I’ve worked from home for 15 years now, but this last two months has been nothing like my past experience. Because of that, I’ve had to make adjustments as have many of you.

Over the years, I found ways to manage my time, be strategic in how it was planned, and also find ways to be away from my home office. With the recent pandemic and stay home orders, even I’ve had to change my routines. For those of you who haven’t worked from home, and for those that have, but like me have found they are more isolated than ever, allow me to offer some of my best practices for effective time management, improved performance, and balance.

BP 1: Get up at the same time every day. My wife thinks my chosen time is a little odd; but maybe it’s because I am. My alarm goes off at 6:03 am every day. I take the dogs out first because they demand it, and then eat breakfast with a piping hot coffee to go along with it. I’ve always been a morning and breakfast person. This timing and activity really has never changed. It’s a constant for me. If you’ve in the past been an early riser, don’t start sleeping in now. Be consistent with your sleeping and waking patterns, and how you get started.

BP 2: Know what your plan is the night before. My morning can be very different after breakfast. I’ve had a lot of early morning Zoom meetings, will often have deadlines on intellectual property creation, or decide to walk the dogs due to a busy day. I always check my calendar the night before (even if I did it at the end of the day). I need to know what my morning looks like, and how to plan the afternoon so I can make sure the balance part (mental and physical health) is included in the day.

P.S. Be prepared to be nimble. Things can change and building in flex time to pivot will keep you from getting distracted when the inevitable change occurs.

BP 3: Keep the calendar current. In order to properly plan the previous behavior, I better make sure my calendar is current and correct. I keep all my activities – both business and personal – on one calendar. It’s hard enough for me to keep one calendar, let alone juggling multiple ones. I color code for activity and always include any travel time (which has certainly decreased over the past 60 days!).

BP 4: Buffer time, baby! One of the best things I’ve learned from my professional coach is scheduling buffer time. If left to my own devices, I could probably work straight through from one meeting to the next and never take a break. That’s no bueno. I now include at least a 15-minute break between meetings. While there are exceptions due to client urgencies, I’m 95% on task with this. How do I make sure I’m taking those buffer times? They are included in my calendar. Here’s how…I make a one hour meeting appointment, but only plan to use 45 minutes (or schedule 45 minutes and plan on using 30, etc.).

BP 5: Get off your… In the old days of 75 days ago, I never had to think about this. I was meeting someone every day outside of the office. Since the stay home orders, I could stay stuck at my desk even with buffer time. Now, I set an alarm for 90 minutes. Regardless of what I’m doing, when that alarm goes off, I move. It might simply be raising my standing desk, or taking the dogs out for some fresh air. My chiropractor even gave me some easy to do exercise and stretching solutions. Worst case scenario is I go into my exercise room, pull out the old flat stick, and practice my putting! You have to move for better mental and physical balance.

BP 6: Get outside. I have a nice deck off the back of my house and have held several meetings – both video and audio – while sitting there in the sun with my feet up. As long as you can be focused on the person and the conversation, move it to a place that’s fun, especially if it’s outdoors. You will feel better.

BP 7: Change the brain chemicals. I also learned this from my coach – when you’re feeling stressed, anxious, depressed, or even just out of sorts, you must change the brain chemicals. This is more than just moving; this is getting physical. Left unchecked, our minds can become our own worst enemy. Physical outlets actually change the chemicals in our brains. That’s why we always feel better after exercising. If you have any “stinking thinking” going on, stop and get physical – take a walk, do your exercise routine – shoot some hoops (I’ve resurrected my basketball hoop last week to the front of the house), do yoga, do pushups, go gardening… whatever it is, you’ve got to exorcise that negative into positive vibes.

That’s a quick list. I have other strategies and happy to share them with you, so feel free to reach out. That being said, even implementing a few of these into your daily routine will help you be more productive, happier, and healthier.

Be unleashed and be well.

Quote of the Week:

“Remember upon the conduct of each depends the fate of all.”

~ Alexander the Great

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© 2020 Toro Consulting, Inc.  All Rights Reserved

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