One place for hosting & domains

      Stay

      20 Ways to Stay Social in an Age of Social Distancing


      A few months ago, working from home sounded like a dream. Now, thanks to a global pandemic and the ever-looming threat of COVID-19, students, parents, workers, and business owners are stuck at home, doing their part to #flattenthecurve. Many of you are under shelter-in-place orders, leaving home only for the essentials, and the rest are carefully practicing social distancing, avoiding gatherings of more than 10 people and staying at least six feet apart.

      We’re right there with you.

      Our DreamHost offices in California and Oregon shut down, sending our diligent employees home to support you remotely. With no real end in sight to all this social distancing, the weeks (and months) are stretching ahead rather bleakly.

      “Loneliness is psychologically poisonous; it increases sleeplessness, depression, as well as immune and cardiovascular problems,” says Stanford psychologist Jamil Zaki. “In fact, chronic loneliness produces a similar mortality risk to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. We must do the right thing for public health and shelter-in-place now, but if doing so produces chronic, widespread loneliness, a long-term mental and physical health crisis might follow this viral one.”

      Social distancing doesn’t have to mean social isolation — Zaki suggests reframing it as “socializing from a distance.” Thanks to the internet, there are plenty of ways to connect with friends, family, and coworkers, all while keeping everyone safe and fighting to reduce coronavirus infections.

      How can you socialize for the sake of your sanity — and your relationships — while safely flattening the curve? We have a few ideas.

      Working From Home?

      Now is the perfect time to build a website. We offer budget-friendly Shared Hosting services with robust features to help you thrive online. Plans start at $2.59/mo.

      Essential Apps

      Before you can bring your social life to the digital world, you’ve got to build up your tool kit. Chances are you already use many of these, and others may be less familiar. Either way, these apps, plus your social media accounts, will keep you connected to others while physically apart.

      Smartphone Video Calling

      Your smartphone probably already has one of your best tools for video calling: FaceTime for iPhones, Google Duo for Android. FaceTime, only available on iOS, hosts up to 32 people; on Google Duo, up to eight people can chat. These apps are best for one-on-one conversations with friends and family.

      Zoom

      Thanks to school and workplace closures sending the masses to work and learn at home, video conferencing software Zoom has become a surprising hero in the age of quarantine — and the inspiration for a wave of memes. It really shines for professional uses, such as connecting with clients, coworkers, and classrooms, but it can work for friend hangouts too. Download it onto your phone or tablet or use on your computer for free one-on-one chats or up to 40-minute meetings; upgrade to $14.99/month for longer meetings.

      Google Hangouts

      Sign in to Hangouts with your Google account (you already have one if you use Gmail) to video chat with friends for free. Up to 25 people can video chat at once, and 150 can join a voice-only group. If your friends or coworkers are all on Google (or willing to get an account), this is an easy option for some group facetime.

      Skype

      A staple of online communication for years, Skype is free to download and use on phones, tablets, and computers with web cameras. Video call up to 10 people at once, depending on connection speeds, and easily share screens. You can also instant message and make voice calls on Skype. This app is great for a virtual hangout with friends, no matter what devices they use.

      WhatsApp

      Facebook-owned WhatsApp is an excellent option for free one-on-one messaging, video calling, and voice calls on both iOS and Android. It uses end-to-end encryption for added security, and its popularity around the world makes it a fantastic way to connect with friends and family in other countries.

      Marco Polo

      When video chats are hard to coordinate between conference calls and Netflix-a-thons, Marco Polo can help you still connect “face to face.” Leave a video voicemail of sorts — send a video message to a friend, who will watch and respond when they are ready. This is a helpful app for those with friends and family in different time zones.

      Neighborhood Groups

      Find an online meeting place for your neighborhood and community. Some neighborhoods are more active on Facebook groups, others on Nextdoor. Find your people and use the forum to meet neighbors, connect with friends holed up in their apartment down the block, and trade war stories about tracking down toilet paper.

      How to Use Tech to Socialize from a Distance

      Armed with an internet connection and a webcam or smartphone, plus one or more of the handy apps above, you’re ready for a world of virtual socializing. Try out these ideas with your friends and family.

      1. Meet with Your Book Club

      Move your meetings online, maybe to Skype or Google Hangouts, or start your own group from scratch. Book clubs are a great way to make sure you meet regularly with your friends — and, with all the staying inside you’re doing, you might actually read the book this time.

      2. Throw a Birthday Party

      People with birthdays in the next two months (or more!) can still celebrate with family and friends, albeit digitally. Gather on a group video chat with the birthday boy or girl, each party-goer with their own dessert, to sing “Happy Birthday,” blow out candles, have a dance party, and share memories.

