Top 15 tips from those who’ve made it work
REALTORs® are notoriously on the go. Mobile offices and drive-thrus are daily staples. While some of us have mastered the art of the home (or car) office, others are still used to a more brick-and-mortar type of environment. We surveyed 420 REALTORs® from across North America on an online forum and asked “What are your top strategies to being productive while working from home”? For those of you who are used to a more structured office environment, here are the Top 15 ways these guys “go to work” every day from their home office home base:
1. Manage distractions
Distractions are EVERYWHERE. Kids, chores, pets, partners. How do you cope with incoming calls, meetings and needing to focus on the task at hand? Becoming disciplined with your space and your schedule is key. First of all, you will be distracted by things subconsciously. Ever notice how much more organized and in control you feel when your home is clean and tidy? Don’t try to work from home while dishes have piled up. Take the time first to remove these distractions, before hopping on your laptop.
2. Have a dedicated space
Your workspace and home space being the same space is HARD. Striking a balance is key. You physically need to distance yourself from and decipher between workspace and home space, for a tangible change in scenery when one ends and the other begins. It’s not easy to disconnect and to try to have a conversation with your spouse about important things while still being surrounded by the day’s unfinished workload. And it’s definitely not going to help you to focus on work when all you see around you is laundry that needs folding. Keep them separate.
3. Get up and get some fresh air
Get fresh air every hour or two. Those few mins to clear the air will not only help by giving yourself a reward to look forward to while you’re bunkered down in spreadsheets, but it will also help to clear your head and to press the proverbial “reset” button. Physically you’ll notice how much that stretch and movement is needed after an hour or two of sitting at a let’s face it, probably not that ergonomic a work station.
4. Don’t change your morning routine
If you’re used to waking up and showering, hair did, teeth brushed, suit on and all before digging into a bowl of cereal and out the door by 7:30 am….then now’s not the time to adjust to a sleep in till 8 am and roll out of bed in last night’s jammies routine. Cleanse yesterday off your body and start fresh, dressed and ready to go to work. (Which leads us to point #5, see below) A late start to the day leads to a slow start to your workday, probably a work through lunch, a snack (sometimes a glass of wine cause it’s RIGHT THERE!) around 3 pm and dinner at your regular time because, family. All of a sudden your workday and productivity are cut down by half. It’s a quick and slippery slope.
5. You’re less productive in sweat pants
Get up and dress for work.
6. Schedule your tasks in 1-hour increments;
50 mins of productivity, 10 mins of mental break. The break will give you new perspective on the task you’re working on.
7. If two income earners are working from home, WITH KIDS, share “on duty” time so you each have professional time and parenting time.
No two workdays are the same, and very few jobs offer the kind of consistency where you and your spouse could have “set” duty hours. This one takes daily communication and time management based around non-negotiables (i.e. conference calls scheduled). Implement a “tag you’re it” system with a rotating work station, and set expectations with the kids that whichever of you is at the workstation, is off duty.
8. Maintain a schedule for your kids.
Kids?—?well, humans in general?—?thrive on structure. Whether you’re strictly of the “homeschooling schedule” camp or more on the “keep them fed and alive and screens double as a babysitter” team, the same need for consistency applies. Set times for free play, screens, and food, and work these into your schedule. Let them figure out the rest.
9. Plan your day the night before, and stick to your plan
Prepare for your day! Being caught off guard by a call that snuck up on you or struggling to meet a deadline is WAY more stressful when you’re at home with a hundred distractions and snacks calling your name. Don’t leave it up to willpower, have a plan and stick to it, as long as the plan accounts for some downtime / 5 min dance parties in there for your sanity. Time block and if you want to get an hour-long task done within the hour, turn off the phone or leave it charging in another room. Phones are literal time suckers and just glancing at an incoming text or call will pull you away far longer than you think it does.
10. Chillout music or piano jazz can keep you working at the right vibration
Get in that MOOD! Whatever your taste, music has a way of getting you into a flow that only music can. Whether it’s the tippity tap of your keyboard to the beat of that drum, or if you’re researching or pensively considering materials and stats for a recommendation. Maybe the flavour changes depending on your need but trust me, this is an incredible working from home perk. Pro-tip; the TV works in the opposite way music does. Occupying too many senses at once, watching TV while trying to focus on your task is counter-intuitive to your cause. PVR that and reward yourself with it as you settle into your couch when the workday is done.
11. If your kids are older, close the door when you need space
Teach your kids that a closed door means you’re working. If the door is open, you’re welcoming visitors. Simple rule, easy to follow and effective. Start a post-it note system for messages.
12. Pomodoro method; 25 mins work with 5 mins “goof off” time
Adjust to suit your own needs. Your work might take an awful lot of focus. Maybe your “goof off” time looks like a 10 min brisk walk around the block. If you’re feeling REALLY productive, make that 5-minute break into a quick clean; load the dishes or swap the laundry. Or, crank the volume and dance it out. Whatever you choose and whatever’s right for you, stick to it.
13. Set boundaries with your family; what’s acceptable when you’re “at work” and what constitutes an emergency
Night before plan, check. Up and at-em, dressed and fed and ready to go…check. Dedicated space, and closed-door policy, check! No matter how much you time block and prepare and stick to a routine, there will still be distractions. Set boundaries with your family. What constitutes a necessary interruption and what can wait? Be upfront about your work schedule so your family knows what they can count on. If you’re taking breaks every hour, post your schedule outside your door and let me know they’re welcome to come in anything during break times, and of course that emergencies are exceptions.
14. Plan your meals and schedule your day around them
Eating everything in sight is a common struggle for at-home workers. Trust me you will not just be a bit snacky, you will physically feel hungrier JUST because your kitchen is right there. The psychology behind this phenomenon is way above my pay scale but if you’ve experienced this…amirite!?? Plan your meals and times, don’t graze. If you find you need something to fill that hand-to-mouth action that’s half the battle, keep a pot of coffee on or a hot tea going. Pre-cut veggies are also a great option, with their crunch factor and filling fiber. Or just eat the damn chips we’re not here to judge, just to share.
15. Give yourself some grace….it’s not easy juggling everything right now
What we’re all going through together is unprecedented. It’s business as unusual!! While this temporary space we’re finding ourselves in is different, it’s still very possible to have a fulfilling and productive day while not spreading out all over the house and no longer having a degree of separation between day and night, work and play. But you know what, there might be days like that that are less structured and more play-it-by-ear. There might be days when you need your bucket filled by Facetiming friends and family or having a (HIGHLY recommended) Zoom conference call happy hour. You’ve got a lot on the go babe and you don’t have to be everything to everyone. Be kind to yourself, and we will see you on the other side of this. Virtual hugs xo
Karen Syroid, REALTOR® Gardiner Realty Royal LePage – The Syroid Group
Top 1% Nationally, Royal LePage Canada | Chairman’s Club
506–260–1880 (I TEXT!)
457 Bishop Drive, Fredericton, NB, E3C 2M6