Basic Tools for Homeowners

When you own your own home, there are a lot of small repairs and similar tasks that you’ll have to do at some point. You may also want to tackle some DIY projects or make some changes around the house from time to time. Regardless of what’s going on, you’re going to need some tools to get things done. Which tools should you get, though? A lot of homeowners opt for basic premade tool kits but find that they don’t always contain everything that they’ll need for various home repair and improvement tasks. Whether you’re thinking of getting a kit or wanting to build your own tool collection from scratch, here are some of the basics that you should make sure that you have.

Measuring Tools

One big thing that you should always have around the house is a few tools for measuring things. The most obvious tool for this is a tape measure, but there are a few others to consider as well. Pick up a level (or two, in different sizes) and a carpenter’s square so that you can always tell when something is level and when corners are actually squared off. A stud finder and a plumb bob should also be in your collection.

Hammers

When it comes to hammers, most of the time you can get by with just a standard claw hammer. Picking up a rubber mallet to supplement your tool collection isn’t a bad idea, though, especially if you plan on working outside or want to go camping. There are a few other specialty hammers that you might have specific need for, but you should only pick one of those up if you actually need it.

Screwdrivers (Plural)

Despite what most people think, screwdrivers aren’t a one-size-fits-all tool. You should have both flathead and Phillips head screwdrivers (and star and square head screwdrivers wouldn’t hurt), and ideally you should have at least two or three different head sizes to accommodate different screws. While the wrong size driver head will often work, you can damage both the head and the screw by not matching the tool to the job. Picking up a screwdriver with interchangeable head bits is a great way to make sure your needs are met.

Wrenches and Sockets

You’ll almost certainly run into bolts at one point or another, and having a wrench and socket set will ensure that you have what you need to handle them. Get a decent wrench set and a decent socket set, making sure that you have both metric and imperial options. In most cases you can find a tool set that includes both, along with Allen wrenches (which are sometimes called hex keys); get that set, since it’ll cover you on all three fronts.

Pliers and Channel-Locks

There are a few different types of pliers and adjustable wrenches out there, and it’s hard to say exactly what you’ll need from the beginning. Having a set of channel-lock pliers, a good adjustable wrench or two and both basic and needle-nose pliers will meet your needs most of the time. You may run into a few instances where you need more specific tools such as a pipe wrench as well, but that’s not a must-have when you’re still building a tool collection.

Clamps

Locking clamps or adjustable clamps are great to have; even if you don’t use them very often, they’ll be more than worth it in those instances where you actually need one. Other fasteners such as zip ties are also good to have on hand. If you’re planning on getting into woodworking or similar DIY projects, then you might want to pick up some extras.

Other Tools

There are a many other tools that you might consider, though whether you need them will depend on you and the sort of work you plan to do. A drill with a basic assortment of bits is good to have, and an electric sander can be useful on some jobs. Utility knives, wire cutters and other cutting tools can be handy as well. You may even find a need for a table saw or other larger power tools. Just make sure that you have a good reason for bigger purchases to keep from buying things you won’t actually use.

Is the Job Too Big?

Having the right tool for the job is important, but so is realizing when the job you’re facing is a bit too much for you to handle alone. If you hit that point, HomeKeepr can help. Sign up for a free account today to find the professional you need to get the job done quickly.
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6 Home Inspection Tips for Buyers That Sellers Can Learn From, Too

In fact, 90% of homeowners believe that home inspections aren’t a luxury but a necessity, according to a poll from the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI).Realizing that each side ultimately wants the same thing—and that you can work together toward closing a deal—should set all parties more at ease. Start with these 6 home inspection tips for buyers that offer hidden lessons for sellers, too.
Papers outlining a home inspection contingency for buyers.
Source: (Kristine Isabedra/ Death to the Stock Photo)

Tip #1: Make the inspection official by writing it in as a contract contingency.

