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How to Separate Home-Life from Working-from-Home Life

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When I first started working remotely, so many people have said to me: “Oh, I couldn’t do that. I’d never get work done.”

Then as the remote-life became my new-life, I faced initial challenges.

Every time I was asked: “So, how’s remote-life”, “how do you like working remote”, or anything similar, I would typically start out saying that it was challenging.

Most of the time, before I could continue into why it’s difficult for me, I would receive almost immediately, as if in-office workers have been conditioned to dismiss remote-workers “problems”, comments such as:

“Yeah, I’m sure it’s hard to get things done with all of the distractions.” (uh, no?)

“Sooo difficult I bet. I’d like to work in my PJs all day too.” (seriously?)

“That must be sooo (always exaggerated) nice…”

(This is always followed by whatever the person thinks is “nice” – watching TV while working, sleeping in, working when you want, taking breaks as much as you want, and so on).

Uhm. What?

I used to feel a little offended.

Now, I am able to recover quickly from these remarks and chuckle, because I know all too well that working remotely is, in fact, challenging – but not for the reasons that most people assume.

Why people think that working from home is “hard”, from my personal experience, is because, from their perspective, the lack of “boundaries” presents distractions. Thus, working less from a lack of focus and investment.

When in reality, for me, it’s that exact lack of boundaries that makes it so much easier to always be working. Thus, working more and forgetting that I have a regular life, too.

What Working from Home Is Really Like… for Me

Working on projects longer than necessary because I have the time to do it.

Hey, no one is going to tell me to stop working and go home.

Taking on more work for no reason at all.

How else will anyone know you’re actually working if you don’t keep piling it on?

Working 40+-hour weeks more often than I can count, not to mention weekend work, first-thing-in-the-morning-email, and off-hour “check-ins”.

Know how many times that has happened when I was going into an office? I’ll be generous and say once a month for the 40+ hours, but I know that’s a stretch.

Not sticking to my own personal plans at the end of the workday or even before the workday starts because work, work, work.

This is both sad and true. I have had to work hard to minimize the occurrence of this. The frequency is maddening.

Putting personal relationships as second to work because I’m so focused on “just finishing this last thing”.

When you work in an industry where there is no such thing as a “done”, it’s tough, real tough, to say you’re ‘done’ for the day – and then actually be done for the day.

I think you get the idea here.

Having boundaries and creating separation between home-life and working-from-home life is absolutely necessary if I am going to continue to choose this path.

And not just physical boundaries.

I’ve also had to learn what my emotional and mental boundaries are and fight every day to protect those – often against myself!

What I’ve learned in the process is not much different than what you may have heard. The difference is in the reasoning behind them and what I did with them.

1. Have a Separate Office Space

Yes, sure, the most obvious thing I knew was to have a “dedicated office space” because that is what everyone says.

Why this is important for me, is not to lessen home distractions, but to have a physical space in which I can then physically leave at the end of the day.

Physically moving my body from “work” to “home – and then not co-using that space for anything else – helps create an energy flow that most people experience when they physically leave their in-office jobs at the end of the day.

2. But Find What Feels Good

I initially assumed I had to separate all the things.

Turns out, I don’t have to do anything. And in fact, separating work and home entirely does not work for me.

At least, not every day.

Some days, my energy vibration at work is high and positive and I kick so much butt in my dedicated work zone with my dedicated work things. I feel powerful.

Other days, my energy vibrations might be lower, or just different, and so I have learned to honor and respect those days by allowing myself to be in the space that feels good and do/wear/use the things that feel good.

Because that, my friends, is the only way to be relaxed and productive in any space.

3. Have a Version of ‘Transitional’ Space & Time

Say what?

Transitional space is a way for me to reflect on the ‘end’, be present in the “now”, and welcome the “beginning” of all phases throughout the day.

Just as many people have their commute time to and from work, I have my transitional time before and after work.

This is crucial to protecting my mental energy and ensuring that I am present in all moments through my day and am able to properly drive attention and focus on one area at a time.

This changes from day to day, but I typically like to spend 15 minutes to an hour engaging in something to honor my current space and energy and then transition me into the next phase of my day.

  • Morning Yoga
  • Daily Planning
  • End of Day Reflection
  • Song and Dance
  • Trail Run
  • Reading

4. Have Emotional Vibration Check-Ins Regularly

I have found this to be most helpful.

Without the social interactions of coworkers and the “how are you doing” check-ins from friends, I had to learn to do this for myself.

While it may seem like such a small thing, I know that if I had to admit the number of times I’ve asked myself, how are you feeling right now or how did you feel about that, it would be sad to admit.

Doing this has helped me process my work-stress, reflect and see good things in both myself and my days and has given me the resiliency needed to face daily challenges.

Most importantly, it has minimized the frequency of work emotions seeping into my home-life.

Huzzah!

