Health and Wellness

5 Great Tips To Develop a Successful Remote/Work From Home/Freelance Habit

By Catherine Lang-Cline

In brief, my career has consisted of working for a company, freelance,  working for a company, freelance, working for a company, freelance, etc. While I was self-employed as a freelancer and even when we started our business, there were a few rules that had to be followed as far as setting up shop at home. These were put in place to make sure that I/we developed great work-from-home habits that turned into real business behavior.

Here are the 5 top things that worked:

  1. Get dressed for work. You can keep it casual, but get dressed. No successful business person stayed in their pajamas all day. Getting dressed means that you have a purpose, you are ready for anything! While you are at it, make your bed, too.

  2. Have an “open-for-business” start time. Pick a time that you think you will be ready to work and stick with it. In the beginning, I showed up at my business partner’s house at 9 AM, dressed and ready to work. Every day. Then do your best to work a “full day.”  Time will go faster than you think, so when start time arrives, get to work!

  3. Have a dedicated work space, separate from distraction. When working from home I have tried working at the kitchen counter but within my view was the television, the laundry room, and food! Just one show, one snack, or maybe throwing in that laundry slowly chips away at the time. Once I set up a desk in the guest bedroom did I actually stay in there for hours and conquered all of my tasks. If you don’t have a guest room that is okay, just set up a workspace that is void of or not facing any distractions. Also, try not to let your work take over your entire house. If possible, keep the work in the workspace. (I will admit when we started our business it did take up a lot of my business partner’s house...but she had a lot of space to do so.)

  4. Set up a daily or weekly schedule of when you will work on things. A calendar on your computer is perfect to plan and set up reminders. Set aside times to work, set aside time to send out invoices, deposit checks, do some marketing, and of course, sales and networking. Map it all out and stick to it! If you need to save some time for working out or running errands, do so. This schedule is meant to be flexible and make time for you but also cover all of the basics of business. You will be surprised how quickly invoices can back up if it is not scheduled and you want to keep that cash flow coming in. 

  5. Have a stop time. Since work and home have now become one you need to be able to separate the two as well. You might find yourself working well into the night because you conveniently live at your office now. “I can get just one more thing done.” This may work for a few days when chasing a deadline, but you really need to unplug and refresh at the end of every day. Again, this is business, be aggressive, work hard, but know when you are done for the day.

The overall idea here is disciplining yourself in your “new” surroundings. Up to this point you have just lived in your house. It has been a place of safety, comfort, and rest. Working from home changes that overall feel and it does take some time to get into a rhythm. You can do it and you can enjoy the flexibility that you have worked so hard for.


Out of Office: Tips and Tricks To Really Unplug

By Catherine Lang-Cline

You have actually booked the vacation that you really need and find yourself constantly checking in. Three days into your trip and you have not relaxed at all. Your family is begging you to plug into them instead of work. I mean, you needed a break from this right? Because technology makes it so easy to stay connected we all struggle with being disconnected. Here are a few tips and tricks you can try so you can actually get the rest and relaxation you deserve.

  1. If you must, set up some time to check in. Wake up an hour before your family does to reply to any necessary emails or to return any calls. When everyone up us and ready to go, you are done. Don’t make them wait. Go! And don’t check on anything again until the end of the day when everyone is unwinding. Really decide if you absolutely need to reply or if it can wait until you get back. People don’t always need an immediate answer. Personally, I have been scolded by clients and staff for replying to emails on my vacation.

  2. Turn off your alerts or volume on your phone. Turning your phone completely off may not be realistic because you do want to capture some great photos and in an actual emergency, you might want to be reached. If it is work that is calling, don’t answer. Waiting for a more appropriate time t return the call, it is not going to stop the wheels of progress to return a call a bit later.

  3. Leave all of your work in capable hands. Try and tie up any loose ends before you head out and leave another person as a contact for any issues. Let this person vet any issues that need to be pushed to you and then trust them to handle everything else. Be in a “contact me if you absolutely need me” mode and discover that things will be okay for three, six, or ten days.