It’s not enough to tell the seller of a house verbally that you plan to get the house inspected before closing. You’ll need to work with your agent to make sure it’s written into the contract as a contingency clause, which “defines a condition or action that must be met for a real estate contract to become binding,” according to Investopedia. The inspection contingency clause in particular allows a buyer to stipulate that they have a certain amount of time (typically 10-14 days) to inspect the property after both parties sign the purchase offer. This gives the buyer the chance to back out of the deal and get their earnest money back if they can’t come to an agreement on repair negotiations. In the event that you’re buying the house from a friend or relative—or trying to compete in a hot market with fierce buyer competition—you might be tempted to waive the inspection. Bad idea—says Frank Lesh, who also has inspected houses since 1989 and is the executive director ASHI. “Unfortunately, that could be a serious mistake,” he said. Even if a seller isn’t deliberately hiding something, some maintenance issues aren’t apparent to an untrained eye. Jesus Cardenas, a top-selling agent in Pembroke Pines, Florida, echoes that inspections are always part of the contract in the West Broward County area, where he works. “All properties are sold as is with the right to inspect within the first 10 days,” he said.

What that means for sellers:

95% of purchased homes go through an inspection before closing so there’s very little chance that you’ll wiggle out of this step. The only exception may be in a white-hot market where buyers are clamoring to compete, giving you all the power to sell “as is” for market value (but it’s rare). Because the inspection is written in as a contingency, you should know your options when it comes to repair negotiations: agree to fix the issue, offer a credit to the buyer at closing, or refuse to take action with the risk that the buyer could walk away with their earnest money. The upside of a home inspection is that it puts everything out in the open. Both sides know what a property’s problems are and can negotiate with all facts on the table. For more tips on what’s the right call in varying negotiation scenarios, check out HomeLight’s guide: “Fix it or Fight It?” which is all about how to handle repair requests before closing. Many agents will suggest a pre-listing home inspection to either tackle maintenance issues early or give buyers a heads-up about certain issues, creating transparency. Cardenas, for instance, incorporates an inspection into his pre-listing routine because his area has a lot of 1990s homes with Spanish-tile roofs near the end of their life expectancy. One such inspection found that a client’s roof had perhaps one or two years’ life left. Cardenas knew a roofing company that his client hired to perform about $6,000 worth of repairs, plus provide certification of another year on the life of the roof. “The seller was a nervous wreck, but you know what? The inspection went through completely fine,” he said. “We sold the place to the first buyer.” He’d rather know of any problems upfront than have the buyer’s inspector unearth a surprise maintenance issue.

Tip #2: Temper your expectations for a perfect inspection.

Although a home inspection report is detailed, it doesn’t cover every nook, creak, and cranny. “One expectation that first-time buyers have is that the inspector is going to find everything wrong with the house—and that’s not the case. We’re there as a guest of the owner, so we’re limited in our ability to inspect things,” Lesh said.
“We can’t tear behind the wall to see if there’s a leak behind the bathroom faucet or the bathtub. We can’t take things apart to see why the dishwasher is making a funny sound. Other than removing the electrical panel, we don’t move furniture or appliances.”
So if there’s a sectional sofa in front of the living room windows, for example, the inspector may not be able to reach all the windows to test if one sticks.

What that means for sellers:

The inspection report assesses a home’s condition. It’s not a report card on how good a homeowner you’ve been or a “pass or fail” test. You may be used to your home and its quirks, but a buyer isn’t, so try not to take anything in the report personally—and remember, minor things will always crop up. “Listen, you’re buying a 30-year-old home … even a ten-year-old home or brand-new construction, you’re going to have issues. Every house has an issue,” Cardenas said. Trust your agent to help weed through what’s minor and what’s a potential deal-breaker.
Buyers inspecting home before selling.
Source: (Monkey Business Images/ Shutterstock)

Tip #3: Be prepared to attend the inspection and ask lots of questions.

When buyers pay for the home inspection, it’s fairly standard for them to watch the inspector at work. “The first thing I always do is I ask what their concerns are. Maybe they had an issue with a previous house, so they’re sensitive to that,” Lesh said. Although he also explains that he needs elbow room—he might go into and out of the house several times, crouch down to examine something, and make sudden stops—he’s glad to answer any questions the buyer has. “You’ll still get a report, but it’s easier to understand a problem when I can explain it to you, and you see what the issue is,” Lesh said.

What that means for sellers:

Although buyers need this opportunity, a seller already knows the home—and more often than not can get in the way. Lesh and Cardenas both have had experiences with buyers clashing with sellers who became defensive or emotional during the inspection. Let your agent supervise the inspection and tell you what the inspector found. (If you’ve had a pre-listing inspection or a maintenance inspection done recently, you’ll already know what’s in store.)

