The Better Leader Newsletter (April 2, 2020)
In all likelihood, many of you now find yourselves working from home.
I’ve been remote working for 10+ years, so I wrote a new article with my 9 best remote work tips. That article is listed later in the newsletter, and I believe you will find it helpful.
I also have some advice for building healthy work routines from home. You’ll find that in the Forefront section of the newsletter.
And as always, if you’ve found this newsletter helpful, please share it with others. There’s never been a better or more necessary time to encourage those around you.
On to the content!
REFLECT ON THIS
Pause and consider what’s truly important.
Your attitude has a big impact on your life.
I was reading a book last weekend, and a quote immediately grabbed my attention.
I shared this with my team in our weekly update, and I wanted to share it with you as well.
“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than giftedness, appearance or skill. It will make or break a company, a church or a home. The remarkable thing is that we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past. Nor can we change the fact that people will act a certain way. We also cannot change the inevitable. The only thing that we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it. And so it is with you – we are in charge of our attitudes.”
Your leadership influences your people, and your people will adopt your attitude. The right attitude sets the right atmosphere, and that creates the conditions for the right things to happen.
Do you have the right attitude?
What’s on my mind.
The shift to remote work has swept across the world.
I’ve talked with teachers, secretaries, consultants, dentists, counselors and more. They are all stepping into the world of working remotely.
For the majority of people, figuring out how to work remotely has been bumpy but manageable. Aside from the typical tech snafus and getting used to the new remote work paradigm, people have learned (and are continuing to learn) how to adapt.
But a common theme that I continue to see, and one that was recently asked of me in an email, revolves around routines:
“….what I keep hearing, is the struggle to develop a routine for their work and to help their children.”
New routines are difficult. Period. Throw in the stress and uncertainty caused by COVID-19, and you have the ingredients to make a very, very unhealthy dish (ehrmm, routine).
I’ve been working remotely for 10+ years, and I’ve learned some do’s and don’ts for creating a healthy work routine at home. I’d like to share some of them with you, as I believe you will find them helpful.
DO Keep a Morning Routine
If at all possible, keep your existing morning routine, the one you abided by beforeworking remotely.
You don’t want to overwhelm yourself with the process of change. Hold on to the routine most familiar to you – the morning routine.
Wake up at the same time. Keep the kids on the same schedule. Although your days may look different, it helps if you can start them the “usual” way.
DO Set Proper Boundaries
Sit down with everyone in your house and talk through what the foreseeable future will look like.
Set clear boundaries on when, where and how you will work, and make sure everyone understands them as you have spoken them. One way to encourage this is to use a technique popular in counseling: “You’ve communicated X.. what I hear you saying is Y..”
You want everyone to be on the same page, especially if you have kids at home with you.
Boundaries include work schedules (e.g. “I will work from 9-12, take a 30 minute lunch break, then 12:30-3), guidelines for activity during those schedules, what constitutes an “emergency” vs. “want” and what things have to change because of the new work conditions.
DO Utilize Time Blocking
Batch your tasks. If you are more creative and productive in the morning, schedule your most creative and productive work in the morning. It sounds simple, and yet it is easy to sabotage our natural rhythms in the name of change.
Carve out specific periods of time to work on mundane tasks like answering emails, filling out reports or updating colleagues. These are still important, and they are easier when done together.
By blocking your time, you give yourself the appropriate boundaries and permission to focus on a specific task or set of tasks. The feeling of permission is important, because the new freedoms that come with working remotely can quickly become shackles if you don’t manage them properly.
(If you’d like more in-depth tips on time blocking, you can read my article on daily time blocking here)
DON’T Be Unrealistic
This is new! You are going to experience some wins, and you are going to experience some losses. It’s the courage to press forward that counts.
Aim for doing better work, not just more or less work. You are going to experience interruptions, delays and other factors out of your control.
It’s more about what happens in you rather than what happens to you. You can control your attitude and how you respond when things don’t go as planned.
Set expectations and be gracious with yourself. Reflect on what goes well and what doesn’t, then adjust until you find your ideal remote work rhythm.
DON’T Forget About Self Care
You still need time for YOU, and that can be hard to navigate when you work from home. It’s part of the reason why proper boundaries as so important.
