With millions of people now working from home it’s a massive adjustment for the bulk of the Australian, and even global, workforce. Entire multinational companies have closed their doors, but continue to run their businesses remotely. Big names like Dropbox, Twitter, Foxtel Media, Telstra and the ASX, have all moved to work-from-home arrangements. And most other companies have asked all staff that can work from home, to do so.
I’ve been chatting to a lot of clients over the last few days and, in particular those with team members getting used to remote work. They’re concerned about the unique challenges that are posed both for themselves, and for their teams who are working remotely. And they are right to be concerned.
When we’re suddenly thrust into the WFH environment, it’s like wearing gumboots in a night club. We can feel out of touch, out of sync and certainly out of our comfort zone. Just like gum boots, our home is familiar, safe and comfy, but it’s not where or how we usually present our work facing selves. It’s easy to feel lost, and to get out of a routine. But having a routine is essential to ensuring that you are being productive, managing your time and balancing your work and home life.
As someone who has worked from home and with a remote team for 10 years, I understand these challenges very well. Over this time I have developed a morning routine that helps me manage myself and my day to ensure that I’m functioning efficiently and practicing self-care even though I’m not going into an office every day. Being able to self-manage your mental health and mindset is crucial to getting through these WFH challenges.
So, here are my seven Gs for self-management and tips for working from home.
Every morning ask yourself, what are three things you’re grateful for? Gratitude reduces fear and anxiety and helps us stay in the present. It reminds us that nothing is missing and to connect with ourselves.
These don’t have to be big things. Fresh air, sunshine, having a job and clients, a loving family and your health, are all things that I’m often grateful for.
Next ask yourself, what are three things you want to achieve today? Write them down and tack the list beside your workspace. Boundaries can be hard to manage at home. It’s easy to get distracted and do three loads of washing instead of working on that project with the looming deadline.
Creating a list keeps you focussed and productive. You also feel like you’re achieving and making progress.
- Generate ideas
Create before you consume, whether it’s a blog, a journal entry, a video or a podcast. Don’t look at any news or social media until it’s done. Even better, don’t read any news or social media for more than an hour each day. This is especially important at the moment as it can create too much stress and anxiety and render you totally unproductive.
Instead, fill up your calendar and get moving with projects and key pieces of work. Set deadlines and timeframes and work towards them. Idle time is dangerous, especially right now. And the more you create the more business you generate.
- Get outside
When you work from home you are working in a smaller space. You don’t take as many incidental steps walking to and from transportation, such as the train, bus or car parks, or heading out to a café for coffee or lunch. And you don’t really need to go outside for almost anything. Unless you self-manage, you will simply not move enough or get enough fresh air.
Take the dog for a walk, go on a run or head down to the local café for a takeaway coffee each morning. It doesn’t matter what you do, just get outside and get moving. Fresh air and vitamin D will reset and revitalise your energy for the day.
- Good nutrition
Having nourishing food and drinking enough water helps boost your immune system and brain function. It’s easy for eating habits to change when you work from home, often because we have so much choice and access. But it’s important to eat fresh and healthy as much as possible and keep well hydrated in order to work at our best.
- Get dressed
It’s important that you get dressed every day. This might be one of my best tips for working from home. It sounds simple but it’s easy to get sloppy. Dressing is important because it’s all about mindset. What you wear can influence your thinking, your negotiation skills and your ability to strategise and create.
So, put on your ‘work’ clothes, even if you have a set of ‘work from home clothes’ rather than staying in pyjamas all day. It will help you maintain boundaries, stay professional and keep your head in the game.
- Get connected
Working from home, you might be on your own and feeling a bit lonely. You’re less likely to be talking to your friends and colleagues. Reach out and have virtual coffees or lunches with clients and friends. Dedicate time during your work day to connect with your colleagues and remote team members. Ask them how they are. Find ways to ‘be together’, such as online team yoga sessions and virtual hangouts where you can talk about other issues that might be affecting them, such as home schooling kids, or how to deal with health concerns.
It’s good for you and they’ll appreciate it too.
Self-management is a priority not a luxury during high stress times. As Brian Tracy, American self-development expert, says, ‘Time management requires self-discipline, self-mastery and self-control more than anything else’.
Love to hear your tips for working from home….