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Tag Archives: Margaret Smith licensed Insights practitioner

work from home

With the COVID pandemic, many of us have had to adjust to working from home (WFH), but unfortunately, not everyone has fallen into a groove. Some people still feel out of sorts or less productive at home than in the workplace. With the pandemic still lingering AND many companies thinking about making WFH a permanent state, it’s a good idea to think about amping up your productivity.

Here are 6 practical Work From Home tips to help you get on track:

1. Find Your Morning Groove

When working from an office, you naturally fall into a morning routine. You get dressed, perhaps make a cup of coffee, and commute to work by car/bike/public transit. With WFH, that comfortable routine gets obliterated. You might wake up later or stay in your pajamas or eat breakfast at odd hours.

This week, commit to following a strict routine. Get up at the same time, eat your meals on a consistent schedule, exercise at a set time during the day. Following a routine can help get your brain in “work mode” right away.

Another helpful tip: Do NOT check your email right away. Instead, tackle the one project that demands the most concentration. Work on it for an hour or 90 minutes, THEN check your email. You’ll find that you’re able to accomplish more during the day when you practice this healthy habit.

2. Get Dressed

Okay, sure. Maybe you DO get dressed in the morning when you work from home, but you probably don’t dress like you do when you go into the office. If you find that you’re feeling less attentive and less productive at home, try dressing in office attire this week. Notice how it makes you feel. Are you more productive? Do you feel more professional?

Dressing for the office can put you in a work mindset and make you feel more in control of your day.

3. Cut Distractions

If you find that you tend to check social media or hop onto YouTube during the day, try installing a browser extension to temporarily block those websites. Search for “block social media,” and you should find many different blocking programs.

If you’re distracted by your surroundings instead (dirty dishes, for instance, or laundry), try keeping yourself on a strict time schedule. For instance: From 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 you can only do work, but between 1:00 and 1:30, you’re allowed to take a short break to tackle a household chore or two.

4. Set Timers

If you’re having trouble concentrating during the day, trying focusing on a single project for a set amount of time. Pick a project, close your email, and set your timer for an hour or 90 minutes. ONLY work on that project. Do NOT multi-task! You might be amazed by how much you can get done when you’re singular in focus.

5. Take Charge of Emails

If you tend to get derailed by emails throughout the day and feel like you’re always trying to stamp out little fires (Urgent request! I need your help with XYZ! Please respond, ASAP!), practice setting healthy email boundaries. Try only checking your email three times per day–once in the morning, once midday, and once toward the end of the day–or even twice per day, if you can get away with it.

Taking charge of your emails can help free up your schedule so you can pay attention to the crucial projects that you have on your plate.

6. Set Your Own Schedule

If you’re feeling disjointed and fed up with all the video meetings, emails, and phone calls that seem to command your day, resolve to take charge of your schedule. If you keep a public e-calendar, be sure to set aside blocks that are strictly YOUR time–time for you to focus on the projects you need to complete.

(For more tips on setting healthy boundaries, take a look at my recent blog post.)

Part of controlling your own schedule means saying NO to certain requests. If you already have too much going on in a given day, don’t be afraid to draw a line in the sand and turn down a request to meet. You can always suggest meeting on a different date.

Developing good habits while you WFH will not only help you successfully navigate working out of your house, but can also assist you when you begin working out of an office. Many of these tips are applicable to work both in and outside of a traditional workplace. It’s all about establishing an effective routine and creating healthy boundaries.


MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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woman thinking

With more and more people working from home (WFH), we’re spending a whole lot more time on our own. In this atmosphere, where we’re expected to get things done without anyone looking over our shoulders, it is more crucial than ever to develop a deep understanding of yourself, your strengths, and your preferences, and your limitations. In short, it’s essential to develop a keen self-awareness.

What Are the Components of Self-Awareness?

A self-aware person understands the many facets of their personality and how they can operate at their very best. These facets include:

Strengths:

Getting to know the areas in which you excel can help you capitalize on and emphasize your skills. Your innate abilities are an asset to your work, and it pays to take advantage of them. Take the time to consider which tasks come easily to you. What are your top skills? When do others praise you? What do you enjoy doing?

Your strengths may range from IT prowess to sociability to the ability to analyze complex data. And don’t discount so-called “soft skills!” Effective communication, for instance, is key to an effective workplace.

