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Explore Longform with Writing 201

Originally posted on WordPress.com News:

We often think of blog posts as being just a few paragraphs long, or being a “less serious” kind of writing. Not so! In this challenge, we’ll focus on writing longform pieces that are equally at home on your blog or in a magazine. Whether you have trouble organizing your thoughts in longer pieces of writing or simply want to challenge yourself as a blogger, Writing 201: Beyond the Blog Post can help.

What is Writing 201: Beyond the Blog Post?

Writing 201: Beyond the Blog Post is a four-week course to help those beginning to explore longform writing (or who are frustrated with their past attempts). Each week, we’ll focus on a different kind of piece, working our way from interviews — one of the easiest ways to get started with longer pieces — through instructional pieces and opinion pieces, ending with a personal essay. It’s the product of a range of writers…

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10 Tools To Help You Survive The Work-From-Home Life

Image courtesy of marin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of marin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

One the challenges of working at home is the environment itself. Of course the arrangement has its benefits but let me tell you this. If you are a mom like me and you have kids who prance around the house most of the day and you are also tasked to take care of household chores, you have to double your efforts in order to stay focused with your work. Yes, there are a lot of distractions at home. And I didn’t even care to mention the postman or utility guy who would suddenly knock on your door just as you’re about to end your article…or the people who bombard you with chat messages while you’re on duty ‘cause they think you don’t actually have a real job…or the unexpected visitors who invited themselves for a surprise party — in your home. Harsh. I know. But it happens.

So if you are aspiring to survive as a work-from-home mom, you have to equip yourself with these tools. You see, I’m a bit on the Obsessive Compulsive side. Though I don’t freak out at the sight of a messy room or don’t check on the door’s lock five times before leaving the house, I must admit that I am a sucker for orderliness when it comes to doing my job. I love keeping track of my daily tasks and I love crossing them out one by one, until I have accomplished everything. I have created separate folders for each of my clients, individual progress trackers (reports, templates, editorial calendars and what-nots) and installed all these tools below that keep me sane amidst my daily grind.

Check them out and maybe they’ll also help you boost your productivity! By the way, you can get them for free. : )

1. Google Calendar

It’s the digital age and the last time I have written on a paper calendar to create a reminder for an important event is…ummm…I actually have forgotten. Creating reminders on this app is very easy. You can even set alarms or notifications via e-mail or SMS and they’ll be sent to you prior (minutes, hours, days or a week) to your appointments.

evernote2. Evernote

I love lists. Didn’t I just say that? Evernote is not only for note-taking. It’s also great for making your To-Do lists. In fact, it has iOS and Android counterparts so that you can bring your lists with you anytime, anywhere.

3. Focus Booster

Have you ever felt your heart thump like crazy when you hear the clock’s ticking sound? As in when you’re on a deadline and it keeps on tic-toc-ing like some sort of a time bomb? That sure gets me! I use Focus Booster to monitor the time I spend on each task. For instance, I usually set an hour to write a 500-word article. The app’s interface is visible (showing how much time I have left) even when other windows on my laptop are open. Needless to say, it kind of forces me to write continuously. LOL

4. Trello

It’s a project management site that allows people in an organization to track each other’s progress. This is actually great if you are working with several clients and want to lessen the — errr — “paperwork”. Every time you tick off a task, your respective boss gets notified so that’s as good as saying, “Hey. I just finished that.” Unless, you’re asked to send reports via e-mail. LOL

5. Last Pass

I know. P A S S W O R D S. I hate keeping track of them because they reproduce fast. I started tracking mine with just my work e-mail, my social media accounts and my blog access. I think there were originally 10. And now, I have 10 tabs on my spreadsheet and about 50 passwords that I have to update every now and then. LOL So anyway, Last Pass stores your log-in credentials safely (it’s encrypted) and allows you to access websites with just a simple click. No need to type the website’s address in the browser or your information every damn time. Just access your Last Pass account and click on the site that you want to open.

6. Dropbox

So this is my favorite cloud tool. It simply stores your files in a “cloud” and allows you to access them anywhere (through another device in your home network, from a coffee shop, via your tablet while on vacation) as long as you remember your Dropbox log-in credentials.

google drive7. Google Drive

Google Drive is lot like Dropbox but it has additional features. What I love about it is that I can create a document (a text file, spreadsheet or a presentation) and let another person modify it without needing to e-mail the file to him and then wait for him to send it back to me. In other words, Google Drive stores the file in its system — err cloud — and allows multiple users to view and modify the documents without breaking a sweat. The file or a link to it just needs to be shared and the privacy settings must be configured correctly.

8. Team Viewer

Have you heard of remote access? Kind of freaks me out whenever I think about people accessing our computers from another computer. But there were a couple of times when I really had to use this tool. The first instance was when I had to do the job using my employer’s computer and the second one was when I had to train someone. It might come in handy especially when you’re working with other telecommuters.

9. Skype

I don’t think I should even describe this application. Haha Of course you know Skype. The popular chat and voice messaging platform? Has a blue-white interface? Rings a bell? You should have it installed on your devices because you’ll never know when your client or your team mate needs you. It’s the fastest way to communicate and definitely my “SOS” tool whenever I have to ask other people on the team for help.

