8 Things Productive People Do Who Work From Home

Many of us are new to working from home. Here are 8 tips to help newbies be productive and successful.

First, wake up early. There will be far fewer distractions. Laura Vanderkam cited a study that found that 90% of executives get up before 6am on weekdays. Jumping right into your to-do list is also recommended, once this is habit you brain get used to being up early and will know that its time to get things done.

Second, jump right into actual tasks. Use here energy and clarity for the real nitty gritty tasks that require the most effort. You can work on planning and communication in the afternoon.

Third, if you are not a morning person don’t fight your inner clock. Work when you are most productive if possible. Save the tasks that take the most effort for when you’ve got the moxy to make the most of it.

Forth, schedule out your tasks the day before. Once you get into the habit this will reduce your stress levels because you won’t be scrambling to figure out what to do next.

Fifth, establish a routine similar to the one you had before you started to work from home. Otherwise things will often break down into chaos and you’ll be far less productive. On the other hand, perhaps a different kind of routine would work best for some. Point being, some kind of routine is required.

Sixth, make sure your workspace and relaxing space are two different places. Again, this will help you brain know what to do based on where you are located.

Seventh, concern yourself with noise vs focus. There may be new noises at home that you aren’t used to. White noise machines, apps like Rainy Mood, or for some quiet music or even noise canceling headphones may help with distractions you didn’t anticipate.

Eighth, don’t forget to socialize. Whether its with colleagues from work or other friends schedule breaks to jump on a video chat, make a phone call or send a few texts during the day.

 

Questions All Good Leaders Should Ask Pt. 1

Generally speaking, asking rather than telling makes for a better leader and a better experience when trying to mentor team members. Asking is interactive and exploratory.

What does your success look like? This is a great question—while it is just another version of “where do you see yourself in five years” or asking what someone’s goals are, it might feel a little less cliché. And it can be used either to refer to broader long term goals or specific situation the team is currently facing.

Really it can be used in so many situations. Even if a team member is having what constitutes a small problem asking them, “what does success look like to you?” in that scenario can help them visualize the finish line and what it’ll take to get there.

Albeit is similar, “what outcome do you want?” is another good question that leaders ask. This question is good for when there is more than one successful outcome or solution. While the previous question suggests a single answer and action plan, this question suggests there maybe more than one.

If your team member is having a particularly hard time with a situation this might be the best question to ask to help them see it from multiple perspectives.

Again, while similar, the shades of difference allow for a different discussion when we ask a team member: what do you want to change in five years? It focuses on a long term goal but also suggests that along the way that goal will require change or growth. This is about creative thinking and how the team member wants to grow along with the field they find themselves in.

A great follow up to any of the previous questions is: what obstacles are you facing? This allows the team member a chance to ask you the leader for some insight on overcoming those obstacles. Be aware some team members might not want to share what troubles they are having or might not have really thought them through. Asking outright might be difficult but it allows the leader to explore those challenges with the team member.

Most of us know our weakness but are not comfortable recognizing them for ourselves or speaking about them with others.

It Only Takes One Inspiring Trait to be a Leader

The mysteries of inspiration may never be fully unraveled but one quality most leaders aspire to have among their team members or staff is to be an inspiration. We may not all have it in us to be the students of The Dead Poet Society’s “Oh Captain My Captain” but as science has proven great leaders are made, not born. So, what is it you can do to inspire your team?

Having one admirable or inspiring trait can be all it takes to be a go-to guy for your team. There are many traits that can work and these might all fall under a few umbrella categories. Any trait you can foster as “your thing” that will help with one of the following will go a long way in making you an inspiring leader. No leader has it all and figuring out your leadership “super power” will help you push that to the forefront of your style.

If you trait helps others develop their inner resources that’s a great one. One good thing all leaders do is help others be their best.

Connecting with others; if what you do is speak to people, empathize, sympathize, see things from their perspective you can be the person who helps the group understand itself as a set of individuals who are also more than the some their parts.

Maybe what you do well is “set the tone;” however you do that. No one is asking this kind of leader to be an actor; this kind of leader reads the room and knows the kind of pep talk the majority of the team needs.

Finally, many leaders are good at, simply said, leading. You are great at delegating, mitigating, negotiating. Every organization needs someone who is simply good at logistics and planning.