Tip #4: Know when to ask for a repair, take a credit, or leave it be.

The home inspection can trigger some delicate negotiations over a property’s flaws. For each, a buyer can request that the seller hire a contractor to fix it, obtain a credit (a reduction in the purchase price) toward fixing it themselves, or let it be. Sellers can opt for either or simply reject both and negotiate from there, although that puts the transaction at risk of the buyer walking away. Sellers should repair major structural issues or safety problems, such as a dated roof or any requirements for a government-backed mortgage like an FHA loan, or offer credit if they don’t have the funds. Cosmetic imperfections, such as chipped paint or peeling wallpaper, can be left to the buyers to handle once they purchase the property. “Most of the time, a seller will say, ‘No, I’m not going to give you a credit because the door doesn’t close properly,” Cardenas said.

What that means for sellers:

If your electrical system, appliances, or water heater are older, talk to your agent about offering a service contract to sweeten the deal. Cardenas said these cost about $300 a year and reassure sellers that any repairs that might arise after closing will be covered. “That takes away a lot of problems,” he said.

Tip #5: Request documentation to prove completed repairs.

While not essential, this can help verify any amenities the seller’s advertising, such as a new roof. “If the receipts are out, I’ll look at them,” Lesh said. “I think it’s a good thing for a seller to do if they actually did have work done.”

What that means for sellers:

You might already have your receipts handy for a home appraiser, so it doesn’t hurt to let a home inspector view them, too, as well as your agent. “If the buyer asked for the documents about the repairs, and it was recently [done], then it’s better to give them to me,” Cardenas said.
Source: (Fevziie/ Shutterstock)

Tip #6: Now’s your chance to get specialty inspections, too.

Although home inspectors are trained and certified to assess several parts of a home, they also can specialize in what are called “ancillary inspections,” or more detailed reviews focusing on individual components. If they don’t have the right expertise themselves, general inspectors might refer the buyer to specialty inspectors who can more accurately assess components such as the home’s foundation or signs of termites. These types of specialty inspections are an additional fee. Depending on where you live, radon inspections are a common one for home buyers to get, Lesh said. This colorless, odorless gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Radon comes from the natural breakdown of uranium in rock, soil, and water, so any home can have a radon problem, the EPA says. However, people tend to think of radon testing more readily in homes that use well water or that have basements. Other specialty inspections include termite or pest inspections, swimming pool inspections, and well or sewer scans, where they insert a special camera into the sewer line underground to make sure the pipe is functional. If your home is older than 10-15 years, an electrical inspection can point out any repairs needed to bring the property up to code, such as replacing the electrical panel and any outdated wiring and receptacles.

What that means for sellers:

Be prepared for your home to be scrutinized and have patience throughout the various inspections—but do keep tabs on the deadlines of the contract and when the buyer is supposed to have each appointment scheduled by.
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Is Now a Good Time to Buy?

With social distancing being an important part of life at the moment and so many parts of the economy suffering the effects of state lockdowns, some are worried about how all of this will affect the housing market. This is especially a concern for those who were hoping to buy a new home and have seen their plans potentially derailed by the pandemic. Is this a good time to consider buying a new home, assuming that it’s even safe to do so? Depending on where you live, the answer may be surprising.

It’s a Buyer’s Market in Some Markets (but not everywhere)

With the current state of the world, the demand for real estate has dropped significantly in some parts of the US and Canada. This has left many of those who have already listed homes for sale or who were planning to list over the summer in a position where there are far fewer people looking at their properties. For some sellers, this isn’t much of an issue; they can simply wait it out and stick to their previous plans. A lot of sellers don’t have that luxury, though. This creates a buyer’s market where a lot of sellers are willing to consider offers that they wouldn’t have in the past, giving potential buyers a lot more control in the home-buying process. As the name suggests, it’s always good to buy in a buyer’s market. It isn’t necessarily a great time to list a home for sale, of course, since you’d likely have to settle for a lower offer than you were expecting if you want to move the property. This usually helps to balance out the market, with listing rates slowing down to meet demand until things pick back up again. With all of that said, not every market is experiencing this pandemic the same way.  In fact, many markets remain a seller’s market due to low inventory, mortgage rates, or any number of other local demand characteristics.

