Tag Archives: telecommuting

Six Ways to Reward Yourself as a Telecommuter this Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day! Reward and recognition are necessary to keep most of us motivated. When you work in an office, you can see and feel more of this from your peers and your management. When you work from home, this may be reduced.

I’ve learned to create rewards that are meaningful for me when I finish an important task, project, or presentation. I do need to continue to work on this, since I finish one task and move on to the next without a break sometimes.

Here are a few suggestions that have worked for me:

  1. Lunch with a Friend:This one is always on the top of my list, because I get to connect with other adults face-to-face. By catching up with a friend, I can get updates on the community, like what to expect when school starts, which teachers are coming back, etc. I learn a lot about community happenings during these lunches.
  2. Movies:This is my favorite “alone time” activity. I enjoy going to the movies alone and immersing myself in something that makes me laugh or feel good. Going with others adds pressure to have a conversation, and sometimes you just want to keep to yourself.
  3. Window Shopping:I shop online due to convenience, but I also enjoy going to local stores. That way, I learn what the fashion trends are and what not to wear. If you work from home, dressing up is not a priority, so going out to shop helps me to keep up.
  4. Walk with a Friend:I like one-on-one conversations better than multiway interactions, so I plan to meet with a friend for a walk to talk. This may seem simple, but if you work 9-5 from home, getting out of the house for any reason is a huge accomplishment!
  5. Hiking or Rock Climbing: I go to the local community center and rock climb. It helps me stay fit and gives me great pleasure—which is a reward for me!
  6. Bath:A bath sounds so basic, but for a working mother, taking a quiet bath is huge! Taking a 20-minute bath without being called to fix something or hearing something breaking in the background is better than a trip to the Caribbean for me!

Most of the time, I plan these events in advance. Just having that anticipation encourages me to finish my task on time and keeps me excited.

Share your ideas about rewarding yourself by sending a note to info@telecommuterstalk.com.

Be a Mindful Telecommuter This Year

The definition of mindfulness: 1. the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something; for example, 2. a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

We need to be mindful in every aspect of our lives. Based on research done by the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, mindfulness is good for our overall health. When working remotely, it is easy to get distracted by personal phone calls or the laundry, etc. To overcome such interruptions, here are some suggestions for being as mindful as you can be:

Focus on one thing at a time: When you are on a teleconference, just be on the call. Do not check e-mail or surf the web simultaneously. Staying focused is hard, but if you step away, you don’t have anything to distract you. Have a designated area or a chair where you can go while you are on the call. Close your eyes, if it helps you to stay focused.

Plan your day: Don’t jump right into e-mails or social media. Instead, take at least 20-30 minutes to plan your day and set your priorities. Pick 2-3 big items you need to address that day, and add them to your calendar. I have this time for planning set on my calendar every day, and it works well for me.

Use your calendar: If you need to work on a presentation or document, put it on your calendar so that your teammates and manager know that you are busy and will not respond to e-mails right away. Close your e-mail and chat applications while you work on the document. I usually create a better document when I spend dedicated time on a task.

Take breaks: I’m still working on this one myself! Either set up an appointment on your calendar or an alarm on your phone for a break, and take it when the time arrives. Take it for you, and not to start laundry or clean. Do what relaxes you—read a book in 15 minutes, enjoy an article, go for a short walk, or call a friend for 10 minutes.

Breathe: Do this especially if you are working on a timeline or dealing with a difficult co-worker. Put things in perspective and move on. I know this is easier said than done, but practice makes perfect. Breathing does reduce stress and helps you calm down. Here is a one-minute exercise that can help.

Exercise: This used to be last on my list, but now it is one of the first things I do. It gets me going, and this jump-start helps me to keep moving and working for the rest of the day. Direct sunlight and fresh air are invigorating, and you will carry that energy with you all day.

Shutdown: This includes your computers, cell phones, and any similar devices after your work hours. I have my work phone set to turn off at 6 pm. Unplugging helps me stay focused on after-work activities and obligations.

A great resource I use to stay mindful is https://www.mindful.org.
A great article about ways to be mindful from Happify

Do you have any recommendations for books or websites on mindfulness?

Resolve to Single-Task This New Year as a Telecommuter

Multitasking is exhausting, so this year, resolve to focus on a single task with these tips:

Step Away: During a call, if you are not sharing your computer screen or viewing someone’s presentation, physically step away from your computer. Find another chair to sit on or walk around. Stay focused on the call. If you need to close your eyes to understand the content, do it—no one can see you!

Do Not Disturb: If you got the cool “do not disturb” sign as a Christmas gift, now would be a perfect time to start using it. Use a visible indicator that you need to focus, and inform the family that you are working.

Chat Settings: If you are required to log into a chat service to communicate with your colleague, you can use that same app to show that you need to focus on a task. Use the “do not disturb” setting in your chat app.

