3 Tips for Making Your WFH Experience Productive
The #1 concern that I hear from people working from home is the lack of differentiation in their day between work and personal. This is followed closely by concerns about feeling isolated.
Here are 3 things that you can do to make your WFH experience more productive and satisfying.
Transitions Between Work and Personal
Whether you’re new to working from home, or you have been working from home for years, you might be tempted to take full advantage of home ‘perks’ while working. Do you ever wear pj’s or loungewear while working, forfeit the grooming routine, or throw in a load of laundry between conference calls? We’ve all done it, but the downside is that, without the clear boundaries between work and personal, the hours can all start to blend together. Compound that with the lack of a commute to signal the transition between work and home, and all our days start to feel the same.
To give yourself the gift of transitions, plan your work schedule at least 24 hours in advance. Whenever possible, try to make your routines consistent. Consistency helps your brain know what to expect.
- Give yourself a clear start time and end time, with pre-defined times for breaks.
- For that feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day, honor the schedule that you have given to yourself.
- A morning grooming routine, as well as different wardrobe choices for work activities, is an excellent way to signal the brain that today is a work day rather than a weekend.
- A clearly defined area of the house designated for working also creates clear boundaries between work and personal. With these clear boundaries, the physical transition between those areas can be as powerful as the morning commute.
Creating structure and clear boundaries in your work day is also a good way to signal to others when you are working. If there are multiple members of your household coordinating multiple schedules, having the conversation about the work schedule in advance is a great way to get everyone working together on the same page. This is also a benefit for parents who have children at home at the same time. Structuring your work day and agreeing on the schedule with the kids and any other caregivers in advance provides everyone with a clear blueprint of what to expect.
Clarity on your own boundaries provides you with certainty about what to expect for yourself, as well as the foundation for the conversation with your family, your team, your employer, and your customers.
Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, you will need to feel connected to your employer, your team, and your customers in order to be successful in delivering value to them. A 15-minute ‘stand-up’ with the team each morning can be an excellent way to connect and share priorities for the day. It is a chance to recalibrate, especially given that priorities can change quickly in a 24-hour period. Depending upon your own work style and preferences, more frequent check-ins may be preferred, although at least once a day is recommended to ensure that you all stay aligned.
Also, in the absence of hallway conversations and coffee or lunch shared with colleagues, you may find yourself wanting to make a more determined effort to schedule a ‘virtual coffee’ with a colleague or a member of your network. In addition, reserve some time at the beginning of your online meeting to check-in with individuals before getting down to business. And finally, find creative ways to inject some ‘workplace appropriate’ humor and fun into your workday.
Success in business has always been about the success of your relationships, and that is true now more than ever. However, building those relationships in a virtual space may require you to be more intentional about setting aside that time and reaching out.
Shift to an ‘Outcomes’ Focus
Who are your customers? What is the value that you are trying to create? What are the results that you want to achieve? Whether you are employed, or self-employed, you are in the business of creating value for someone else. The key to structuring your workday is getting really clear on the value that you are producing. This clarity provides you with the destination and the autonomy to plan the roadmap.
Going back to the Industrial Revolution, we have been focused on producing outputs. This made a lot of sense when we were primarily working on an assembly line and paid by the hour because the number of outputs produced per hour was roughly the same for each worker. Now, as we shift to a knowledge economy, it is much less about the number of hours that we put into our work, and more about the value that we are creating with that work time. For example, if you are preparing an analysis and recommendations, the recipients of your analysis care little about how much time you spend on it, they care only about the quality of it.
Getting really clear on the value that you are producing provides you with the autonomy to create your WFH schedule in the way that best suits the needs of the outcome to be delivered and your own work style. Perhaps you are a night owl and work best after the kids go to bed. Or perhaps you do your best thinking in the wee hours of the morning or just before lunch. In order to maximize your time, designate ‘focus time’ in your schedule in which you plan to produce the most amount of value in the least amount of time.
Intellectually, we know that we need connection and that there are many things that we can do to better differentiate our work commitments from our personal commitments when we are working from home. If you find yourself with the knowledge that taking action would serve you, but still feeling resistance, now is the time to reach out for coaching. Sometimes we get stuck in a resistance thought loop that is only revealed to ourselves by a coach who is skilled at holding the space and asking the powerful questions. Reach out today for a free consultation with Kim.