Productivity Hacks To Keep You On Track

Whether you work at home or in a co-working space, Freelance consultants will not see payment for our work until key milestones are reached or the project is complete.  Pay day will come around as scheduled only when we have the discipline to do our best work and get the job done.  Productivity equals a pay check for the self-employed.  Productivity also means that one is able to devote adequate time to activities that enhance the consulting practice, such as professional development and networking, as well as having time to enjoy a personal life.  Here are a few things you can do to maintain peak performance every day.

Define your work schedule

In general, Freelancers need to be available when clients expect us to be available. Answering client emails within an hour and calls as they come in demonstrates that we’re responsive and trustworthy.  Define the hours that you’ll be on the job and commit to working within that time frame.  Unless you’re on a very time-sensitive project, being “open for business” from approximately 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM Monday through Friday, with the exception of holidays, will seem reasonable to your clients.

Perform one task at a time

Multi-tasking has lost its luster.  Productivity experts now realize that we perform better when we work on one task at a time and give it our full attention.  Attempting to work simultaneously on more than one task can easily result in errors that require do-overs that undermine productivity.

Schedule time for content marketing and social media

Investigate social media aggregators such as FlockBuffer and Hootsuite , so that you can manage your blog, newsletter and social media accounts all from one dashboard.  Aggregators allow you to efficiently schedule and focus on this aspect of your consulting practice, whether you check in every day or once a week.  Some of these services offer a free, but limited, option that might meet your needs.

Organize your work space

Followers of Feng Shui understand the importance of maintaining a clean, neat desk and office space, as do devotees of Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (2011). De-cluttering is good for the soul and good for productivity, too.  For more information, please read my post Feng Shui for your office .

Be proactive

Every day, create a to-do list for the next day.  Rank the list into A-Tasks (high priority), B -Tasks (important, not urgent) and C-Tasks (do them when time allows).  The A-Tasks are what you start with each day.

Do not allow yourself to be controlled by non-business related incoming calls and emails. Put your ringer on silent and keep an eye on caller ID, so you’ll know if you must answer a call and do the same with emails—answer what pertains to business immediately.  You may want to devote the early morning and evening to answering non-urgent calls and emails.

Take breaks

Every 90 minutes to two hours, take a brain break.  On a nice day,  you might take a walk around the block.  If it’s cold or wet, leave your desk, find a comfortable place to put your feet up and meditate for 15 minutes.  Recharging your energy stores is important for promoting concentration, focus and creativity.

Invent deadlines

Decide how much time you should spend on a particular task and make yourself follow the time you allot.  Creating a bit of urgency can be a useful tactic to keep yourself motivated and working.

Eliminate distractions

Close your office door when you are not home alone, or signal that you’re engrossed in work if you’re in an open plan co-working space, to discourage others from dropping in to gossip or otherwise ease their boredom at your expense.  However, make yourself available to your child during your break times or when s/he has an urgent need and be available to take important work-related questions posed by your co-working colleagues.  It is unrealistic to hermetically seal yourself off from your environment, but nevertheless imperative that you have the ability to work undisturbed.

Exercise

Numerous studies conducted over the past 20 years have shown a positive correlation between regular exercise and productivity, in addition to the benefits for one’s physical and psychological health.  Create a physical and psychological foundation that supports your productivity by hitting the gym, going for a run or swim, or participating in the team sport of your choice, at least four times a week, for a minimum of 30 minutes per session.

Review and evaluate your day

At the end of the day, evaluate how well you measured up to the items on your to-do list. Did you accomplish what you set out to do? Identify what helped, or hindered, your performance and make any necessary adjustments.

Thanks for reading,

Kim

Image: The Gleaners (1857) Jean-Francois Millet (1814 – 1875)                                     Courtesy of La Musee D’Orsay, Paris

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Knowing How to Delegate Is a Productivity Plus

Those of us who work alone frequently need to at least maximize, if not increase, our productivity and hiring part-time or temporary help may be what it takes to get us there.  Sometimes, you need to ramp up to take on a big project for which you’ll need specialized competencies that are not in your skill set, prompting you to hire subcontractors.  In that case, you’ll lead a team and coordinate numerous tasks that drive completion of the project deliverables.  In other cases, you need administrative help to free you from routine tasks like bookkeeping and invoicing, or following-up with customer service requests.