Notifications: Turn off notifications that are distracting while you work, like e-mail notifications. This one is a major distraction because we want to respond promptly, but every time you look away from your task, it will take you 15 minutes to get back to where you left off. Instead, set times to check your emails only a few times a day.

If you want to keep exploring ideas, this article on Forbes has additional tips for single-tasking. If you have other suggestions, please share with info@telecommuterstalk.com.

Tips for Managing Your Work Schedule While Kids Are On Winter Break

It is almost Christmas and winter break starts today! Our schedules will be more relaxed, but it will also be challenging to manage both working at home and the kids.

Here are a few suggestions for the next two weeks:

Take a vacation: Plan on taking at least one week of vacation. Taking a break helps you connect with the kids instead of trying to stay focused on two things at the same time—it does not work. Multitasking is exhausting.

Plan the break: Have a list of activities that you can do as a family and a few where the kids get one-on-one time with each parent. It does not need to be fancy outings just something where you spend focused time with them.

Sports Practice: If kids have sports practice during the break attend those practices. It will give you a chance to regroup, finish last minute shopping, your work or just relax.

Daily schedule: Break down the day for the kids—work in the morning and fun in the afternoons. Having a general idea of the day will set expectations with the kids and will help ensure they do not spend all day on technology.

Activities: Keep the kids engaged with holiday fun activities while you are working. Keeping them involved will help you stay focused and get things done in time.

Share: If you have to work during the break see if your partner can take time off or you can take a week off, and your spouse can take the following week off. Breaking up your vacation will help you stay on task and give each parent a chance to spend time with the kids. Each parent can be a stay at home parent for a week while the other goes to work.

I hope this helps you and if you have any suggestions, please send them my way: info@telecommuterstalk.com

Telecommuter Tips to Stay on the Same Schedule as the Family

I’ve been working from home for over six years, and it seemed to me that my schedule is off from that of the rest of my family. I am home 40 hours a week during the weekdays, so when the weekend comes around, I want to go out and stay out. But since the rest of my family has been out for 40 hours a week, they want to stay home over the weekend.

I’ve tried a few things to get us on the same cycle, and I am having some success. So, here are some tips I wanted to share:

Drop-off: There are articles stating that getting ready for work makes you more productive. I am proof that this works. I’ve added another layer to this. I drop off one of the kids. I like the commute time and the connection I make in the morning with the child. I did not realize how important the commute time was for me to get into work mode. I know that not commuting is one of the advantages of telecommuting, but you need to do what works for you.

Practices: Sports practices are a good time to get out and stay out of the house. You can use this time to run errands or exercise. I use the time to exercise, plan the week, and catch up with other parents. Going for practices helps me stay connected with the community and get much-needed exercise.

Games: Weekend games are another way to enjoy the outdoors and stay involved in your kids’ activities. For weekend games, I am out for a few hours, then some additional time to run errands. Then, I am ready to stay in after all that.

Breaks: I’ve started using my lunch breaks or morning drop-offs to run at least one errand. Breaks help me feel productive and gets the day started right. Sometimes, I use lunch breaks to meet a friend for a walk or coffee.

Events: Keep a look out for local events that are kid-friendly or performances you might want to attend. Dressing up and going someplace special makes you feel good and provides an enriching experience.

Now, I feel like I go out of the house most days during the week, so that I am ready to stay home on the weekends and just relax with my family.

Do you have any ideas on syncing up with the rest of your family? Please share your ideas at info@telecommuterstalk.com

How I Am Staying Organized This School Year As a Telecommuting Mother

At the beginning of the school year, I wrote about the challenge of keeping things organized during the school year and as promised here is an update to that article on what we are doing to keep us ahead of the clutter this year. This is where we are three months into school:

Clean monthly: We have started taking the time to organize all the papers, especially tests. All tests, assignments, and quizzes go into a folder. Each folder has a separator per subject. When it is time to study for a test, we bring out the folder and spend time studying instead of looking for the papers. Huge win!

Get the right organizing tools: I bought all the supplies I needed when we went school shopping. The advantage of buying in bulk and having everything ready before school was in full swing has helped me in the long run.

Scan and store: I have been able to file away a lot of pictures and artwork, but this will need a few more months. I did find a useful app to store memories called Keepy, and am planning on using it soon.

Schedule It: Having this on our list has also helped us—it is a reminder, and soon it will become a habit!

Reduce Paper: I address announcements papers ASAP when they get home from school and sports activities. Read it, schedule it, and trash it. Go digital when possible which is a great way to go paperless.

If you have any suggestions, please send them my way: info@telecommuterstalk.com

5 Ways to Stay Organized This School Year As A Telecommuting Mother

I usually write about challenges while working remotely and share tips on remote work. Today I want to talk about the challenges of keeping the house organized with all the paper you get from school. I spend six hours cleaning just two rooms in the house, and it had a years’ worth of school paperwork—which amounted to ten bags of trash and a few dead trees. I know I could have been more organized and kept things in order during the school year but like most working mothers I was busy working, doing pick-up, drop off and after school activities, etc.

