Are you working from home? Does it feel like you’re trying to juggle a video camera, Pressure Cooker, hourglass and bag of almonds?? Did you think I was going to juggle these? Oh no. That would be a disaster, but we are going to use these 4 items in this video for something much more important than juggling. I’m Dr. Bradford Cooper of the Catalyst Coaching Institute and today I’m going to give you 4 Secrets to making the most of working from home. Obviously this is a big topic for the health & wellness coaches out there, but I have a feeling this one will apply to a lot more of us right now.
Suzanna and I have been working out of our home office since we launched our company in 2007. Our kids at the time were 8, 10, and 12 years old, so while we admittedly weren’t in the toddler stage, I will be including kids in the mix of this discussion.
#1 – Perspective – If you have kids at home interruptions are a guarantee. But even if you’re flying solo, there are likely to be times during the day when you’re unable to be fully focused – or even partially focused for that matter. And that’s OK. The key is to think about your day as a total package. The average commute time in the US is approximately 30 min each way. Add prep time, lunchtime, parking and other elements, and the average person is likely looking at 90 min – 2 hrs minimum of time committed to non-working pieces of the puzzle. 90 min to 2 hrs – minimum! That means if you’re working from home, even if your day “starts” at the same time as usual, you’re 20-25% ahead of schedule out of the gate! That’s like running a 10K, but knowing they won’t start the clock until you’re already well past the first mile marker!
With that in mind, when interruptions do occur, whether they involve children, pets, roommates or other miscellaneous unexpecteds, you’re already so far ahead they really aren’t impacting you in the bigger picture! Until those interruptions extend past the 90+ minute mark, you’re still well ahead of pace.
2 – Pressure Plan – When we first launched our company, we lived in a smaller house and the table from which I was working was a few feet from the kitchen and a few yards from the main family room where the kids gathered or played with their friends. Much of my role, especially early on, was communicating with clients or potential clients over the phone (the year we launched was the same year the iPhone was released, and we were still on dial-up internet, by the way). As we’re taping this video, our kids are 25, 23 and 21 and will all be married by this time next year. But I can promise you if you yell “PHONE!” in their presence, they’ll immediately grab the dog, mute the TV and silence their friends. Yes, we were very fortunate to have great kids who understood the room had to be quiet when a call came through for Daddy. And had it been a constant, that strategy wouldn’t have worked. But the key to this is to work together with your family or your roommates to insure everyone is on the same page during those potential make or break moments of the day. The advanced planning bolsters cooperation and the likelihood of success.
3 – Know Yourself – most likely you fall on one end of the spectrum or the other in terms of the work/life balance teeter totter. If focus is your super power, then your challenge will be turning work OFF when it’s time to shut down the computer. On the other hand, if you’re less engaged with your work, you may find Netflix, Sports Center, Social Media or laundry to be a constantly disruptive voice calling for your attention. Either way, set up strategies to address the potential downside. If you can’t shut it down, then set parameters in place around when you’ll check email or schedule meetings/calls. For me, that means a hard stop at 6 PM, including phone calls but your plan may be completely different. If non-work aspects keep vying for your attention, use parameters in the opposite manner. Download a free app that tracks your time spent on social media. Or go old school and pick up an hour glass. You can flip it over and focus in until it runs through, earning yourself a brief break. You know yourself – the key is to reflect on your personal patterns and then put that self-knowledge into practice.
4 – Food… – or some cookies/almond choice??
Food can be a significant issue for those working from home. Yes, the office often brings morning donuts and leftover birthday cake in the break room temptations, but with the added interest by all of us – employers included – in health & wellness, those are becoming things of the past. The reality is the office can provide us a 10-12 hour bubble away from temptations we often keep far too handy in our homes. And thus the problem provides the solution. If working from home, make a habit of only eating desserts outside the house. Sure, go out for ice cream, pick up some cookies to go with dinner tonight. But keep the ongoing storage of these items out of the house if that’s a personal struggle.
The other half of the solution is to make positive choices easy. Every afternoon I have a handful of almonds and a square of 90% dark chocolate. We keep them in the house so they’re always readily available and the habit is locked in. This not only makes the healthy option the easy option, but by purposely planning this routine for every afternoon, it heads off the temptation for other, less healthy options before they even surface.
Need a bonus suggestion? I’ve got you covered. By the way, you can always reach out to us or access a number of free resources via the website below and have a whole series of videos on the business of coaching on the channel, including this one. If you’ve clicked the subscribe button below, you’ll have easy access to them all.
The bonus tip? An accountability partner. Whether that’s your health & wellness coach or a friend, having someone to check in with you occasionally can work wonders when it comes to making the most of your home… work.
Thanks for joining us. This is Dr. Bradford Cooper of the Catalyst Coaching Institute signing out. I look forward to seeing you on a future YouTube coaching channel video or speaking with you soon over on the Catalyst Health, Wellness & Performance Coaching podcast!