Thursday, March 19, 2020

Working from home? How to do it like a Rock Star!

This week as COVID-19 precautions are looming - many of you are learning to work at home.

To you I say:  Welcome!  This really can be great.  In fact, it can be highly productive.

As someone who’s been doing this for nearly 21 years (when not travelling) I often hear this from people:    “I’m not sure I could ever work from home.  How do you do it?”

Here are my top 5 tips for working from home like a pro!

1. Focus isn’t as much about determination as it is about passion.
Yes, sometimes I have to just suck it up and do hard stuff.  For me that the administrative stuff.  I’d much rather develop math and software.  I love creating.  I love thinking of how my products and projects are going to help people.  If your job was your hobby - would have have a problem doing it all day?

Go watch Simon Sinek’s TED talk called “How great leaders inspire action”.   After you’ve watched it, figure out your personal “why”.

2. Get the tough stuff out of the way first.   
In the words of Pink Floyd: “If you don’t eat your meat, how can you have any pudding?”

For me, this means dealing with overnight international support first.  Ugh!  This way I go into the day with a clean plate and things only get better.  It also means that the fun work is just around the corner – like dessert.

3. Find your background.  For me, I’m somewhat of an extrovert.  I need humanity around me.  (You’ll probably notice this based on all of the coffeeshop and restaurant pics I post with my laptop open.)  Thus, in my office, I need a radio or TV (in the other room) around me.  I can’t tell you a thing that I’ve heard, but I know that it’s there.   Try some different things that might work for you.  It might actually be silence.  Note: for me, the TV has to be out of sight as I’ve found myself to be easily distracted visually.

4. Ergonomics, ergonomics, ergonomics.   (Does that count as 3 things, or just one?)
One of the biggest mistakes people make is trying to work “comfortably” on the couch, the floor, the bathtub, etc.   DON’T FALL FOR THIS!   Comfort when working is different than comfort when lounging.  Get a good chair and sit in an ergonomic position. 

Google “Office Ergonomics” and flip over to the images tab.   One of my favorite office investments is a Herman Miller Aeron chair (which are on a massive sale right now).  It’s an amazing chair (used throughout Silicon Valley) that has served me for more than 15 years with no signs of quitting.

5. Reward yourself but stay in the frame of mind. 
There will be times when you need to come up for air.  My advice here is take a break, but “don’t commit”.  For example, take a walk to the mailbox, but don’t start watching a Netflix movie.   Perhaps check social media (if you can keep it under control,) but keep your email open on the other window.  The principle is to stay somewhat connected rather than commit your brain to something else.  See this blog post for some ideas.

Many times I’ve found solutions to problems by getting away (perhaps the trip to the mailbox – or even the bathroom for that matter).  I’ve released my brain just enough to solve a problem I was wrestling with.

6. (Bonus Tip!)  Make a phone call.
(Or perhaps schedule one if your friends are busy people too.)  I often use lunch as my social outlet.  But the phone/Skype/Facetime/etc. is almost as good.  I have a couple of guys that are in my field and they provide me with that (dare I say it?) karma that recharges me.  These guys are great… and after reading this, they may now question my motives.   Really guys – I do appreciate you!

Rock on!