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Telework Tips

Uncategorized Mar 31, 2020


A lot of us have been forced indoors due to the virus. This means you may be working from home for the first time, or your spouse may be working from home for the first time. No matter what your situation is, it's important that you do the work to set yourself up for success. This means being intentional about how you setup your day, knowing when to take breaks, setting boundaries, and learning how to effectively communicate with coworkers. To help you out, I have compiled 14 (it was 16, but as you'll hear in the episode a few ran together) telework tips to help you set up your day for success.

Those tips are...

  1. Morning routine
  2. Get Dressed
  3. Exercise
  4. Clean
  5. Dedicate a Workspace
  6. Connect with Friends
  7. Spend Time Outside
  8. Calendar, Timers, Breaks
  9. Use full size peripherals
  10. Use a collaboration tool
  11. Consider a bandwidth upgrade
  12. Communicate availability
  13. Consult a tax expert
  14. Exercise Patience

My fuel is the deep conversations with you about these topics. Please take a moment to chime in on social, say "Hi," and let me know what you think. It would mean the world to me. All of my social media links are at the top and bottom of the site.

Episode Transcript

The following is the full transcript of this episode of The Steven Zavertnik Show. Please note that this episode, like all SZS episodes, features Steven speaking unscripted and unedited

Welcome to the show. I'm Steven Zavertnik. Each week we take a personal professional development topic, pull it apart, and distill it down to give you practical mindset tools and applications to own your life to where you can be unstoppable. Today we have an episode guided a little bit towards the situation in the world.

Yes, the. Corona virus is still going on. As I'm sure you're aware, many States are starting to put extra restrictions. The state I live in just issued a lockdown beginning today through, I think a month, either late April or all the way to June. I don't remember. Right. I know it's at least a month that we're doing this.

So this is, this is something that's still escalating here in the United States. I know some other countries. Are are coming out of it or on the, on the tail end of some of this, but this is something that's not going away. I think this is something that's going to be here for a long while. Something that we're going to have to deal with.

Kind of like the fluid comes around every season. Maybe this won't be seasonal, but I think it's, it's going to be here and, and you're going to be around for awhile. So this is kind of the new norm, the new world we live in. So what I wanted to do. Was doing an episode of telework tips. So that's what we're doing today.

I have 16 tips to help those of us out who are working from home. I had the option before. It was very fortunate enough to have the option and flexibility to start working from home, and I needed to. Over the past, I guess, year and a half, two years. That's been a new thing for me. I have not had that option in my career until this point, and I noticed the first couple of times I did it.

Who did I get? Nothing done. That was, that was a challenge because you hit your home, you're in a different environment, you're not set up right. And so for me to concentrate when I could be doing all of these other non-work things that are more fun and move the needle for me, you know that that was a challenge.

But over the time I got used to that. And now that it's forced, like you have to adapt, your environment has changed. So we're going to talk about that a little bit throughout the tips. So let's dive right in. We're going to start with tip number one. That is a morning routine. I wanted you to have a morning routine before this, and you probably did, whether it was intentional or not.

But now that the state of everything has changed, it's that much more important in the next few types are going to feed into that morning routine. But I really want to get you into the mindset of getting those systems in place to set you up for success. There's a reason that everybody in the self development space harps on morning routines.

It's because they work. They set your morning up and set your day up to be that much more automatic. My morning routine becomes habit. It's, I'm almost like a robot. I go into it and knock out everything and then then I don't have to worry about it. I used to put exercise as part of the morning routine and I'm considering adjusting that for other productivity reasons and how I operate, but that's something I really have to look at because I don't have the discipline.

Yeah afternoon that I do in the morning, but in the morning, do you need to do something to prep for the day and take care of yourself? For me, I wake up, roll out of bed, brush my teeth. First thing I do is either a 20 minute meditation or some breath work. Um, just set me up. I've been leaning more towards Wim Hoff breathwork with everything going on right now because it's supposed to help your immune system.

And I, you know, that's just the way I'm. Dealing with this in this current situation. So I actually get a little bit of time back from that. That only takes me about 15 minutes. Then I go and do the planner. I'm still planning out my day, even though I'm not traveling and there's a lot more flexibility and I can get more done.

I'm still planning my day and we'll go into that here when we transitioned from more of the personal setup to the work setup, but that's important. Have the plan and then I go into, you know, taking care of the dog. Um, you know, green drink, getting whatever else, ready, taking a shower, just finish out that last 20 minute, 30 minute segment for me.

