Other than 2 years of my career, I have always been an entrepreneur working from home. Yes, I’ve gone to an office, facilitated training in an office, recruited in an office and had team meetings in an office…but the majority of my time, was working from home. I don’t remember if anyone gave me a manual of what to expect, but I did notice pros and cons of working from home. In today’s environment, many people have had no time to prepare or even think about getting ready for change. You were in an office one day and the next, you’re remote.
I was thinking about how this new way of working will affect so many people and wanted to share some thoughts of my experiences with the hope that it may make this new journey easier and perhaps even have some fun with it.
Mark your territory. This is easy if you have an empty room or spare bedroom. In many cases, you will need to adopt some space and call it your own. When we started in the insurance world, so many grabbed the kitchen or dining room table and decided this was their new office. Kind of reminds me of those that declare their table at the coffee shop as their own. I was once asked to move from a certain table in a certain coffee shop because this man said it was “his” …I didn’t see a nameplate but I knew it made him comfortable, so I moved to another table.
If you are in a place that others will be using, you will need to make sure that your “office” can be moved to another area during family and mealtimes. If you are in an industry where there is any confidential and personal information, make sure that is not out in the open for anyone to see. My kids were always part of my business. While I did have an office in my home, Saturday nights you would find the three of us sitting on my bed doing direct mail pieces together. They knew that they were a part of my business and were proud to see the results.
Do Not Disturb-Again, not always the easiest to accomplish. If your family, spouse or roommate is home while you are working, remind them that you are doing just that…working. It’s not the time to chat or have conversations about solving the problems of the world. You wouldn’t do that if you were in an office, so why now? We had an agent who was a single dad with small children. Many of you will remember that as soon as you picked up the phone, real phones not smart phones, it was an invitation to start an argument, have a burning question or just need your undivided attention at that moment. There is nothing more “professional” than being on the phone with a client when your children picked up the phone in another room yelling “Daddy, daddy, daddy.” While some clients understood…others did not. This agent came up with a brilliant idea. He had a ball cap. When it was on, he was working. When it was off, he was daddy. Other than an emergency (in the insurance world that meant blood or bones), his little ones were quiet and whispered to each other. It was a simple and effective way to work.
Give Me A Break-Do you take breaks when you are in the office? Then why not at home? Many times, it’s hard to get started and then, it’s hard to stop. When you work from home, you either become the King or Queen workaholic or the Guru or Maven of taking breaks. Think of something in the middle. When you are working, you should be working, not getting prepared to possibly start at some later point in the last hour of the day. Ok so that’s a bit of an exaggeration but you need to prepare yourself to work and to stop. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the Pomodoro Technique. The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. It is a time management system that encourages people to work with the time they have—rather than against it. Work 25 minutes and then take a break for 5 minutes. You must work in those 25 minutes and walk away from it for 5 minutes. Imagine how productive you can be.
Can You Just…-While you are working from home, if there is anyone else that lives with you, you will certainly hear something like “While you are home, can you just start dinner, do the laundry, call the repair person, run to the store etc.” Remember, you are working, so your mindset needs to be that you are working. It’s always nice to lend a helping hand…after you’re done working. If there are no humans living with you, unless you’re on your 5-minute break or having lunch, your furry friend will need to stay put and not learn a new frisbee trick.
Let’s Do Lunch-Even though you are not in an office, you need to take a lunch break. Yes, this is the time to do those non-working tasks. It’s also the time to walk away from your work, have something nutritious, delicious and yummy to break up the day. Once in awhile you might have a virtual working lunch, but really try to claim this time for yourself.
While working from home will take a little getting used to, also be aware that it can feel a bit lonely. Rest assured there are many others feeling the same way. With technology, you can have a meeting with your office mates, “see” your clients and create educational sessions to share your brilliance.
Things change quicker than you can imagine. If you don’t change, you will be left behind. Old ways won’t open new doors. Change is inevitable…Growth is optional. Will you shine or will you let your light dim?
If you need a pep talk, an ear to listen or an accountability chat, reach out. I’m here to listen, support and encourage.
Judy Hoberman http://www.sellinginaskirt.com
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