While it is certainly admirable and desirable to be more than one of these traits no persons journey as a leader need begin with a fool toolbox.

Leading Your Team Through Hard Times

As a leader it is going to happen—your team is going to hit a rough patch. Whether that is caused be internal or external forces there are some things you can and should do as a leader to keep the team empowered and confident.

First off, communication is key. Your instinct might be to sugar coat things but honesty (as usual) is the best route. The confidence and positivity needs to come from the leaders presentation of the information. Make sure to cover what happened or is happening and how it is affect the company specifically or is expected to. What decisions are being made because of the situation. And most importantly what the current plan is going forward.

Next in any situation, if it is causing the goals of the team to be compromised, that means there is a lesson to be learned. Taking some time to figure out how the team wasn’t prepared or what they could do in the future to mitigate a similar issue has the dual benefit of strengthen the team and making them feel like they are in control as they begin to work out problems and solve them.

Reshare your vision for the future. Remind your team why you are all there. Take the time to celebrate large wings but maybe more important take time out to celebrate small wins. The positivity you can generate the better—mostly people want to feel good, give them a reason to.

Maybe most importantly, keep asking your team for honest feedback on how they think things are going. Again, this will give team members control and confidence that they can exert influence of the situation.

The Science of Discipline in the Workplace

Most organizations and teams are not pure democracies, in the end there is someone who is in charge. More often than we like to think this person in charge is asked to discipline a peer in cases of insubordination. Though we don’t like to think about it, insubordination does happen.

Whether it’s simply the character of a selected team member’s temperament or somebody simply having an instant of rebellion however will a front runner influence insubordination adult to adult?

First and foremost having a standard in place with dealing with general and/or specific types of insubordination is key. In the corporate world this often comes in the form of an employee handbook—a document like this can be invaluable even for a very small business, that may be run more casually. It is far easier to have rules in place then to try to enforce something without precedent.

Some leaders, managers and bosses will accommodate successful team members who have rebellious personalities if they are getting the job done and fundamentally respect the leader, other team members and the organization.

However, leaders ought to recognize that some team members could also be aggravated or resentful by the accommodation vogue and leaders WHO use this vogue might loose their credibleness with different team members if they are too loosey-goosey.
At the opposite finish of the spectrum there’s a strict leadership vogue during which propriety is of the top importance to the leader—sometimes to the purpose wherever any questioning of the leader is considered insubordination.
Team members usually recognize precisely wherever the road is once this vogue is used, however leaders will loose out on honest, critical feedback and may foster an atmosphere of fear and low morale.
While both these extreme styles have potential benefits and drawbacks, staying consistent is important.Inconsistent treatment of insubordination can inevitably cause chaos, low morale and loss of respect. Playing favorites or permitting one thing on Tuesday, but then not on Thursday is a quick way to lay waste to any respect or credibility a leader as earned from her team.
Some believe the most effective thanks to handle insubordination, adult to adult, in a very leader-to-team-member relationship is thru immediate constructive criticism.

Address the behavior politely, but firmly. Be as objective as possible about the transgression. While for many this will feel like the most uncomfortable and difficult option in the short term, in the long term this style may reap the most healthy team environment.

The End of the “Nanny” Style Leader

The new workplace is more fluid and job titles are becoming less important. Many of today’s employees seek interesting projects with meaningful problems to solve. They want meaningful work and not just titles.

One major change in organizations is that in these new types of project-oriented spaces, teams do more and more without first seeking approval from those who are above them. People in non-management positions are acting and thinking more like traditional leaders.
And in many organizations, this is exactly the kind of team member that is wanted. Those who are problem solvers that can work with varied peer groups, keep themselves organized and on task and move forward on their own with confidence. Essentially being their own boss.

So, if organizations are looking for this kind of team member and the traditional “nanny” type manager is no longer needed, what is the role of the leader in this new world?
Simply put, you should be there to share your experience. You are the extra cog, the extra ball bearing. A floater. Someone with confidence and experience who can transition from one part of a project to another to help where help is needed. Leaders are now the support staff—not to say you should be making copies and bringing some one coffee (though maybe sometimes that is the most useful thing you could be doing for your team), but you are there as the multi-tool.

Imagine being this kind of leader who trusts his team members to do their jobs and doesn’t “helicopter-parent” yet drops in on a parachute with a light touch and a wisdom based suggestion just when the team needs it.