And that's definitely adjusted and it takes me less time because I'm not doing the same things I was doing before when I was going into work. Everything's shifted a little bit. So I had to pull back and reevaluate the morning routine and execute a new one. Do this stuff intentionally. Okay. Now we're going to get into a few things.

Do you might want to incorporate into your morning routine? Maybe not. These are just some options for you. Number two, get dressed. I know. We don't want to, we're working from home. In fact, I probably have shorts on. I definitely have shorts on under the shirt sometimes. Um, and definitely right now. But get dressed for the day.

I take a shower every morning before work on the weekends. I like to sprint. I do my best to work in the morning, so I wake up and I just go. Your routine is different. Everything's different. On the weekends I, that time is for me, you know, between four or five o'clock to eight nine o'clock, 10 o'clock like that's where I'm dedicated down sprinting to get work done because I know that I operate differently in that time.

But get dressed. It puts me, you know, it cleans me, probably stung a little bit. You're working from home and just getting me ready for the day. It's fresh, clean mindset and that way you still look somewhat professional if you have to jump on a video call or communicating with your coworkers. A lot of that appearance is, has psychological tricks.

To put you into a different state. Look at smiling when you're on the phone with somebody. The way you're dressed up can kind of trigger you to get into that work mode. Uh, if you're not video teleconferencing with somebody, pull up a picture of them. It makes the conversation feel more personable because you're looking at a picture of them.

And these are little tiny psychological tips that that work. You can. You can send some of the stuff sometimes when you're talking to people. Tip number three, exercise. Do not let this slip. Mine's adjusted. I'm definitely doing less. Every gym that I had access to, it's closed the gym in my apartment complex, the gym at work.

I'm not going to go pay for a membership and other gyms are closing for safety concerns, so I've got to adjust. I'm doing. Lot more yoga. I'm working on my back, you know, my posture has is completely screwed up. My hips have been out of alignment my whole life, so I'm doing a lot of exercises to bring that in, right?

That and tilt my hips properly. So it's kind of an opportunity for me to slow down and really focus on those exercises and help out there, or just go for a run, even a brisk walk. And we'll, we'll go more with getting outside here in a minute, but taking care of yourself when the rest of the world is going crazy and is in chaos is really important.

You have to ground yourself and be that rock, especially if you have a family. The undertone of all of this is leading by example, role model the way that's really important. Number four. You need to clean up, just spending more time at home. You're moving around a lot more. And now you know, this is different for everybody.

I'm a neat freak. I always have been. It's, I've, I cleaned less than I used to 10 years ago. And so I've unlearned it to now intentionally do it to where I have a good balance. But if you spent a lot of time away from your house and now you're spending a whole lot more time in it. You need to set up the environment of your home to and optimize it for your day.

So clean up a lot of, a lot of times if you have a clean outside, you have a clean inside, so that could affect. If you're getting stressed out by all of this and getting a little bit overwhelmed, start doing that. The other cool thing about cleaning another psychology trick, it's instant gratification.

You see, when you. Have a dirty counter and you wipe down the counter. It's like instant feedback. Hey, I did something. It's kinda like the make your bed tip at the beginning of the day when you wake up, make your bed. The first thing you do in the morning, you've done something, you've accomplished something that just sets you up to continue to go and be more productive throughout the day.

Because trust me, it is super easy to slip into getting distracted and doing other things when we're working from home. Number five, dedicate a workspace. I am doing this in my main desk because I have a small area, but it's also where I do work for this business that, you know, the podcast comes out of the, it's really helped, actually, I'm surprised for this because I'm now mixing two, which is, you know what I'm recommending against for this.

But it puts me in a work mindset now for both works that I'm doing, if that makes sense. For those of you that have a family, this might not be as easy to do. Maybe you need to carve out and put up a bench in the garage, just someplace dedicated. Maybe you're going to freeze your butt off in your basement, but you need to have that space to where you can spread out.

You can spread out some of your work stuff and be able to focus and lock in. What this does is they've done studies on people with insomnia and they tell them, if you can't go to sleep, get up and get out of your bed, get out of your bedroom. And so what that does over time is it trains the body that when you go into your bedroom and when you go into a bed, it's time to sleep.

It's almost like training a dog, but it works on people. I do the same thing. I didn't realize that I was doing it, but I don't spend any time in my bedroom really, except to get dressed full laundry and sleep without doing anything. I fell asleep within five minutes and my head hitting the pillow every single night.

