When you find yourself unexpectedly working from home, it’s a whole new ballgame. An absence of coworkers may have been great the first week, but now you may miss the social interaction of an office. Though your routine has been upended, you can look for the opportunities and efficiencies working from home has to offer. Just as it is easy to get caught up in working at your office all day, it is just as easy to get distracted at home. The “Siren’s call” of laundry, dishes, pets, family, roommates, exercise and spring cleaning are omnipresent.
Eat a Frog for Breakfast!
“Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” – Mark Twain
To jumpstart your day, stop procrastinating and do the toughest task first. This could be a difficult phone call, adjusting your budget, re-strategizing a project or creating a proposal. We make “to do” lists and we conquer them by doing the easy tasks (the tadpoles) first. If you start with the hardest (the frog) and address that, you will be invincible and ready to tackle the rest of your day. Ribbit!
Manage Your Schedule
When you schedule your time, work in compact 30-minute increments focused on the task at hand. 30 minutes is recognized as the optimal interval to balance attention span, physical comfort and productivity. In between your 30-minute blocks, get up and stretch, take a quick walk or reward yourself in another way. Before you take the break—put in writing what you will be doing next and when you sit back down at your desk—do it!
TIP: Don’t spend 10 minutes crafting an email about an issue that can be resolved with a 3-minute phone call—pick up the phone! Things are different now and this is an acceptable and productive approach to take. Along the same lines, be open to phone calls from colleagues who need to tackle an issue with you.
You lose up to 45% of effectiveness in communicating when using email vs. a phone call. When you combine this with the extra time writing takes, the easier choice is to make that call. Save emails for longer and less time-critical issues—there are plenty of those too!
Do you want to be successful working from home, or do you want to complain about it? Why not be open to the idea of working from home? You can’t change it, so embrace it and find the positive aspects.
Even when things are more “back to normal,” it is likely that we will all be working from home much more than before. Employers are very likely to realize that working from home doesn’t have to be a compromise and can substantially reduce expenses. Use this time to prepare for what soon might be “the new normal.”
If you are feeling lonely or unmotivated, listen to a short business podcast, webinar or YouTube video to jumpstart your spirit once again. If you are an extrovert and miss people, plan Zoom calls and schedule a Zoom cocktail party at the end of your day or week—just remember to bring your own beverage!
TIP: Dress for success! Even though no one may see you, still wear “business appropriate” attire. You don’t need to don your suit but dressing in something more than sweatpants and a t-shirt will help you to stay on the “I’m at work” path.
Honey, I Forget the Kids!
My friends and colleagues with children at home due to the closure of schools and daycare offer the following:
TIP: Maintain routines when possible and keep a written daily calendar with school time, lunch, extra-curricular and homework. Schedule Zoom play dates. Don’t forget recess or snack time.
Introduce new curriculum if there is time. One friend added Current Events and Geography to the curriculum he is teaching his children and gives out prizes for effort. Plan a reward for the end of the school day: cookie baking, walk, dance party or a treasure hunt you can all enjoy!
Got a Plan?
Make your plan for next week on Friday afternoon. Most people plan their upcoming week on Sunday or Monday. Planning on Friday will allow you to charge right out of the gate on Monday morning with your reports, phone calls, meetings, prospecting and projects. Continue to build on your plan. If you think of something over the weekend, add it to the checklist.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, working from home is a whole new ballgame…. BATTER UP!
Gail Lowney Alofsin is the Director of Corporate Partnership & Community Relations for Newport International Boat Show/Newport Restaurant Group. An adjunct professor at the University of Rhode Island and Salve Regina University, author, speaker and volunteer, Gail lives in Newport, Rhode Island.
If you are interested in welcoming Gail virtually or in person to present to your corporation/conference or engage her services as a career and business coach – contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Looking for motivation? The second edition of Gail’s business/personal development book, Your Someday is NOW! What Are YOU Waiting For? is available by contacting her directly at email@example.com. 100% of book sales are donated to non-profit organizations, raising over $42,000 to date.