  4. You like a good investment, so invest in you. Accept the fact that if you really go on vacation or take any kind of real break that when you return, you will be more productive, think more clearly, and be a lot more effective. Not thinking about work and exercising your brain in a different way will break you out of ruts and the status quo. You will return with a refresh that will only help the business. Maybe putting it this way will force you to think differently about work.

  5. No time to even plan a trip or a few days off? Have someone else do it for you. Contact a travel agent, recruit your friend, spouse, partner, or child to pick some days and plan a trip. Tell them where, when, and how is the best way for you to recharge or get away. Maybe it is a place with no internet coverage? Did I just make you freak out a bit? Mark the calendar and stick to it even if you have to plan way out a few months, get it on there.

The final thing I will say about this is that you MUST take time off. Do it. You have earned it and you would probably never advise someone not to take a little time for themselves. This message comes from a person that understands the grind of getting it done, do more, work harder, work faster. It wasn’t until I realized how much it benefited the business to get away and regroup did I become a preacher of this message. I also needed time off that was at least five days plus the weekends that connected to those days. The first three I always struggle with checking in, but by day four I could feel myself pulling away and recharging. Most of all, no one at the end of their life says that they wished they put in more hours at work but they do say that they wished they spent more time doing more in life. Now, what days are looking good to get a recharge?


Pups of Portfolio Creative || Take Your Dog to Work Day 2019

This year we celebrated Take Your Dog to Work Day on Wednesday, June 19—check out some of our favorite photos from the day, and some recent photos of Scarlett and Luna who were not in the office to play with us this year.

In honor of Take Your Dog to Work Day we interviewed our favorite four-legged pals! Check out what they had to say!

crew.jpg

My name is Crew!

I am 11 months old Terrier Chihuahua mix.

My favorite snack is pupperoni.

When my my Mom or Dad comes home I run as fast as I can to get a hug!

I get along well with others.

My favorite toys are animals but the moose is my favorite!

My parents think I’m sassy but I’m actually pretty playful and friendly to others.

Pippy.jpg

Hello I’m Pippy!


I am 4 years old Cavachon.

My favorite snacks are kettle corn, eggs and watermelon.

When my Mom and Dad come home I’m ready to play!

I kind of like to stay to myself.

My favorite toy is an everlasting treat ball.

I am sassy.

Rusty.jpg

My name is Rusty!

I am an 8 year old Lab mix.

My favorite snacks are my Mom’s homemade dog biscuits.

When my Mom or Dad come home I love to ask for food!

I get along with others.

My favorite toys are shoes, even though I’m not supposed to chew on them!

I am friendly.


IMG_1742.jpg

Hello I’m Moon!

I am 2 years old.

My favorite snacks are greenies, carrots and turkey jerky.

When my owner comes home I like to wag my tail and give her a big hug !

I get along well with others.

My favorite toy is my squirrel.

I am friendly.

Scarlett.jpg

Hello, I’m Scarlett!

I am 9 years old Viszla/Lab mix.

My favorite snack is all of them.  I don’t really have a favorite, I love all snacks! I will help myself to your snacks to if you aren’t paying attention!

When my Mom or Dad come home I like to bark and jump around because I know it’s time to eat and go for a walk.

I get along well with others, even cats.  

My favorite toy is…….I don’t really go in for toys. My parents buy them for me but I am more interested in napping.

I am friendly and lazy.


What Inspires You?

By Catherine Lang-Cline

What inspires you? It is a tough question sometimes because when asked the question, we tend to state what other people think we should say. Typical answers can be my parents, my spouse, my children, etc. All of these are really good answers because you see them and you want to do better, work harder, and provide more but the word “inspire” is really much more.

Dictionary.com tells us that “inspire = fill (someone) with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.” So yes, people can inspire us but let’s think differently as there are a lot more things that can inspire us in more creative ways.

For me, I find delight in any form of the arts. Seeing actors in plays or dancers on stage make by heart and soul swell. When music plays I can feel it in my heart and it sometimes it gives me goosebumps. It generates a genuine physical reaction that is again, delight, it “makes me feel something.”

