Tag : work at home

Make a Difference in 20 Minutes

20 minutes productivityDoes it seems like there’s never enough time in the day to accomplish everything on your to-do list? We hear you. But we think that somewhere in each day you might have just 20 minutes that could be used differently.

Twenty minutes might seem like a big hunk of time to carve out of your jam-packed day. But then again, it might not seem like enough time to actually accomplish something meaningful. However,  20 minutes is the perfect amount of time (depending on how you use it) to see a variety of benefits, including:

  • Breaking up your routine
  • Helping you be more productive
  • Letting you tackle tasks you dread or having been putting off
  • Enabling you to learn something new
  • Sparking your creativity
  • Getting yourself connected to others
  • Allowing you time to rejuvenate and get centered

Doing things in short bursts and having a set time limit can make a big difference in your life and work.  

Here are some things that you can do in 20 minutes:

  • Go for a one mile walk (or run)
  • Take a power nap
  • Brainstorm blog post ideas
  • Write a to-do list for the next day
  • Run a quick errand
  • Call a friend and spend some time catching up with them
  • Write snail mail to a friend, family member, or business colleague
  • Do some yoga stretches
  • Update your phone, computer, tablet, etc
  • Clean up your desk
  • Read
  • Tackle interruptions that emerged from earlier interruptions
  • Calendar your to-do list and move items into scheduled activities
  • Blast through paperwork (or any other task you dread)
  • Get out of your office
  • Acknowledge someone else’s accomplishments in an email or a phone call
  • Decide the first thing you need to do tomorrow as schedule it as a priority
  • Attend to your network by asking a peer if there is something you can do to help them
  • Solicit feedback from your audience, peers or trusted advisors
  • Forward an article of interest to someone
  • Meditate
  • Organize something in your house if you work from home

Additionally, another thing you can do in 20 minutes is get some top-notch advice from experts who want to see your business succeed. Interested in learning more about a free 20 minute consultation with someone on the Chateau20 team to help take your affiliate efforts to the next level? Contact Tiffany Ponds-Kimbro (tpondskimbro@chateau20.com).  We’re here to help you.

Get Unstuck from Your Routine

shake u your routine and get unstuckIt’s good to shake things up every once in while. And that includes your work routine.

Maybe you feel like you’re stuck in a rut. Or not as productive as you’d like. Or perhaps you just need something new to get you inspired and motivated.

Having a routine is often the key to being productive – especially if you’re affiliate and working at home. But sometimes a routine can feel like a rut. You’re tackling that to-do list like a boss, but every now and again it feels like simply going through the motions. You’ve developed processes and put systems in place that make you efficient. But after awhile it’s like the movie Groundhog Day. If you know that feeling, it might be time to change up how you approach work on daily basis.

And while having a routine might make you more efficient, often it can lead to being stuck working in your business rather than on your business.

Here are some ways to shake up your routine:

Create a New Schedule

If you wake up at the same time each day and do the same tasks in a same order, try switching it up. Instead of heading straight for the home office when you wake up, hit the gym or go for a walk. Maybe you normally work at your desk for lunch. Instead try scheduling a lunch meeting with a friend or business contact.

Additionally, think about how your get through your daily to-list and how you can build in time for working on bigger picture issues. That might mean designating one day or half a day each week to just thinking about expansion, implementing new strategies, or developing a plan for future growth.

Change Locations

If you always work in a same location, try picking one day a week to work elsewhere. Maybe it’s a cafe, or a co-working space, or even another room of the house. Being physically located in a different environment takes your brain off auto-pilot. You never know what ideas your brief work hours in a new space might inspire.

Build in Flexibility

Being over-scheduled or having a monster to-do list, puts you in a state of constantly moving quickly to complete tasks in specific order and on time. It also means you have no time to just let your mind wander or to think about other issues. You’re simply in get-stuff-done mode.

Try pairing down on the number of must-do items. Having some breathing room and focusing only on your top priorities for the day or week will give you some flexibility in your schedule. It also means that if something important comes up, or there is an unscheduled interruption, you’re entire day won’t be thrown off course.

Get Creative – Literally

Take time out to be creative. Either do an art project or build something with no reason or obligation to do the project except to be creative. When you’re focused on something that uses another part of your brain, you often come up with solutions to other problems. It’s also good for your mind to relax and recharge and creative activities allow for that.

