Over the weekend, I found myself out of the house and half an hour early for an event. Luckily, there was a nearby coffee house with wi-fi, nice music and a quiet place for writing, so I got some work done. Which proves:
- you should always check the time on your invitations; but more importantly for today,
- we can work from anywhere these days. Let’s call any hours worked outside of a traditional office setting “working virtually”.
Having the capacity to work from anywhere presents challenges. How to focus on work amid the distractions of home, family, the people at Starbuck’s or in someone else’s home? What should the workday look like in an un-traditional setting? Working from everywhere, all the time? Productivity is the same, no matter where we work. We want to be able to get down to business, accomplish today’s necessary tasks, do them well and confidently, then move on to something else.
Regardless of where we work, we can reap benefits from structure and routines, just like a traditional work environment. Keep these ideas in mind:
- Regardless of where you work, clearly begin your day. Shower and get dressed, check in with your co-workers or community, grab a cup a coffee, turn on the music that helps you work, check your email. Set a timer for 15 minutes of transition time, then get to work.
- Take a lunch and take breaks (but not too many!). I read a suggestion recently of “Work For 50 minutes, break for 10”. This works well for me, and helps me take advantage of working from home to take care of home tasks like laundry.
- Give yourself many opportunities during the day for a Re-Set. I read an article from the blog the Daily Om that suggested an “Inner Sunrise”. The idea was that any time during your day is a good time to re-focus energy to what we are supposed to be doing. This keeps us from working hard all day, but having nothing to show for it at the end! I try to do this every few hours.
- No one needs to know that you are working virtually, or that your conference call requires a hard stop by 3 so you can pick up your kids. In all likelihood, the others on the call are working virtually, too.
We are on the move, right? So create a work environment that travels, too.
- Bring along the laptop or IPad, and Communications and Information (IPhone, in my case).
- This could also be a phone and Your reliable planner with your schedule and contacts, as a decision making tool
- Also, use the same naming conventions for your paper management system and your computer hard drive. For example, “Client – last name, first initial and date of appointment” is the same title I would use to name a file on my laptop, in my paper files and in Evernote.
- Make your work, planner and information portable and consistent. I do this by synchronizing all my devices all the time, at least a couple of times a day.
Increase focus by cutting mental clutter. This also heads off the tendency to procrastinate!
- Choose your three top tasks for the day, and keep them in mind throughout your work sessions.
- When you start your work, you can either prime the motivation pump with a few easy and quick tasks, or tackle that big icky one first.
- Know your self and your prime work hours. I respond to email at 5:30 am, and get a lot of my writing done before 7 am. I was a night owl until I had kids, now I love to work in the quiet early morning.
- Avoid interruptions. Turn off the phone, or be selective about what you answer. Not everyone understands the idea of “working from home”. Set boundaries. I don’t respond to work emails on weekends, unless pre-arranged.
Where do you do your work? And how can we make it work better? To quote a productivity article I recently read, “More than ever, work isn’t where you go, it’s what you do.” (Rob Keenan, head of UK portfolio management and deployment readiness management at Siemens Enterprise Communications) So, Go Do It!