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.

 

Tips For Presenting or Speaking On a Live Stream

Many of us have been thrown headfirst into interacting with others in our organizations long distance. Phone calls, email, chat or text were all familiar for most of us. However, for many speaking in public over Skype, Teams, WebX or Zoom is a new frontier and it is decidedly not the same has speaking to a live group of people.

So, how should one speak over webcast meeting?

First, just because you are in front of a camera doesn’t mean you need to be an actor. On the other hand, screen fatigue is a real thing and you need to do something to keep your audience’s attention. Don’t exaggerate but be conscious of your facial expressions. Make sure your eyes smile. Look directly into the camera and speak like you are speaking to a friend across the table. Be mindful to keep speaking and looking into the camera. Many of us know that when you are speaking in public in person it is good to make eye contact with everyone—the way to do this over a stream is by setting your eyes on the camera at all times.

Remember, you are speaking to people in their homes and adopting a “fireside chat” style will make many more comfortable. If it is a group of people you know you might even consider dressing down just a touch.

For those who speak with your hands, this isn’t going to work well and can even be distracting. If it helps, allow yourself to hold a pen or some other object to occupy your hands with a mind of their own. Do this outside of the camera’s view.

Preparing the shot before hand is helpful. Odd angles or a busy background can be distracting. But having some items on the desk or on the wall that say something about you can add a personal touch to the meeting. Try to make it feel as though you are inviting the audience into your home as well.

While we are a visual, image-oriented culture audio is very important. If you don’t have much experience speaking into a microphone, practice.  If you are going to be doing a lot of speaking online it might be worth investing in pro-sumer USB microphone so you can place it correctly for the acoustics of the space you are working in.

Working From Home Part 2: Distractions, Expectations and Boundaries

The last article ended on concerns about your kids using up all the WiFi—unless you have unusually self-sufficient kids or older children who understand that you are at work even though you are at home keeping them occupied could be an issue.

Believe it or not most kids like having a schedule and find comfort in that familiarity—so make a schedule and stick to it. Books, puzzles and other quiet games are good. Also, some screen time is OK. Some television is fine. If you let your kids play video games those are OK as well.

If you have the right mix of ages among your children asking the older ones to help.

Now that you’ve got your family and technology sorted, what next?

Make sure you and your boss are on the same page about what the expectations are for your new work from home position. Do you need to be 100% available during business hours or can you work asynchronously to a degree? Will you be handling all the same work or has your position changed slightly since you are moving home?

If this transition is absolutely new to everyone (you, the company, your boss) keeping an open dialog and noting what is going well and not so well will be key.

You’ll also have to consider yourself—can you jump out of bed, sit down and get to it cup of coffee in hand? Are you easily distractible?

Many work from home guru’s have long made the suggestion that people maintain their typical morning routine. This includes the clothes you wear. For some, this will be necessary to switch their brain over to “work mode.”  This will take some trial and error.

Likewise, you need to establish clear boundaries with you job. Working from should not mean you are available day and night, weekdays and weekends. If you have web phone setting it to DND or unplugging it after work hours as well as shutting down your work computer complete is a signal to both your job and your brain that the work-day is done.

Basic Tips For Beating Winter Blues

 

Many of us go through periods of low energy or periods of feeling “blue” when the days dark, short and cold. This energy very easily comes with us to our work. Whether a leader or a team member this wintertime energy drop can make it very tough for us to be our best. However, there are some easy things you can try at the office to help energize people.  

It is well established that the lack of sunlight during winter months affects people’s moods and health. An easy way to combat this is a light therapy box, many of which fit neatly on an average desk. Specifically, the correct kind of light helps the body release the “feel good” chemical in our brains Serotonin. These light boxes need to emit at least 2,500 lux to be effective. It is recommended, typically, that people use these in the morning—many find it helps them wake up. Additionally, some people will use the light boxes during their mid-day slump to energize them instead of more coffee or caffeine.  

Introducing real plants into the office can help everyone. Researchers have found the benefits range from increased productivity, stress reduction and they can even affect positively the amount of sick days taken by employees. They also help increase or oxygen intake. Living walls are now popular, however average house plants in regular planters will work as well if not as fashionable.  

Many offices are aesthetically dull, especially in the color department. While a total make-over might be out of the question adding some bright yellow, pink, red or blue to your surroundings can help us feel alert and more cheerful. Add some colorful pieces of décor to your desk or spruce up the office with some new artwork—combine this with the previous suggestion, get some plants with colorful pots.  

You may want to consider taking extra time to keep things tidy in our workspace as this will unclutter your mind. Also, people get quite dried out in the winter, pay close attention to your hydration levels.