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The Ultimate Guide To Working From Home And Still GTD

The Ultimate Guide To Working From Home And Still GTD

You hate the commute, you get distracted by co-workers, and you think the solution is working from home.

After all, you’ll have more control over your space and you’ve heard people are more productive. This should make it pretty easy to get your boss’s okay to work from home, right?

Not necessarily. Some bosses aren’t comfortable with the idea because they know that remote work can be beneficial, but that it can also quickly go off the rails. They need to trust that you’re organized and driven enough to make it work.

Get Your Boss To Let You Work From Home

Before you need to worry about getting stuff done while working remotely, you need to first get permission. There are four proven techniques you can use to get your boss’s approval on your remote work request:

1. Get The Right Job

First, not every job can be done remotely. Some places have high security demands that can’t be met remotely or require specialized equipment that’s just not economical to provide to remote employees.

If you don’t face these kinds of requirements one of the best ways to make sure you have a job that is remote-friendly is to find one that can be measured by results and not hours – results are easier for managers to track when they are dealing with remote workers.

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2. Prove You Have Communication Skills

Being a remote worker means you have to go to extra lengths to stay in touch with your teammates and managers. A lot of communication will happen and lines can get easily crossed. If you can prove you are an effective communicator, you’ll have an easier time getting the okay.

3. Convince Your Boss To Give You A Trial Run

Not too many people will be willing to let you jump from spending 100 percent of your time in the office to spending it all remotely – there are going to be a few baby steps in between. The best way to prove you can handle remote work is to get permission to do it on special occasions – like sickness or bad weather – and really kick butt when you get the chance.

Don’t just wait for those special circumstances to prove that you can work from home, though. If you’re like most people, you probably already do work at home – maybe early in the morning when you’re answering some emails or in the evening when you’re finishing off that pitch. Take these opportunities to do great work and subtly let people know you did it at home.

4. Sell Your Boss On The Idea

When you ask your boss for permission to become a remote worker, it’s no different than any other pitch or presentation you’ve ever delivered. Know how it’s going to benefit your boss and the company and make those benefits stand out more than how much you’ll like it. You should also think about what reasons your boss could say no or what concerns they’ll likely raise – have answers ready for those, too.

If you nail your pitch, you’ll be working remotely.

Be Mentally Prepared

So, you’re pitch went well and now it’s time to work from home. You wanted this and worked hard to get it because you thought you would be happier, more productive, and it would put you more in control.

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That’s not always the case and working from home can be tough on your head for the following four reasons:

1. There Are More Interruptions At Home

Working from home gets you away from your co-workers, but places you squarely around your family and in the middle of what can be a pretty chaotic environment; an environment with new people and new demands.

2. There’s Tremendous Pressure To Perform

Remote workers often feel even greater pressure working from home than do their in-office peers. They feel more pressure because they are afraid their colleagues are judging them as “lazy” or “do nothing” because they work from home.

3. The Temptations Are Numerous And Indulgence Is Easier

Playing hooky in the office is much harder than doing so as a remote worker. If you’re having a bad day it can be really easy to skip out on work, sit on your step, and have a beer. You need to know that hard days as a remote worker can be harder than those as an office worker because pushing forward at home is much harder.

4. There’s A Greater Need To Be Organized

When you work at an office, you have others buzzing around you and you might even have deadlines posted in public places. This doesn’t happen in a remote office. You need to have yourself together and organized because people don’t do it as much for you when you’re a remote worker.

Sometimes being a remote worker isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and you need to be ready for that. If you’re not, you can have your spirits crushed. If you’re having a bad day, reach out to your teammates and chat, but, most importantly, remember that it’s just one day and tomorrow will be better.

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Working at home alone will only bum you out if you let it.

Setting Up Your Workspace

As a remote worker, being mentally prepared is only part of the battle.

A lot of people think that kitchen and coffee tables can double as workspaces, but they are way off the mark. In fact, they’re are almost guaranteed to fail. Instead of sitting in your kitchen or living room, here are some things you can do to set up a workspace and be physically prepared for remote work.

First, and I can’t stress how important this is, you need a dedicated workspace. It needs to be quiet and removed from the chaos of kids’ toys and meal-making. If there’s an extra bedroom, use that. If you don’t have an extra room, search around for a quiet corner of a room that isn’t used throughout the day and take it over.

Once you have your spot picked out, you need to start to fill it in and treat it like your office: get a dedicated chair and desk, and make sure you have the best internet connection you can get your hands on.

Though it can be tempting to lock yourself in your home office, that’s a bad idea. You’ve taken this step to have more control and see your loved ones a bit more. Don’t back away from that. Instead, learn to set boundaries with other people in your home, while still taking the opportunity to enjoy their company – it will refresh your mind and keep you more productive.

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How To Keep In Touch

One of the most surprising things is that studies show remote workers are more productive than those in the office. Know why? It’s because those people in the office assume you’re working less than they are and they dial back their productivity.

Do the team a favor and make sure you’re keeping them up-to-date with your progress:

  • Don’t become invisible. Carry on small talk on chat apps and stay in regular contact.