10.  Spotify

Sometimes, you just can’t get rid of all the noise in your workplace. You’ll hear your kids cry at one point; your neighbors enjoying their karaoke day in and day out or the non-stop wailing of the terribly bullied protagonists in your mom’s afternoon teleserye. What should you do? Bring your laptop with you; lock yourself in your room and work while playing some relaxing tunes. Use Spotify.

Spotify

Spotify’s Dashboard

On Broken Friendships, Disappointments And Coping

 

how to deal with broken friendships

Image courtesy of FrameAngel / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In the game of friendship, people come and people go. Some you’ll treasure and some you’ll wish you never met. Some will stay true while some will lie, cheat, betray and stab you in the back. Some you’ll enjoy the company of and some you’ll hate even just a slight glimpse of their faces or a mention of their names. Some will celebrate your achievements and some will laugh at your failures. Some will be happy for you as you progress in life while some will be fueled by envy, bitterness, jealousy or worst — hate.

What I learned is that there really are people who hate seeing others happy which is why you have to get to know who they are in your circle. I am not really a fan of generalization and stereotypes but in my 29 years of existence and through endless cycles of new acquaintances, growing friendships and enemies that come out of the woodwork, I have learned a lot.  

So forgive me if I’ll speak my mind but usually, the people who’ll break your heart the most are the ingrates; those who take advantage of your kindness; the ones who used to be above you but now you’re at par with — they hate you because you’re no longer a loser; those who only want to take from you but do not want to give; the feelingeros, feelingeras and the feeling VIPs; those who feel as if they’re competing with everyone else; the posers, the users, the pretenders and the social climbers who only use you and your connections; those who can’t even compliment or say something good about you but loves receiving compliments on his or her end; the very people who used to be there because they needed something from you but are not there anymore because they no longer get anything from you. And the list just goes on and on. I’m not even sure how many kinds of people I’ve met over the years but I sure know a lot and learned a lot. 

So if you’ll ask me how you should react or how you should cope, it’s pretty simple. You may or may not cut them out of your life (it’s a difficult choice anyway) but just make sure that you’ll never ever trust them again. You’ve invested too much on such a superficial, so-called friendship to waste any more of your time, energy and love just to get hurt or disappointed in the end — AGAIN. 

I Am Grateful For My Son | Gratitude Challenge Day 5

My son is not the type who just sits around and watches TV all day. He’s also not a fan of sleeping after school or what we Filipinos commonly refer to as “siesta”. He wants action. He would sneak out of the house while my nanny is busy taking care of Iona and I’m typing away on my computer. He would ride his bike (without the support wheels because he thinks it’s not cool) and then zoom off, chasing after our neighbors’ dogs. Last time, he cut the curtain I just bought using the kitchen scissors. And as if these things aren’t enough to make my blood pressure rise, he played with the stroller’s lever while Iona was on it. I shrieked in horror when I saw my baby girl crying in pain. Sometimes, I tell my hubby how hard it is to understand my son. Whenever he does things like these, I say to myself, “I think I need to prepare bail money as early as now.”

Don’t get me wrong. I love him. It just gets really hard to discipline a child sometimes. Isaiah’s a thoughtful boy. He would buy me chocolates from school because he knows I’m a sucker for sweets. He would kiss me good night and say, “Mommy, I love you more.” And so early this morning, he handed me the invitation for his Kindergarten Graduation. I checked the lineup of awardees, saw his name on it and when I looked up, he was beaming at me, waiting for me to congratulate him. He’s Top 2 in class and Top 4 overall and I was, once again, the happiest mom on earth. I guess what I’m trying to say is that our children have weaknesses and strengths that make them who they are. And even if my son isn’t the most behaved kid I know, I am grateful that God gave me a smart, sweet and loving boy who does his best in school because he wants to make his mother happy. Seeing my only son excel simply drives all my exhaustion, stresses and frustrations away. :-)

Pinamy Mommy Diary Gratitude Challenge Day 5

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I Am Grateful For My Sister | Gratitude Challenge Day 4

If there’s one thing I love about being a first-born, it’s having a sister who’s as kalog, makulit and matakaw as I am. When we were kids, I was often scolded for getting her into trouble. There was this time — I was probably 10 and she was only 4 — when I was running around the house, chasing my equally playful brother. We slammed the bedroom door shut and the next thing we knew, our sister let out a very loud cry. At that point in time, I thought I heard my conscience say to me, “Now, you’re a dead girl!” Apparently, she followed us hoping to join the fun but unfortunately, her little fingers, all three of them, got stuck in the door. We turned the knob with shaky hands and were horrified to see her fingers all swollen and bloody. And you know the rest of the story. That’s probably the most painful ass-beating I ever had in my entire life! Anyway, fast forward to present, I am blessed to have a sister like her. We get along pretty well despite our own imperfections. She’s very special to me and I care about her probably more than she’ll ever know. In fact, I can’t imagine life without her. I’ll lose the number one fan of my cooking! There will be no one to bring me food when I’m sick. There will be no one to talk to when I’m frustrated, bored, angry, tired or fed up. There will be no one to conspire with when we want to go out and have a drink or two. Most of all, there will be no one to share my intimate secrets with. LOL So today, I am grateful for my one and only sister. And I hope that because of this post, you’ll bring me another serving of tuna penne in pesto sauce tomorrow. Add a hamburger if you please. Just kidding! But you know jokes are half meant right? Hehehe Love you sis! 

Pinay Mommy Diary Gratitude Challenge

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