as health and happiness. In fact, the participants were found to have increased productivity of 32%.

Before you hire an interior designer to make design decisions for you, think about your personal style. Do you like urban decor, art deco, modern country, or shabby chic? What types of personal items inspire you in your workspace? Do personal keepsakes make you motivated and happy? These individual touches will make you more comfortable in your space, which boosts productivity.

2. Apply Principles of Feng Shui When Positioning Your Desk

If your workspace is making you feel sluggish rather than energized, consider rearranging it according to Feng shui practices. Feng shui is a practice that applies spatial arrangement and energy balance for optimum design and layout. The Chinese have been utilizing it for 6000 years. Feng shui practitioners believe that positive energy comes from the flow of good chi, and if the arrangement of your workspace blocks the flow of it, energy levels are negatively affected.

According to Feng shui practitioners, it’s important to place your desk in a “commanding position.” This position requires that your back does not face the door and that your desk isn’t near the door. The best position is diagonal to the room’s entrance with you facing the door. It’s preferable to have strong backing placed behind you, such as a solid wall, rather than an opening or window.

3. Utilize the Color Green in Your Home Office

Choosing the right paint colors for your home office can stimulate your creativity and productivity. According to Feng shui, green is associated with growth and decisiveness. Green brings forth feelings of calm. Moreover, a study from Stephanie Lichtenfeld at the University of Munich concludes that the color green might awaken creative performance. In the study, researchers found that a glimpse of green spurs “the type of pure, open (mental) processing required to do well on creativity tasks.”

If painting your entire office green doesn’t please you, you can still reap the benefits by painting an accent wall green. Plants and other accessories are also excellent additions for introducing green into your home office.

4. Include Natural Light and Proper Lighting in Your Home Office

A study from Carnegie Mellon University indicates that higher lighting levels and daylight simulating fixtures can improve productivity. Furthermore, in a study investigating daylighting in schools, students who studied in classrooms with the largest windows progressed 15% faster in math and 23% faster in reading than those with the lower levels of daylight.

When working from a home office, you have the luxury of choosing where your office is located to optimize light levels and natural light. Locating your office where you receive natural light is a great strategy to boost your productivity. For example, windows that face towards the south give you abundant sunshine, which is especially important during the winter months.

Improper lighting can cause eye fatigue and drowsiness, which hinders productivity. The hue of light is also a factor to take into consideration. Warm color temperatures are calming, while cool color temperatures stimulate productivity. Choosing an LED task light that allows you to change color temperature settings gives you the flexibility to select a suitable light for the task at hand.

5. Incorporate a Standing Desk

You might believe that using a standing desk is a just a trend, but did you know that it can actually increase productivity? According to this article, sitting during most of the day can decrease productivity significantly due to obesity, cardiovascular issues, and our relaxed frame of mind while sitting.

However, many who have incorporated standing desks report foot and back pain as well as achy legs. The key to avoiding this type of fatigue is to alternate standing with sitting throughout the day. Slowly work up to a goal of standing approximately four hours daily. Furthermore, choose appropriate footwear with proper support when standing. Utilize a motorized standing desk that can be easily adjusted to a standing or sitting position. Although, these motorized desks can be expensive. As an alternative, you can purchase a standing desk on wheels to use on and off throughout the day. Another option is a tabletop standing desk that sits on top of a traditional desk.

6. Clear Your Home Office of Clutter

When your workspace is free of clutter, your mind can think clearly. The first step in clearing your office of clutter is to simply rid yourself of items that you don’t need.

As for the items you wish to save that you don’t use every day, there are many organizing products that are specifically designed to organize them. Clustering your items into groups helps you find items when you need them because it’s easy to remember where they’re located. Utilize filing cabinets, decorative baskets, and other holders. These organizing items can be both pleasing to the eye and functional. Hence, attractive and organized spaces improve your happiness and productivity.

7. Ensure Your Home Office is a Dedicated and Private Space

Distractions from family members, pets, and televisions can hamper your productivity. Have you ever participated in a conference call from home and your dog barks at a delivery person or your children interrupt you? It’s embarrassing and it hinders productivity of the entire team involved. For these reasons, if you work from home, a private office is a necessity.

Set up a dedicated home office in the quietest area of your home, which is away from the bustle of everyday life. If a private office is not possible for you, consider purchasing a room divider or shoji screen to cut out the distractions at your home. Ensure family members respect your private time by using a visual cue, such as a “Do Not Disturb” sign, especially when participating on audio and video calls.

8. Improve Your Home’s Air Quality

According to a study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and SUNY-Upstate Medical School, those who work in green environments with better air quality have higher cognitive functioning scores, compared to those working in conventional airtight environments with poorer air quality. The green buildings use low emitting materials and increase outdoor air, which result in reduced VOC (volatile organic compounds) and CO2 (carbon dioxide) exposures.

In most home environments, these chemicals are found to be low. However, if you want to improve indoor air quality, there are small things that you can do. For example, the use of indoor plants improves air quality. In addition, keeping your environment clean through frequent vacuuming using a HEPA filter and dusting with non-toxic cleaners results in better air quality. Furthermore, letting in fresh air by opening windows and using ceiling fans to improve air circulation can also be also beneficial.

Source: lifehack.org