1. Keep a schedule
Think about the tasks you want to achieve in a day – household and creative, and schedule them up.
If your household includes children, they’ll also appreciate some things being the same in a certain level. For whatever reason I always looked forward to breakfast, and knowing that that is coming at a particular time was a very good thing.
2. Reach Out To Others Often
If you’re used to a lot of interaction with colleagues in person, be sure to (preferably) schedule a face to face meeting or two via Facetime, Zoom, Hangouts, etc. Sure, it’s not quite the same, but as I like to say “hey, it’s not NOTHING”.
Also, since we’re going to have a lot of people who have never worked from home suddenly working from home, you may want to reach out to colleagues and make sure that they’re set up with the tools that your organization is going to use to communicate – Zoom, Slack, etc. I have a session scheduled with someone this week to make sure that she’s set up and ready to go for the long term if necessary.
Last night I reached out to everyone who had scheduled an in person website consult with me, and we either rescheduled or made plans to meet using screenshare on Zoom. Will it be as much fun? Maybe, maybe not – but since several of my IT consulting clients are in at-risk groups, I’m happy to accommodate them with Zoom meetings etc.
Something you may or may not have seen in the discussion area a day or two ago is that I have a “remote coworker” of many years. We talk daily in Whatsapp, and unless I’m in a meeting or have a client at my desk, I leave that window open. In fact I have two people who I chat with in Whatsapp every day, and it’s been this way for years! (The chat programs have changed, but the idea has remained the same). The reason we settled on Whatsapp was we didn’t want the distraction of Facebook messenger/Facebook since we’d be leaving the chat window open.
3. Create a Designated Office Area at Home
If at all possible, even if you don’t have a spare room set up as a home office already, try to find a special nook in your living space. This way you can “leave work there” during breaks and at the end of your work day. Congrats on your new 5-20 foot commute!
A real pro tip I learned the hard way is that it’s best to have a door between your office area and the kitchen – or the snacking may really get out of hand. Like I said… hard earned tip here!
4. Remember to take breaks and MOVE!
I am not sure if he’s the inventor of the phrase “Exercise Snacks” but John Du Cane of Dragon Door (fitness book place and kettlebell training…) is the first person I’d heard describe it. I’ve been at conferences with him where he’ll sneak off around a corner and drop down for 10 pushups or a piece of a tai chi form.
No matter where you are in your fitness journey, there’s a lot you can do! People just getting started might want to do a few squats or partial squats with support from a door frame, wall or countertop push-ups, walking lunges with no weight etc. More advanced folks may want to pop a pullup bar into a door frame and knock out 3-10 reps every time they go past that door! I’ve started doing a handful of handstand pushups during the day even. The real message is however, be sure to stand up from time to time and move around! If you have an Apple Watch, Fitbit, etc. the standing goals etc. can be very useful, especially since a lot of our normal activities have been upended! Which brings me to…
5. Learn and Leverage Technology!
This is one of those ideas that sounds super fun to me, but may not to others, so take this one with a grain of salt. If your organization or clients are using a technology that you’re not very familiar with, take the time to schedule in an hour to learn about it. For instance, many people are using Zoom and Slack – both of which are not especially complex, but which have a learning curve–especially in terms of etiquette. Commit to investing a little bit of time to explore these technologies before you need to use them with your boss!
Likewise, if you have time between tasks, it’s a great time consider software or technologies which may improve your workday now and after all this crazy virus stuff is over. For instance, I’ve been using a call/meeting scheduler for ages. It took a little while to set it up so that it syncs with my main google calendar and so that I have time between meetings to collect myself to be my best for the next meeting (according to the MBTI I am an introvert, so I have to recharge… the struggle is real). If you haven’t already, consider exploring trials of Acuity, ScheduleOnce (OnceHub), etc. to see if they might help organize your day and schedule. And if you are already using one of those services, see how you may be able to automate it even further. Acuity recently did an integration with Squarespace for instance, so if you have a Squarespace site, check out how you can make it even easier for your customers or colleagues to schedule a meeting or session with you!
6. Try a Timed Focused Work Methodology
One risk of working at home is distraction… the chores that are not done, family members, pets, tv, the kitchen which is stocked with too many goodies (seriously, my fridge is stocked in a way that could induce serious envy…) But timed work strategies like the Pomodoro Technique (25 minutes work, 5 minutes break, repeat 4 times, take big break and then repeat the sequence) can be great for getting back on track. I love this really simple online timer for Pomodoro: https://tomato-timer.com/ There are plenty of other focused work interval programs if that one doesn’t work for you too. Now’s a great time to experiment with them and see what boosts your productivity.
In fact, on March 24th from 3-4PM Eastern Time, I’ve scheduled a live coworking session so that we can try the Pomodoro Technique together. Be sure to add it to your calendar. It’s weird, but I’ve had great success with “webinar” based timed work coworking sessions like this – you may be very surprised at what you get done! I’m considering scheduling more coworking sessions within this course, let me know how you feel about that, and if you’re interested.
7. SHARE some positive stuff!
Many of us have grown weary of what’s going on right now on Facebook (that’s part of what inspired me to create this little program). While I respect that we all cope with fear and uncertainty in different ways, witnessing a nonstop realtime stream of it from everyone we know can be EXTREMELY OVERWHELMING. I’m not even going to elaborate further because it just makes me tired. Instead I’ve chosen to create, grow, learn, share, etc. positive stuff in hopes that helping others be less upset may help their immune systems stay strong.
I also really REALLY like cute animal photos and videos. So some of you have already been receiving a steady stream of those from me. We all know that we can visit any given news site or better yet the actual website of the CDC… so feel free to give yourself permission to step away from social media platforms if you are feeling overwhelmed. It’s genuinely overwhelming to watch everyone cope in such a variety of ways… and it can be unnecessarily damaging to friendships too. “Thanks for coming to my TED Talk.” HA! 🙂