With everyone being under the same roof for a period of time, it’s important that you make time for yourself.
That might mean reading a book in silence for 30 minutes. That might mean taking a walk around the neighborhood. That might mean cooking a meal for everyone.
Whatever self care looks like for you (and you know what it is), communicate it clearly to everyone in the household, and then make time for it.
I get it, I truly do. Working from home can be difficult. I’ve worked from home for 10+ years, and even I have had to use the exact same advice in light of the events happening around the world.
The important idea to understand is that whether you realize it or not, you are creating routines. I want you to create healthy ones that put (and keep) your best foot forward.
FOR THE CURIOUS MIND
Broaden your horizons.
Curiosity is vital for growth. In each newsletter, I share a few resources tangentially related to leadership. I’ve found them interesting, and they’ve in turned expanded my capacity as a well-rounded leader.
I think this article by Cheryl Butler is spot-on with regards to how you can incorporate remote work into your family life. This is especially useful for moms who find themselves working and figuring out what schooling looks like for their kids.
Cheryl is host of the Mighty Mommy podcast, and for those that are interested, there is an accompanying podcast that goes more in-depth about the various routines you can build to keep balance and stability in your family life.
Everyone is grappling with the events unfolding around the world.
This incredibly practical article by Deborah Riegel equips you with the right questions and mindset to engage in authentic conversation and connection with other people.
The simple tip of following up and asking about details in someone’s life is powerful. It empowers both you and the other person to share in new, deeper ways.
I particularly like #5: Model vulnerability by sharing when you’re not fine. She gives practical ways to do this without oversharing, which is a good skill to learn.
It’s an insightful read, and I’ll be putting some of the tips to practice in my leadership soon.
MY LATEST CONTENT
What I’ve been writing about.
As I mentioned earlier, I wrote a new article outlining my 9 best remote work tips from 10+ years of remote work experience.
It’s been one of the most popular (and most shared) articles I have written this year.
A quick rundown of the top 5 tips:
- Whatever your morning routine, keep it
- Dress for work (no, really)
- Dedicate a space to remote work (big deal)
- Schedule your day with time blocking (crucial!!)
- Participate in daily stand-ups
You’ll enjoy reading and learning from the article: 9 Remote Work Tips for Maximum Productivity.
Next week, I’ll continue my Welcome to Leadership series with the next article in the list: Leading Yourself.
It’s been difficult to write because I am constantly being confronted with my own shortcomings. Leading yourself is a lifelong journey where you are constantly being outmatched by the toughest opponent you will ever face: you.
Learn and grow by listening to others.
Here are a few shows I enjoyed over the past couple of weeks, and you may too!
- My wife Laura recommended this podcast to me. It’s called The Next Right Thing by Emily Freeman. It’s a weekly podcast “to help clear the decision-making chaos, quiet the fear of choosing wrong, and find the courage to finally decide without regret or second-guessing”. Who doesn’t want that? And, I should’ve listened to this episode sooner: Before You Decide, HALT. HALT is an acronym for: hungry, angry, lonely, tired. She shares some simple advice for making better decisions when you find yourself experiencing one of these physical or emotional states – advice I wish I had taken recently to prevent some poor decision making on my own part!
- Leading In Crisis is one of the best podcasts I have listened to since the beginning of the global health event. It’s full of good, wise counsel on how to lead – not motivate or manage – people through a crisis. I recommend you find time to listen as soon as you can.
A QUESTION FOR YOU
Until we meet again…
At the end of each newsletter, I conclude our time with a thoughtful question designed to bring the best out of you.
Are you cultivating a healthy routine?
Until next time,
P.S. Has the Better Leader Newsletter impacted you in a special way? I’m looking for testimonials about your experience to feature on my website. If you have anything to share, please contact me and let me know. Thanks!
SHARE WITH A FRIEND
Grow the BLN community!
Leaders get better when they grow together. If you have enjoyed this newsletter, expand your impact by doing your part to share BLN with others. You can easily share via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or email. Thanks!
Sent every other Thursday. Always helpful. Always insightful. Always motivating. No spam ever.