Demand Is Staying Low in Most Markets

Most of the time, a buyer’s market is caused by shifts in the economy that have people trying to save money; an example of this would be a recession. These economic shifts temporarily reduce the number of people who are willing to take on large debts, creating a glut of sellers trying to entice a smaller pool of buyers. The buyer’s market typically fizzles out once the number of sellers shrinks or the economy stabilizes. In the current buyer’s market, the economy certainly plays a factor. There is an external factor at play here as well, however: The physical distancing that COVID-19 requires has added additional worry about open houses and other forms of interpersonal contact that are traditional when buying or selling a house. There’s still a lot of uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, including how long it will last, so with this external factor and the currently stunted economy we could see demand stay low for longer than you would expect in a buyer’s market situation.

Market Recovery

This isn’t to say that the market won’t recover, of course. Some states have already started reopening non-essential businesses and other parts of the economy, and other states have plans to start reopening soon. The economy will likely stay sluggish for a while, but reopening is the first part of recovery. Even the pandemic is becoming something less of a factor as people continue to practice social caution and science continues to work toward treatment and vaccine options. While market recovery may take longer than in the past, a recovery will happen, and the good deals that buyers can find now will become less common as things move forward.

Buying Safe

If you do decide to shop for a home in the current market, make sure that you’re smart about it and stay safe. Maintain all physical distancing practices while looking at homes, even if there is only a seller or agent present. Ask whether no-contact options such as virtual tours or virtual closing with digital signage are options, and if touring the property request that any doors or other barriers be opened before you arrive to reduce contact. Wear a mask, bring hand sanitizer and take the same precautions that you would in any other social situation. This may seem excessive for viewing a home, but keep in mind that these practices not only protect you, but also protect the seller and agent as well.
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At Home Entertainment for the Whole Family

One of the best things that we can do right now to protect both ourselves and our friends and neighbors is to stay home. Unfortunately, there are only so many times that you can watch Tiger King or listen to your kids sing along with Elsa on Disney+. You need something new to do, and it needs to be something that the whole family can enjoy while you’re all staying safe at home. There are some unique opportunities available right now that may never be available again once this is all over. They provide experiences that the whole family can enjoy that aren’t just the same old TV shows. Though this is by no means an exhaustive list, here are a few activities that you might consider that would give your family some new things to do.

A Virtual Reunion

With record numbers of people working and doing schoolwork at home, more people are using video conferencing services like Zoom, GoToMeeting and Microsoft Teams than ever before. These services aren’t just for work, however. You can use them to get in touch with family from around the country, and even schedule a “virtual reunion” to catch up and check in with each other. This can be a recurring event, letting you stay connected with loved ones throughout the pandemic. You may even grow closer as a family despite the distance.

Museum and Zoo Tours

Even though museums and zoos are currently closed to the public, a number of high-profile museums and zoos have started offering virtual online tours for free. You can go online and view great works of art, watch animals relaxing during their downtime, and even see unique things like puppies getting to run wild in an aquarium. On top of these custom experiences, many zoos and similar facilities have webcams focused on specific exhibits that you can check out throughout the year.

Learn Something New

To help families pass the time, many online learning platforms are offering extended free trials so that people can pick up new skills or learn interesting things while in self-isolation. On top of that, some teachers and experts are streaming free courses on Zoom and other platforms as well. There is a wide range of content available for both kids and adults, meaning that there’s something for everyone to learn and enjoy.

Start (or Join) a Book Club

Reading is a great way to pass the time, and you can share that with the family by starting a family book club. The premise is simple: Everyone picks out a book, and once a week you get together and discuss what you’re reading. Even younger children can participate; let them pick out a book that they want you to read, and at the meet-up you can let them show off the book and tell everyone about it. If you want a bit more social interaction with your book club, you can also look into online book clubs that are a bit closer to traditional book club offerings. These can have members from across the nation or around the world. Some of them operate on dedicated websites, and others use social media groups. Either way, there should be options available for most readers.

Listen to a Story

Even if you don’t feel like doing all of that reading, there are a good number of authors and celebrities doing podcasts and videos in which they read a variety of books or stories. Quite a few of these are aimed at children, but some of them are more tailored to adults as well. Levar Burton (of Reading Rainbow fame) has even recently launched a video version of his podcast Levar Burton Reads with a wide range of content.

