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Managing expectations of a 24/7 work week

In our modern, connected world so many jobs have the perceived expectation of being engaged 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Couple that with more than 13.4 million people working from home and you have a scenario for over-stress and personal difficulties. Here’s some suggestions to maintaining a proper balance:

Take advantage of mobile devices

While I’m not suggesting you should be that soccer parent on the sidelines with the phone plastered to your head or head down buried in email. The availability of these connections mean you can use what would previously be considered wasted time for work and take the work away from the quality time. Be judicious. Don’t feel every idle moment needs to be spent working. If you do not take advantage of the freedoms mobile tech gives us, you might as well just go sit in a cube.

Set times

If you work a job, especially from home, where there may be set hours you must be available, don’t hesitate to set hours when you won’t be available. Block out time on calendars. Force the issue if needed, but set aside the time for things other than work. Remember, the more hours you work for a fixed salary the less you are getting paid per hour.

Be consistent

When interacting with coworkers, repect their down time as well if you are trying to set the expectation of the same from them. Don’t text/email/etc. and expect an answer during what would be personal time for them. We’ve all heard about people who spend Christmas Eve or New Years Day sending out work emails, only to get upset when they don’t get repsonses. Give yourself permission to have a life outside of work.

Customers and clients

This can be one of the toughest areas to manage since they’re paying the bills. What it comes down to is a matter of respect. Be clear from the beginning and set reasonable expectations around response times and availability. Don’t comprimise yourself and your life for the almighty dollar. Be willing to make exceptions when needed, but also maintain that professional respect of people as just that…people.

It’s all about managing expectations

If you don’t take the time to set some ground rules and stick to them, you’ll never have a proper balance between your work and non-work life. Be honest with yourself and your employer and you’ll find you don’t feel like you’re on the clock 24/7 anymore.

 

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Working from home – Do you nap?

When people who don’t have the benefit of being able to work from home hear that you do, do you get the reaction of, “Oh must be nice, you could nap all day long!”  Now while the response is always that we work just as hard at home if not harder, it’s time for a little bit of honesty.

Do you slip a nap in when you need it and does it help?

Since my job entails presenting to a virtual audience many times a week, being on my game is critical to a successful delivery.  Rather than taking a break for lunch I’ll slip in a 20 minute nap to recharge my batteries and get my head cleared.  Personally I find it extremely beneficial, far more than a cup of coffee or 5-hour Energy, in getting my energy level back up to normal.  I use a timer on my phone called Ovo (Android) that can be set by voice.  A quick, “20 Minutes” out loud and the timer is off and running.  Once the alarm goes off I’m back up and running and ready for my next session.  Once in a day is enough and it’s not every day so only when it’s needed is when I take the mental reset.

If we have the opportunity to do this, especially for those of us in creative jobs, why shouldn’t we?

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Working from home – a change in venue

Sometimes sitting in my office at home is a drag.  Now mind you I have a nice office.  Comfy desk chair, decent desk, even a couple of windows to look out.  But there’s time it’s just not doing it for me.  No inspiration.  No spark of creativity.  That’s when things get drastic.  That’s when I need…a change in venue.

Change the scenery for better productivity

Many people view working from home as their  change in venue from the office, and back when I was working in an office full time I’d likely agree.  Mixing up your environment can do wonders to spark the creative juices and get work moving forward again.  The irony is the trip doesn’t need to be a long one.

Coffee shops and their ilk are the typical new venues often mentioned for home based workers.  Unfortunately in my area there aren’t a lot of the classic coffee shops around (though a new one is supposed to open soon…oh happy day) so finding a place outside the home isn’t as easy as one would think.  I’m not likely to be as productive and creative parked at McDonalds on the free wifi with the over 70 crowd in the mornings so I find alternatives right here at home.

Relocation to someplace close, such as the dining room table or out on the deck, provides significant enough disruption to the mundane that it is refreshing.  If you’re working from home and it’s starting to feel like working from an office, pick up your gear (if possible) and take a walk.  Move to another spot, but most importantly get to work when you get there.  Don’t use a change in venue be an invitation to procrastinate.

What do you do when the home office walls are closing in?  Post your tips in the comments, please!

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Working from home – Maintaining Order

One of the downsides of working from home is my office can get to looking a little “lived in.”   Nothing hoarder like,  just a little too comfortable for what should be in a professional office.

How do you keep your home office working like an office?

In an effort to keep that under control,  beginning today I am blocking 30 minutes out on my calendar to,  as the old term goes,  “sharpen the saw.”   A little work on the working area will hopefully be a positive contribution to the productivity of the space and myself.
Spending time making sure your space is ready for work is as important as doing the work itself.   A good mechanic keeps his or her tools in order and clean,  the workshop safe,  and everything where it can be found for the tasks at hand.   This is a rule we should all follow in our work.

How do you keep your workspace under control?   Any tips or tricks you’d care to share?   Post them in the comments,  please!

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Working from home motivation – Get dressed

from perceptionvsfact.com

I’ve been working from home for more than three and a half years now and over that time I’ve found that maintaining the motivation to get things done can be just a challenging as in an office.  Recently I’ve started to try some new things to get me going and I thought I’d share my successful / unsuccessful efforts here.

It’s easy to fall into a level of comfort when working from home.  No business casual dress code needed if you’re not seeing people after all.  But I’ve found that staying in the “casual” mode too long tends to create inertia in the brain and doesn’t let me do my best “business work.”  My solution…get dressed.

Now, I’m not talking about putting on a suit or anything like that.  The simple act of putting on a dress shirt can change my mindset completely when it comes to focus.  I’ve heard the process equated to putting on a uniform in sports…you get your game face on.  Combining this with the option to do video calls more frequently, and I’ve found “gearing up” can be just the catalyst I need to get over a hump of inactivity.  

Put away the bunny slippers, put on some good clothes, and go comb your hair.  It’s amazing what mixing things up a little bit will do for your productivity.

What gets you motivated working at home?  Share in the comments section if you please!