      3. Go on a Date

      There’s no reason your dating life has to fizzle out. You definitely shouldn’t meet up with a stranger in person right now, but don’t delete your Tinder and Bumble accounts: schedule video chat dates with matches for a chance to connect with someone new.

      4. Play Games

      Don’t cancel game night — a number of your favorite board games (including the ever-timely Pandemic) and party games are available online. If you and your friends have a copy of the same physical game you can play together, moving the pieces in sync. Also try Houseparty, a social media app that lets you play digital games over video chat.

      5. Try a Table-Top RPG Game

      Maybe you and your friends have been Adventurers for years — if so, move your Dungeons and Dragons game online. If you’ve never played an RPG game, there’s no better time to try. D&D offers a short version of the rules online for free. Players only need a pencil, paper, and dice; this guide can help you start your first game.

      6. Host a Movie Night

      The Netflix Party Chrome extension lets you and your friends watch a movie or TV show in sync while hosting a chat session. You each need the extension and your own Netflix account. Pop some popcorn, argue over what to watch, and settle down to enjoy together.

      7. Sing Karaoke

      The bars are closed, so take the party to your video app of choice. Get music inspiration from this list of the 50 best karaoke songs, search for karaoke versions of your song choice on YouTube, and sing like no one is listening — but they are, because you invited them into your Skype chatroom.

      8. Take a Zoom Happy Hour

      After a long day of teleconferencing, you and your coworkers could do with a celebration. Schedule a Zoom meeting (or whatever platform your organization uses) just for happy hour, and relax a bit together, while safely separate.

      9. Chat Around the Zoom Watercooler

      No office is strictly business all the time. Make time for your coworkers to take breaks together while working from home, around the proverbial watercooler. Create a Zoom channel or meeting just to chat about anything other than work. These moments can help build the solidarity and connection that are so important to a healthy team.

      10. Eat Out Together

      Log in to your favorite video chat app to host a remote dinner party. Get some takeout (support a local business, as long as social distancing guidelines in your area allow), or pick a recipe that everyone can cook and then eat together.

      11. Play Together

      If you have kids stuck at home with you, chances are they could use some social connection too. Connect with the parents of their friends and hold a virtual playdate. They can color together, play Pictionary, and share quarantine adventures. The family chat app Caribu lets kids read and play games together.

      12. Share on Social Media

      Use Instagram Live or Facebook Live to share something you’re skilled at with your friends who are also stuck at home. Give a concert, read poetry (your own or a favorite poet’s), give a walking tour of local landmarks, teach a few Japanese lessons — the sky’s the limit. Doing a little good for others will go a long way in helping you feel less lonely.

      Low-Tech Ways to Connect

      You can still maintain ties without the smartphone, all while staying a safe distance away from other people. These low-tech ways to connect will build solidarity between neighbors, communities, and friends — just make sure before trying any that you’re following local recommendations and keeping high-risk groups safe.

      13. Plan a Neighborhood Art Walk

      Use your community Facebook group or Nextdoor to put on a neighborhood art walk. Have everyone hang posters, drawings, and messages on their doors or windows, or draw outside with sidewalk chalk, and then take a walk and enjoy your neighbors’ creativity.

      14. Dance with Your Neighbors

      Channel the quarantined Italians who sang together from balconies by putting on your own neighborhood dance party or singalong.

      15. Cheer at 8 p.m.

      A Twitter campaign called #solidarityat8 encourages Americans to stand on their porches or balconies at 8 p.m. every at to applaud the healthcare workers on the frontlines of COVID-19. Stand with your neighbors, wave at them, chat a bit from a safe distance, and cheer together for the workers who don’t get to stay home.

      16. Run a Virtual 5K

      So many walks and runs this spring (and possibly summer) are getting canceled. Instead of throwing in the towel, plan a 5K with your friends, family, or neighbors. Get out and run or walk, wherever you are, at the same time (six feet apart, of course!), and enjoy some solidarity and exercise.

      17. Throw a Social Distancing Concert

      If you live in a suburban neighborhood and play a loud instrument, put on a concert for your neighbors. Stand out in your lawn or backyard and play for all within earshot. Tell your neighbors about it ahead of time, so they can come outside and enjoy — or know when to turn up the volume on Netflix.

      Want More Remote-Work Content?

      Subscribe to our monthly newsletter so you never miss an article.

      18. Send Snail Mail and Play Window Tic Tac Toe

      The elderly are already at high risk for loneliness and depression, so if there’s an age 60+ loved one in your life or neighborhood, don’t forget about them. Call them on the phone, buy them groceries, send letters and cards in the mail — you might head to their home and write messages on their windows, or even play tic tac toe with them on the other side of the glass.