Once you have a good grasp of your strengths, leverage them! If you know you excel at writing, lean into that part of your career. If you know you’re skilled at brainstorming new, creative ideas, don’t hold back at your next meeting! Be bold and embrace your strengths.

Limitations:

Just as it’s important to understand your strengths, so too is it important to get to know your limitations. Where do you struggle? Which assignments give you difficulty or are unenjoyable for you? When do you feel frustrated? When have you fallen short of expectations?

Begin to notice your limitations. Do you struggle, for instance, to pay attention during Zoom meetings? What can you do to stay present?

Another WFH example: Do you find it difficult to stay on task, when it’s now incredibly easy to drift off into social media land or YouTube? Recognize this limitation and strategize solutions. Would it be beneficial to block certain websites on your work computer? Is it possible to do some tasks in airplane mode, so you’re not tempted to browse the web?

When you understand your limitations, you can work to correct them.

Preferences:

Another component of self-awareness is understanding your personal preferences. We all have them. While some people thrive in the mornings, others enjoy working later at night. While some benefit from regular video check-ins, others prefer communicating by email. Some like a silent workspace, others like background music or chatter. Some prefer collaborative work, others like working solo. The list goes on.

Paying attention to your personal preferences can help you set realistic expectations for yourself and help you improve communication with others. For instance, when someone asks you to tackle an assignment by yourself, you might counter with, “I could do that, but I know from experience that I work better when I’m collaborating with others. Would this assignment warrant teamwork or, at least, an accountability partner?”

Your preferences may also include communication. Do you recognize that you are good at responding to emails, but often let voicemails linger for days, or even weeks? Communicate that preference to others!

Communicating your preferences–the way you operate, think, and communicate–can significantly help both your personal and professional relationships.

Building self-awareness can help bolster your success, lead to better relationships, and improve communication. If you’re unsure how to start improving your self-awareness, consider looking into Insights Discovery or sending me a message.

Take the time to develop your self-awareness, and see how far it will take you!


MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

Amidst this pandemic, it’s been difficult to stay motivated. When I get in a rut, I’ve found that watching a TED Talk can pull me out of it. Recently, I watched a TED Talk by psychologist Dr. ANGELA LEE DUCKWORTH on the subject of grit. She first noticed a correlation between success and grit when she was working as a school teacher in a difficult neighborhood. A child’s scholarly success was not necessarily related to their IQ; more often than not, it was related to their dogged perseverance, or grit. As we drudge through the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us are beginning to understand just how much grit it takes to keep going.

In her TED Talk, Duckworth discusses the origins of her studies on grit. She noticed the difference between natural talent and grit as a teacher, which led her to pursue a career in psychology and make grit the subject of most of her research. She studied diverse groups of people—from military cadets to students to sales people—and, time and again, observed that grit was a key attribute to success.


THE PEOPLE WHO KEPT GOING DESPITE FAILURES OR SETBACKS, THE PEOPLE WHO WERE COMMITTED TO A JOB OR TASK FOR THE LONG-TERM, WERE THE ONES WHO USUALLY SUCCEEDED.


With unemployment rates at an unfortunate high and people constantly grappling with anxiety from all the uncertainty, grit is as important as ever. How do you foster grit in your own life and your children’s? Duckworth admits that the research is lacking, but a few interesting ideas have risen to the surface. One study shows that developing a “growth mentality” helps create a gritty personality. A growth mentality has to do with the belief that failure is NOT a permanent state. Rather, failure helps us develop and equips us for future success. 

Keep in mind, grit isn’t directly related to talent. A big part of success is perseverance and having the tenacity to follow through, no matter what. You may have already developed perseverance simply by way of survival, or you might have to learn it. Fortunately, it IS something you can learn. Start pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, commit to your goals, and have patience with yourself. You’re not going to learn perseverance and grit overnight.

Since we’re far-removed from our previous routines, it’s important to realize that it takes grit to be where you are now–to be present and forge ahead. Surviving during a pandemic is a challenge on its own, and on top of that we’re forced to deal with changes made at work that can include physical distancing, budget cuts, or lay offs.

Success and failure work hand in hand with learning and growing. Picking yourself back up after an attempt gone wrong is the easiest way to learn from your mistakes. Building grit now can strengthen your character and help you achieve your long term goals, even after the pandemic has long passed. 

For Dr. Duckworth’s full TED Talk, please click the link below:


MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
NOW LIVE: CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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