In the midst of the coronavirus and COVID-19, what would it look like for you to call it a good day in the areas of productivity, family and friends, and your health?
When you work in a role that requires you to physically be there and you can't, how can you feel valuable? If you are a scientist and you can't be in the lab are you still relevant? If you are a hairstylist and your chair is closed for business right now, what is your purpose?
Here I talk about redefining what a good day might mean to you.
What would it take for you to have a good day?
Thanks to David Rendall for this great #BedTalksChallenge! For more bed talks search for #BedTalkChallenge on YouTube. For my #BedTalks visit my main blog page.
When I wrote the first article about working from home due to Coronavirus, it was still optional. For many companies in many cities, working from home due to COVID-19 is now mandatory.
For those of us who have worked from home for years or are regulars at remote work, some of the things may seem, well, duh. But just like we may not be able to immediately fit into an in-office culture, we need to consider that others don't know how to immediately be productive from home, have good habits, or even be prepared with technology.
And in the end, this is not normal. Not for anyone. Even those who work from home now have our spouse around, not recognizing that yes, we do have a routine, and now you are harshing it!
Our kids do not understand that Dad or Mom at home doesn't mean it's dinner time or a weekday. Our teenager who is going to school virtually doesn't have the discipline to sit at the computer all day without being watched to make sure she isn't surfing.
I had so much positive feedback and responses from that article, I thought a bonus part two was in order. Here are six more tips for working from home effectively during the Coronavirus COVID-19 situation.
Three Technology Tips for Productive Leaders of a Remote Workforce
Embrace tech, but not too much. Deciding on the fly to implement a Slack channel, Google Chat, Skype messaging, or some other service can quickly turn into instant message hell. As stated in my first article, over-communication is very common and can feel even more disruptive. I received several emails from my clients last week about how their inbox, text, and IM is blowing up. Use an IM channel, but have boundaries. Agree on hours it will be used (like office hours), and that people can be on Do Not Disturb or offline at specific points during the day, depending on their role.
Use video. You are beautiful. Gorgeous even. Yes, you. I'm talking to you. I'm not talking to that black box on the screen because you don't want me to see your face on video. I see your face at the office, how much different can it be? Do you suddenly go home and turn into an ogre with giant warts and rotted teeth? Use your video unless you are doing it as a walking meeting and want to get fresh air. I prefer Zoom conferencing because it's super easy, inexpensive, has enterprise-level software, and allows me to share screens and take control if I need to.
Move your body. If you track your movement on a wearable, you may notice that you went from rabbit to snail in two days. That 82 step walk to the bathroom is now 12 steps. That 256 step walk to the cafeteria is now four steps because you're set up in your kitchen. Set a timer (Focusbooster is my timer of choice for many reasons. Use code Marcey2019 for 30% off any plan) and get up every 50 minutes, 90 max, to prevent glute amnesia.
Standing Desk. A couple of my clients have gotten creative at home because they are used to their standing desks. I have used a standing desk for at least a decade (when I had to google medical cart to find one). An ironing board or table or books on top of a table can work in a pinch. Since this is going to be a longer time than just a couple of days, invest in something that will be more ergonomic.
3. Learn a new habit. Use this time to do what you don't make time to do. Take the course, get your continuing education credits up to speed, read the book you never have time for. I give CPEs for CPAs through two online platforms. I have one scheduled next week with CPA Academy and I expect it to fill up, not just because people may have time, but because it's about How to Work Anytime, Anywhere! I had two people email me last week about my online Work Well. Play More! Masterclass starting in April. I'm not postponing it because now is the time to start healthy and productive habits. Curious? Check it out here.
There you have it. A few more ideas to help you work productive and healthy from home. My business has shifted. I'm being requested for virtual webinars and am focusing on helping my coaching and corporate clients move into an all-remote world for now. The masterclass will be launching in April. My free, virtual Focus90 sessions are up for March and April to help people GSD as a virtual community. I don't have on the catastrophe glasses because it won't help me mentally and am limiting my news, so I don't go into overload with information. I'm smart, but not obsessed. It's a challenging time that is changing day to day. May you all be safe, healthy, and secure as the next few weeks unfold.
No High Fives, No Fist Bumps, but lots of virtual hugs.
You may not have the luxury of a coffee shop and latte, but you CAN make it work.
Yesterday you were in the office with your ergonomic chair, external monitor, and office coffee. Today, you are working from home due to Coronavirus (COVID-19) with your laptop at the kitchen table, cursing that your team doesn't use a shared drive and realizing your office perks weren't so bad.
As someone who has worked from home and frequently traveled for eighteen years, I specialize in helping people be productive from any environment. But in most circumstances, there is a period to transition in or prepare for the switch.