So environment is the shortcut. Automating you to get into the mood, to do what you need to do. So if you have a dedicated workspace, as soon as you walk into that workspace, your brain's going to go, Oh, Hey, we're working. This is where we work. This is where we do the work. Things. Dedicate that workspace.

Number six, connect with friends as this is super important. Everybody has a different situation that they're going through right now. Be in contact. You're not seeing people as much in person. Uh, I've been doing. Some digging into the sense and the importance of physical human contact. Um, physical is one of my primary love languages, but it's more than that.

And when you dig deeper, there's deeper biological necessity for physical contact. So if you're homeless, your family, maybe you're not a hugger, you might want to become a hugger because everybody's kind of on edge. And you need that in your life. It's, the more I look into it, the more of a necessity I feel like it is.

But when you don't have that, you've got to do what you can do. Everybody's using and getting used to all of these new collaboration tools. Zoom, Google Hangouts, you got FaceTime on your phone. Uh, Facebook has video integration. Use these tools to connect with your friends and your coworkers. Check in on them.

Don't just text. Don't just shoot a message, like dedicate some time. People have more time and people are connecting more. Use this time to boost those relationships, to make them stronger for when we come out of this and we can hang out again casually and please, please, please take this one seriously.

This is going to be huge. This going to benefit you. And hope people that you know may not have anybody to talk to and may not be comfortable reaching out. Tip number seven, spend time outside. I know that's, you know, we're supposed to stay inside. I'm not saying go out and mingle, but I have a dog. I take him for walks or go, just run him around, out back.

I have a little open area in the apartment complex and just run around with them for 10 15 minutes or take a walk for 30 minutes. It's good for you, some exercise for you and get some good, good for the dog, get some exercise for the dog, but being in nature, it's springtime. Temperatures in a lot of places are warming up, so let's take advantage of that and get out there and just with all of this chaos going on.

Appreciate the small things in life. I know I have. I was a little bummed today. It's going to be like in the 50s which I'm like, Oh, it's still nice and I appreciate it, but yesterday was like 70 degrees and it was awesome. Can we just keep doing that because I can step outside and have the windows open where at work I usually can't, so I'm really taken advantage of that.

All right. Tip number eight. This is our transition tip. This is going from kind of setting up stuff personally for you to going into setting things up. For your workspace. So tip number eight, use your calendar. I know I've talked to some people that they're like, Oh no, I get anxiety around a calendar. I feel like if I put an appointment in there, then I have to stick to it.

Well, yeah, that's the point. Like, stop adding the anxiety on top of that. Like let's work on the anxiety, not the tool that is working. Like that's a good thing. So put in there what you want. I'm going to be the first to tell you that I use this as a productivity tool. Put the things that are important to you in the calendar first, and then if you get anxious about doing things in your calendar, guess what?

You're going to do the things that are important to you first. I think that's, I wish I got anxious about a calendar. I talked myself out of doing things. I tend to rationalize myself out of doing things that I planned in two more than the other way around. Like I'm like, I wish I got anxious around what I put in my calendar.

I would stick to things . I'd be way more farther than in the things I'd like to do if, if I was like that. But use your calendar and here's why. So we're going to go into some boundary setting tips here soon, and this is going to help with that. What I really want you to look at is, is setting timers and taking breaks.

So schedule your breaks first. If you can work for three hours, taking a few short breaks. After three or four hours, whatever is best for you. Take a long break. Whenever you hit the end and you know you're starting to get tired, put a half hour to an hour break in there. Take that time to recharge that, but you can come back to what you're doing focused.

A lot of us, especially if you have a family that you're dealing with and navigating and trying to use to maybe a spouse working from home. Then you guys have both never worked from home or together all day. Like there's a lot of dynamics going on in your situation is unique to use. So you need to figure that out to be successful for yourself.

So here's what I like to do. I like to set timers, high performance stuff coming into play. Now, high performers work for 52 minutes, take a break for eight. That's usually how it goes. So 50 10 is just to make it simple, excuse me, 50 10 just to make it simple. Set a timer, decide what you are going to work on for 50 minutes.

And I like to make it something big and kind of compete with it. And this is a tip I got from a friend. Make it a competition. How much can I get done on this task? And these 50 minutes doing that. Aw man, it kind of makes mundane stuff a little more fun. So I really recommend like that little mental trick, but do those timers and then take a 10 minute break, get up, move around.