      19. Deck the Halls

      Hallmark is bringing back Christmas to spread some cheer through the coronavirus gloom — why not do the same for your neighbors? Put your Christmas light back up and bust out your tackiest decorations. Walk the dog in your Halloween costume, put Valentines on doors, hang giant paper bunnies in your window — anything to entertain and surprise your neighbors.

      20. Be a Helper

      Fred, AKA Mr., Rogers told children, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” Anything to help, from giving to a food bank, to ordering takeout at a local restaurant, to donating blood, will do some good and help you feel connected to your neighborhood and community.

      Now’s the Time

      Between your remote working and your distant socializing, stave off quarantine-induced loneliness and boredom by tackling a project you’ve been putting off. Now is a great time to finally build the website you always dreamed of. Your DreamHost team may be working from home for now, but we are still here to help you get your website up and running.





      Source link

      17 Ways to Stay Focused When You’re Working from Home


      When you’re working from home — whether you’re self employed and launching a small business website or a remote worker escaping the office grind — you’ll have to set your own schedule. That means not getting sucked into doing a load of laundry, taking the dog out for a long walk, or falling into a Netflix void.

      When there’s no one looking over your shoulder, it’s easy to get off course.

      “Without the watchful eye of a supervisor or clear expectations on your time, you are often left feeling aimless and easily distracted,” says Lauren LeMunyan, owner and executive coach at The SpitFire Coach. “Laundry, snacking, and reality television catch your eye and suck your energy if you don’t watch it closely.”

      While it’s fine to have a cheat day now and then (we’ll get to that later), it’s not okay to let that build up over time. That’s why having a work schedule — and sticking to it — is crucial.

      “Working at home brings business and personal aspects of life together under one roof,” says Ellen Williams, founder of The Data Chick. “As a result, it is easy to get distracted when trying to complete business tasks until you are able to separate business and personal. It takes time to get serious about work at home if you’ve never done it before. Working at home is an exercise in learning about yourself. It’s a mindset, so I don’t believe there are any hard and fast rules for success.”

      Follow these 17 tips to stay focused when you’re working from home.

      1. Have a dedicated workspace.

      Whether you have a sprawling home office or a nook in your kitchen, it’s important to have a dedicated office. Even urban dwellers with limited square footage should carve out a spot that’s just for work.

      “A dedicated workspace is the most important element,” says Peter Vandendriesse, founder and CEO of Guestboard.co. “It’s easy to sit with a laptop on your couch, but your posture and ergonomics won’t be right, and it’s often in close proximity to a TV, which is an obvious distraction. I also prefer to have a double monitor setup (which increases my productivity), so having a desk is an easy choice to make. Much like your bed should be reserved for sleeping, your workspace should be for working.”

      Be awesome on the internet. Join our monthly newsletter to get tips and tricks for making the most out of your online presence.

      2. Stay off social media.

      Is there any rabbit hole more tempting than social media? A quick scroll on Instagram can turn into a major time suck, but there are ways to avoid temptation.

      One of my favorite productivity hacks comes with the help of an app called Stay Focusd,” says New York City-based tech entrepreneur Lori Cheek, founder and CEO of Cheekd. “When working from home, Facebook and Twitter can be a major distraction. StayFocusd helps avoid these distractions by restricting the amount of time you can spend on them. The Google Chrome extension lets you set specific time restrictions on certain websites with a 10-minute default option. Once your time has been used up, the sites you have selected to block can’t be accessed for the remainder of the day.”

      3. Dress for success.

      While there’s no need for a three-piece suit or a pencil skirt and heels when you’re not leaving your home, there’s a happy medium for getting dressed in the morning.

      “It’s all a part of having a business mindset and daily ritual,” says Andre Fasciola, president and CEO of Matcha Kari. “We are creatures of habit, and it’s vital to have good habits. Sure, sitting in your pajamas will be comfortable, but can you really be in a professional mindset with PJs on? It’s not really about how you look that’s important; it’s about setting a professional mindset.”

      Wear what’s comfortable for you. But having a morning routine — meaning brushing your teeth and changing out of your pajamas — is crucial, even if you’re just switching to yoga pants.

      4. Set boundaries.

      It’s a common misconception that remote work means you’re hardly working. When a friend invites you for a mid-afternoon movie break or a long lunch, it can be tough to get across that you have to put in your hours, too.

      Most people don’t realize you work from home unless you tell them,” LeMunyan says. “By saying when you’re available rather than waiting for people to tell you when they can meet, you’re in the driver seat of your time. Working from home isn’t a disadvantage, so don’t make excuses for it. You are available when you’re available whether you’re in the office or not. Remember you have to train people how to treat you and your work time.”