  • Let people know when you’re stepping away. Blast out a “Taking lunch,” or “Taking a break,” message in your team’s chatroom.

  • Hold progress chats. These updates give you a chance to talk about what you’re working on today and what you worked on yesterday. They also help you share what goals you completed and it proves you’re getting stuff done.

Working from home is great if you’re prepared for it. If you’re not prepared, it can really be a blow and a setback for your career. These tips will help you work from home while still getting stuff done.

What tips do you have to help remote workers stay as productive as possible? Leave a comment and let us know.

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Published on January 16, 2019

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

How to Effectively Manage a Heavy Workload at Work

We’re all busy, but sometimes we go through periods where the work piles up and it seems like it might never end.

You might have such a heavy workload that it feels too intimidating to even start.

You may have said yes to some or too many projects, and now you’re afraid you won’t be able to deliver.

That’s when you need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and start looking at what’s working and what’s not working.

Here’re 13 strategies you can use to get out from under your overwhelming workload:

1. Acknowledge You Can’t Do It All

Many of us have a tendency to think we can do more than we actually can. We take on more and more projects and responsibility and wear numerous hats.

We all have the opportunity to have and take on more work than we can reasonably expect to get done. Unfortunately, our workload is not static. Even now, while you are reading this article, I’m guessing that your inbox is filling up with fresh new tasks.

To make real, effective progress, you have to have both the courage and resourcefulness to say, “This is not working”. Acknowledge that you can’t do it all and look for better solutions.

At any given time in your life, there are likely many things that aren’t going according to plan. You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and those around you about what’s not working for you, both personally and professionally.

The more you exercise your ability to tell the truth about what’s working and what’s not working, the faster you’ll make progress.

2. Focus on Your Unique Strengths

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a leader or working as part of a team, every individual has unique strengths they can bring to the table.

The challenge is that many people end up doing things that they’re simply not very good at.

In the pursuit of reaching your goals or delivering a project, people end up doing everything themselves or taking on things that don’t play to their unique strengths. This can result in frustration, overwhelm and overwork.

It can mean projects taking a lot longer to complete because of knowledge gaps, or simply not utilizing the unique strengths of other people you work with.

It is often not about how to complete this project more effectively but who can help deliver this project.

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So, what are your unique strengths that will ensure your workload is delivered more effectively? Here’re some questions to help you reflect:

  • Are you a great strategist?
  • Are you an effective planner?
  • Is Project Management your strength?
  • Is communication and bringing people together your strength?
  • Are you the ideas person?
  • Is Implementation your strength?

Think about how you can bring the biggest value to your work and the projects you undertake.

3. Use the Strengths of Your Team

One of the simplest ways to manage your workload effectively is to free up your time so you bring your highest level of energy, focus and strengths to each project.

Delegation or better teamwork is the solution.

Everyone has unique strengths. It’s essential to think teamwork rather than working in isolation to ensure projects can be completed effectively. Besides, every time you give away a task or project that doesn’t play to your unique strengths, you open up an opportunity to do something you’re more talented at. This will empower both yourself and those around you.

Rather than taking on all the responsibilities yourself, look at who you can work with to deliver the best results possible.

4. Take Time for Planning

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. – Abraham Lincoln

One hour of effective planning could save hours of time. Rather than just rushing in and getting started on projects, take the time to map everything in.

You can take the time to think about:

  • What’s the purpose of the project?
  • How Important is it?
  • When does it need to be delivered by?
  • What is the best result and worst result for this project?
  • What are the KPIs?
  • What does the project plan and key milestones look like?
  • Who is working on this project?
  • What is everyone’s responsibilities?
  • What tolerances can I add in?
  • What are the review stages?
  • What are the challenges we may face and the solutions for these challenges?

Having absolute clarity on the project, the project deliverables and the result you want can save a lot of time. It also gets you clear on the priorities and timelines, so you can block out the required amount of time to focus and concentrate.

5. Focus on Priorities

Not everything is a priority, although it can often feel, in the moment, that it is.

Whatever you’re working on, there is always the Most Urgent, Important or Most Valuable projects or tasks.

One tool you can use to maximize your productivity and focus on your biggest priorities is to use the Eisenhower Matrix. This strategic tool for taking action on the things that matter most is simple. You separate your actions based on four possibilities:

  1. Urgent and important (tasks you will do immediately).
  2. Important, but not urgent (tasks you will schedule to do later).
  3. Urgent, but not important (tasks you will delegate to someone else).
  4. Neither urgent nor important (tasks that you will eliminate).

James Clear has a great description on how to use the Eisenhower Matrix: How to be More Productive By Using the Eisenhower Box

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    The method I use with my coaching clients is to ask them to lay out their Top Five priorities for the day. Then to start with the most important priority first. At the end of the day, you review performance against these priorities.

    If you didn’t get everything accomplished, start the next day with your number one priority.

    If you are given additional task/projects during the day, then you will need to gauge their importance V the other priorities.

