By Jones Loflin
Helping With The Struggle Of Too Much To Do
I laughed out loud when I read the article, Farts, Cats, Naked Bodies: People are failing hilariously at working from home. So many disasters in video conference calls. I’ve also had several intense conversations with people working remotely who are ready to sell their children, strangle their spouse, and even give away their pets. They are learning what I have known for over 25 years… working from home is TOUGH!!! I could list lots of reasons why that’s the case, but here are the big ones I see:
So what does it take to successfully work from home? As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been doing it for over two decades, and these are the four foundations I’ve seen on which to build consistent achievement in this unique environment. And to make them easier to remember, I’ll share them using the H-O-M-E acronym to help you remember them.
One of the complaints I’ve heard from some newly remote workers is that they aren’t getting the guidance they need from their supervisors or organizations. They were just told to “work from home.” Having established goals and priorities are more critical than ever for remote environments. If not, people tend to just put in 6-8 hours of checking email, being on Zoom meetings, and getting the bare minimum done. It’s not about hours… it’s about outcomes. Some key questions to ask (and know the answers) while working remotely include:
While the work space you had when you were working at your physical company’s site might not have been perfectly set up, it was still probably better than your work space at home. Just plopping your laptop on the kitchen table does not mean you’ll be able to get work done there. An effective work space is one where all of your senses are aligned toward getting things done. As James Clear writes in Atomic Habits, “Environment is the invisible hand that shapes human behavior.” To see if your work from home environment is conducive to productivity, use this short checklist:
I would also include your digital environment in your review. From smartphone notifications to Skype instant messages, have you set yourself up to work without distraction? Are you fully familiar with the digital capabilities offered by Zoom, Web Ex, Bluejeans, or other platforms you’re using? If not, spend some time with a tutorial to be able to use them efficiently and effectively.
Most importantly, be willing to invest some time and possibly even money into creating the right work environment. Regardless of how long this isolation lasts, there is no question that working from home is going to be more accepted and expected in the future. Don’t be afraid to paint some walls, buy a better work chair, or even rearrange a room to create the environment you need to be productive. You’re going to be using it more than you think.
With school-age children and possibly your life partner at home these days as well, it’s easy to get sidetracked with the needs and expectations of others. Start improving your productivity by getting everyone on the same page as to when things need to happen during the day. From meals to breaks to your turn to “watch the kids,” everyone needs to know the plan-and abide by it unless there is an emergency.
Create and post schedules for each day and review each morning. You’ll also want to communicate your plans to those who will need to get in contact with you during the day. Unless you have a real jerk for a boss (or coworkers), they will respect your need to build in time for family and personal responsibilities. And if you’re working based on outcomes and not hours (see “Have Clarity” section), it shouldn’t be a problem.
One fallacy followed by those newly working from home in this Coronavirus era is that they can relax their planning and scheduling because they aren’t having to drive to work or transport children to as many events and activities. This more casual approach can lead to wasting precious minutes and losing that sense of order and urgency that fuels their productivity.
I highly encourage you to take the opposite approach. Plan for every minute of your day. Think about how each hour could best be used to accomplish your goals as an employee, spouse, and parent. This includes your evening hours. Be more intentional about planning specific activities with family members and friends. Plan meals for the week (and who will prepare them) so there’s less ambiguity. Give your brain every opportunity to fully focus on work when it needs to, instead of thinking of all the “loose ends” you haven’t addressed in your day.
Most importantly, don’t miss the chance to improve the relationship and self-care areas of your life. There are special moments you can create with your family and for yourself because of being at home during the day. After all, what you are working for anyway?
|Jones Loflin is a global keynote speaker on innovative yet practical solutions to help with the struggle of too much to do. He is the author of several books, including Always Growing and the award-winning, Juggling Elephants. Jones is a leader in solutions for individuals, groups, and businesses dealing with too much to do and all the tools to support balanced, productive lives.
Four Ways To Make Working From Home A Success By: Jones Loflin
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