A Night in at the Movies

Under ordinary circumstances, you’d be able to take the family out to see some of the many movies that would be in theaters right now. But that’s not possible now that all the theaters are closed. So instead, movie theaters are adapting. Special digital rentals are now available for recent box-office hits that ordinarily wouldn’t be available for rental yet, so that a wider audience can enjoy them. And some movies that were scheduled for early summer release, such as Trolls World Tour, are also making their debut via digital rental. So pop some popcorn and enjoy these new and recent blockbusters all from the privacy and safety of your own home.
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Get Ready to DIY!

While everyone’s staying at home, a lot of people are hesitant to bring in outsiders for things like painting or smaller construction projects. This could be the perfect time to tackle some of those tasks as do-it-yourself jobs! There are many things around the house that you can do without having to bring in outside help. Or at the very least, you can get started and bring in someone else to finish later. One common pitfall for aspiring DIYers is not quite being prepared for the task at hand. Since the current goal is to limit trips out of the house to only the essentials, it’s a good time to take stock of what you have on hand and determine what if anything you might need for those DIY projects. Here are some common things that you should check so you’ll know if you need to make a trip to stock up.

Common Supplies

There are a few things that will come in handy for almost any DIY project. These are items like sandpaper, wood glue, cleaners, rags, tape and lubricants. While not all of these will be used for every project you might tackle, if you don’t have any of them on hand then you’ll likely need to restock before your tasks are finished.

Tools

It’s hard to do it yourself if you don’t have anything to do it with. At the very least you’ll likely need tools like a drill, a hammer, Phillips and flat-head screwdrivers, wrenches and other common tools. If you have specific tasks in mind that require specialized tools, then you’ll need to make sure that you have those on hand too. You should also check to make sure that your tools are in good condition; too much rust or other corrosion can cause serious problems and possibly even result in broken tools once you get to work.

Screws, Nails and Fasteners

Chances are, you’ll need to have some screws, nails or other fasteners for the work that you’re doing. Don’t just assume that whatever you have on hand will work for any job, though. Screws for example come in different lengths, materials and head types, and if they don’t match the job that you’re doing or the tools that you have then you’re not going to be happy with the results.

Brushes and Rollers

Will you be doing any painting, staining or other similar applications? Make sure that you have the right type of brushes, rollers and other application tools for the job. Different types of paints, stains and glues/pastes all apply differently, so you’ll need to match your tools to the type of material you want to put down.

Shovels and Garden Tools

Working outside is a pretty common DIY task, but make sure that you have the right tools for the job. Shovels, hoes and rakes are all common outdoor tools, but you may also need a tiller or other equipment as well. You should also make sure that you have the right type of shovel or rake for your needs. A flat-nose shovel is good for spreading gravel, for instance, but won’t do you a lot of good if you need to dig a hole to plant a shrub.

Getting Ready to DIY

Once you’ve taken an inventory of the supplies you have with you, make a list of the DIY tasks you’d like to tackle around the house. See how your current supplies will meet the needs of those tasks, writing down anything that you seem to be missing. Take your time to plan out your various DIY projects, prioritizing those things that you can do without any additional materials. If you absolutely must get additional materials for your projects, do your best to make a list of everything that you’ll need so that you can wrap up your DIY shopping with a single trip. Or, better yet, place an online order that’s shipped directly to your house.
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Activities You Can Do With the Whole Family

With the current state of the world, people are spending more time at home than ever. This provides for some great opportunities to bond as a family, and also gives some of us a bit more time to get things done around the house. Spending more time with your family can lead to some questions, though. One of the biggest is “Exactly what are we supposed to do now that we’re together?” Without the breaks afforded by work, school and other activities, trying to come up with activities for the whole family can seem a bit overwhelming. If you need some ideas on how to spend that family time, here are a few suggestions to get you started. Not only will these ideas help you to spend some quality time together as a family, but some of them might help you with some of those tasks around the house as well!

Planning (and Planting) a Garden

Even though the year has gotten off to a rocky start, time waits for no one. We’re already getting into gardening season, so it’s time to start prepping the soil and starting your seeds. Since you’ve got the family all there at home, try to get everyone else involved as well. Plan out the size and shape of your garden plot and make a list of everyone’s favorite fruits and veggies to help decide what to plant. You can even get younger kids involved by letting them make row markers featuring pictures of everything you plan to grow.

