Running your business from home in the midst of a slow-down
By Winnie Makena | March 18th 2020
Thanks to the Coronavirus outbreak, with more than 150,000 reported cases worldwide, companies around the globe have started to roll out mandatory work-from-home policies that may become the new normal for many of us. Many entrepreneurs are already work-from-home veterans who have learnt the art of productivity this way. But if you are a newbie, here are some useful hacks to help you work from home.
1. The rule of three
The productivity rule of three is simple. At the end of each workday, write down three things that you want to accomplish the next day. The idea is that you will then start each workday with a prioritised list of tasks to tackle.
This hack takes some discipline and a pocket notebook. In an actual notebook, write down your goals at the end of your workday, because it reinforces the tasks and will help you stay organised.
Why not more than three things? You want it to be a highly achievable goal.
Check the items off as you complete them for a sense of accomplishment and to help you redirect your focus to the next task on your list.
2. Distinguish the essential from the urgent
In his book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, author Greg McKeown discusses the dangers of filling our schedules with what he calls the “non-essential” and urges readers to embrace a lifestyle defined by the mantra “less, but better.”
Do you ever start working only to get distracted by new ideas or other items that you realise need to go on your to-do list?
Some of the non-essentials may include responding to emails, returning non-urgent calls, administrative work that can and should be outsourced, constantly checking your phone, and assenting to every business lunch or meeting that may float your way.
To prevent this distraction, jot everything in what is basically a ‘dumping zone’ for all the ideas that pop up throughout the day. This allows you to immediately get back to work. Come back to it when you have the head-space.
3. Follow the two-minute rule
The two-minute rule has two parts. The first is if it takes less than two minutes, then do it now. Do not waste your time or energy writing down these tasks down either.
The second part is when you start a new task, it should take less than two minutes to do. Obviously not all goals can be accomplished in two minutes. However, the principle is that once you start doing something, it is easier to continue doing it. Start the introduction to that business proposal, send emails to two of your prospective clients, as long as you get started.
4. Designate your work space
It is essential to designate a specific place for work and only work
Tight on space? Even if you live in a small apartment with other people, carve out a space of your own from which to work. Find a corner desk that fits your space, or even convert your dresser to be a work space.
After that, optimise the space. Essentially, keep your work space clean and clutter-free. According to a survey by OfficeMax, 77 per cent of respondents said clutter impairs their productivity and more than half of those surveyed said it also negatively affects their motivation levels and state of mind.
5. Stay flexible
Identify your personal productive peaks when your energy and concentration are highest and maximise on it. Think strategically and plan your most crucial tasks exactly when you are most alert and energetic. In order to identify your peaks, pay close attention to daily habits and your energy and focus levels. For instance, are you a morning person or a night owl? Use time-tracking apps like Toggl or an informal diary throughout your day and observe patterns on when you are at your top form or lackluster.
6. Limit decision fatigue
Some say there is a limited number of decisions an individual can make during an active day. Because you are aiming to declutter your mind and optimise your focus, cut small, repetitive decisions out of your life to spare your time and clear your mind.
Former US president Barak Obama and Facebook owner Mark Zuckerberg basically wear the same outfit every day, a blue or grey suit. Zuckerberg says he tries to pare down small decisions to make time for more important ones.
You may want to even set your schedule a day before and meal prep weekly so that you do not need to think of meals every day.
7. No matter what, get dressed
Getting dressed as if you were going to the office might be beneficial at times to create boundaries with your family that you are actually working. Assuming you live alone, or child care is not much of a concern, you might feel compelled to do laundry or clean something or the other.
Reframe your mind to acknowledge that you are working. You do not need to necessarily wear a suit, but relaxed clothes such as jeans and a t-shirt will work fine. Some experts suggest that just wearing shoes helps you recognise that it is just like being in an office.
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