Monthly Archives: August 2016

Stop Thinking About Work Then Just Do It

Whether you love your job or hate it, you probably think about work on your off hours at some point. You kick around a particularly perplexing problem or grouchy client. You ponder how to deal with your boss’ latest antics. You brainstorm about how you’re going to get the heck out of there.

But there’s definitely a point at which this moves from helpful to, well, not so much.

In my experience, that point is typically when you find yourself panicking in the middle of the night about what’s going on at the office, writing work to-dos on your grocery list, and receiving fewer and fewer calls from friends (because, um, all you do is talk about your job).

In other words, bringing too much work home—even if that work is just rolling around in your head—can quickly make you an anxious, sleep-deprived, pretty boring dinner guest (and, yes, I know this from experience).

I also know that telling yourself to “think about work less” doesn’t quite work, so I loved the tips that Fast Company recently offered for training your brain to leave work at work.

Here are a few of my favorites:

 

1. Create Transition Rituals

Your commute home is a physical act that separates you from the office, but try to add something mental to that activity, too. Laura Vanderkam, the article’s author, recommends “listening to or reading something light,” but I find jamming to your favorite tunes, playing a tough game on your phone, or calling a friend also does the trick. As Vanderkam recommends, “ask your family members (or friends or roommates) about their days, and challenge yourself to be a good listener. Focusing on other people and their needs is a great way to get out of your own head.”

 

2. Give Your Brain a Different Problem to Solve

If your mind is still spinning after leaving the office, channel that energy into something else. Wondering whether you should attend your cousin’s destination wedding? Trying to decide what color to paint the bathroom? Use the immediate post-work time to think about that. If you’re still getting distracted, hold yourself accountable: Ask a co-worker or friend for a problem to solve, then promise you’ll have some thoughts on it by the time you get home.

 

3. Give Yourself a “Worry Time”

This is probably one of the most helpful tips I’ve found, especially if I’m thinking about a particularly hairy problem: Schedule a later time to stress. Think, “I’ll respond to that email tomorrow morning over coffee, and I won’t think about it until then,” or “That awful meeting is set for Tuesday, so I’ll set aside two hours on Monday to prepare for (freak out about) it.” As Vanderkam puts it, “Often, your brain just needs to know that there’s a time for thinking about that issue—and now is not that time.”

Are You Feel Getting Into Trouble

One blessed day two winters ago, the city where I lived urged residents to stay home and off the roads and public transit. Shortly thereafter, a much-anticipated email from my boss arrived, notifying us that the office was closed. We were all to work from home.

It was cause for celebration in the form of homemade pancakes, followed by a snowball fight with my partner and our dog, followed by steaming cups of hot chocolate and a long, lazy afternoon nap.

But, first, I begrudgingly realized, I would have to attend to my inbox. And write that article I was supposed to have into my editor by EOD. Oh, and I’d have to edit the daily newsletter. I prayed that it would only go through one round of edits and not three or four as was sometimes the case when my boss decided she didn’t like my choice of imagery or the word I used to describe Beyonce’s parenting skills.

As is true with most jobs, there’s always something to be done—whether that’s on a snow day or at 6 PM on a Tuesday when you’re trying to meet your buddy at the gym. Here’s how to handle working (read: hardly working) during a blizzard, even if your boss is the micro-managing type.

 

1. Check Your Email

After your inbox alerts you to the fact that your office is closed or that you don’t need to go to work if it’s “difficult for you to get there,” you’ll want to deal with any outstanding emails right away. Reply to your boss first, if she was the one to share the snow-day news. If the office manager or someone else wrote the company-wide email, touch base with your manager. Let her know specifically what’s on your agenda for the day and what you plan to turn in before EOD. Respond to any emails that require speedy responses, and mark the others unread to deal with the next day.

Then, turn the volume all the way up on your computer and make your way into the kitchen where bacon awaits. If anyone pings you, you’ll hear the alert, and you’ll get to it just as soon as it’s safe to leave the frying pan.

