• Ealing Business Buddies

Challenging Times

Updated: Mar 31

Jo Brianti is the Director of JLB Support Solutions, a business consultancy specialising in streamlining business operations with GDPR compliant processes and identifying the the right tech solutions to support business growth. A co founder of Ealing Business Buddies, Jo believes that getting the foundations right in a business are one of the keys to success.


It suddenly feels like the world is going mad as we are faced with a scenario previously only played out on a cinema screen. As we move to a lockdown scenario lots of us are facing a new way of working with the challenges that brings.


I have worked on a remote basis permanently since 2015 and previous to that on a regular basis as an Freelance IT Project Analyst/Manager so have learnt lots of techniques to help me streamline my working methods. Listed below are my top tips for creating a productive work from home culture.


Pomodoro Technique


This is a time management technique that encourages deep work and focus on a single task. Switch off all notifications, close your email and switch off the phone. Identify the task you need to complete, set a kitchen timer or alarm for 25 minutes then start work.


Focus only on that single task until the alarm or timer goes off now take a short break to make a cup of tea or to do something that is not work related. Repeat this task 4 times then take a longer break of 30 minutes.


I find the mornings are best for focusing on detailed work and this technique is great for helping to structure my work while ensuring I get the all important breaks.


To find out more take a look at this website


Time Blocking


This technique centers on grouping similar work activities into defined windows or blocks of time. If you think of a typical day you might start by opening your emails, flicking through social media, read more emails, start a proposal for a client, complete that task for another client, do some more email then some more client work it is easy to see how focus would be lost jumping between different tasks and task types.


Instead of this approach block out set periods in your day for checking email, social media management, business admin, client work or business development activities. Your brain focuses on the single type of activity and therefore your productivity increase as you get into a flow.


As an example block out 30 minutes at the start and end of the day for email management then blocks for other tasks with a focus on business growth activities such as proposals, client work etc first. This article provides a great explanation and sample diary entries.


Environment


If you are working from home permanently I encourage you to consider carefully your working environment. Adhoc working from home at the kitchen table is great, short term bursts from the sofa or bed but longer term your productivity may suffer but also you risk injury through poor posture.


Ergonomics is the study of productivity in the working environment but it also considers the health and safety aspect of your working space. If you are PAYE staff then your employer retains a duty of care for your working environment at home and should undertake a risk assessment in the same way as this is done in the workplace.


The most comfortable chair I have ever used is a Herman Miller and I would love to have one of these luxury models at home however it is not necessary to spend this amount of money. It is however essential to find the right seat that enables you to sit comfortably at the right height compared to your desk. This article in the Guardian explains how to assess your workstation set up at home.


A big trend recently has been has been the standing desk and there has been much debate about whether this option is 100% beneficial. A hybrid version such as the YoYo allows you to vary your working position and avoid spending too long sat down as we all know this is not great for health.


Never underestimate the power of the colour and the vibe of your working environment. It sounds a bit woo woo but if you plan to spend large amounts of time in a home office then it needs to motivate you to work rather than delivering a sense of dread.


Movement


I am guilty of saying goodbye to the boys as they leave for school, heading to my desk and getting so absorbed in a project I lose track of time realising I haven't moved all day when the boys arrive home. Not a healthy way to work as I have skipped lunch and drinks resulting in poor choices of rubbish food.


Using the Pomodoro technique ensures I take a break and I always use them to get up, make a cup of tea, fill a glass of water and sometimes throw a load in the machine. In my time blocking approach I make sure time is allocated to a lunch break with enough time for a walk in the fresh air or half an hour in the garden.


Walking meetings are also a great way to combine business with exercise and I have frequently met up with clients for a dog walk. In the current lockdown I am using my 30 minutes of daily exercise to walk the dog to my local park and give her a good run with a ball - sadly our favourite walking location is now too far to go to and closed to the public until further notice but keeping it local is essential


What tips would you add to this to help keep working from home productive and enjoyable?


Jo offers 90 minute strategy sessions to review your GDPR compliance, processes or the tech you use daily including help to integrate and streamline them. I am currently discounting these sessions by 50% (£75 instead of £149) until July 2020. If you have been promising to get something strategic done in your business email me on jo@jlbsupportsolutions.co.uk for an informal chat about your options


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