What inspires me the most are things that I believe that I am capable of doing. For example, I go to an art gallery and see the paintings and because I paint, I am inspired to apply their techniques, work on larger canvases, try mixing mediums, and altering my style. Granted this is WAY more elevated than where I am, but it gets me excited to try something different, to push myself.

In my career, it works the same way. I see how others are achieving their goals, I study their techniques, their style, and try to up my game. People that have worked hard to achieve their dream inspires me. People that build a great marketing message, a solid brand inspire me. People that develop great cultures in their business or do things that really matter inspire me. Building a business was uncharted waters but we surround ourselves with people that could help us, would push us, and inspire us.

Being inspired is seeing something amazing and wanting to reach that high, too. So now, what inspires you?


The Importance of Having a Mentor

By Catherine Lang-Cline

Lots of people start a business or begin their career thinking that they are all alone on their adventure. Or find themselves surrounded by people that are just like them; recent grad, laid-off employee, or a recent start-up trying to forge their way through the next day. It is at times like these that having a mentor is so important but really anytime is a great time to have a mentor if you want to grow in your career.

We can’t possibly know everything that is going to happen on the road ahead, so there is nothing better than to have someone with experience on our side to be our cheerleader and our guide. A mentor can help you plan your path, break things down into steps, introduce you to key people, have serious conversations about your choices, and hold you accountable. In a panic about something? Contact your mentor. Need a pep-talk? Contact your mentor. Not sure how to handle the call that you just got from an inspector? Call your mentor. See the pattern?

You can have one mentor or you can have a few people. With one mentor, meetings should be scheduled monthly or quarterly and have an agenda covering what you would like to discuss and what the status is of everything you have discussed prior. Stick to this schedule because their time is very important. Also, listen to what they are telling you. If they feel like you are wasting their time they might bail. Even if you don’t agree, listen and discuss why you disagree. You have to do what is best for you but also don’t be afraid to try something new. Discuss to think things through.

It can be a lot more casual if you choose to meet with a few mentoring people that can offer you different things. They could be in different places in their career, have a lifestyle similar to yours, be the person you want to emulate, or be an expert in something that you are not. Just plan an occasional meeting, could be breakfast or lunch, and catch them up on what you have been doing and ask them for their experiences in the areas that you are needing help. Again, keeping in touch will keep you accountable.

Where can you find a mentor? Mentors can be found anywhere but ideally, a good mentor is someone that knows you, at least a little. Tell your family and people that you know that you are looking to find a mentor. Hopefully they can recommend someone that they know fairly well and can introduce you. It doesn’t have to be someone in a completely related field, but close is good.

If someone in your close circle doesn’t know anyone, try networking events in the area of your interest. Start a conversation, see if you have a personality “click” and then set up a time for coffee to talk more to see if this person could be a good mentor for you. Stepping even further out of your circle, is there someone in your field that you would like to emulate? Research how they got to where they are today and come up with your own strategy to do the same. There are also organizations that can offer you a mentor or career coach for a fee. Don’t let a fee make or break your decision because quality it typically achieved when there is “skin in the game.”

Still not convinced that you need a mentor? Let me put it this way, I am sure that you are awesome at what you do, but you are not going to be good at everything, and you are not going to know everyone. I have been in business for 14 years and I still meet with mentors and people that I admire all of the time. The higher level conversations are amazing and all outside of your daily circle. It is great to be challenged and it is great to get answers for things that concern us.

Having a mentor is having a real pro on your team. Most importantly, when you are ready, always reach back and mentor someone else coming up through the ranks or in need of help. You can be a game-changer for them.


Goal Setting Isn’t Just For The New Year

By Catherine Lang-Cline

Did you set goals when it was the New Year that you have achieved? How about goals that you have started?

The thing about goals is that they sound fantastic at the time but when attempted, you realized they might have been harder than you expected. This is perfectly okay as we sometimes get swept up in the idea of achieving something in the New Year with all of the cheering and festivities happening. But it doesn’t mean that they aren’t obtainable and it doesn’t mean you have to wait until next year to set a goal.