Learn a New Skill

Make a point of learning a new skill unrelated to your business or work. It can be anything – meditation, a craft, CPR  – whatever is of interest. Incorporating “practice” time will unstick the stuck.

Network

It an be invorgating to spend time with colleagues or peers. This is especially true if you’re isolated by working from home. So, whether it’s planning a once a week lunch with a different person each week or attending a local business meet-up, it’s good to interact with others. If making it out of the home office is overwhelming or not practical, you can try starting a mastermind group via phone or over the internet. Or think about trying to set up a call with one new person each week to talk about business opportunities.

Additionally, not every networking opportunity needs to be focused specifically on your business or industry. Often talking with people in other areas of business will spark on idea. You’ll also likely find that others face many similar challenges of running a business. They might have some good strategies for you. Or, at least, you can commiserate.

Find Help

If you’re in a financial position to hire someone, that will certainly help shake up your routine. Delegating daily tasks to others frees you up to think about growing your business. Instead of being mired in the day-to-day, your valuable time can be spent on bigger issues that could earn you more money. However, when hiring anyone, make sure to have clear systems in place and provide employees with the tools, resources, and instructions to independently complete their tasks. You don’t want overseeing every move of a new employee to be added to your daily to-do list.

Altering your current routine can spark innovation and efficiency. It will probably take a while to get accustomed to the new normal, but once you do, you’ll be firing on all cylinders. However, remember that your new routine may also eventually turn into a rut. So, you might want to think about shaking things up once a year or every 18 months.

Meet the Team: Tips for Effective Communication and Maximum Productivity

Affiliates often operate as solopreneurs. Or perhaps, they have some help in the form of virtual employees or contractors that work remotely. It can be isolating to work alone – even if you have co-workers in other locations. Some of the biggest challenges of working at home include finding effective methods for communicating and being productive.

We understand. Chateau 20’s team of experts are spread across the U.S. Everyone approaches working at home differently. What works for one person, may not work for everybody. But here are some tips that help our team stay engaged and maximize productivity.

tips for communication and productivity

COMMUNICATION

It can be hard to interact with others when you work alone. Luckily, there are so many tools and technology that can help facilitate communications. There are also plenty of proven tactics that can make communicating with remote co-workers, partners, and peers more satisfying and more effective.

Karen White, Founder and CEO: I think the biggest failure in communication with others, is that our first go to for most folks is email.  Two rules I follow: If the discussion requires more than three sentences to discuss, I move to hop on the phone.  If the communication requires less than three sentences, I use email or text.

Brandie Feuer,  Director of Strategy: I’ve recently become a fan of Slack. It took a minute, but when you start using it, it’s awesome to chat daily with people on your teams or that you’re working with. I’m also a big believer in face time and try to video conference in whenever possible. I also love people who can make email conversations fun and have a knack for always inserting the perfect LOL gif.

Chris Park, Partner Relationship Manager: Telephone. Email. Text. Skype. Instant messaging. There are SO many ways to keep in contact these days, I try to keep tabs on how each contact prefers to hear from me. By doing so, I can expect quicker and better interactions. I’ve learned that with some contacts, a text or IM is answered relatively immediately, while emails take days or weeks for a response, if at all. It’s also beneficial to keep track of where contacts are located so you don’t call them early in the morning, or late at night. You used to be able to simply check the area code, but with people taking their cell phone numbers with them, now, that is no longer reliable.

Lisa Riolo Vice President of Operations and Special Projects: My best communication tip involves a set of questions–mostly related to the phone – that I use to facilitate effective conversations. I learned from a realtor friend to always ask: is now (still) a good time to talk? Give people the option to express if they can’t give you their full attention. I prefer not having the conversation if the other person feels as if they’re stuck, if it wasn’t scheduled, or ambushed. I’d rather set the moment as well-timed and we are both ready.  

Years ago I replaced “do you have any questions” with “what questions do you have?” It gives people permission to ask. I do this during conference calls, training sessions, etc.

The third question is “how do I help?” This tends to focus a conversation and moves thinking toward a solution or path forward. Sometimes I phrase this question differently: what do you need from me? Is there an opportunity here we aren’t seeing?