5. And Don’t Forget… Set All the Boundaries!

I am pro-boundaries.

So pro-boundaries, in fact, my manager once commented on how admirable my commitment to my boundaries is.

As a meme I once saw so eloquently put it: “I create boundaries to respect myself. Not to offend you.”

  • Availability.
  • Daily routines.
  • Process.
  • Deadlines.
  • Communication.
  • Accessibility.
  • Capacity.

And so on.

What I do for myself does not mean I do not care for others or that I am not a team-player. It means I care about myself, too.

Remote-Workers Face Their Own Sets of Challenges

Lack of boundaries.

Over-working.

High accessibility.

Loss of context.

Because I both work and live out of my home, I sometimes feel as though I am always working.

I have struggled to set boundaries when I first started working remotely.

I’ve expended too much emotional energy and have caused strains on my mental energy because I was unable to separate my home-life from my work-life – or better yet, live balanced within the two.

Since then, I’ve found a balance and a regime, unique to me, that allows me to continue to show up for work, without giving up all of my energy, fully present, feeling good, and ready to tackle all things in my path.

While still leaving me plenty of energy, time, and mental space for other areas outside of work.

Working remotely has presented me with lessons not just in separation, boundaries, and work/life balance, but also in protecting my energy, space, and time.

It’s something that will continue to present challenges and I am a little more open to facing them with each day that passes.

Now, I know I can navigate these challenges with a little more ease.

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Featured Image Credit: Paulo Bobita



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Google extends optimization score to Display campaigns

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The campaign optimization score that Google Ads shows for Search and Shopping campaigns is now available for Display campaigns. Scores will be available at the campaign level, and a combined account-level score now encompasses Search, Shopping and Display. You may also see recommendations tailored to Display campaigns.

Optimization scores in Google Ads are now available for Display campaigns.

What is Google Ads optimization score? Scores range from 0% to 100% and indicate how well your campaigns are expected to perform based on a number of factors such as targeting, bid automation, ads and extensions and more. The score is accompanied by a set of automated recommendations with indicators of how much of a score improvement you can expect to see by accepting them.

Why we should care. These scores and accompanying recommendations can be directionally helpful, but don’t accept the recommendations blindly. Carefully consider them and whether they are right for your campaign. And equally important on the flip side, an optimization score of 100% with no recommendations does not mean there aren’t plenty of opportunities for improvement.


About The Author

Ginny Marvin is Third Door Media’s Editor-in-Chief, running the day to day editorial operations across all publications and overseeing paid media coverage. Ginny Marvin writes about paid digital advertising and analytics news and trends for Search Engine Land, Marketing Land and MarTech Today. With more than 15 years of marketing experience, Ginny has held both in-house and agency management positions. She can be found on Twitter as @ginnymarvin.



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Google Search Console messages can now be viewed without leaving reports

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Messages within Google Search Console are now accessible through the bell icon at the top of any page within Search Console, the company announced Wednesday. The updated interface now allows site owners to view their messages from anywhere within the tool, without leaving reports.

Source: Google.

Why we care

Being able to reference messages without having to leave the report you’re viewing makes information more accessible and improves our workflow, which can facilitate better decision making.

The categorized messages (as seen in the example above) will also make it easier to locate communications pertaining to a specific issue.

More on the announcement

  • Messages are now categorized into types, such as Performance, Coverage, Enhancement types and so on.
  • When a user gains access to a new site in Search Console, they will be able to view all messages the site has previously received, dating back to May 23, 2019. Messages sent prior to that date can only be viewed in the legacy message list or in your personal inbox.
  • For the time being, old messages are still available in the “Legacy tools & reports” section of the sidebar.

About The Author

George Nguyen is an Associate Editor at Third Door Media. His background is in content marketing, journalism, and storytelling.



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How to breathe fresh life into evergreen content (and get fresh traffic, too)

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NEW YORK — Creating content can do wonders for your brand, but not if it goes unseen. A staggering 90% of the content in existence today has been created within the last two years, yet 91% of content gets no traffic from Google, said John Shehata, vice president of audience development strategy for Conde Nast, at SMX East in New York.

Investing in new content isn’t always the right choice for better content marketing. Sometimes, brands are better served by leveraging assets they already have or putting a fresh spin on an existing topic.

Old content, new traffic

“For the first 100 articles that we optimized, we saw a 210% increase in search traffic and our keyword coverage for that content increased by 900%,” said Shehata, explaining the results of his “Pinetree Initiative,” an experiment aimed at expanding existing content and merging underperforming content to increase organic visibility. “Once we refreshed the content, the traffic started increasing immediately. It went from like 100 visits to like 15,000–20,000 visits.”

(Don’t Miss SMX West in San Jose!)

“You’re reporting news or something trending, the traffic spikes out for like 24 to 48 hours, and it’s done, right?” Shehata said. “Versus evergreen content — that content can bring you traffic for a year plus.”