No matter what time of year it is, set goals:

  1. Keep a journal, make a dream board, or just write it on the wall, but create something visual that contains your goals.

  2. Revisit those quarterly. Add or subtract to the list. Think about what you can do this quarter to move the needle closer to your goal. Is there something you can add or is there something that no longer makes sense?

  3. Share your goals with at least one person to help you with accountability.

What is great about this is that it is a “living list”. You can take things off that are no longer making sense for you, you can leave things on the list because you need more time, you can add new things to the list because new and cool ideas pop-up all of the time.

If your goal is something big like a vacation, getting a new job, losing weight, plan those quarterly check-ins to check your own status. Are you saving money, did you rewrite your resume, did you start an exercise or diet plan? The entire goal does not have to be achieved, just progress if you are truly committed. Add another goal, something simpler, or something harder as you move through your year.

You might have a goal in the Spring to clean out your basement. Want to get it done? Maybe just delegate it. Do not be afraid to ask for help on any goal and the people that can help you with those goals can make an appearance in your life at any time.

The “magic” just doesn’t happen once a year to set goals. Set goals and be accountable, all year long. Five...four...three...two...one...Happy Goal Setting!

Kondo Your Career: Tidying Up Your Work Life (it could be magic!)

By Kristen Harris

A few years ago Marie Kondo wrote a little book about the “life-changing magic” of tidying up your home, which gained popularity and spiraled into a Netflix series. Now it seems like everyone I know is “tidying up”.

The word “Kondo” has even morphed into a verb. Friends of mine have said ”...last week I Kondoed my kitchen…” or “I spent all week Kondoing…” In fact, just last night I Kondoed my tee shirt drawer (she was right, they’re easier to find when folded into little squares).

Why are people obsessed with decluttering? I believe it’s because we crave a sense of control over our lives. With news, information, entertainment, and work bombarding us from every direction 24/7, we want to feel like we can control some part of our life. Even if it’s just the tee shirt drawer.

So I started thinking, can you Kondo your career? Does this concept of tidying up apply to work as well as home? Yes, and not just by cleaning off your desk.

Marie Kondo’s method emphasizes keeping only items that speak to you or, in her terms, “spark joy”. This is the same for work and career–we only want you to hold onto things that bring happiness. Let’s be honest, it’s called work for a reason; not every moment is going to be sunshine and roses. But I truly believe that everyone can find happiness in their work and, if that’s not the case, then it’s time to find work that can make you happy.

Just as she suggests tackling your home objects by category, we encourage you to look at your work life and career in the same way. Start with self-exploration, then experiences, resume, work samples and, finally, relationships.

Self-exploration is first and critical because if you don’t know what you want and need, it will be impossible to clear through the rest. Collecting and reflecting on experiences helps you gather information to edit and update your resume. Next, gather, edit and organize work samples that support your resume and the type of opportunities you’re interested in. Finally, review, edit and maybe increase your relationships to match your wants and needs.

When helping someone declutter their home, Kondo has them gather everything from one category, literally making a huge pile of all of those items (e.g. clothing or kitchen tools). Use this same concept when tackling one of these career categories. For example, to begin tidying up your work samples, start by making a big pile of everything you have (literally or electronically).

Then consider each piece and ask yourself if it sparks joy. If yes, put it in the “keep” pile; if no, then thank it for the role it played in your life and let it go. You really only want the best of everything in your life, and that includes your best work, best experiences, best relationships, etc. I know, this process all sounds a little woo-woo but, if we’re honest with ourselves, we know what brings us happiness. There is a mindful, introspective component to this clearing method that allows us to keep the best and release the rest.

Once you’ve narrowed down to what you’re keeping, then find the best method for organizing and storing. This could mean creating a dream board, re-designing your resume, building a new portfolio website, re-organizing the folders where you store work samples, or connecting with all of your contacts through LinkedIn. Whatever the method, you need an attractive and easily accessible way to store these items or information.

Taking time to clear through materials, experiences, goals, samples, and relationships that are no longer serving you can bring more happiness (maybe even life-changing magic) to your career!