I spend six hours cleaning just two rooms in the house, and it had a years’ worth of school paperwork—which amounted to ten bags of trash and a few dead trees. I know I could have been more organized and kept things in order during the school year but like most working mothers I was busy working, doing pick-up, drop off and after school activities, etc.

Spending six hours for a whole year is not too bad but am I teaching the kids to stay more organized and keep the clutter under control? Maybe not. So here are a few things I am planning to do differently next school year:

  1. Clean monthly: I started with clean weekly, but it is not realistic for my family so decided on once a month. We have a set schedule when we do homework on the weekends and right after homework we will spend an hour getting things organized.
  2. Get the right organizing tools: I am planning on having a binder for each child with a separator for each subject. At the end of the month or week, they will place all the work into the binder. Keeping binders will help us keep track of what they need to study for the next test, and once the school year is complete, we could just take the binder and trash the papers instead of dealing with piles and piles of paper after the year ended.
  3. Scan and store: When I have downtime I will scan awards etc. and store them electronically—save space and the memories. For artwork, I like to keep the real thing, so I plan on getting a laminator and putting the work into a binder. There are some cool apps that will help with saving memories like Keepy.
  4. Schedule it: We will add this to our monthly chore list and keep track. Adding the task to our list will help the kids to stay organized and in control of all the paperwork.
  5. Opt out: I don’t think our schools have this option yet, but I would like to opt out of receiving all communication via paper and just use e-mail for all notifications. I will save a lot of time and the environment.

I will keep you posted on how we are doing. If you have any suggestions, please send them my way: info@telecommuterstalk.com

 

7 Guidelines for Global Project Management

In our global business environment, we work with people from different backgrounds. To be an effective team, we need to focus on proactive project management.

Here are a few tips I have learned during my career as a global project manager:

  1. Relationships:Relationships always matter, but it is more involved with a global team. When you start a global project or if you join the project mid-way, make sure to take the time to build relationships first. Engage the group and have a few minutes of general conversations before you jump into the project details. Take the time to learn about the people and cultures as you build those relationships.
  2. Goals:Once you have the initial connections, start working on and sharing goals for the project and its strategic importance, verbalizing the information and ensuring that you also create visuals with the same information. You will have both visual and auditory individuals on your team. Sharing the information via multiple channels will guarantee that you are communicating the goal clearly.
  3. Roles and Responsibilities:Create a document outlining what the key roles are, either via a RACI chart of a visual using MS PowerPoint. The main purpose is to confirm that the whole team understands what their role is on the team and how they are going to contribute.
  4. Timelines:I use MS Project to include all the key tasks in a document. You can also use Excel if that works better for you. Keeping track of who needs to do what and by when will keep the project in order and clarify the responsibilities for the team.
  5. Time Zones:Be proactive about the various time zones you’re working with and find a balance when you are trying to set up meetings. Make sure that early morning or late night calls are spread out among the various time zones.
  6. Respect:Global projects are usually longer, more complex, and come with added pressure. Despite these challenges, make sure to keep respect. Timelines can move and project scope can change, but once you lose respect, you cannot get it back.
  7. Celebrate:When you reach major milestones on the project, celebrate them in ways that the whole global and virtual team can enjoy.

Project management is about people helping you meet the goals. Invest in the relationships, and the team will achieve its goals.

What has worked for you as a project manager? Please share by emailing info@telecommuterstalk.com.

How to Fit in Exercise While You Work Remotely

Exercise is the first thing I give up when I get busy, even though I know that it should be the last thing I should give up when I am stressed.

Here are some tips I am trying to implement to ensure I get the exercise I need:

Put it on your calendar: I had heard this suggestion many times, so I put it on my calendar, but I just continued to pass on it. So, I started using Google Goals, which helps me take the first step and get up! Once I am up, I walk away to take a break or take a walk.

Brainstorm: See what works with your schedule and your family’s schedule. I like to exercise in the mornings, but that is also the busiest time at work, so I found another option: during the kids’ afterschool activities. This schedule has another benefit—the “mom guilt” is less, because I am not taking away my time with them. Instead, I’m doing my thing while they are doing their thing!

Fit it in: Whenever you can. Do a 7-minute workout during your break or walk while the kids are at practice. They practice, and I walk. I walk with other moms, which gives me a chance to have some human interactions. Connecting face-to-face is critical as a remoter.

Use the weekends: Weekends can be just as busy as the weekdays, but there are pockets of time when I know I can fit in some exercise or meditation. Try diligently to stick with that.

Go for a hike: Make this a family activity. It will teach the kids the value of both exercise and nature. HikeItBaby is a great resource for finding hikes in your area.

I hope these tips help you, too. If you have additional suggestions, please share.