In each scenario, the ability to effectively delegate will be instrumental in creating a positive working environment, where your hired help will strive to do their best work, so that desired outcomes are achieved.

Delegating can be considered both an art and a science and with practice, it can be mastered.  An unwillingness or inability to delegate indicates poor leadership.  Leaders who insist upon having their hands tightly on the wheel of every initiative are often perceived as controlling micromanagers by those who work with them. Such behavior telegraphs a lack of trust or even respect.  It is demotivating and ultimately counterproductive.  Here’s a checklist to help you perfect your delegating skill.

  1. Learn and assess the skills and interests of team members/ employees                                                                                                                        Consult with and observe your team members or employees when putting together a working group or assigning tasks and accommodate, to the best of your ability, their strengths and preferences, according to the project needs.  This could be a skills development opportunity for some and the wise leader will enable that process whenever possible and reap the benefits.
  2. Choose the right tasks to delegate                                                                                     You, team leader, are responsible for understanding and communicating the strategic, big picture view of the work.  Subcontractors and part-time help are responsible for their area of specialized skills.  You coordinate all tasks and ensure that milestones are met and the deliverables are provided within the project deadline and budget.
  3.  Provide the tools and authority to do the work                                                    Ensure that your employees or team have the resources—information, time, budget, equipment— and the authority to do what you’ve asked of them.  Don’t make them run to you whenever they need to take action.  Rather, empower them and let them apply their intelligence and creativity to making you look good.
  4. Be clear about expectations                                                                                           Explain the goals of the project or tasks and how they support short or long-term plans.  Explain how results/ success will be measured. Confirm that those who work for or with you understand their individual responsibilities and the collective goal. Make sure that the goals are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely.
  5. Provide feedback, guidance and encouragement.  Acknowledge success.     Monitor performance and quickly correct any misunderstandings or problems. Find teachable moments and provide training or useful suggestions when needed.  Encourage and enable excellent work to keep people motivated and productivity high.  Team members and employees will appreciate that you recognize and diplomatically call out both superior and weak performances.

 

Thanks for reading,

Kim

Image: A Goldsmith in Baghdad (1901), Kamal al-Mulk (1847-1941) courtesy of the Islamic Consultative Assembly in Tehran, Iran

Vacations Are Good For Business

The Memorial Day Weekend is approaching and with it the start of summer and the most popular vacation season. Perhaps it is the legacy of the Puritan work ethic that has caused the mixed feelings that many in the U.S. have towards the tradition of taking time off to relax and unwind. There are many of us who feel that stepping away from work responsibilities now and again signals a lack of discipline or commitment to our jobs. Many of us brag about the number of hours we work each day and more is always better.

U.S. companies on the whole are stingy about granting paid time off,  as compared to their peers in Europe and Latin America.  Even Great Britain, original birthplace of the Puritans, gives three paid days off at Christmas, while the U.S. companies usually grant only one.  Easter is the most important holiday on the Christian calendar, but in predominantly Christian USA, there is no longer a paid holiday for Easter Monday.  In contrast, paid holidays for Good Friday and Easter Monday are standard in Latin America and Europe.

The Center For Economic and Policy Research reports that 25% of U.S. workers receive no paid time off of any kind—sick time, holiday, or vacation time.  An increasing number of companies that employ primarily low-wage workers restrict the number of hours that their employees receive, to keep benefits out of reach for as many as possible.

U.S. workers are ourselves complicit in the anti-time off practice.  According to the jobs and recruiting site Glassdoor, 75% of employees who are eligible to receive paid vacation time do not use all of their time in a given year. However, there may be a method to the madness, sadly. The global forecasting organization Oxford Economics (part of Oxford University) found that 13% of managers were less likely to promote staff who use all of their vacation days and that employees who take off fewer days on average earn nearly 3% more pay than employees who use all vacation time granted.