 

2. Tackle Projects of Priority

You’ll want to do this before noon so you can—you guessed it—go out and play! My partner works for himself, so luckily, we didn’t have to deal with two people’s WFH schedules and unavoidable responsibilities. While I edited the company newsletter, I sent him to turn on a TV show I could have on in the background, promising him that I needed only 30, 40 minutes, tops. Whatever your priority is, get to it first. Even if you have until end of the workday, you’ll regret putting it aside. Face the work that needs attention straight away and make sure whoever needs to know of its completion is aware that you’ve done it.

Then, once any urgent projects are completed, you can commence binge-watching Hulu’s latest original series while you languor in your PJs. You’re on group-chat, not video chat, after all. And on that note, if you’re expected to be on chat, be on it all day. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean sitting in front of your computer—if you haven’t downloaded the app on your phone, today’s the day to do it.

 

3. Play the Part

By this, I mean, understand what your boss expects of you on this unofficial day off, and deliver it. Unfortunately, for me, that meant being pretty much glued to chat (Did I mention that mine freaked out if I went idle on Gchat for more than a few minutes at a time?), but even I came up with a solution that would allow me to look away from my screen for chunks of blissful time.

It’s called communication. I needed groceries, and I had to take the dog outside. I had to help my partner start shoveling out the car. These were all legit things that had to happen, and my boss understood that when I explained that I’d be “back online shortly.” I’d already pleased her workaholic tendencies by checking things off my to-do list and making her aware of them; how mad could she realistically get if I wasn’t responding to everything right away because I was attending to emergency snow situations (otherwise known as dozing off in between breakfast and lunch)?

Avoid disappearing from email or your company’s preferred messaging system for hours on end, but don’t freak out about frolicking in the snow and hitting up the diner either. As long as you’re communicating and not delaying anything essential, don’t stress it. Odds are those you’re emailing about upcoming projects would also rather be sledding than answering your messages—meaning very few people are waiting by their computers for you to kick off a quarterly initiative that has no set deadline yet.

You KNow That Working Remotely Is Even Better Than You Thought

Work in your PJs, avoid the commute, answer emails from a hammock while sipping a pineapple daiquiri—you’ve heard the common benefits of working remotely (and yes, they’re true!). But there are some things that might surprise you about what it’s like when you don’t have to go into the office every day.

Take a look at these 10 ways your life can be different when you work remotely, then go out and get that great remote job you’ve dreaming of!

 

1. Your Office Can Be Any Kind

You’ll probably work from home if you work remotely. But that doesn’t mean you have to have fill a corner of your living room with a clunky desk, a huge monitor, and an ugly rolling chair. You can fit your office wherever it fits in your life. I’ve heard about a remote worker who uses her kitchen breakfast bar as a standing desk (all those health benefits with no investment!) and one who converted part of her bedroom closet into a “hidden” office so she can just shut her work away at the end of the day.

 

2. Your Office Can Be Anywhere—and I Mean Anywhere!

And you’re not tied to your home, either. That doesn’t mean your only other location will be the coffee shop around the corner: You can take care of your job while traveling (passengers only if you’re in the car, please!), enjoying the great outdoors (thanks to long laptop battery life and tethering to your phone), or even listening to your favorite band at a live concert (a tested and true location of a remote customer service manager I know who’s a die-hard country music fan).

 

3. You’ll Save Money

Of course you’ll see an immediate difference in your bank account when you don’t need to bear the costs of commuting. But you’ll also find savings in other areas. You won’t have to force yourself into a suit and polished shoes anymore if that’s not your style—no more separate wardrobes for work and for the rest of your life! And you can also save on food costs since you’ll easily be able to whip up your own lunch and coffee if you work from home.

 

4. Your Schedule Can Be Your Own

A lot of the work that can be done remotely nowadays can also be done on a flexible schedule. For example, if you’re a web developer or a content creator, you can most likely do your coding or writing whenever it suits you as long as you meet your deadlines. So, night owls, rejoice! You can still put in your eight hours without starting at 8 AM.

If you do need to work specific hours, you’re sure to still have some break time—time you can use however you’d like! Even if you have just 10 minutes, you can do something that just wouldn’t be possible in a traditional office: bust those samba moves, play a few tunes on your guitar, or take a refreshing power nap. You’re guaranteed to come back feeling more refreshed than you would after 10 minutes at your desk surfing Facebook.