Rollin’ with the ‘Rona
When you were young did you ever have that crazy ex-girlfriend (or boyfriend) that even though you split up with them, they just wouldn’t let you go? Because you both lived in the same town, and shared some of the same friends your efforts to avoid them were so intense that it completely disrupted your normal life.
That’s sort of how I feel right now, and her name is ‘Rona.
We are living in some fairly surreal times at the moment. In an effort to flatten the curve of the spread of the Coronavirus, many states have introduced a “stay at home” order for all non-essential workers, meaning most of you are now reading this from the comfort of your home office, bed or kitchen table – is anyone else struggling with the fact that they have just discovered that they are “non-essential”, or is it just me?
With most of the previous jobs I’ve had, there has been at least some work I’ve had to do from home, so the process isn’t exactly new to me, but whereas previously, working remotely was something I chose to do now and again, having it forced upon me is a very different proposition. Initially, I’m sure many of you thought it would be fun to work from home…but after nearly two weeks of confinement, maybe you’re reconsidering because you are struggling to get things done. Between homeschooling the kids, honey-do lists, and surfing Netflix, it’s often difficult getting tasks completed on time (or sometimes even to get them started).
The real issue is that working from home gives us too much flexibility. Let me ask you a few questions to prove my point.
- How many of you are still waking up to an alarm?
- With all of the gyms closed, how many of you are still working out at home?
- How many of you are really working 7 or 8 hours a day from home?
- In the last week, how many have had an “adult beverage” before 5pm?
- How many of us have mentally “traded” some work hours during the day (to walk the dog, or play with the kids) for some evening hours – which we never seem to get around actually working?
Look, we all know that we have to get the work done, and generally we WANT to complete our tasks, but the lack of daily structure really hampers our ability to follow through to completion. So, here are my tips to help you become more productive working from home:
- Set up your work space
- Working from home is all well and good, if your kids are in school and your partner is at work or you live on your own. But when you are all confined to live in a relatively small space for weeks, not days, on end, things are a lot more difficult.
- The key is to create a “work space” – somewhere relatively quiet (we can all dream) with a minimum number of distractions. There is nothing quite as distracting as being on a Zoom call and in the background you can see your caller’s wife doing Pilates or their children involved in a pillow fight.
- Keep your routine.
- You must treat your at “home job” just like you would if you were working out of the office. Set your alarm. Don’t just roll out of bed and start to work. Get up, shower and put on your office clothing (it sounds crazy but try it). This all helps to get your head in the work zone and gives you the motivation to get things done. Make sure you regularly follow up with co-workers and give updates.
- Be consistent!
- Yes you work at home, and you may be able to work at ANY time, but you must have accountability. It doesn’t just help you, but also helps your co-workers and customers to know they have a specific time period to reach you without interruption or time lag. Whether you are a morning dove or a night owl, schedule your work time. It creates consistency so you don’t keep pushing stuff off the to-do-list and make it a never done list. Making this a habit will ensure you are able to effectively work remotely.
- Use the technology
- I’m sure most of you are already using Zoom, Skype or FaceTime for communicating with workmates and friends. If you are not, now’s the time to start. They all have free options so make the most of them. As an aside, my wife has started using Zoom to have “virtual Happy Hours” with her girlfriends. They all log on at the same time with their drink of choice and then proceed to chat about their lives in “the new normal”.
- Schedule your day.
- If you are having virtual meetings you will obviously add them to your calendar, but try and schedule out your whole day, even if it doesn’t affect anyone except you. The benefit of scheduling is that it gives you “permission” to say no to other options, that may be an unnecessary distraction – remember the honey-do list and the dog walking?
- Self care is very important and helps drive your energy.
- Make sure you are eating, staying hydrated and taking reasonable breaks. Remember that even when you are running your hardest at work, you don’t go through the whole day without a break. Oh, and another thing, if you are not getting up to an alarm anymore, there is the temptation to binge watch streamed TV shows late into the night. Don’t! Sleep is very important.
So I hope you find these pointers useful in making you more productive in these strange times. If you need any advice on how to better your business using remote procedures, please give me a call at (440) 385-6737 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll do my best to respond in a timely manner.
Oh, and ‘Rona, if you’re still out there, please stay away. I now have a wife and kids and I don’t ever want them meeting you!