Take a Break!

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We’ve been focusing the past few weeks on how to be most effective while working from home – from getting organized while working from home to recognizing and staying at your productive peek.

But what if you’re too focused? Our team member, Jocelyn Dove, is here to help!

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 7.32.59 AMOne hurdle I have been striving to accomplish is taking breaks! What’s a break? When you are in an office environment you may not realize that you have several breaks…the “coffee break”, the “bathroom break,” the “random peer coming to your cube break”, the required “lunch break”, and then the “end of the day/work is over break”.  

I really didn’t realize how many “breaks” I was truly afforded when working in a traditional office environment until I started working from home! One morning I made breakfast and sat down with my cup of coffee to start the day and then BAM! It was 10:46 PM and my coffee cup was dry and I couldn’t recall the last time I went to the bathroom or had a glass of water. But now it’s too late to eat dinner because I should be going to bed soon, but realize “why not?” because I’m just going to wear yoga pants anyway…

Ever done that before? That was a big wake-up call that I had to get some structure around taking breaks. Here’s what I’ve done to help myself that might apply to you:

  1. Added a break to my work calendar with a reminder. I’ve even made it look like an official meeting on my calendar so people know they can’t steal my time!
  2. Made plans to leave the house – I’ve set up a lunch date with friends, planned to go to the grocery store, got my car serviced, haircut etc. SOMETHING that get’s you out of the house in a planful way
  3. Found a workspace outside of my home office to devote a couple of hours to a day. It doesn’t have to be fancy – a museum or coffee shop will work just fine!
  4. Get a pet (I haven’t done this, but I’ve heard this helps!). A pet needs love and maybe a walk at some point during the day – a perfect trigger to take a break

Thanks, Jocelyn! Can anyone else relate to not prioritizing yourself throughout the day? What tips do you have on making sure to take breaks?

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Pace Yourself

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Working from home can come with many challenges—it’s part of the territory! However, there are just as many benefits, and as the world continues to convert to a predominantly digital space, working from home is a new challenge that many people are facing every year.

Screen Shot 2016-03-04 at 11.52.43 AMOur Team member, Jeff, has some helpful tips:

I used to work from home 1-2 days a week until recently, when I converted to working from home full-time! It has certainly come with it’s challenges, but the benefits outweigh these ten-fold. Here are a couple of ideas and strategies that I’ve used to help this process go smoothly.

Thought #1: Use your Time Smartly

Is there a particular time of the day where your creative juices are really flowing? Maybe there are certain times of the day that you find yourself more self-motivated than other times. Find that time, exploit it to your benefit, and plan your day’s work around those times. Is it in the morning? Do the draining tasks then! Save the motivating work, the work that gives you energy, for the time of day that you’re struggling to stay on-task.

For myself, I’m WAY more motivated in the morning. So this is the time that I save for time-consuming tasks that don’t inspire me, they don’t give me energy, but they simply have to be done. Once the clock hits 2:00PM, my morning coffee is wearing off, and my eyes start to wander to the book on my table, or my mind towards the many pleasure of the Netflix app. This is when I do the tasks that inspire me, that give me energy, and feed my brain and soul. I have meetings in the afternoon, and am re-inspired by these tasks and these people to finish the day strong.

Thought #2 – Pace Yourself

Throughout each day I always remind myself this: pace yourself. Know that every day will not be the productive, butt-kicking day that you want it to be. You’re not a task-churning robot, and that’s okay!

Be okay with failing at productivity some days. Don’t beat yourself up. Push through it, and know that tomorrow can be better! Some days I’m extremely motivated; and other days I’m not. Some days, I get 10 hours worth of work done in 5 hours. Other days I get 2 hours worth of work done in 7 hours. And often, these results are no different when working in a traditional office environment.

Thought #3 – Don’t Do it Alone

Lastly, if I’m really struggling to finish a report that has to be done that day, but my Motivation Meter is reading 0, I’ll video-conference a co-worker (or friend!) and ask them if I can “sit” with them while I finish this up. Just being able to have some banter back and forth can help “humanize” the work and get me through that home-stretch.