Let us tally the costs that the nose-to-the-grindstone approach has on our physical and psychological well-being  Even Sigmund Freud recommended that we take vacations. He and his family were known to travel every summer. https://freelancetheconsultantsdiary.wordpress.com/2015/07/07/dr-Freud-and-the-interpretation-of-your-vacation

Gradually, the hidden price of excessive work is being acknowledged.  Numerous studies have demonstrated that forcing oneself to work days on end,  sometimes at a furious pace,  is ultimately counter-productive.  Workaholic behavior has been linked to decreased productivity and creativity; insufficient slee,  poor nutrition and obesity; negative stress; burn-out and mental health issues.  Some business leaders have headed the warning signs.

Ron Hastings, CEO of Netflix and author of Freedom and Responsibility (2009), is considered the thought leader of a trend that advocates for offering unlimited vacation time to employees.  He believes that leaders should trust their employees to make wise decisions about when and how much vacation time to take, that balances the company’s’ needs and their personal needs.

Full Contact, a Denver software company, now offers a $7500 bonus to employees if they actually leave town when on vacation.  Conditions apply.  Those employees must refrain from using tech gadgets such as mobile phones or computers and refrain also from sending emails and texts.  Employees cannot work while on vacation.

Finally, Jim Moffat, CEO of mega consulting firm Deloitte extols the benefits of vacations,  stating “By taking a break from day-to-day operations, not only was I spending more much-needed time with my family, but also I was able to focus on the bigger picture of where we (Deloitte) were and where our business was going.”

Are you convinced yet? It’s not so easy for small business owners and Freelance consultants to take time off, but make it a point to get out of town for a weekend trip or two this summer, if possible. Your clients will be better served when you are rested and ready to deliver the solutions that they need.

Happy Memorial Day,

Kim

 

Step It Up: Taking Your Business Venture To the Next Level


You might be doing fine and dandy with your business revenues and profits, or you might feel the need to generate more of both. Regardless of your particular circumstances, it is a well-known business axiom that like a shark, organizations (for-profit or not-for-profit) must continually move forward. Growth = Survival.

Growth in any aspect of life requires well-considered and attainable goals, objectives, strategies and an action plan. Be mindful that what you set out to do, while perhaps far-reaching, has the best chance of success if things are kept quite simple and not complex at all. Here are some strategies that may help you to achieve your goals, whatever they are.

Save time

Productivity is a key component of success in life and business. Whether you prefer to view productivity as working hard or working smart (I say a bit of both!), nothing happens unless what must be done is actually done.  Plans must be conceived, discussed and implemented and then measured for efficacy and impact.

Assess your technological capabilities and make sure that you are using devices and protocols that are time-saving.  Examine also the way you deliver your products and services. Operational efficiencies save time and money and allow you to direct your creative energies toward  money-generating activities, such as performing market research and competitive analyses, or just plain old resting and refreshing your energy stores.

Making it possible to bring in as many customers as possible as your organization quickly and inexpensively provides their products and services is the ultimate goal of productivity. How can you do what you do faster and Continue reading

Procrastination: Wrestling the Demon

The Bible named procrastination as one of the Seven Deadly Sins, classified as Sloth, that is, persistently failing to do what one should do. Evil exists when good (men) fail to act. Entrenched procrastination most certainly has the potential to ruin one’s life and such procrastinators are able to adversely impact family members and colleagues as well.

Joseph Ferrari, professor of psychology at DePaul University in Chicago and a noted researcher in the field of procrastination, reports that the disorder takes several forms and that he and fellow researchers have identified two primary types:

1.) Chronic procrastinators, who are perpetually unable to complete tasks.

2.) Situational procrastinators, who delay taking action on tasks that are considered particularly loathsome.

Procrastinators are unable to learn from the negative outcomes of their avoidance behavior. That they have suffered previously from failing to fulfill responsibilities does not motivate them to get busy when the next important task appears. Procrastination is the “quintessential” breakdown of self-control, according to Ferrari and his fellow researchers.

