Monthly Archives: October 2016

Five Ways to Take a Retreat as a Telecommuting Mother

I was walking with a fellow telecommuter this week, and we started talking about finding time to think: Think about what we want out of life, what we want as mothers, wives, telecommuters, and the many roles we play. With life moving so fast, there is no time, and we end up living mindlessly. Yes, we complete our to-do list, but is there a goal or a purpose?

I need to live mindfully, so I came up with a few ideas on how to find the time to think – in other words, to take a mini retreat. Here’s a great article to remind us, mothers, that we are women first.

As a working mother, it is hard to take a few days to relax and plan, so here are some suggestions on how to take mini retreats in the middle of our busy lives:

1. During Children’s Sports Practices: This is my favorite time of the day. I use the two hours that my children are busy to exercise, listen to online courses, TED Talks, parenting videos, etc. Now, I am also going to add goal setting and planning to this list. For the first half, I will continue to exercise, and then take the rest of the time to set and plan my goals.

This way, I have a solid four hours per week of planning!

It took me a while to realize the value of this time, but once I saw it, I used it productively. I was able to complete two online courses from Stanford using my time wisely.

2. During Business Trips: I love the fact that I have focused time on the plane. I use this time to think. What are the current challenges I am facing, why is the situation the way it is currently why and what is under my control, and what steps do I need to take on my end? I also use time during the trip to connect with my friends and colleagues.

This adds up to at least ten hours per trip of thinking and connecting.

3. During Lunch: As a remote employee, I tend to mostly ignore lunch and continue working. I am hoping to change that. I plan on using this time to exercise or meet a friend for lunch during the break. This will be part of my time to relax—my mini retreat.

This adds up to five hours per week of relaxation.

4. Sunday Nights: I like football, but the rest of my family loves football. So while they are enjoying what they love, I enjoy what I love. After we are done getting ready for the week, I retreat to my space and do what I feel like doing without any guilt. Still, there are always nights when I sneak in and watch the game.

This adds up to three hours per week of mindfulness.

5. Summer Camps: WeWork has a summer camp for telecommuters and entrepreneurs—what a brilliant idea! Attending the camp is on my to-do list. I think it will be great to connect with people in similar situations. It helps create a bond and a relationship of mutual understanding.

This adds up to at least forty-eight hours per summer of fun.

Time is the most valuable resource, so make the best of the time we have been given. If you have other ideas that have worked for you, please share:

Leadership Skills for Telecommuters

I’ve been a little distracted the past few weeks, because I am working on a professional certification from Stanford University. The class is about leadership and power—both important as a professional to have and understand. I think there are some distinctions when we work virtually that may help us stay professionally savvy.

One of my favorite books on leadership is The Leadership Challenge by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, but there are a few new points that I’ve learned in the course that I wanted to share:

Know the Power Structure: Each organization, team, etc. has a power structure. I am not very good at identifying this structure, but am learning that it is important to understand. When you visit your HQ, take the time to have off-line conversations with your teammates and friends. One-on-one conversations are where you will get the details you need to understand where the power lies. Knowing this will help you navigate your way within the organization and your team.

Stay On Their Mind: Facetime is still important in business to make sure you use your time wisely. When you are at the HQ, ask to have a one-on-one with your Director or VP. Prepare to have a conversation with them, talk about what they are interested in, show initiative, and ensure you are not out of their mind when you leave.

Stay Connected: Leadership is about relationships. I have solid relationships at my HQ, but I’ve heard my friend’s comments—out of sight, out of mind. Just like me, they want to stay in touch, but life happens and everyone is busy. As remote employees, we need the connections to be able to work as and feel like a part of the group, more than our in-office colleagues, so take the time to stay connected. I’ve come up with a schedule for reaching out to different people at the HQ a few times a month by sending a short e-mail, a Lync message, a congrats on LinkedIn, or a quick call.

Ask Directly: One thing people are afraid of doing is asking for what they want, because they are afraid they will get a negative response. But you will not know unless you ask. As a remote employee, you cannot use your body language, so use your voice. Ask for support from your management when you need it, ask for tools you need to do your job, or ask for vacation time for life events that are important to you.

Decline Nicely: Life is based on priorities. There will be times when you will need to decline a business trip or a critical project due to other priorities. Develop the ability to say “no,” but make sure you do it nicely: Provide an explanation that justifies your decision. Only share what you are comfortable sharing, and ensure you maintain a positive relationship.

In closing, you are the leader of your career path, so don’t be afraid to reach your potential. Please let me know if you have other tips to share at: