Mixed with uncertainty, fear, worry and the effort to stay positive, hopeful and flexible, the feeling of going stir-crazy is creeping in. You, too?
Nearly a year and a half ago, I started working from home. HOWEVER, that meant I zipped around to meet with real live humans. I pulled up alongside consultants, freelancers and connectors at local coffee shops (oh, how I miss thee 😢). Sure I missed access to an IT department, time with my team and a big honking copier/printer, but I talked with, shared a meal with, and HUGGED humans on a daily basis.
This pandemic thing. This social distancing thing. This sheltering in place and working from home thing. This is new for ALL of us.
First, the good news - a Stanford study found that people working from home had a 13% increase in performance. That's huge!
Next, some practical actions to ensure you, too, can make your work from home more productive. I'll bet you're like me. Getting (the right) things done just feels better. And we need all the "feeling better" we can get!
Two disclaimers. I still look up as the sun is setting and wonder where the heck my day went?!? Thank goodness I get to try again tomorrow. And, I'm not homeschooling. That's a whole different story. We all now recognize that teachers are WAY underpaid. These essentials will help you, too, but so will bribery, unlimited screen time, and locks on doors 😂.
5 tips to staying sane, focused and productive -
1. Dedicated space. Be it a closet, the dining room table (try to avoid the kitchen - all the things you need to do are staring at you), a room with a door, a table and a chair. Even if you have to share it - claim a dedicated workspace and call it "The Office." And when the weather warms up a bit - a table and chair outside are luxurious. Bonus points if you have a door you can close.
2. Threshold trigger. Be intentional about crossing the threshold into your work space and starting your work day. Choose a trigger to get in the frame of mind to work. Because? Because I can't be the only one who sees a million distractions around the house vying for my attention. Walk around the block (the "Shelter in place commute"). Pause before you enter your Office. Take a deep breath. Set your intention.
3. Plan your day. Let's be honest, without a plan, a schedule, the day gets away from us. Take advantage of a tool or two to help you. I'm a big fan of Michael Hyatt and the Full Focus Planner. Maybe you've discovered time blocking. Asana. Google Tasks. This is the time to make your calendar work for you! At the end of the workday or first thing in the morning, write down the 3 most important things you need to get done the next or that day.
4. Take a break. At home, you don't have co-workers popping in or a slew of meetings to attend. It's just you and your laptop (and the laundry, kids, spouse, dog...). Set a timer to move every hour. Ideas: fill up a glass of water and drink away, do a few sun salutations if yoga is your thing, pace as you call a donor, client or colleague to check in, sing and dance like no one is watching. Lunch is a real thing. Get away from your desk. Eat a real meal - outside if possible.
5. Hard stop. It's way too easy to Just. Keep. Working. That's a sure way to decrease your productivity because you're no longer operating as your best self. Don't let work bleed into all four corners of your day. It's the law of diminishing returns. Fresh and focused is better. Close your laptop. Leave your Office. Start fresh tomorrow.
And the superpower to thriving not just surviving, is grace. Grace for others. Grace for yourself. Together we can come out of this stronger, better and kinder.