At this point in the story, I would have liked to present a neat and clever solution to the problem, all artfully phrased to make me look smart. But I’m sorry to say that solutions for procrastination are weak. Situational procrastinators have the best prognosis and everyone falls into this category from time to time. The next time that you just can’t face up to doing whatever, set a personal deadline and find the discipline to adhere to it, so that you’re not frantically working to get things done. Just do it and move on.

But chronic procrastinators are a very tough nut to crack. I know this from personal experience, because many years ago I had a long-term relationship with such an individual. His inability to make good decisions, which included chronic malignant procrastination coupled with passive aggressive behavior, caused me to leave him. I guess he loved me, but not enough to get his act together. I will never get over the disappointment that he caused me.

Ferrari suggests that organizations can diminish the common tendency to wait until the last-minute to complete tasks by rewarding early action and de-emphasizing penalties for lateness, in the process shifting from the threat of punishment to the pleasure of reward and keeping the lid on stress along the way.

On a personal level, which is where the procrastination battle lives, Ferrari advises to refrain from enabling chronic procrastination…..”let the fridge go empty, let the car stall out. Don’t bail them out.” However, that approach to fulfilling responsibilities will sometimes adversely impact the other half of the couple and it is not always practical to allow that to happen. As I found out, chronic procrastinators are not good life (or business) partners because they do not hold up their end. You may have to terminate the relationship, because things are unlikely to get better.

If you are a chronic procrastinator reading this post, consider that we all have only so many years in life and it is important to get on with things. It is a given that sometimes we have to suck it up and do what we don’t like. But then it’s off your plate and you can think about the fun things.

Thanks for reading,

Kim

Procrastination and Productivity

Who among us has not allowed a deadline to approach because we just could not pull ourselves together and do what we needed to do? Some things we just hate to do. Sometimes, we can’t get started because we don’t know where or how to start. We fear that we are not up to the task. Other times, we really do have too many other important things on our plate and we feel overwhelmed. We fall victim to procrastination.

“What I’ve found is that while everybody may procrastinate, not everyone is a procrastinator”, says Joseph Ferrari, professor of psychology at DePaul University in Chicago and a pioneer in the study of procrastination. He goes on to say that (procrastination) “really has nothing to do with time management”. His research revealed that an inability to manage emotions is the root cause of procrastination.

When psychologists initially studied procrastination they adopted time and value as their metrics, asking “Why does this person not perform a simple cost – benefit analysis of doing what they must vs.ignoring their responsibilities”? Unfortunately some of us, and from time to time all of us, choose immediate and sometimes minor gratification over more significant rewards that pay dividends in the long-term.

So instead of going to the gym at 6:00 AM we lie in bed for another 30 minutes. When we might work out after work at 6:00 PM, we instead go out drinking with friends. We put off doing our taxes and sit around watching re-runs on television instead. Professor Ferrari and others feel that procrastination happens for two primary reasons:

1.) We put off the task because we are not in the mood to either start or complete it.

2.) We assume that we’ll be in a more appropriate frame of mind to complete the task in the near future.

Needless to say, putting off until tomorrow that which one should do today may bring on guilt, anxiety and defensiveness. To ease our consciences, we often make little bargains with ourselves and vow to clean up our act going forward (“If I go out tonight, I’ll work out for 90 minutes tomorrow”). That approach can work but for some of us, the avoidance behavior that is procrastination will kick in again and tomorrow there will be another excuse (“I have so much work to do, I can’t get to the gym and even if I do go, I’ll be too exhausted to do a good workout”).

Getting stuck in a procrastination pattern does one’s self-esteem no favors. Beneath the defensive attitude that may be thrown at those who dare question why you’re not doing what you should do is self-loathing. You feel like a loser because you know you’re screwing up and no amount of self-righteous denial can hide that fact from yourself.

Procrastination is not to be confused with positive behaviors such as caution, where you think first and weigh the possible consequences of moving forward to take action; pondering, when you examine a problem and discover solutions that you can expect will be useful; or prioritizing, when you assign a value to and rank your responsibilities and complete highly ranked tasks first and the least important tasks are done last, if at all. Procrastination represents a gap between intention and action.

Next week, we’ll look at common forms of procrastination and strategies that may resolve or ameliorate the problem.