Family Game Nights

Game nights are a classic, but sometimes it can be hard to fit them in. Timing isn’t as much of an issue these days, however, so let’s play some games! These could be anything from board games to multiplayer video games or even tabletop role-playing games. Let the family decide on the specifics and plan out a new game night every week to help keep everyone entertained.

Movie Time

Going to the movies is a popular family activity. Just because the theaters are closed doesn’t mean you have to give up on enjoying a film together, though. Make some popcorn, break out some snacks and cue up a favorite film on the TV. Several studios are releasing movies for sale or rental early, and some have even put new releases up for rental on streaming services even though they should still be in a theatrical run, so you can still catch some of the films that you might have planned on seeing as a family anyway.

Plan Some Redecorations

Were you hoping to redecorate this spring? You still can, and you can get the family involved in the process as well. Let everyone help pick out paint colors and decorations, especially in their bedroom or other rooms where they spend a significant amount of time. Even if you can’t get everything that you need for the project right now, this will let you plan things out in advance so that you’ll be ready to start once it’s go time.

Activities From a Hat

If you aren’t sure what to do, have everyone get together and make a list of three things that you’d like to do as a family. Once you’ve got the lists made, put them all on a hat or other container and draw one of the lists out. Look at the listed items and let the family vote on which activity you’d like to do from the list. If you’re worried that the same person might win too many times, the next time you do it, have the person who won sit out the suggestions and be the one to draw the winning list instead.

Time Alone, Together

Sometimes, one of the best things that you can do as a family is just relax and enjoy each other’s company. Don’t assume that you have to fill up every available moment with activities. Take some time to read books, give the kids some screen time or do some other individual downtime activities. You can take this downtime in the same room, spending casual time together without having to be “on” and actively doing things together all the time.
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New to Working From Home? Our Top Tips

Working from home can be a challenge, especially when you’re not used to it. There are a lot of distractions that can interfere with your work, sometimes causing you to get so off track that you end up behind on important tasks. While many consider working from home to be a great perk, if you’ve never worked from home before then you might be surprised at just how stressful it can be! Fortunately, you’re not on your own. These are stressful times, and HomeKeepr is here to help you get through them. To that end, here are some tips that will make working from home for the first time a lot easier.

Set Up Your Space

When you think of working from home, you might picture yourself lounging on the couch in your pajamas with a laptop on your lap. While some people do choose to work like this when working from home, for most home workers this sort of setup is going to kill any productivity they might have. Instead of taking a “work wherever I end up” approach, set up a desk or office space that’s intended solely for work-related activities. This will help you to stay on task when you’re at work and will keep work activities from bleeding over into leisure time.

Check Your Equipment

If you’re used to having in-person meetings during the week, getting used to remote meetings via a video service like Zoom or Skype can be a bit of an adjustment. To make this easier, check your equipment beforehand to ensure that everything will work correctly when it’s time to start a meeting. This includes checking your webcam, your microphone and your speakers to make sure everything functions properly. There are websites and software solutions that help you with this, and some platforms like Zoom have built-in tests as well.

Keep to a Schedule

One common misconception about working from home is that you automatically gain the freedom to work whenever you feel like working. While this may be true for some industries, if you’ve been working 9 to 5 for the last 10 years then that isn’t likely to change much just because your office is now in your guest room. Keep as close as possible to your regular schedule, allowing for possible reduced hours or other differences brought about by working from home. It can help to print out a copy of your “office hours” as well, both as a reminder to others that you’re busy with work and a reminder to yourself that you’re supposed to be on the job.

Avoid Distractions

It’s said that one of the hard things about working from home is the fact that home is where we keep all our favorite distractions. This includes a lot of things, ranging from games to books to the TV. It also includes family members, who can be hard to ignore when you’re supposed to be on the job. As much as possible, try to avoid interacting with the people and things in your home unless you’re taking a break from work activities.

