COVID-19 got you working from home?
Get results and enjoy the ride – tips from an old hand!
To be frank, if you’re working from home these days, you’re one of the lucky ones. But that being said, when you’re still needing to perform and deliver outcomes, and you haven’t worked from home before, you may find yourself rotating from the news to the washing machine, to sorting photos to staring at a blank screen, and round again. It’s understandable, how can anyone focus while chaos eschews outside?
I’ve been working successfully from home for 20 years, almost to the day, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. So, for what it’s worth, I’m sharing my tips for making it work, as best you can … all things considered … and feeling good along the way.
- Prioritise. Do what you need to, to create a clear space for you to work. Look after your family, get supplies, manage your stress. Then review what needs to be done – everything has changed, so will your priorities and that of your workplace.
- Create a supportive space. Find a spot you can set up and leave up if possible. Even if it’s a tiny corner somewhere, create a sacred zone where you can think, create and produce. Be sure to consider ergonomics – you will suffer if you don’t. Buy quality coffee, life is too short…
- Find your productivity pattern. Whether its early, late or the wee hours, set a time that works best for you (and let’s get real, it may change daily – these are times to be agile and responsive). Notice when you’re not productive. Switch to something else. Jog on the spot, call a colleague, try something different to get the juices flowing, don’t flog a dead horse! Find something to laugh about to get your energy moving again! Log off and shut down to step back into ‘home’.
- Discuss your work needs with others. One of the hardest parts about working from home is educating others that just cause you’re home … it doesn’t mean you’re available! Friends, family (kids), partners, all need to know when you are and aren’t available and how they’ll know – and enforce it. Celebrate your arrival back ‘home’. Similarly, if you’re working with a team, set up predictable times that you’re available for them.
- Plan your day and be outcome oriented. If you’re focused on passing 8 hours a day, you’re in the wrong gig. Find another job. Hopefully you’ve found something that is worthy of your time and challenging enough to keep you thinking. There will be milestones, deadlines, goals, targets, outcomes that you need to achieve in order to make a difference and create wins for your team / employer / client. In my view targeting these outcomes is one of the most important strategies to staying productive. Work out what you need to achieve by when, and the steps to get there. Then make your day’s focus achieving these outcomes. If you find yourself working 12-hour days – make smaller steps, if you’re done by 2, add a few more. Targeting goals helps keep you focused and achieving them helps to keep you motivated and feeling productive and quite frankly, clever – all essential for a sustainable working practice. And of course when you really nail it …find someone to share it with!!
- Stay connected. Stay in close touch with your team or colleagues. This may be hourly, daily, weekly, whatever the frequency, it’s important to call, video conference, email etc. to remind yourself you’re not in a vacuum, and also help keep you on track and connected to the team goals. If you find yourself losing the plot, confused about something or drifting off, connecting with others helps bring you back on track. Personally, I have found one on one phone calls to be quick, easy and invaluable in building strong relationships and getting the information I need – people generally love to connect, so don’t be afraid to pick up the phone. Keep numbers handy of those people who inspire you or help get you moving.
- Manage your social connectivity. It’s probably never been more important – give yourself news / social media free times so you can concentrate. The news isn’t good right now, so unless it’s central to work, stay off the hourly updates. If you can manage it, treat social networking as a tea break and limit it to 5 minutes or as a reward for completing a planned outcome.
- Feed your biggest self. Most of us have aspects of the work world that inspires us. It’s days like these we need to connect to the big picture and find our place in it – what can we do that will make a difference? Be the leader, the problem solver, the ideas factory, now is a time to step up and shine. We all need the best of you!
Whether it’s for a month or a year (or forevermore), a change in work practice will bring new perspectives and opportunities. When in deep sea, become a diver. Give it all you’ve got – it may be a game changer for you, your organisation and the way we work!
Kerrie Clarke is a coach, facilitator and writer. See more about Kerrie at kerrieclarke.com.au