Thanks for reading,

Kim

Dr. Freud and the Interpretation of Your Vacation

Happy summer! Finally, that sweet season is here. Outdoor activities, gardens in full bloom, warm breezes, early sunrise and late sunset are ours to enjoy. But projects often conclude in June and July – August billable hours shrink. What’s a Freelancer to do? Reviewing your client list and thinking about how to create business in the fourth quarter is always useful. Another option is to take a vacation, If you can afford it.

I’ve vacationed in every season and personally, I prefer winter get-aways that allow me to visit warm climates and escape  frigid, snowy New England for a week or two. Winter vacations are expensive though, in terms of time and money and they take business owners and Freelancers out of town when clients are in town. Might we lose business as a result?

Skiers are able to take long weekends to nearby locations, but those in search of warm weather must travel much farther and commit a much larger block of time and money. If you’re able, then do so, but many of the self-employed are better served by taking a vacation when clients are likely to be away as well.

Vacations are good for us. We need to get away from our usual workaday routines and refresh our spirits and revitalize our perspectives. Both psychologists and productivity experts espouse the benefits of getting away from it all and short vacations sprinkled throughout the year have been demonstrated to produce greater stress reductions and both creativity and productivity benefits than a single two week vacation. Besides, a serendipitous networking opportunity could fall into your lap while on vacation, or you could possibly come up with a brilliant solution to a problem, once you’ve begun to relax and unwind.

Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis and the father of psychotherapy, was a devotee of the summer vacation. The project of planning his family’s annual summer vacation was a favorite project that he called the “Sommerproblem”. Vacations brought tangible benefits to Dr. Freud.

In July 1895, while summering at Schloss Bellevue, a hotel and spa located in an outer district of Vienna, Freud had the dream that gave rise to his ground-breaking theory that dreams are wish fulfillment. His book On the Interpretation of Dreams was published in 1899 and it is still in print.

In his only visit to the US, in August 1909, Freud combined business with pleasure when he came to Clark University in Worcester, MA to deliver five lectures on psychoanalysis and receive an honorary degree. On his visit, Freud met James Jackson Putnam, professor of neurology at Harvard University and a leader of the movement to professionalize psychotherapy in the US. Putnam invited Freud and two other well-known psychoanalysts who traveled to America with him — Carl Jung, who also lectured and received an honorary degree from Clark and Sandor Ferenczi — to spend a few days at the Putnam family camp in the Adirondacks and visit Niagara Falls.

Several days of hiking and feasting led Freud to later write of “the most important personal relationship which arose from the meeting at Worcester”. Putnam gave credibility to Freud’s theories about psychoanalysis and promoted its use (NY Times August 29,2009). His reputation soared and his practice was set from then on.

On your next vacation, it is unlikely that you will be inspired to author a book that becomes an international best-seller, connect with an influential thought-leader who helps to solidify your professional reputation, or encounter a venture capitalist who provides the funding that takes your fledgling business to the next level. You could find your next client, however, or maybe someone who tells you about an unexpected market for your services. If you plan well and don’t try to overdo, you will relax and feel better, whether you visit a new location or return to a perennial favorite. Whatever you do, have a wonderful time!

Thanks for reading,

Kim

The Fit Freelancer

What you didn’t know about me is that in addition to bring a Freelance strategy and marketing consultant,  I’ve also been a fitness instructor for the past dozen years.  I became a fitness enthusiast on my 21st birthday.  On that day I realized that the clock was ticking and that it would make sense to do whatever was possible to preserve and protect my health and strength.

I ran one mile.  I made myself drink 8 glasses of water (a substance that I loathed) and promised myself to drink at least that amount every day.  I began to eat vegetables other than corn,  spinach or peas.  Soon thereafter I became a vegetarian and followed that regimen for about 15 years,  reintroducing meat to my diet only after peer-reviewed studies showed that red meat is a beneficial component of our diets,  providing the best source of protein and facilitating the absorption of minerals.