Don’t Make Deals

It’s easy to tell yourself that if you do something unrelated to work now, you’ll make up the work that you’re supposed to be doing later. Unfortunately, this tends to snowball, and the next thing you know you’re behind on everything you’re supposed to be doing. Avoid making these sorts of deals; instead choose to do those things or have those conversations during your next scheduled break, just like you would do if you were still going in to work. If there’s something you want to do that won’t fit into a regular break, try to get your current tasks done BEFORE you take the time off instead of bargaining that you’ll wrap it up after.

Stay Connected

Isolation is difficult, especially if you’re used to working closely with your coworkers. You can fight this by calling them up, collaborating over video or even sending out daily emails or texts to check on everyone. Even though it’s not the one-on-one interaction you’re used to, the contact you have with your coworkers can still make a huge difference.
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Look to the Helpers: Maintaining Your Mental Well-Being

Things are pretty scary at the moment. When you turn on the news, read a paper or just scroll through your social media feed, most likely you’re seeing one person or another talking about the COVID-19 pandemic. It can have a profound negative effect on your mental health, even if you live in an area where there hasn’t been any local sickness. How do you handle it, when it seems like there’s just so much to bear? For at least one possible answer, let’s look back a few decades. Fred Rogers, better known as the one and only Mister Rogers, gave some advice that had been passed down from his mother: “Look for the helpers.” We’re all in this together, and with a slightly different mindset you can remember this even in the darkest of times.

Look for the Helpers

Mr. Rogers is highly quotable, but his comment about looking for the helpers is probably one of his more famous quotes. Though there are a few different versions from different things he’s shared over the years, one of the most poignant and relevant to our current situation comes from a newspaper piece he wrote back in 1986: There was something else my mother did that I’ve always remembered: “Always look for the helpers,” she’d tell me. “There’s always someone who is trying to help.” I did, and I came to see that the world is full of doctors and nurses, police and firemen, volunteers, neighbors and friends who are ready to jump in to help when things go wrong. If you’re tempted to give into despair, just think of all the doctors, nurses, police officers, volunteers and everyone else who are still out there and still doing their jobs. Remember that they’re not doing it just because they need a paycheck; they’re doing it because friends and neighbors in their community need them to. They’re doing it to help.

Nobody Is Alone

Everywhere we turn, the message seems to be about social distancing and self-imposed isolation to try and slow the spread of COVID-19. This is good and noble advice, but it can also be very lonely. Even if you have a family there with you at home, seeing only the same people day in and day out is difficult when you know that you’re not supposed to interact with others. It’s okay to feel that way, though… everyone else does. It’s easy to forget that other people are feeling the same fear, the same sense of isolation and the same uncertainty. They are common emotions that unite us all, even if we don’t realize it. A great way to fight these feelings is to reach out over the phone or a video chat and check in on friends in town, across the country or around the world. Talk about what you’re feeling and encourage your friends and family to talk about it as well. Confronting this fear is the first step in overcoming it.

Everyone Is Enough

If you watched Mr. Rogers on TV as a child, you’re familiar with his recurring mantra that “you’re special just the way you are.” In the current situation, this means acknowledging that you still have worth, even if the best that you can do right now is to stay indoors. You don’t have to be a doctor or deliver meals to the elderly in your neighborhood; if all that you can do is stay out of the way and ensure that you aren’t spreading the virus, then that is more than enough. Not everyone has to give their all with each part of this: You’re special just the way you are, doing just as much as you’re able to do. Take care of yourself and encourage others to take safe steps as well. If you can get out there and help firsthand then do so, but don’t despair if you can’t. Look for the helpers, and you’ll remember that there are a lot of ways to help. We can do this together, and you’re an important part of that effort.
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What You Need to Know About Cleaning for Coronavirus

There has been a significant amount of concern raised recently about COVID-19, a relatively recently discovered disease caused by a type of virus known as a coronavirus. A lot is still unknown about the virus and the disease that it causes, and this is causing some people a great deal of anxiety about it. Major conferences and events are being canceled, people are buying up supplies (even if they shouldn’t), and the internet is filled with memes teaching people how to wash their hands. COVID-19 has the potential to be a serious illness. Here’s some info that can help you to protect yourself, especially if you’re confused by some of the contradicting advice that you might have seen online.

What Is COVID-19?