Breathe, close your eyes, you know, give yourself a true break for 10 minutes. Get some coffee as I'm not drinking coffee. And this is like week three of not drinking coffee. It's crazy. Uh, but get some coffee, get some tea, whatever you need to do. Take those breaks and then come back and, and do it again, three, four hours, and then take a longer break.

But schedule that, figure out what works for you. And this is going to be like, I would do this not just at home, like this is a tip I give for everybody. It's, you know, what we call block time. And then during the breaks, this is just a great tool and it's going to help you get things done in an environment that you're still adapting to and getting used to.

So if you're like, I'm going to spend the next 50 minutes working on this and trying to move the needle on this project. We can all do that. It's 50 minutes at a time and don't worry about what's next. Just worry. Focus on what you need to focus on. This is huge tip for work life, current situation, no matter who you are.

This is a key tip right here. I'm gonna go into some more tactical working from home and collaborating with your teammates now. So we're going to go a little bit faster through these cause I think these are a lot more straightforward. Tip number nine, use full size peripherals. I wish I had another camera so I can move around.

I have my work laptop here next to me. It's closed. I am using collaboration tools on my main computer because I have the full setup, you know, nice fancy monitor. I can do a lot more and track a lot more at once. I unfortunately can't focus as much at work because there's other things I need to be tied into.

Just the nature of my job. But it allows me to not like crunch down and get carpal tunnel typing on a 10 a little laptop. I don't need to use a 15 inch laptop screen when I have a 42 inch super wide monitor right next to it. Like that's silly. So use some bigger tools that are more comfortable to you because other, I mean, you're going to get tired of this in a few days and it's not going to be good for your body.

So set that up to where you're comfortable doing work. Figure out what's good for you. I recommendation is use full-size keyboard and mouse. Number 10, use a collaboration tool. Something like Slack. Uh, Microsoft teams are little X fire, you know, different channels. Group of people in, maybe your office does or doesn't use some tools like this.

If they don't just set one up for your team. Maybe if this is something new for you, just to. Try it out. You can share share documents. It makes things really easy to where you're not getting bombarded with excessive emails because we're all working remotely and then pick and standardize those collaboration tools.

Right now we're jumping from one to the other, to the other, trying to figure out kind of what works because our team has a lot of different requirements and resources to do things. So we're still trying to kind of figure that out, but it's getting to the point where it's like guys, like, let's just find something that works.

Like, Hey, if this is not working consistently, let's drop it like it's not an option. Find something that works and then stick with it. So try it for a week. Hey, this works cool. This is where we're going for now. One, stick with something. That way people can get used to something. I think that's really important and going to help people be more productive at home when they aren't trying to relearn new tools.

Every other day while they're also trying to relearn and learn how to work at home. Number 11 consider a bandwidth upgrade, especially if you have a family. If you're at home, you're doing video calls. Now, if you're online doing stuff constantly, you have kids at home, they're playing video games, TVs are going, we don't, a lot of people don't watch regular cable TV, so you're streaming, you've got a spouse at home.

She's doing the same thing you're doing, taking a break. She's watching. You know, movies on her own. Everybody's just on, all of our phones are connected. You got smart home devices. There's a lot of stuff that's connected. Consider a bandwidth upgrade. This could save you. I know that we've been working people, they have bad connection.

You can't hear him. It gets frustrating real quick. So don't be that guy. . Might be worth it for you to look into this and I'll hope you make it a little bit more worth it here in the end with another tip. Number 12 you guys got to start setting some boundaries. You're working from home, so let's try to separate that life a little bit.

So communicate your availability. A friend of mine taught me to go trip. She's like, I try to help people out and understand my mood for the day cause they can't see me by using emojis as a status. She's like, I'm in a good mood. You know, like just smiley face as a status kind of thing. Or if you're in an okay mood, you know, you find an emoji to represent that status.

If you're out to lunch, you know, throw a little picture of a taco or a burrito up there, or a salad whenever you got, you know, if you're taking a break for a walk or you're taking the dog out and can throw a dog up there. I just think it's a really fun little way to communicate your status. And. But talking to her, she said it started catching on in her office.

So everybody's kind of doing it now and I just think, you know, that's a fun little thing to do in these times. Also with communicating availability, communicate your work hours. You don't have to drive into work and maybe it's, it's shifted. A lot of the team I work on, we've shifted earlier. We're online earlier now.

