By James Robinson, Founder Robinson Speakers Bureau
(someone who never worked in an office)
At 9am on Wednesday, March 18th, 2020, the world entered a new economy. As we were sent home from work, and told to “stay put” until further notice, it probably dawned upon many of us our old lives might never return. Could working from home be a fixture? The long-term solution? Perhaps, say many experts, and if that’s the case, there are some tricks you must know in order to work from home effectively. This includes getting fighting fit, dressing well, being highly productive and a time management ninja.
I grew up in a family where our Dad worked from home all our lives, writing books. Since 2003, I’ve done the same thing, not being employed in an office environment for 17 years now. It was hard at first, because there’s a kind of strange abyss facing us every morning. The only way out is to create a militant schedule and stick to it. Pretend your home is the world headquarters of the best company in the world. Here are some tips about making this lifestyle work, because it’s very easy to slip into the world of excuses and procrastination, and endless distractions.
These 6 tips will stop you wasting time, and will make you more productive than you ever dreamed possible. This is about mastering your time, creating a great office, controlling your social life and dealing with the home cooking saga.
The real watchword is discipline. Iron-clad discipline.
1/ Creating Your Home Office
In your allocated private space, away from noise and distractions, set-up a big desk, a big external screen for the laptop, buy a high-quality ergonomic chair, an architect’s lamp, and be ready to rumble like a boss every single morning at 8am. Slouching around on a sofa with your laptop in a pair of pjs is the worst habit to form. There’s just something about being dressed for business. It focuses the mind and makes you far more effective and mentally ready to attack the day.
2/ Social Distancing Is Key
This is not about the coronavirus, this is about protecting your time. The cellphone will eat more time than you can imagine. Three calls to friends 20-minutes each, a couple of texting banters, coffee, checking emails, music, watching some joke videos going viral, the news – all this kills the morning. Put the phone away, switch off the box, and put work calls on the calendar so you can control your time. Don’t allow people to call you out of the blue. Turn off text and Whatsapp alerts, and all social media can wait. Business emails only.
3/ Be Unavailable For Anything Household Related During Set Business Hours
Disrespecting your business hours will kill your flow. Don’t allow any distractions. You must act as if you are in the ACTUAL office. Treat the time as sacred. Tell your family not to disturb you, unless of course someone is bringing you a cup of coffee and lunch!
4/ Get a “To-Do” App.
I use Minimalist which is clean and easy to use, but there are dozens out there. I tried a few with High, Medium and Low Priority options, but that wasted time. If it’s on the list, do it. Pick a “To-Do List” App and use it every single day. This should become your workflow Bible.
5/ Craft A Schedule
When I say schedule, I mean break up the day into 2-hour chunks of time and place this stuff on your calendar. And actually follow it. It’s so easy to continually push things off until tomorrow, but there’s nothing more gratifying than actually doing what’s on the calendar.
Here’s a sample schedule I used, and managed to build an agency single-handedly that now places speakers on five continents and books some of the top talent in the world :
6am – 8am : Workout, Dress, Breakfast, News
Working out is the absolute Godsend of modern life. You have to get the blood flowing for an hour before you can even contemplate the day. It clears your head, wakes you up, and it’s the first big achievement of the day. After that, crushing the inbox and hitting the phone will be much easier. People can hear it in your voice too, and they’ll enjoy talking to you much more. Send a message into the Universe that says, “I’m attacking the day before the sun has even risen.” Good things happen to those people. If you’re not a morning person you better become one real fast. Bed at 10pm is essential, have those running shoes on and be out of the door by 6:15am. Breakfast is simple… protein, muesli, water, coffee, fruit. That’s enough.
8am – 10am : Essential Emails, To Do List, Important Project / Deal Calls
10:00am – 12:00pm : Prospect For New Business
1:00pm – 3:00pm : Finish To Do, Answer New Emails
3:00pm – 5:00pm : Admin / Client Nurturing / Research
5:00pm – 5:30pm : Wrap-Up / Organize To Do, Calls and Order of Play for Tomorrow
This schedule gets the job done. Sticking to a path like this will keep you more productive than you’ve ever been.
Avoid the danger of rolling over and sleeping once the alarm goes off, throwing a bathrobe on at 7:45am like a total slob, having a Nespresso and trudging into the office at 8am. That’s the path of failure. I don’t know why, but it is. Working from home is so much better when you get up, workout, and behave like you’re going to Wall Street.
6/ Handling Household Stuff.
Do the big kitchen clean-up daily, and save it for the evenings. There’s no time in the day for too much of this nonsense. Flick on the dishwasher before bed, empty it at breakfast, and generally control the mess from home-cooking in this fashion. It’s the most time effective method.
A pointer about food and meals. If you’re cooking, cook extra, and always have an eye on tomorrow’s lunch when you cook supper.
If you have servants, wives, husbands who can do this for you, then of course ignore the above paragraph!
I was very surprised to see how many people were complaining online about working from home, being somewhat lost on their Instagram stories about how to conduct themselves. Life is virtual now anyway, has been for quite some time. Fewer meetings, fewer water cooler conversations, fewer long lunches with co-workers is actually a great thing.
Stay fighting fit, track your time carefully, and get into this new skill of working from home. Let your calendar and the To-Do list master your day, and once they do, you’ll never look back.
Good luck everyone with this very interesting future!
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