      5. Avoid procrastination.

      If you think it’s tempting to procrastinate at the office, it’s even worse at home, where there are more distractions.

      “It’s easy to put things off to later in the day or first thing tomorrow morning because you are not bound by office hours,” Williams says. “However, this causes stress as you can easily push yourself tight against a deadline, and if something unexpected happens — like your internet goes down, you get sick, or a family member gets sick — you could miss the deadline, which may have grave consequences for your business.”

      6. Save household chores for later.

      It’s tempting to run the dishwasher while you work or take a break to vacuum, but doing so can interrupt your flow and focus.

      “Just like everything else, set aside a certain amount of time each day to do this — do not casually mix it into your routine if you are a very tidy person,” Vandendriesse says. “I had trouble with chores taking over my day in the beginning. Now, I do maybe 10 straight minutes of chores in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening.”

      7. Create a schedule.

      Your calendar should work the way you do. That means if you’re a Type A and love to have every minute planned, go ahead and fill up your day, even penciling in break times. If you’re more of a to-do list follower, write up a game plan and cross things off as you go.

      “For example, I like spending the first 15 minutes of my day creating a priority list for the day, then I go through emails to see how that list may be impacted,” LeMunyan says. “I then look at my top priorities and schedule them in where they fit best and allow for 15-minute breaks in between.”

      If you prefer to go with the flow, there’s no need to over-schedule yourself — but have an idea of what you want to accomplish each day to make sure you stay on task. And regardless of your style, make sure the way your day is scheduled is a reflection of your natural energy.

      “Why are you scheduling conference calls at the end of the day when you’re trying to close up projects?” LeMunyan says. “If you feel creative in the morning, block out that time to brainstorm and knock [out] critical tasks. If your work requires hours of focused time, I recommend stacking your meetings before lunchtime then using that critical meal to shift into your project and task time. By consistently blocking out this time, you train others to respect your time and productivity—and they’ll notice and appreciate the results!”

      8. Take a gym break.

      Scheduling a sweat session into your work day is a good idea as long as you plan it right.

      “Your physical health is more at risk than you realize when working from home,” Vandendriesse says. “Even those who sit in an office cubicle still tend to walk a mile or so throughout the day, to their car, out to lunch, and so on. I’ve found that signing up for certain fitness classes makes it much easier to stick to a schedule, as the classes begin at a set time. This is much harder to procrastinate or flake on, as opposed to loosely visiting the gym to go on the treadmill.”

      Plus, taking an exercise break provides a brain boost. Instead of reaching for a cup of coffee, a workout can get those endorphins flowing and deliver a natural burst of energy.

      9. Automate as much as you can.

      Technology makes a great administrative assistant! “Schedule alerts for important tasks and appointments, build email rules to filter out unimportant messages during business hours, use software that finds mistakes in your code or content for you, set up customer automatic billing, pre-schedule emails and social media posts, and use different ringtones for different people so you know when you don’t have to answer your phone,” Williams suggests.

      10. Find your focus zone.

      “After running my startup for over eight years, I’ve tried working from just about everywhere in New York City: a handful of co-working spaces, a members-only club called The Soho House, coffee shops, and even sometimes at a bar,” Cheek says. “The place I’ve found I have the most focus is at home at my kitchen table. As soon as I settle in, I organize my workspace — having a clean workspace helps me focus and feel structured. Next, I settle in with a cup of coffee and try to relax for 15 minutes before diving into the grind. Then, I prioritize my day’s to-do list and map out the rest of my day. I find a great Spotify channel, put on imaginary blinders, and buckle down for hours on end.”

      “I also save so much time in the day working from home because I never have to get ready, commute, and leave for coffee or lunch because they’re always at arm’s reach. There’s always reliable WiFi, and no one is around to distract me.”

      11. Know when to clock out.

      “The most common mistake is thinking that by working at home you have more time to work and better work-life balance,” Williams says. “Work is work, regardless of where you do and how much you love it. It needs to get done. And, you also need a personal life. When you don’t actually have a physical barrier between the two, such as a geographical distance between your office and home, it can be easy to work lots of hours, leaving less downtime for family and friends.”

      It can be tempting to squeeze in something after dinner or on a Sunday afternoon, but when it feels like you’re working all the time, that can quickly lead to burnout. That’s why you should stick to a predetermined set of work hours and maximize your workdays so that you can enjoy your time off and feel refreshed and ready to clock back in on Monday morning.

