I'm not a productivity expert, but I have worked with sales professionals, entrepreneurs and business leaders for more than two decades. These are people who need to get things done no matter what is hitting the fan around them.
Today, there are a whole bunch of Americans working from home for the very first time. With no clue what to do. That's not a criticism, it's just what is so.
Having worked in an office and, since 1998, having run my business entirely from a home office, here is what you need to know to make your work-from-home experience productive during this pandemic.
1. Set aside up to 1-hour to clear a space for your home office. Ideally a room with a door, away from anyone else working from home and a space with natural light. You're not building the Taj Mahal, so decorating is not the focus here. Think practical, tactical work space. Desk, chair, light, computer, phone, power strip, phone charger, microphone, virtual platform like Zoom for video meetings, printer.
2. Upgrade internet speed if necessary. If your cell phone doesn't get good reception at home, figure out the solution on day one. You can't drop calls. Period.
3. If your company has a video conferencing platform, make sure you know how to use it. This is worth a 1-hour investment of time. Get logins, passwords, watch a video tutorial. Now is the time to know your system. If your company does not have one, there are several free platforms. My favorite is Zoom. Video meetings are extra important when you can't be face-to-face in person with people.
4. Anchor your day with your normal morning routine. You are still going to work, you just don't have to drive to the office. Shower. Dress for work. Makeup. You'll feel more normal and it will come through in your communication that you are Open for Business. Feel free to skip the perfume and shoes.
5. More frequent check ins with your manager/boss/team. Here's my sports analogy and recommendation:
6. Minimize distractions aka people and laundry. Sure, throw some laundry in before you go into your home office, switch it to the dryer at lunch and fold at the end of the day. But protect your work hours. Productive time is more important now than ever because part of your day will be spent in conversations about current events. It's just what is going to happen. As for people in your home, everyone's situation is different. As best you can, set some boundaries about noise and interruptions. If you have clear communication up front about what you need to focus on work, people around you will likely help. If you don't clearly state your intentions, it could be misinterpreted and since you're quarantined at home with these people, it's best to keep the peace.
7. Get some fresh air. At the office, you are more likely to get up and walk over to talk to a colleague or go out to lunch. The body needs movement for energy. Get up from your desk and open the front door. When the weather is nice, I take my cell phone outside and sit on the patio to make a few calls. You're going to need an afternoon fresh air/move your body break. Take it.
8. Get accountability structure in place. If you use the more frequent team check ins recommendation, that may cover you, but... especially for entrepreneurs who work solo, you might need a partner in crime if you are not used to working from home. And, I would argue, with the Coronavirus distraction, you might want an accountability partner now to keep your head in the game.
9. Get enough sleep. Pandemic or not, home office or not... all the productivity tips in the world will be useless to you if you are not protecting your sleep. Not to mention, one of the best defenses to any illness is the body's ability to rest. So keep a normal work schedule and if you've ever thought "I should get to bed earlier" then now is the time to implement that plan.
10. Keep regular work hours. Shut the door to your home office at the end of your work day. Go do something fun, even if it's not with a bunch of people while we all "camp in" for the time being.
Okay, that's it. There's tons of research you can do on the topic of working remotely, but rather than spend a bunch of time Googling it, just lean into these top 10 and get to work.
Don't miss the call this Wednesday, March 18th, 9am PT/10am MT/11am CT/12pm ET. Join a group of entrepreneurs, business leaders and sales professionals committed to Selling in Spite of COVID-19.
The call will be 58 minutes of pure content and, if you are open to it, a 2-minute appropriate offer deliberately designed to keep you in the right Sales Mindset.
No price gauging. Same offer you would have received two weeks ago, but the content is even more valuable today. Whether or not you take me up on my offer, listen for how to make an appropriate offer in the face of uncertainty.