With so many workplaces disrupted by COVID-19 health crisis, many of us are working remotely for the first time – or the first time in a while.
Our partners at Bossed Up hosted a panel of work-from-home pros. Watch Melissa and a panel of experts to learn best practices for:
- Creating a focused work environment at home;
- Retaining a sense of work-life balance;
- And dealing with role overload when family responsibilities collide with work.
Emilie compiled these tips, originally shared at Bossed Up. Here are four key takeaways from this week’s panel on how to focus while working from home.
Claim Your Space
Number one, claim your space when you’re working from home, especially when you’re working from home with others who are now home as well – whether it be a partner, a parent, or a child, you really need to carve out some sacred space to get your work done. It’s so important to have space that is devoted to nothing but work. Dr. Monica Fochtman made sure to mention that this space should not be mixed with your sleeping space.
Do not work from your bed. It will ruin your sleep and ruin your work. And those two things should not mix in the same place. So keep your sleep space separate from your workspace.
It’s tempting because we all can float around on our laptops to work from wherever but try to choose a regular spot that is ergonomically helpful for focus. If you don’t have the luxury of having a desk or a dedicated workspace at home, try to create that sense of routine because it can really help you remain focused by distinguishing between work-time and life-time.
For instance, if you’re working at your dining room table, keep work at your dining room table, and eat in the living room. Keep your space in the dining room devoted to working. And when that laptop closes and you walk away from that dining room table space or whatever workspace you’ve devoted to work, you know the day is done and it’s time to relax, unwind, and just be yourself and live your life outside of work.
The second key tip that came out of our panel is to be flexible. Have a little bit of patience with yourself and always give yourself grace. Melissa Nicholson from Work Muse really hammered this point home.
She has two school-age kids at home, one of whom is currently quarantined and sick. Melissa reminded us that these are very exceptional circumstances that we all find ourselves in, so if you are not having your most productive week or day and just not feeling like you’re firing 100 percent, you’re not alone.
So, be flexible with yourself. Yes, it’s nice to have a plan. It’s nice to have your Google calendar all set up and your to-do list prepared, but if things don’t go according to plan, give yourself some grace.
If you recognize that what you really need is to take the morning off, try to be communicative with your team and say, “Hey, I’m going to be online late tonight to really get things done. I have to put my personal sustainability first right now.” You don’t need to give all the details of what you’re doing to give yourself grace. This is a very weird time. Let’s have some flexibility and patience with ourselves as we navigate it.
Grab the Phone
K.J. Jolimeau really hammered the point of just picking up the phone to communicate. A lot of us are sending texts and Google invites and Zoom hang out links, and 75 emails go back and forth as we try to understand the person’s tone and maybe read too much into their short email that we start to get offended or worried or nervous.
Just pick up the phone. We do not actually need double confirmation to call someone. You don’t need to text someone first and say, “Can I call you in one of these 17 different times over the next two days?” Just call them if you need to clarify something.
If an email hit you the wrong way. Try not to overdramatize it. Pick up the phone and make human contact. If that person is unavailable, they won’t answer. Or if they do and you ask at the outset, “Hey, do you have a couple of minutes I want to chat with you?” And they say, “You know what, I don’t right now. Can I call you back?” Perfect.
Let’s bring back phone tag. It is still a thousand times more efficient than 75 emails whizzing back and forth, especially as we navigate remote work as a nation and globe right now. Be extra communicative and give yourself permission to just call someone if you need to.
It is a very efficient way to communicate right now, and it’s really what we need because using vocal tone can also help communicate empathy and come across much more sympathetically than an email ever can. Email is by definition, just much colder and more subject to misinterpretation because you don’t have vocal tone working in conjunction with your words.
Avoid the Guilt Hangover
The final boss tip that came out of our discussion this week was to do your best to set yourself up to avoid the guilt hangover. How can we flip this narrative in our own minds? How can we change our experience with downtime? I think this all boils down to being proactive as opposed to being reactive.
If I recognize that I am just not feeling it tonight, it is just not my night. I am exhausted and frustrated and stressed. I will proactively proclaim, “I give myself permission. I’m writing a permission slip to myself to just sit on my phone and binge Tick-Tock for a little while. And I’m not going to feel bad for it.”
Guilt doesn’t help you move forward. So we have to let it go. None of us are being perfect. Being a perfectionist is too high a standard to hold ourselves to in this uncomfortable and very weird time, so give yourself permission to do what you need to do to take care of yourself and really put yourself and your loved ones first right now.
Share your work-from-home tips in the comments below.
We hope these tips help you navigate working from home while maintaining a sense of your work-life balance. As we move through this uncertain time apart, yet all together — we aim to support you with partners like Bossed Up, committed to your personal health and well-being, work-life balance, and growth during now, and ahead.
You can find the podcast episode here. I
Emilie Aries | Founder & CEO, Bossed Up
Emilie Aries is a speaker, podcast host, author, and the Founder & CEO of Bossed Up, an award-winning personal and professional development community where she helps women craft happy, healthy, and sustainable career paths.
Her new book, Bossed Up: A Grown Woman’s Guide To Getting Your Sh*t Together, serves as a practical roadmap for women who want to set themselves up for sustainable, long-term career success and step up as the boss of their lives.
KJ is the owner of Trips Travel Agency, a bespoke travel agency. After spending a decade working at major financial institutions in Boston and Washington DC she realized her love for travel and opened up her agency in 2012. These days you can find her traveling to off the beaten path locales, researching new destinations while creating bespoke itineraries for clients. When she’s stateside you can find her volunteering at local schools and sharing her experiences with young people throughout the Boston area.
Melissa Nicholson is the founder of Work Muse the first U.S. job share company and a global thought leader in job sharing. Work Muse drives adoption of job sharing in business as a source of competitive advantage while helping individuals find work-life balance. It brings training, implementation, and support to companies to design sustainable job share programs and to individuals to create their own successful job shares. Work Muse launches the first-ever online job share training program Job Share Academy in the spring of 2020.
Dr. Monica Marcelis Fochtman
Dr. Monica Marcelis Fochtman, is a career coach and Bossed Up trainer and the Founder of Sheldrake Consulting. She helps mid-career professionals and industry changers get unstuck, regain their confidence and love work again. Dr. Fochtman works one-on-one with her clients to help them not just survive but thrive during big career transitions. Monica provides career and interview coaching, resume and cover letter writing, and candid feedback focused on leadership development and career advancement.
She earned her BA in English and Master’s in Higher Education Administration from Boston College and her Doctorate in Education, with a cognate in Women in Leadership, from Michigan State University. In addition to her work as a career coach and consultant, she is an adjunct faculty member at Grand Valley State University.
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