Working from Home

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How to efficiently work from home

Posted by John Middlebrook on Mar 16, 2020 10:35:19 AM

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I have been remote and without an "office" for the last 4 years. I'm far from a guru but I have learned the ups and downs of remote work and feel very effective in how I manage the agency life, while managing clients' needs and being home.


Here are a few tips:

Create your "Office"

It may be your kitchen counter, it may be a spare bedroom, a spot in the corner of your family room. It really doesn't matter but it needs to feel like it's your "office". Add a stapler, pens, note pads, your computer, extra monitor, charging cables. Add things that you had in a traditional office, maybe an item your child or a friend gave you, a photo of a friend or spouse. The creation of this space and office will make you feel like you are at work, vs just doing work. 

can you hear me now?

This may seem simple but be sure to order a headset or some type of system for calls. You will ultimately be on the phone or on conference calls a ton. For the sanity of those on the other end of your call, they don't want to hear your kids, microwave, toilet flushing, kids and pets. A good headset will eliminate a lot of the ambient sounds, versus just putting your phone on speaker. I personally love the Apple Airpods and have at least one in an ear all day long while working. Get on Amazon and read reviews if you don't already have something to use remotely.

 

Build Your Schedule

Your schedule may be dictated by others and include video and phone calls. At the same time, you need some structure. Decide what time your day starts, 6am to 2pm, 9am to 5pm, whatever works for you, your family and children if the case.

 

I know this may sound crazy, but start your day with a shower, just like you normally would. You don't have to get all dressed up for a day in the office, but do what makes you feel good since it may help to start the day and you just cannot be certain when your boss, your employees or your clients want to get onto a video call. In my case, I schedule blocks of time when I'm working on certain clients or that of Calibrate Brands. This helps me to plan my day and keep my borderline ADHD in check. Block off your lunch or other meal times so people won't bother or book your time. It's important for you to have your time and not feel obligated to work from your computer screen every single day. Your brain needs to rest and "checkout" a bit.

Lastly, in these trying times, block out times to take a walk, get outside, play with kids, go to the gym. You need fresh air, "you" time. You may have utility people coming, other appointments. be sure to put these on your work calendar.

 

Get Organized

If you are home and not using a planning tool, get one now. Get one for yourself if your company doesn't pay for one. We use Todoist which works on every device I own. If something pops in my head while I'm driving, I can pull over and place it in my Todoist app and when I get home, organize and prioritize. It is not just about work tasks ad priorities, it's home too. Todoist will sync with my Google calendar and I can see my tasks on my main company calendar. I even have a category tagged "HoneyDo" list! There are tons of great, and free apps that you can use.

White boards are awesome to keep notes and stay organized with. I'm not using one today but really would if I had one on my walls.

 

Remove Distractions

Ok, this one is easier said than done. Wherever you decide to create your virtual office, I don't recommend a setup in front of your 72" TV. Yes, you may want news or other distractions, but that is exactly what they are, distractions. Personally I like to have the news on, but volume down or almost off. I cannot EVER have a show, movie or Netflix series on, and be "working". I doubt that you can either. Do you binge watch the latest series while at work? No. For me, I like a soft volume of Spotify or other music in the background but that is really all.


In regards to children, obviously we can't "remove" them. My boys are grown up and gone but I've been through this before. Depending on their age, try to plan times on your calendar in which you can block times to be with or entertain your children. They need to understand, as best as possible, that Mom or Dad is at work and cannot play like a weekend or after work. I know this sounds easier than it may actually be, but it will be a critical point of your remote success.

 

Get Your Tech Ready

This may not even be on your radar but once you start feeling dial up speeds on emails, when looking at web sites, when downloading or uploading files or worse, the inability to get on video calls, you need to evaluate if your Internet speeds are sufficient. You may have already done this but check your download speeds and determine if you may need to increase your plan with your Internet provider.


Make sure your computer or Mac is current with the latest anti-virus and software. If you are sharing work files, working through a VPN or other shares, it is critical for your employers data to be safe. We wrote a blog for a client a few months ago and it goes into more detail.

 

Lastly and most important, be patient. If this is new to you, it will take some time to figure it out.

Topics: Techy Talk

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