Health is Important at Any Age

By Dani Shimits

When I was 23, I got my cholesterol numbers taken for the first time. It was a service offered at work and I was like sure, why not. Although I was young and considered myself a healthy individual overall, I was shocked when my total cholesterol came back high. This is when I learned cholesterol runs in my family and these numbers are something, I need to be aware of.

Heart health is important no matter what age or how healthy you think you are. There are many factors that can affect your overall health and being aware of your risk factors can help you manage your own heart health. The higher your blood pressure is, the harder your heart must work to pump the blood throughout your body. The more plaque you have built up in your arteries (which is considered your cholesterol) the harder is it for the blood to be pumped through your arteries. This leads to your heart doing extra work which then may lead to heart health issues down the road.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death among men and women in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, someone in America has a coronary event every 25 seconds. Awareness is a key factor when looking at heart health. Knowing your family history and getting yourself screened on a yearly basis can prevent heart disease.

Keeping your heart healthy is also going to keep yourself healthy overall. Being mindful of your movement and how you fuel your body daily. How are you managing your stress? Taking care of your overall well-being is also going to keep your heart healthy. It is never too late to invest in yourself and your well-being. Start now by going and getting a health screening from your doctor. Look at your numbers and be aware! Your health STARTS with you!

Tips for managing heart health:

  1. Manage overall nutrition. Be mindful of your sodium and processed food intake. Limit alcohol (I did not say avoid) intake. Cook meals at home and meal plan with your family.

  2. MOVE!!! Move throughout the day. You are at home and work the majority of your day so do things to get more movement. Example, park further away from the door, make copies to the printer that is further away from your desk or use the bathroom further away from your desk.

  3. Avoid tobacco and nicotine because they can cause damage to your arteries, raise your blood pressure and make it harder to get oxygen throughout the body.

  4. Be mindful of your stress and how much sleep you are getting. These can both lead to higher blood pressure and higher blood sugar readings, which then can lead to increased risk for heart disease.

  5. Be an advocate for YOUR health. You know your body the best, be mindful of the signals your body gives you daily. For example, I get irritable and sassy if I have not slept well. Some people get headaches when they are stressed.

Time Management: Getting It All Done in the New Year

By Kristen Harris

If you’re anything like me, you’re headed into the new year with big plans and goals, maybe a long list of things you want to accomplish both personally and professionally. Goals are good, but how on earth are we going to get it all done?

Time management is one area where I’m continuously trying to improve. We’re all given the same number of hours in a day so I want to use my allotment wisely.

First, I have to decide what I’m going to spend my time on, and the answer can’t be “everything”.

  • Be Clear on Priorities. I have lots of different interests and new ideas every day (#curseofcreativepeople). I am also fortunate enough to be offered many opportunities, from trips and events to board positions, business connections, and creative projects. While I want to do everything all the time, I know that I just can’t. I’m one person, and being worn out isn’t fun either. Over the holidays I spent quite a bit of time thinking about what is most important to me right now and where I want to spend my time and energy this year. Being clear on priorities helps me decide whether a new idea, opportunity or plan is the right thing for right now. Which leads to...

  • Saying No, or Not Right Now. I’m really working on this one because by nature I’m a “yes” person. I like helping people, I like new opportunities, and I have a lot of different interests. But I’ve realized that I can’t do everything well all at the same time, so right now I’m working on saying “not right now”. Join a new committee? Not right now, but maybe when this current one is done in June. Start a new project? Not right now, ask me again in a few months. Meet up for a coffee chat? Not right now, but let’s schedule a time next week. Stopping to consider whether a new opportunity is something I really want to do and if it fits into my schedule has helped me say yes to lots of things, but not all at the same time.

By knowing my priorities and saying “not right now”, I’ve reduced the number of things I’m trying to fit into my day. From there, I apply a few tools and techniques to manage my time to get the things I’ve said “yes” to.

