Project managementMany of us began the quarantine thinking that the work-from-home arrangement was temporary.  It was a stopgap arrangement until statistics showed a decrease in cases. But the “temporary” as we know it is fast becoming a way of life.  A few days of quarantine became weeks. Weeks became months.  And now the experts theorize that until a safe vaccine is found, home is the safest place to be – which means that it may take a year or two till we get back to life as we knew it. Therefor, what are life and remote work tips that will help us through the long run?

One thing’s for certain, remote work for the rest of 2020 is a possibility.

This is what we know two months into remote work for both life and remote work tips.

It isn’t as easy as we thought.  No app, platform, or bot could take the place of face-to-face interaction.  Suddenly many parents who now work from home found themselves homeschooling their children as well. Those whose livelihoods depend on social interaction now have to rethink their professions and career goals.  Many have reported feelings of anxiety and depression.  Contrary to what we giddily expected, tipping the work-life balance scale is more of a challenge with the blurred boundaries of work and home. 

Life and remote work tips: Life is a marathon, not a sprint to achieve

It seems clear that living through the cycle of COVID-19 is akin to a marathon.  It entails prolonged periods of discomfort. The only way to get through to the finish line is with awareness, pacing, and endurance.  Here are four mindsets we can pocket from endurance athletes such as triathletes, cyclists, and long-distance runners.

Work culture successMindset #1:  Know your purpose

Long-distance runners train for “the wall” – that barrier that gets in the way between you and running your best at the latter stages of a race.  It’s the part when fatigue hits and feelings of negativity begin to set in.

Seasoned marathoners know that the fears are usually far from reality.  Hitting the wall isn’t something that should be avoided. It’s a mindset.  When the going gets tough, when working from home is starting to overwhelm you, remember your why’s.  You do this because it’s safer for you to work from home. You delegate tasks to encourage interdependence.  You keep going because you lead a team at work and they look up to you for motivation.

Do take note that feelings of fatigue have a psychological and physical component. Take frequent breaks when needed.  Disconnect from all forms of social media for a few minutes each day and schedule regular downtime.

positive work cultureMindset #2:  Celebrate the little victories

It’s wonderful to dream about winning an Ironman triathlon or running that 42 kilometers at a new personal best … until you realize just how hard it takes to get to the finish line.  But having your eyes set only on the end goal can be demotivating when you know just how much you need to do, spend, and sacrifice to get there.

The solution?  Break your goal into chunks and celebrate the little goals.  Runners celebrate the 10th kilometer, then the 15th, the 21st, the 25th, and so on till they reach the 42nd.  Likewise, break down your goals into components. For instance, your daily to-do list may simply include getting up at a certain time, limiting social media use, ticking off at least 10 items from your to-do list. Your bigger goals could include facilitating that Zoom meeting or doing a one-on-one session with colleagues. Nothing is too small.

The little victories keep you in the here and now while pursuing our end goal – to get through this pandemic with mind, body, and soul intact.

best leadership skillsMindset #3:  Be realistic

The cardinal rule of triathletes and long-distance runners is to acknowledge that the race is long and difficult.  Nobody expects it to be easy.  If you envisioned that a work-from-home would be a walk in the park, then you’ve set yourself up for disappointment.

Elite runners expect the race to be hard, that way they can be delightfully surprised when it becomes easier.  This in turn, helps performance.  Similarly, when you expect this new arrangement to be easy- peasy, the moment you hit new challenges, panic sets in and you lose your ability to bounce back.

Expect remote work to be hard.  There will be highs and lows.  Your objective is to stay with it so you can respond aptly.  When the highs occur (high productivity, trust among peers, interdependence among team members), remind yourself that this is what’s happening.  When the lows happen (technical problems, mismatched schedules, delayed payments) say the same thing, “this is what’s happening and I can overcome it”. 

Mindset #4:  Pace yourself

Its common for neophyte endurance athletes to start moving faster when they feel good early in the race … only to crash kilometers later.  The veteran runners know better to restrain themselves even when things are going well.

The take away here is this: go slow to go fast.  When things are cruising along just fine, don’t abruptly set earlier deadlines. Avoid the temptation to bump up production or set challenging objectives right away.  If you do too much too soon, overexerting yourself (or your team) at the beginning of a long-haul arrangement can backfire.

Instead, ease into the pace and be mindful of the physical and mental challenges a remote work arrangement entails for you and your team. These are the life and remote work tips that will facilitate you in the long run.

Care to dig deeper in life and remote work tips?

Here are some additional resources you might find valuable

Copyright (c) TIGERS Success Series, Inc. by Dianne Crampton

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