      “Creating a ritual that separates your work day from your off time can be an important distinction between the two,” Fasciola says. “I like to wash my hands and face as soon as I walk out of my office. Psychologists say this simple act serves as a powerful metaphor of ‘cleaning the slate’ and helps us mentally wipe away doubts and misgivings.”

      12. Make human contact.

      It’s natural to miss the water cooler chatter that’s typical for a regular workplace. Working alone from home can leave you feeling a bit lonely.

      “Make sure you schedule social time during the day,” LeMunyan says. “Reaching out to at least one to three people a day will help you feel connected in an otherwise isolated environment.”

      If you still miss the hustle and bustle of office life, find a coworking space in your area. For a nominal fee, these spaces provide independent contractors, scrappy entrepreneurs, and home-based business owners a communal workspace (and sense of community) that’s hard to replicate at home.

      13. Enjoy breaks.

      Figuring out when to take a break and for how long can be tricky. If you take too many, it can feel like you’re getting off track, but too few can actually be counterproductive, since you may be exhausted mid-way through your day.

      One that everyone should be taking? A lunch break.

      You might think it’s more productive to chow down on your sandwich in front of your computer to plow through more work, but taking a proper lunch break, especially when you work from home, is crucial. It’s not just about fueling up with food — your brain needs a break, too. And studies have shown that when you’re more mindful during meals, you’ll enjoy them more and feel more satisfied.

      Sometimes working at home can be too comfortable,” Williams says. “It’s easy when working on a computer for a couple hours to feel like a couple minutes. This isn’t healthy. Breaks are important in order to stretch and get the blood circulating.”

      It’s best to figure out what works for you and schedule breaks accordingly, but find a balance and let yourself take a moment when you need to.

      Sometimes you have to give in to your distractions,” Williams says. “If you start daydreaming and have to keep bringing yourself back to the task at hand, or your kids want your attention and you keep sending them away, it’s time for a break. Daydream a little — it may spark some creativity — and give your kids some attention. Don’t battle. In almost every case, you can spare a few minutes in exchange for greater focus. Breaks are also beneficial when you get stuck on a problem, such as code that isn’t working right, data that doesn’t seem to make sense or writing content that just isn’t flowing. Get up, hydrate, have a snack, play a quick game, and just think about something else for a few minutes. When you return to your desk you may see something that you didn’t see before.”

      14. Get face time with your colleagues.

      Even those who work from home solo still sometimes have a team, and interacting with them as much as possible is key.

      “It’s important to be as communicative with them as you would be if you worked physically in an office together,” Vandendriesse says. “Give constant check-ins as to what you’re working on and what you’ve achieved. Without seeing you in person, it’s easy for others to form an opinion that you’re not doing much, when in reality you’re probably more organized and productive than you’ve ever been before. Give them transparency into your new, awesome work life.”

      15. Take a vacation.

      Depending on whether you’re running your own small business website or a remote employee for a larger firm, you may or may not have the perks of paid vacation time. But regardless of your company’s size, it’s still important to give yourself a break. Whether it’s a single personal day or a week to jet off for a real vacation, you need to plan for it. Resist the urge to take a spur of the moment day off.

      If you look at it as a cheat day then you are really only cheating yourself,” Williams says. “Use the flexibility of working at home to help avoid the need for a cheat day. If you need time off, plan for it and take it. If you need to do something today, then get up early to get things done or plan to work late. Treat yourself well and with respect. Don’t cheat yourself or your business — simply take the breaks you need to continue to be productive and successful.”

      Giving yourself the time off that you need will make you more productive in the long run.

      16. Get the right tools for the job.

      No matter how organized your day is or how comfy your home office is, nothing can make a bigger difference with productivity than having the right tools to do so. Just like having the right desk and high-speed Wi-Fi makes work go smoothly, so does choosing the right hosting package when you run your own website from home. DreamHost has options for every type of site to make that part of your job as seamless as possible

      17. Have a long-term plan.

      Ticking items off your to-do list is a major component of working from home, but you have to think big picture too. When you work solo and from home, it’s easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day but always have your overall business plan in mind.

      “You have to know what your end goal is so that you can craft a plan to achieve your goals,” Fasciola says. “I spend a lot of time speaking with new business owners and all too often I hear about these great ideas but no plan to achieve them. Ideas are great, but without actionable steps, you’re just spinning your wheels and not going anywhere. Once you have an actionable plan, break down your yearly, quarterly, weekly and daily goals. Once you break your mission into actionable steps and bit size pieces, you’ll feel less overwhelmed and more motivated. Sufficient motivation + task = productivity.”

      What are some of *your* favorite ways to stay focused while working from home? Follow us on social and let’s discuss!

       





      Source link