  • Schedule Meetings. I live by my calendar! While it might seem counterintuitive, scheduling meetings can be a great way to manage your time. I have weekly meetings with people on my team and try to schedule short meetings to discuss issues or solve problems. This saves us both from continuous interruptions or pop-ins and reserves time where we have each other’s undivided attention. If the issue can wait, we save it for our weekly meeting. Of course, anything critical or time-sensitive gets taken care of right away, but you might be surprised how many things can wait a few days. Plus, reducing interruptions increases productivity, so by having meetings I’m actually saving time!

  • Decide What’s Important. I’m a big fan of the Eisenhower Matrix. (I’ve used this for years but only recently found out the origin. Apparently, it was a favorite tool of President Dwight Eisenhower...who knew?!) Basically, every task is urgent or not urgent, and important or not important. Something that is urgent and important needs to be done now, and usually always happens. But items that are important but not urgent often don’t get time dedicated to them even though they could be very impactful. Things that are urgent but not important should be delegated to someone else, and just let go of anything that is both not urgent and not important–delete it from your to-do list. Using this system can help identify items that need time scheduled to make sure they happen. Great segue...

  • Schedule Work Time. I am notorious for trying to jam too much into a day. To overcome this, when I have projects that need dedicated time to concentrate (like writing this article), I schedule blocks of time on my calendar. This accomplishes three things: it reserves time to get the work done, other people see it on my calendar and give me space, and it’s a reality check on what I can really get done. Often I start to block time for projects in addition to the meetings I already have scheduled, and suddenly my calendar is full. Or overfull. If there are simply not enough hours in the day or week to accomplish everything I’ve planned, then it’s time to make some decisions. Depending on the situation I might need to shift deadlines, reschedule meetings or change priorities. But at least I’m making these decisions upfront rather than getting to the end of the day having run out of time for an important task or deadline.

    Managing time helps me accomplish what is most important, and that doesn’t necessarily mean more work. Time management means you can work on art projects, go to the gym, spend time with family, take an afternoon nap, go to the park, or start a side hustle. This year, put it on your calendar and get it done!


Setting and Keeping Goals

By Catherine Lang-Cline

It can be a New Year’s Resolution or maybe you heard someone talk and it completely inspired you to make a change. Either way, goals are always made with good intentions, but how do you keep them? Start by figuring out what you want to accomplish, dig deep because it might not be what you think it is on the surface. For example, are you always feeling exhausted? Maybe the answer is not to sleep more. Maybe it’s the food you eat and your goal is to eat better or maybe you just really need a vacation? Do you hate going into work? Is the goal to get a better job or just to resolve some issues? Do you have some achy joints? Maybe it is time to figure out what is going on there?

You have determined the real issue, now let’s discuss keeping your goal on track. These are some things that have worked for me:

  1. The most effective thing that you can do is to tell someone your goal. What is even better, telling many people your goal. Create a group that all share their goals and hold each other accountable. Once it gets out of your head and into a conversation the greater the chance you will have to complete it. You may find that your group can help you with your goal and you can help with theirs.

  2. Find an image of your goal and put it in a place where you can look at it every day. Looking at your goal every day will not only help you visualize the goal, but it makes it feel more comfortable for you, especially if it is a lofty goal. It will be a constant reminder of what you are wanting to achieve. Create an entire dream board of goals! More goals create a better chance of you completing at least one.

  3. Take time out of your week to strategize how you will achieve this goal. Find some quiet time and start to write and research what it will take to make this goal happen. Treat it with the respect it deserves because we all deserve to make great changes.

  4. Add this goal to your calendar. If you are working out, mark out some time for exercise. Block out time for a vacation and plan it. Put into your calendar the time that you are going to call that doctor, purge that closet, or rewrite that resume. Don’t schedule anything for this week or maybe this month. Plan it 2 months out. Why? If you plan it too early, it is easier to make excuses. If you know that it is coming for weeks, you can plan around it and keep your promise to yourself.

Your goals can be personal, professional, lofty, or simple. (Sometimes those simple ones are fun to just check off so we can get addicted to accomplishment.) Whatever you chose to do, take it seriously, come up with a plan, and ask for help if you get stuck. For me, the feeling of getting this done is fantastic and sometimes it can change your life. True story.