There are now thousands of studies that focus on wellness,  that is the benefits of regular exercise,  a healthy diet,  adequate sleep and supportive relationships.   Over the past 15 years or so,  psychologists and other social scientists have learned that regular exercise does much more than improve our physical beings.  Exercise impacts the way we think.  Statistically significant cognitive benefits of regular exercise include:

  • Improved concentration
  • Enhanced creativity
  • Faster learning
  • Sharper memory
  • Greater mental stamina
  • Lower stress

Regular exercise (defined here as three or four 45-minute workouts/week;  one mile swims/week;  or two-mile runs/week) has also been shown to boost self-confidence and cause our central nervous systems to produce endorphins and serotonin,  chemicals that are natural mood elevators.  Exercise makes us think more efficiently,  work more effectively and feel happier,  more confident and less stressed.  May I add self-discipline to the list of exercise benefits?  It takes real discipline to pull oneself out of bed at 4:45 AM on a freezing January morning and venture out into the icy darkness a few minutes later,  en route to the gym.

Surprisingly,  the time of day that we exercise matters and according to researchers,  daytime is best.  A 2008 study revealed that exercising during work hours (or before the work day) improves the ability to manage time;  increases one’s productivity; improves our interactions with colleagues; and leaves us still feeling good as we head home at the end of the day.

I will concur.  I always did my runs in the early morning and eventually,  I came to prefer early morning exercise classes.  I like to get my workout done before the events of the day have a chance to derail my schedule and I love the energy blast that early morning exercise gives me.  What a feeling of accomplishment I have as I waltz out of the health club door at 8:15 AM,   showered and dressed and ready to take on the day!

Regular exercise benefits everyone and I feel it is especially beneficial for Freelance consultants and business owners.  For us,  achieving and maintaining mental and physical stamina are a must.  Researchers offer a few suggestions that will support those of you who are about to introduce fitness into your lives:

  • Find a physical activity that you like,  because you will not continue otherwise.
  • Get a trainer and/or take fitness classes.  Commit to learning how to work out in a way that maximizes the benefits and minimizes the risk of injury
  • Get social.  Talk to people and make friends at your gym.
  • Join a team if you like team sports.  You will be compelled to practice (exercise) and play (more exercise).

I offer you my suggestions,  based on many years of gym membership and 12 + years of teaching fitness:

  • Join a gym that is convenient to your home or office,  to make it easy for you to get there.
  • Early morning is probably the most convenient time to exercise.  Develop your early morning exercise routine in spring time,  when mornings are brighter and waking up will be easier.

Thanks for reading,

Kim

So Take A Vacation, Already

A 2011 survey by American Express revealed that fewer than half of U.S. small business owners will take a vacation this summer.   37 % cited that their work schedules would not allow them to take time off.   29 % reported that they were unable to afford a vacation.  16 %  stated that they do not take vacations,  period.  A 2013 study by Staples reported that more than 40 % of small business owners find it difficult to relax and enjoy themselves when they do take a vacation,  due to constant concerns about what may be happening to their business while they are away.

Regardless of the habits of American small business owners,  research indicates that vacations are more beneficial than they realize and that all those who work would be wise to take time off.  Doing so confers benefits to both one’s health and business productivity.  The landmark Framingham (MA) Heart Study revealed that women who on average took only one vacation in six years were nearly eight times more likely to develop coronary heart disease than those who vacation annually.  A 2008 study reported that men who do not take a vacation every year are 32 % more likely to die of a heart attack than men who do vacation every year.

No doubt other factors were involved in bringing on those coronary events,  but there is still a demonstrable positive correlation between stepping away from the grind of work and overall health.  To function optimally,  both the brain and heart like a little rest now and again.  Without adequate rest,  we descend into fatigue and fatigue makes it difficult for us to think either rationally or creatively and we are less able to make smart decisions.

Peter Handal,  CEO of the venerable leadership development company Dale Carnegie strongly recommends that workers take a few days off and do something that they enjoy.  A recent study by Intuit found that 82 % of small business owners who took a vacation experienced an increase in performance when they returned to their business.  A 2005 study by organizational psychologists Charlotte Fritz of Portland (OR) State University and Sabine Sonnentag of the University of Manheim (Germany) demonstrated the phenomenon of a post-vacation boost in energy reserves that results in greater productivity per hour worked.