I haven't really noticed anybody going offline that much earlier. And I think it's really important to communicate, Hey, these are my working hours, this is when you can contact me. And if you do that, you know, people are still kind of do their own thing and blast you with communications when you're not at work.

But now you can, if you communicate upfront and are proactive about that, you can kind of set those boundaries and enforce it a little bit. The next thing to do is manage your notifications. I made this as a separate tip. I don't know why it goes right into communicate availability. Manage your notifications.

So if you're out of work, shut off the notifications on your computer and phone for whatever tools you're using, like your work, email your work Slack. You know some, I mean, some of us don't have this option. I understand that, but if you do take advantage of it, it's going to keep you sane in this and it's going to keep you, you know, helping you set those boundaries to where you can focus on your own life when you need to take a break or you're just chilling out for the evening.

You don't need to be plugged in to work all day. You're not getting paid for it. A few of you might. Oh, it's different because you know, entrepreneurship is a little bit different of a of a thing, but give yourself the time, shut those notifications off, you know, take the breaks, do what you need to do throughout the day to set yourself up.

That's really what all of this is coming down to, is just thinking intentional about how to set things up for you to be as successful as possible as we navigate these times.

I think we covered standardized communication tools and collaboration tools. So number 13 is, is it going to go back to the bandwidth upgrade and some other stuff is talk to a tax expert. Maybe not. Now we're coming up on the close of tax season, but when you do taxes next year. This is fits into that working from home category where you are, the way that people interpret the law is one of the requirements you have to hit is you have to be forced to work from home over 50% of the time.

And so the way people look at that, people are confused. They're like, Oh, does that mean like throughout the whole year or do we just look at like the month that I was forced to work from home? And people, the way people are interpreting that is looking at the dedicated time period. So during this time period, you were, so you're going to account for this time period on next year's taxes.

Again, not a text tax professional, not a finance guy at all. No certifications, just I've read it multiple times and doing research for this episode and consulting some people who have worked from home for years and they're like, no, this is how. People are interpreting the law, and this is what everyone feels.

The intent is behind this. So talk to somebody. This could be something that could benefit you in the long run. And the final tip, number 14 I guess we only have 14 not 16 tips is exercise patients. Look, I only have to worry about myself. It's really easy for me to adapt and move around to this. But not everybody on your team.

Not everybody on my team has that luxury. They have families at home, they have kids at home, and you have a whole dynamic that you have to get used to and adapt to. And so somebody's running around with three kids is going to be able to focus way less than me, and I need to understand that. So that's something that we need to take into consideration.

I'm not saying that's an excuse. I do think that they need to look at an employee, some of these tools. So if. You have that guy that has three kids and isn't getting worked on, and it's, we've been doing this long enough now that it's like, all right, man, you've had enough time to adjust. Send them to this episode.

Hack them, listen to some of these so that they can exercise and put into play some of these tools that will help you out. So pick a couple of these, throw them in your thing. Be patient with your team. Everybody's adjusting the season. Is easy for some, as it is for others. Uh, again, for me, it's easy for me to be like, all right, like, let's pull back, let's recalibrate, reset, and, and re execute with a new plan.

Like, this is kind of what I do. Uh, so I can move left and right real fast. But not everybody thinks about stuff like this. So if they don't, if you have coworkers that aren't thinking through these things in an intentional way. Have them listen to this episode. Maybe a couple of these tips will resonate with them and they'll try out a couple things like I, this is just stuff for you to try to help optimize and make your day that much more productive.

Fill it with a little bit more joy so we're not getting stressed out with everything going on. Doing these tips and setting up the systems for you will no doubt help you navigate this new time. I want to thank you all so, so much for spending time with me today. I really appreciate it. Let me know what you think of these tips.

Uh, come find me on Facebook. It's splash, Stevens avert, and Eric. I have a public page there. That's usually where this episode gets posted. Jump into comments in there. That's where I spend most of my time. Or comment below in on the YouTube video and just tell me what you think. What do you think about these tips?

What are some tips that you have? What has worked for you. What is a tip that you can share that you think would benefit everybody else because it's worked so well for you. So let's have this conversation. How can we be more effective now that we are working from home? Thank you all. I will talk to you next week.

I don't really see you when I do this. I want to say see you at the end of episode, but I don't really see any of you. I'm staring at a camera, so I will talk to you all next week. Thanks again for your time. Thanks again for listening and I'll talk to you in the comments.

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