We are today in a situation that demands work from home. We are also in a situation that demands our children be home and so do our spouses. Essentially it is like working on a Sunday (groan) except - everyday is a Sunday! Here is some reality check on why this will be a battle and how you can win it.
1. Setting up a designated place to work. If you are lucky enough to have a study table, this will work for the first few days. If you don’t, you will valiantly lay claim to one corner of the dining table and even give your kids the angry stare if they hover around you. But here’s where it will fail. You will discover that there is no convenient plug point to charge your laptop or your phone leaving you extremely irritated. Or you will discover distractions in the form of butter and cheese dishes, half-eaten biscuits, glasses of water dangerously close to your open laptop and the children staring at you from across the table. Your spouse will settle her laptop and work from across you and by the end of 3 days, you will find his/her voice extremely annoying
Your study table will become boring after a few days. Because most study tables either face a wall ( Boring!) or face a window (Distractions!). You will miss the vast expanse of office space staring in front of you and the ability to decide whom to walk upto for a tete-a-tete!
You will soon land up working from the bed,
couch, balcony or wherever it works for you on that day. That is cool. Whatever
floats your boat. Or in this case your chair!
What does matter, however,
a. is to find a fixed place for your laptop. Productivity suffers if you don’t have easy access to your laptop and the data on it. This goes also for a notebook/planner/diary and a pen!
b. Distancing yourself during calls, meetings, setting some boundaries for some part of the day is practical and doable
Not many will have the privilege to find
a separate room to lock themselves into.
And once you realize what matters is to get the work done, even if it means sending mails from the swing on your balcony, it’s ok!
2. All dressed up and nowhere to go! You will take a bath, wear clothes that don’t fall into the nightwear category and get ready at 10. Soon that deadline will be 10.30 and shortly before you can say ‘pajamas’, it will be 12.30. What will help is to set up video conferencing calls at 10.30 so your entire team takes a bath. But people, including you, will soon find ways to cheat on that too. The question is does this matter so much? The answer to this is personal but think of it this way. Taking a bath is a necessary item on your daily to-do list. Any to-do list feels overwhelming if there are too many tasks on it. It is best to tick off the easy stuff as soon as possible.
You will go through the entire cycle and over time you will discover that you feel more productive and in work mode once you have dressed up.
3. Where's my Coffee? But there is no convenient machine to shove your cup under and press a button for the coffee to magically appear. If you are lucky to have full time help, you are lucky! If not, you will first try to convince the good spouse to make coffee. That may work. For a few times. Then you will develop a schedule where you ‘share the load’. Say hello to instant coffee. Advisable to also put together a pantry of healthy, easy to access snacks without having to cook anything.
4. You will feel guilty that you are not doing enough. You are actually, except there are no endless cigarette breaks, no hovering over colleague’s workstations discussing the latest movie and whatever else you do to waste time. Set clear goals, to do lists, online meetings, and deadlines for your work to ensure you are doing all that is required to do. Without the necessary structure that office provides, it can be easy to lose focus and miss important tasks.
The world economy is in a bit of shambles and let’s face it this is not a holiday (as I sternly told a client who told me that payments will be delayed because of all this ‘situation’).
So what can you do to make this work?
Set up daily meetings with your team. We have so much software to assist with that now. I use Zoom for both internal and external meetings. Set up accountability checks. Not everyone in your team will be disciplined enough to handle this well.
Set a clear start time, put together a to do list first thing when you sit down and try and knock off as many things as you can before you get up. As the day progresses, you will find yourself losing motivation and focus, hence the day beginning matters most.
Set clear work hours. For yourself and your teams. During those work hours, distance your family, social media, TV and Alexa!
Enjoy all the extra time you save by not having to commute – do home yoga, kickstart that blog you were thinking about, start a puzzle with the kids, read them a series of books.
Go for long walks and come back and wash your hands.
We will make it through this. Stay safe.
Catch my latest video on the Superwoman syndrome here. And don't forget to subscribe to the YouTube channel.
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