So let’s recap:

  1. Use Time Smartly – Do the right tasks at the right time of day
  2. Pace Yourself – Don’t expect perfection, it’s okay to fail some days
  3. Don’t Do it Alone – Develop a work from home group of friends, and support each other through motivation and virtual relationships

Thanks so much for listening, and I hope that these ideas help you on your adventure in the growing group of people who work from home!

Set It Up

Set It Up

We all have different ways of organizing our homes, lives, and creative spaces. But what about our offices? When you have the freedom to work from home (and cube walls won’t be the defining factor of your office space), where do you even start to organize yourself into a productive zone?

Kelly EllisOur Team member, Kelly, has some helpful tips:

Organization – my favorite topic! I have worked in two types of set-ups since beginning the work at home journey: a cramped desk in my kitchen and my new dedicated office room in my home. Here are a few things I’ve learned about organizing in both types of office spaces. 

First – minimize distractions as much as you can. Clutter (even creative clutter!) can form a thought barrier between you and your task at hand. My tip would be to focus on what you need and have those items as your mainstays on top of your desk.

THAT’S IT.

I’m pretty disciplined about this – I typically only have my extra monitor, laptop, notebook for to do’s and tasks, and my trusty pack of pens on my desk. And sometimes my cat – but that’s really not my choice.

I’ve also found it extremely important to make my deskspace ‘Kelly-zone’. When I am in Kelly-zone, I am working and focused. I don’t sit in Kelly-zone while watching TV – being in my office chair is a signal that I am ready for business-time. Also, no TV in my office! I have a hard enough time focusing on the task at hand, but when a TV is blazing it’s multi-colored glory – I’m a goner.

Organizing your space is easy, but I’ve found the hardest part of organizing an offices space is the mind. Even though the word ‘routine’ sometimes gives people mental hives, it is AMAZINGLY helpful to have one when working from home. Without the visual cues to end (or start!) your day, it’s very easy to work way into the evening or not start on time.

Try out a few routines to see what works best for you. Always try and start with some way of gathering your thoughts and documenting them – to do lists are magical – but even getting out on paper what you’d like to accomplish today will make you ten times more likely to get it done.

Lastly – and this may be the most important – keep one thing nearby that makes you smile. If a color makes you happy – paint a canvas in that color and hang it in your line of sight. That awesome picture from your most recent vaca? Put it front and center on your office bookshelf. Even though your colleagues can’t see your space, it will make you feel a LOT better about the time you spend in your zone if you make it your own. 

Thanks, Kelly, for your tips!

What’s your work-at-home situation? How do you organize your space and mind when working from home? We’d love to hear from you!

Working At Home

Working At Home

As the world gets more and more virtual, so does our work. Studies have shown that 3.7 million employees (2.5% of the workforce) now work from home at least half the time and more and more companies are moving to be totally virtual.

Sound exciting? We agree – at CRN, we’re proud to be in those ranks as well.

BUT – if you have worked from home for even a small portion of your week, you might have found some interesting traits about yourself and home/work style:

  1. You are so PRODUCTIVE. When you’re not concerned about the commute home, worrying if you locked the front door, or if you have to sign for that delivery – some of the typical stress of being away from your dwelling is completely out of mind and taken care of. You also don’t have the social cues to head to Starbucks with a colleague, or spend a bit more time at the proverbial water cooler, so those extra minutes are spent knocking things out!
  2. Some days, it’s harder to stay focused on the tasks at hand. AND stay motivated. The joy of working from home is that you’re, well, at home. The not-so-joy? All of the off-work distractions are front and center – and there’s no one physically there to hold you accountable.
  3. I’m kind of lonely. It’s harder to fulfill that basic human interaction need when all you’re doing is staring at a computer screen!

What other aspects have you found out about yourself while working from home?

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be looking at a few of our Team’s tips and tricks on how to keep the work-at-home productivity rockin’ and the distractors at bay – to have the most productive, work-at-home day ever.

Stay tuned!