The Protestant Work Ethic that the Puritans imposed onto the United States has in many ways done more harm than good.  In terms of the number of vacation days and holidays awarded to workers by companies in the industrialized nations,  the US ranks dead last.  Americans foolishly think that the workaholic is the virtuous, high-producing hero and that the more hours worked,  the better.  But Henry Ford,  who conducted various productivity studies at his Detroit plant for 12 years,   learned in the 1920s that worker productivity falls sharply after 40 hours/week.  That’s why he reduced his factory worker’s week to 5 days,  40 hours from 6 days,  48 hours.

Research about the optimal length of vacation time off is conflicting,  with some researchers advocating for shorter breaks and others recommending 2 weeks or more,  as is the standard in Latin America and Europe.  Vacations can be difficult for the self-employed,  who often have inconsistent income streams.  Still,  whenever you can,  take a few days off when you are not busy and get out of town.  Stay with a friend or get a bed from Air BandB.  Participate in low-cost activities that you enjoy,  whether it’s camping,  hiking,  going to the beach,  attending free outdoor music festivals or visiting museums.   Your smart phone will help you keep up with important emails.   You are guaranteed to lose a few layers of stress,  improve your overall health,  increase your productivity and feel better about your self.

On Thursday morning,  I will travel to Portland, ME for four days of R & R that will feature a scenic cruise on Casco Bay and lots of lobster!

Thanks for reading,

Kim

Work From Home and Be Productive

There is an art to working from home and not everyone is able to master the craft.  Working from home is a luxury that saves much time and money,  but if you are not disciplined,  you will be foiled by constant distractions and nothing will be accomplished.  Working at home is most successfully practiced by independent self-starters who are comfortable working alone. “The level of discipline it takes to work from home and generate solid results is intense and most people fail at  (working from)  home because of this one fact”,  warns business and sales strategy expert Grant Cardone, author of If You’re Not First, You’re Last (2010).

In the 21st century,  working at home does not mean simultaneously juggling business and personal responsibilities while in your pajamas.  Telecommuters and Freelance solopreneurs save commuting time and expense and give themselves more potential working hours in which to maximize productivity.  Control over one’s time is a huge benefit.  There will be no impromptu meetings to destroy one’s schedule or long conversations by the water cooler to talk about last night’s game,  but those who live with others may have to fight to enforce boundaries and eliminate constant interruptions.   Freelance solopreneurs also realize a tremendous cost saving through by-passing office space rent.   Make the most of your home office experience and follow these tips:

I.   Create an office space

If you are able to have a room in your home to use as an office,  so much the better.  City dwellers may have a small desk or writing table in a corner of their bedroom.  Keep your workspace clean and organized,  as suggested by feng shui experts.   A good environment really does boost productivity and make one feel more comfortable.

2.  Establish boundaries

If you live with others,   teach them to respect that when you step into your office space,  you are at work.  You cannot referee spats;  you cannot chat with your husband or your mother;  you cannot drive anyone to the mall.  Shut the door and work.  Do take normal workday coffee and lunch breaks.

3.   Keep regular work hours

Go to work every day.   You have the luxury of working longer or shorter hours,  mornings or late nights,  according to your biorhythms and the projects on your desk.   Resist the temptation to be either a workaholic or a slacker.

4.   Dress for success

The popular image of those who work from home is of someone who’s in a bathrobe all day,  or sweats.  Remind yourself and those with whom you live that you are a professional who takes your work seriously.  Take a daily shower,  brush your teeth,  comb your hair and dress for work,  whether in business casual attire or jeans and T-shirt.

5.   Stay connected

Working at home is isolating and it is important to maintain professional contacts.  If you telecommute,  set up and participate in conference call meetings that keep you in the loop at the office.   Write reports that document your work and contributions to your team.   Meet regularly with clients,  whether you are a telecommuter or Freelance solopreneur.   Join and visit professional networking groups and attend conferences.  Nurture relationships with professional colleagues.

Thanks for reading,

Kim