Even though it’s mostly referred to simply as “coronavirus”, the virus that causes COVID-19 is actually a novel coronavirus that’s been designated “SARS-CoV-2” and sometimes referred to as “2019-nCoV.” COVID-19 itself is a potentially severe respiratory illness that typically presents with fever, cough and difficulty breathing. While most people who become infected with COVID-19 recover, the disease can be severe and even fatal. Those at greatest risk from COVID-19 are individuals older than 60 years of age and those with preexisting conditions such as heart disease or diabetes.

Decluttering to Prevent Illness

If you want to clean up to try and prevent coronavirus infection, a good first step is to declutter your home. This will eliminate surfaces where the virus could linger, making it easier to disinfect your home and keep it clean. Decluttering can also have a positive effect on mental health and anxiety levels, which can improve your overall wellbeing and even provide a bit of a boost to the immune system.

Disinfecting Surfaces

The US Centers for Disease Control recommend disinfecting surfaces with regular household disinfectant wipes and sprays. While many of these have not been tested specifically for use against SARS-CoV-2, they are effective against some other common coronaviruses and are likely to at least reduce infectiousness if not kill the virus completely. Other household cleaners and disinfecting practices are also likely to be at least partially effective.

Handwashing Stations

One of the best defenses against COVID-19 is good handwashing practices. As such, make sure that you have soap available by every sink and clean towels ready for use after washing your hands. Printing out a guide to proper handwashing and placing it near your sinks can also be a good idea, especially if you have young children who are still learning how to wash their hands properly. If you have any, having hand sanitizer accessible for times when you can’t wash your hands is also helpful.

Don’t Panic

Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that you shouldn’t panic. Don’t stockpile supplies that you don’t need, buy sensible amounts of the things that you do need, and take reasonable steps like avoiding large crowds and not shaking hands. One of the best ways to stay safe from COVID-19 is to keep yourself clean, keep your home clean and apply some common sense to your preparations for the disease.
Read more...

What You Need to Know About Cleaning for Coronavirus

There has been a significant amount of concern raised recently about COVID-19, a relatively recently discovered disease caused by a type of virus known as a coronavirus. A lot is still unknown about the virus and the disease that it causes, and this is causing some people a great deal of anxiety about it. Major conferences and events are being canceled, people are buying up supplies (even if they shouldn’t), and the internet is filled with memes teaching people how to wash their hands.COVID-19 has the potential to be a serious illness. Here’s some info that can help you to protect yourself, especially if you’re confused by some of the contradicting advice that you might have seen online.

What Is COVID-19?

Even though it’s mostly referred to simply as “coronavirus”, the virus that causes COVID-19 is actually a novel coronavirus that’s been designated “SARS-CoV-2” and sometimes referred to as “2019-nCoV.” COVID-19 itself is a potentially severe respiratory illness that typically presents with fever, cough and difficulty breathing. While most people who become infected with COVID-19 recover, the disease can be severe and even fatal. Those at greatest risk from COVID-19 are individuals older than 60 years of age and those with preexisting conditions such as heart disease or diabetes.

Decluttering to Prevent Illness

If you want to clean up to try and prevent coronavirus infection, a good first step is to declutter your home. This will eliminate surfaces where the virus could linger, making it easier to disinfect your home and keep it clean. Decluttering can also have a positive effect on mental health and anxiety levels, which can improve your overall wellbeing and even provide a bit of a boost to the immune system.

Disinfecting Surfaces

The US Centers for Disease Control recommend disinfecting surfaces with regular household disinfectant wipes and sprays. While many of these have not been tested specifically for use against SARS-CoV-2, they are effective against some other common coronaviruses and are likely to at least reduce infectiousness if not kill the virus completely. Other household cleaners and disinfecting practices are also likely to be at least partially effective.

Handwashing Stations

One of the best defenses against COVID-19 is good handwashing practices. As such, make sure that you have soap available by every sink and clean towels ready for use after washing your hands. Printing out a guide to proper handwashing and placing it near your sinks can also be a good idea, especially if you have young children who are still learning how to wash their hands properly. If you have any, having hand sanitizer accessible for times when you can’t wash your hands is also helpful.

Don’t Panic

Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that you shouldn’t panic. Don’t stockpile supplies that you don’t need, buy sensible amounts of the things that you do need, and take reasonable steps like avoiding large crowds and not shaking hands. One of the best ways to stay safe from COVID-19 is to keep yourself clean, keep your home clean and apply some common sense to your preparations for the disease.
Read more...