LORETTA'S CHANNEL

Posted on Aug 17 2018

Putting the “work” into working from home

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As summer winds down, I find myself resisting the change in weather and the inevitable change in schedule.  I also find myself excited about the onset of structure again.

Working from home,  especially during the summer with three teenagers in the house, can be a bit of a juggling act.  I quickly learned I need to maximize the uninterrupted early hours of the day.  It’s amazing how much I can accomplish between the hours of 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. before the first kid surfaces. 

It’s not just the summer months that challenge productivity.  Working from home anytime can test even the most driven and disciplined people.  Don’t get me wrong, having  no commute, no dress code, and no set hours is awesome. Freedom and flexibility is the best part about it. But to be totally honest, there are days that it’s noon before I have accomplished anything on my to-do list.

As I wrap up the last few weeks of summer, with a hefty to-do list, I’ve decided to go back to the tips and tricks that have helped me optimize my productivity.  My goal is to enjoy my freedom and flexibility, and also get some sh*t done! I am happy to share them as they help you do the same. 

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  • Hydrate and meditate: Especially after a night of Rose or Tequila, I start my day with a cup of hot water and lemon (always trying to rehydrate!).  I take a few minutes (10-15 max) to meditate.  This helps me to start my with a sense of calm and purpose. 
  • Delete and flagOver a cup of coffee, I clean out my inbox.  Delete all the unnecessary emails, and flag the important ones.  Unless it’s a REALLY good offer or grabbing title, I delete all the shopping promos as well. Those are the time suckers that will lead you down a rabbit hole!
  • Tidy up:  Before I sit down to start the “real” work, I clean anything within eyesight to limit the obvious distractions.
  • Make a schedule:  I have designed my ideal day and ideal week as a guide for planning and scheduling.  I break it down into parts (M-F, 8-11a.m., 12-2 p.m., 3-5 p.m.) and organize each week accordingly.  Just like when I had a corporate job, I block out time for conference calls, meetings, lunch meetings, and workouts. 

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A few years ago, in an effort to stay focused during certain portions of my day,  I started to use the Pomodoro Technique and have found it really helpful.  It goes like this

  • Choose a task (doing research, paperwork, or answering emails) to work on.
  • Set the timer for 25 minutes and start working. Turn off all other alerts etc. to avoid interruptions.
  • Keep working on your task until the timer goes off. Do your best to avoid switching tasks or getting distracted.
  • When the timer goes off, take a five-minute break to stretch or grab a drink. This built-in break helps ensure that you don’t get burned out on a particular task.
  • Repeat.

 

Each 25-minute block of work is a pomodoro. Once you’ve completed four pomodoros, take a longer break of around 20 to 30 minutes. This will help you brain relax and refocus before your next session.  I have found this tool super helpful as I am always trying to get a lot done in a couple hours at a time.  

So there you have it…. now don’t let organization and discipline be the enemy of spontaneity.  My mantra is always to do what I’ve set out do.  But, I’ve worked a long time to be my own boss, especially during the summer, so every now and then my “boss” gives me a free pass!  For the next few weeks, I am going to stay focused in the early hours of the day so I can enjoy the fun and spontaneity of each afternoon and evening.  

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Happy end of summer! 

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Loretta Soffe - Principal

lorettasoffe@live.com