Content is considered evergreen if it remains relevant long after its publication. Tutorials, FAQ’s, in-depth guides, expert interviews and case studies are all examples of evergreen content.

In addition to providing more sustainable traffic to your site, evergreen content also insulates publishers from slow news cycles and can drive prospects to the top of the funnel, Shehata said.

However, news content can still be valuable and publishers should aim for a 60/40 split of both content types, in either direction, said Shehata. For example, if you’re a news publisher, 60% news and 40% evergreen content is more likely to resonate with your audience, as where an industry-based publication might publish 60% evergreen and 40% news content.

Refreshing evergreen content, step by step

Conde Nast’s search traffic and ranking keyword growth was made possible by a process that Shehata developed specifically for content refreshes. It begins with examining your own site, analyzing the search results pages for your target keywords, evaluating competing content, optimizing on-page content and publishing and promotion, as illustrated below.

1. Assess your existing content. Brands can begin their evergreen content refreshes by either selecting a topic and keywords or selecting a main page to refresh, said Shehata.

Whichever starting point you choose, the next thing you’ll need to do is identify all of your own competing pages that rank for the target keywords. Shehata does this by combining Google Sheets with various keyword research tool APIs to consolidate the URLs and relevant metrics into one place, giving him a better idea of the landscape of his content, which pages to avoid cannibalizing, which underperforming pages can be merged into more authoritative content and which relevant content can be included in your new evergreen article.

2. Research the results page. “Last year, we had this amazing page about celebrity homes, and it wasn’t getting any traffic at all,” Shehata said as an example of the importance of aligning with search intent.

“When we analyzed the SERPs for other types of content that are ranked for that topic, all of them were galleries. Google identified the intent for ‘celebrity homes’ as people watching galleries. So, we converted the page from an article format with a couple of images to a gallery with less content. And, guess what? Immediately ranked number two. So, the characteristics of the content are very important for the success of the SEO.”

Understanding the type of content search engines surface for specific queries can give publishers an idea of how to present their content so as to increase their chances of ranking well.

The difference in search intent between the queries “how to pack a suitcase” and “best carry on suitcase” manifests in the different types of results that surface.

In addition to the particular formats of content that make up the top organic results, you’ll also want to take note of any rich results that appear and ask yourself why they might be surfacing. For example, if a news carousel is present, is the topic news-driven, and if so, how will that affect your odds of ranking well?

Featured snippets, which often resolve a user’s query right on the search results page, may also provide you with information about the questions people are likely to ask on a given topic. Simple resources such as Google’s “People also ask” box can help you identify common questions to address, which yields opportunities to add more depth to your evergreen content, Shehata said.

3. Evaluate competing content. “If you are writing about how to boil an egg, and all the other sites that are ranking mention ‘eggshells,’ and ‘breakfast,’ and ‘easy,’ you may want to consider these topics to give you complete and in-depth coverage of your topic,” Shehata said.

Conducting a term frequency-inverse document frequency (TF-IDF) analysis is one method that may help you identify those “must-have” terms as well as the related entities that should be included in your refreshed evergreen content.

The next step in the process involves a more granular look at the pages that rank for your target keywords to determine what search engines consider to be a “right answer” for that type of query, Shehata said. As with the SERP analysis step, you’ll want to examine the way the content is presented, but also its length, publishing date and other commonalities for clues as to why the content might rank well.

4. Optimize on-page content. After collecting the above-mentioned information, it’s time to refresh the content by expanding the original article, merging it with other relevant, underperforming content and setting up redirects.

“When you refresh content, it should be at least 30% new,” Shehata said. A new title, introduction, publishing date and more new internal links should accompany your optimizations.

Once your evergreen content has been updated, look for internal linking opportunities amongst your existing articles. You’ll also want to loop in your social and email teams to make sure that the content that got refreshed is in their workflow. “It’s all the signals that tell Google this is new, refreshed content,” said Shehata.

During your content refresh process, pages with conversion goals, such as newsletter signups or affiliate links, attached to them may have been affected. This would be the time to clean up any loose ends by finding a way to implement them on your updated page.

5. Time to publish. For evergreen content pertaining to seasonal trends, aim to publish three months ahead of time to maximize your results, Shehata advised.

“In general, your refreshed, optimized content will last you at least a year, if not longer,” said Shehata. Should traffic start to substantially decline, it may be time to conduct another round of refreshes. Creating an editorial refresh calendar can also help keep you on track with future updates.

Quality content takes a considerable amount of resources to create. But, by finding creative ways to refresh or repurpose it, while striking a balance between evergreen and news content, you stand to maximize the efficacy of the content you do create and bolster traffic for your brand over the long haul.


About The Author

George Nguyen is an Associate Editor at Third Door Media. His background is in content marketing, journalism, and storytelling.



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