I think there is value in collaboration and discussion. Open ended questions facilitate a dialogue. So the second and third questions on this list are designed to help information flow.

Tiffany Ponds-Kimbro, Publisher Development Manager: I like to look for points of similarity, whether it’s personal or professional. It really helps to break the ice and get others to open up. People tend to trust those who are more like them. And trust can foster honest, candid communication.

tips for communication and productivity

PRODUCTIVITY

With no one looking over your shoulder, it can be hard to remain self-motivated and productive. If you’re working at home, there can be so many distractions. It’s crucial to find out what works for you and then create a routine that boosts your productivity.

 

Karen White: My Smartphone (iPhone 6 Plus) is my #1 communication tool. It would be the kiss of death for me to not be able to use it.  I keep a running log of “To Do” tasks in my notes.  I set priority/rank to tasks, as I jot them down.  Each morning I identify my top three priority items of the day, and I determine how much time is needed to complete them.  Once completed, I identify the next three priority items.  Each morning, my priority might change from the day before, but I never concern myself with the idea of trying to complete my entire “to do list” or all the items on the list. 

Brandie Feuer: I’ve really spent the last few years figuring out when I am my best self for certain things and work to structure my day around that as best as possible. For example, my creative brain turns on around 7pm. I kick ass at analytics between 9:30-11am. And I am a waste of space around 3pm. If I can do things in these buckets then I’m 10x more productive and efficient. For example, if I tried to brainstorm in the morning, it would be unfun, painful and take me a good 60 plus minutes to come up with an idea. But, if I brainstorm after 7pm, I’m jazzed and can knock out a great idea in 15 minutes.

The other thing I’m a big believer in – the Post It Note To Do List System. I make myself a Post-It Note of To Dos every day. Usually only 3 things fit on a Post It Note and they are BIG things. I believe that once you knock those things out, you’re good for the day. If you’re working from home, it’s an incentive to get things done or figure out ways to be productive. I can’t shut down until those 3 things are done, whether it takes me 3 hours or 10 hours. It’s also a way to prioritize your workload. If your tasks can’t fit on a Post It Note or they’re not in your top 3, then really ask yourself, ‘Why?’. If the task isn’t important enough to make it to your list, then maybe you shouldn’t be doing it. And, if you do think it should be on your list, then what do you need to remove from your priorities to make it happen?

I’m not always 100% at this, but another productivity tip that I work towards is “Be Here Now.” Whether you’re working on a task, in a meeting or on a call, really be present in the moment. When your mind is divided, it’s unfair to the other people in the meeting and it’s unfair to yourself and your work. Multitasking is not always the best. One app that helps you practice this is Headspace (another thing I’m a big fan of!)

Chris Park: I have a dedicated office space with a real door that keeps my officemates out (a yellow lab and miniature schnauzer) when I need it to be quiet. I also get up at the same time each morning, get ready to “go to work”, and then drive into town to get a cup of coffee. I did that every morning when I didn’t work from home, so it keeps me in the same pattern of going to work in the morning.

Lisa Riolo: My Not To Do List is as important as my To Do List. This approach helps me manage competing priorities, and make deliberate decisions about what actions are most or least valuable. I also recognize when items on the To Do list aren’t getting checked off. They might have to go on the Not To Do. I am forced to acknowledge when something is just not happening.

I also walk when I talk. Rather than sitting through every call, I realize a lot of conversations don’t require me being on the laptop. So I get up and start walking around the block. The fresh air and activity helps me maintain a higher level of energy, which keeps me productive longer.

Additionally, I Unsubscribe. It’s too easy to get bogged down by info overload. So quit pulling the info in. Just go get what you want when you want it. Stop opening the emails – just Unsubscribe.

Tiffany Ponds-Kimbro: I used to do it everyday when I worked in a corporate setting and stopped once I started working from home – a brain dump first thing in the morning. Some things I write down and some I add to the Notes section of my phone. It also helps to distance me from whatever may be going on in the house (the people). My other productivity key is music. It’s usually contemporary jazz instrumental.  It helps me stay on an even keel even when I’m about to lose it, COMPLETELY. Instrumental is best because then I can’t sing the words that may distract me from actual linear thought.