Things have changed.
Entire companies have shut their doors to contain COVID-19. People are working from home that have never needed to or only did it on nights or weekends to catch up. Managers don't know how to effectively manage their staff that they are used to seeing every day.
And extroverts? Give 'em three days, and they'll be climbing up the walls. It will lead to mental and emotional breakdowns that may result in a lack of focus.
In light of the urgency of the situation, I want to give three tips to employees and leadership on how to work effectively from home. With the overwhelm some may be feeling right now; three is a good start. Let's begin with leadership.
Three Tips for Productive Leaders of a Remote Workforce
Don't overcommunicate. The tendency may be to check in frequently, but this can often feel like micromanaging. When we are in an office, we expect to be interrupted by people walking by, doors shutting, phones ringing, and instant message across the room. When we are remote, we are not expecting these things, and any interruption – text, chat, phone, email – tends to be seen more as a distraction.
Use a shared cloud service. This may be too late for you now, but start the process and follow your SOP on shared document storage (because none of you are storing docs on your hard drive…right?). Using a cloud storage service, preferably one that allows multiple people in a document at once and can be used in real-time can be a savior. No one is waiting while a document is being checked out, and you always have the latest version.
Trust. This is the most important one. Your staff has more than just work going on. Their kids may be out of school, they have parents to worry about, job security may be an issue, and at some point, if they are all at home, they may get irritable and sick of each other. They are not robots. Please give them the space they need to get the job done. It may not be your regular office hours, but this is not regular time.
Three Tips for Working From Home
Create boundaries. Due to circumstances at home, you may have to work odd hours because your kids are there with you, and your dog doesn't understand that you being there during the day doesn't mean playtime. Remote workers often feel a low level of anxiety that if they don't answer every email, text, or instant message, that their co-workers will think they aren't working. They work long hours and never really shut it off. If you can, create office hours for yourself and communicate those to your team. Keep your regular hours or send them a message like this – “My kids and my spouse are at home, and it's a zoo here. I will be working from 5:00-8:00am and then sporadically from 10:00-2:00pm. I'll be back online from 6:30-9:30.” This may not work for you or your role, and it's not permanent, but it may be what you need to do for now. Click here for more ways to manage your time wisely.
Minimize distractions. Set up shop somewhere and communicate to your family the hours you will be working and under what circumstances they can interrupt you. I use a door hanger during coaching sessions, meetings, while writing, and when I'm conducting webinars, to let my husband know he can't come in my office. Use a whiteboard, a piece of paper, or some other visible sign. Even better, put a time on it – Focusing until 2:00pm – to give them ease about when you'll be available. Need help prioritizing? Discriminate to concentrate. You can also sign up for my free Focus90 session each week to feel that sense of community while you GSD.
Get out of your pajamas. There is a stereotype about people who work from home in their PJs. Get up and do your regular routine and go to work. You don't have to put on makeup (although I usually swipe on lipstick to feel a little put together) and you don't have to dress up, but for the love of kittens, get out of your flannels.
One of my goals for 2019 was to read 52 books. I didn't make it.
I'm a natural goal setter and put a lot of thought into my goals and how I will achieve them. I'm not someone who sets a resolution and ten days later can't even remember what it was I wanted to do.
When I told my husband I only made it to 49 books, he said, “how long do they have to be? Can you read some children's books?” I was okay with 49 books, and here's why I won't make that kind of goal again.
Forty-nine books – not something to be embarrassed about.
Until recently, Goodreads didn't allow you to reread a book and count it, so I avoided reading Wallace Wattles even though I wanted to. All because of an arbitrary goal I set for myself.
What does this mean for 2020? No goal. I don't need one for reading because I. Love. To. Read. I'm going to read no matter what. I know that Ben Greenfield's book Boundless is going to be a doozy when I get it. I know I want to reread all of the Wallace Wattles and Think and Grow Rich. I'm getting another certification in nutrition from the National Academy of Sports Medicine, and that involves studying.
My lesson earned from last year's goal is that there are some things I don't need to set goals for. With my personality, when I do, I might end up doing something silly (not reading Wattles) to achieve it. On a good note, Marcey 1.0 would have felt like a failure. Marcey 2.0 is completely content knowing what I achieved.
So what were my favorite books?
So. Hard. To. Choose. But if you're threatening to pull off my toenails one by one and making me give you ten must-reads of 2019, it would be (in no order except #1)
There you have it. My books of 2019 are posted to Goodreads. I review every single book I read because, as an author, I know how important it is to have reviews. I use Goodreads to keep track of what I've read and what I want to read.
Right now, I have three books going.
The Love Dare, which is a personal challenge I am going to do in 40 weeks (instead of days) for my husband.
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