    6. Take Time Out

    To stay on top of a heavy workload, it’s important to take time out to rest and recuperate.

    If your energy levels are high and your mind and body is refreshed and alert, you are in more of a peak state to handle a heavy workload.

    Take time out of your day to go for a walk or get some exercise in. Leave early when possible and spend time with people who give you a lot of energy.

    In the background, it’s essential to get a good night’s sleep and eat healthily to sharpen the mind.

    Take a look at this article learn about The Importance of Scheduling Downtime.

    7. Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance

    Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be tough. The balance we all crave is very different from one another.

    I’ve written before about 13 Work Life Balance Tips for a Happy and Productive Life. Working longer and harder doesn’t mean achieving more, especially if you have no time to spend with the people that matter most. The quality of who you are as a person, the relationships you have, the time you spend in work, deciding on what matters most is completely within your control.

    Work-life balance is about finding peace within yourself to be fully present, wherever you are, whether that be in the office or at home, right now. It’s about choosing what matters most and creating your own balanced life.

    If you feel there is not enough balance, then it may be time to make a change.

    8. Stop Multitasking

    Multi-tasking is a myth. Your brain simply can’t work effectively by doing more than one thing at a time—at least more than one thing that requires focused attention.

    So get your list of priorities (see earlier point), do the most important thing first, then move to the next item and work down your list.

    When you split your focus over a multitude of different areas, you can’t consistently deliver a high performance. You won’t be fully present on the one task or project at hand.

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    If you allocate blocked time and create firm boundaries for specific activities and commitments, you won’t feel so overwhelmed or overworked with everything you have to do.

    9. Work in Blocks of Time

    To keep your energy up to produce your best results it’s essential to take regular breaks.

    I use the 60-60-30 method myself and teach it to my coaching clients.

    Work on a project for a sustained period of 50 minutes.

    Then take a 10-minute break. This could be taking a walk, having a healthy snack or just having a conversation with someone.

    Then continue to work on the project for a further 50 minutes.

    Then take another 10-minute break.

    Then take a complete 30-minute break to unplug from the work. This could be time for a proper lunch, a quick bit of exercise, reading or having a walk.

    By simply taking some time out, your energy levels stay up, the quality of your work improves and you reduce the risk of becoming burned out.

    10. Get Rid of Distractions

    Make an estimation on how many times you are distracted during an average working day. Now take that number and multiply it by 25. According to Gloria Mark in her study on The Cost of Interrupted Work, it takes us an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to the original task after interruption.[1]

    “Our research has shown that attention distraction can lead to higher stress, a bad mood and lower productivity.”

    Distractions don’t just take up your time during the distraction, they can derail your mental progress and focus for almost 25 minutes. So, if you are distracted 5 times per day, you could be losing almost 2 hours every day of productive work and almost 10 hours every week.

    If you have an important project to work on, find a space where you won’t be distracted, or try doing this.

    11. Commit Focused Time to Smaller Tasks

    You know sometimes, you need to simply tackle these tasks and take action on them. But there’s always something more pressing.

    Small tasks can often get in the way of your most important projects. They sit there on your daily To Do list but are often forgotten about because of more important priorities or because they hold no interest for you. But they take up mental energy. They clutter your mind.

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    Commit to spending a specific period of time completing all the small tasks you have on your To Do list. It will give you peace of mind and the space to focus more on your bigger priorities.

    12. Take a Time Audit

    Do you know exactly where your time is going each day? Are you spending too long on certain projects and tasks to the detriment of bigger opportunities?

    Spend a bit of time to analyze where you are spending your time. This insight will amaze you and give you the clarity to start adjusting where you focus your time and on what projects.

    You can start by taking a piece of paper and creating three columns:

    Column A is Priority Work. Column B is Good Work. Column C is low value work or stuff.

    Each day, write down the project or task and the time spent on each. Allocate that time to one of the columns.

    At the end of the week, record the total time spent in each column.

    If you are spending far too much time on certain types of work, look to change things so your focused time is in Column B and C.

    13. Protect Your Confidence

    It is essential to protect our confidence to ensure we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed and lose belief.

    When you have confidence as a daily resource, you are in a better position to problem solve, learn quicker, respond to anything, adjust to anything, and achieve your biggest opportunities.

    Confidence gives you the ability to transform fear into focused and relaxed thinking, communication, and action. This is key to put your mind into a productive state.

    When confidence is high, you can clearly see the possibilities at hand and create strategies to take advantage of them, or to solve the challenges you face each day.

    Final Words

    A heavy workload can be tough to deal with and can cause stress, burnout and ongoing frustration.

    The key is to tackle it head on, rather than let it go on and compound the long-term effects. Hopefully, you can take action on at least one of these tips.

    If it gets too much, and negatively affects your physical and mental health, it may be time to talk to someone. Instead of dealing with it alone and staying unhappier, resentful and getting to a point where you simply can’t cope, you have to make a change for your own sanity.

    Featured photo credit: Hannah Wei via unsplash.com

    Reference

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