Stay Productive in Lockdown
How long have you been selling from home? 6 months? Almost a year?
For many people the loss of contact with their coworkers and peers has been devastating to their performance and their state of mind. Compound that with working in the same environment in which they live, and a lot of the reps I've heard from are nearing the edge of how much of this they can take.
I hear you.
I have worked from home for the better part of 15 years. I love it. My wife has her own company as well and has worked from home for at least the last 7 years and she loves it too. Maybe that's the secret....we both get the same benefit of being home, while we still get to be with each other during the day? I find myself very productive while working from home....always have. My wife sometimes struggles with scheduling and productivity even though she'd rather be here than going to an office. What's the difference? Most of it is focus and concentration. When I "go to work" I can singularly focus on the thing I need to get done. My wife often gets distracted by our dogs, my son's at home classes, other things to be done around the house. She laments that she "didn't get enough done" at times because of these distractions. So, here are some best practices that we've both used to stay as productive as possible while still enjoying working from home (which is probably going to stay with us for some time even as Covid is receding in areas around the US).
Have an "office". In other words, have place in your home where you "go" to work. It could be a spare room, a closet, a corner of the kitchen but the very act of leaving your bedroom or wherever else you spend most of your time tells your mind "it's time to work".
Don't be afraid to be unconventional. When I'm at our little house in Texas, we are far out in the woods without reliable internet. Even streaming the internet from my phone's hot spot is not sufficient for business purposes. So...what do I do when it's time to put on a webinar or get on a Zoom call? I drive my truck into town (about 15 miles) where I have a good cell phone signal, I set up my computer and I get in the back seat and make that my "office" for the day. I usually wind up in the Whataburger parking lot as they have lots of space and I'm not in anyone's way. I just make sure I have everything I need (including some water) and I get to it. In the midst of a global pandemic you've gotta do what you can to keep doing business. I don't even bother keeping it a secret. I'll let the people I'm working with know where I am and why. Most of the time they find it funny....I've even gotten orders for a Mushroom Swiss burger with drink and fries!
Change clothes. If you want to work in your fuzzy bathrobe and slippers, more power to you! That said, most people will be in a different frame of mind if they are in different clothes than what they slept in. It doesn't need to be business attire (although I've done that few times when I wanted to be at my best) but something different than your usual "around the house" clothes will help.
Make a list. If you struggle with getting all of your priorities done each work day, try making a list and keeping it near you while you work. That tangible satisfaction that comes from crossing items off the list may help you stay focused on the next task and stay more productive.
Take time out. Even during Covid, my wife would find a way and a time to visit with one of her friends occasionally for coffee or tea. Sure, they'd be sitting outside and wearing masks but the ability to interact with a real human being in person is invaluable. With vaccines rolling out across the US there are going to be more (safer) opportunities for this kind of interaction. This can provide a real bright spot in your week or day to keep you working and moving forward.
Be careful. As we see dramatic drops in Covid around the country the desire to "get out there" is natural and understandable. I'm missing working with sales teams face to face and doing sales training. That said, we still have vulnerable people to protect so we can keep the recovery going and get a better, more social way of life as soon as possible. I lost a friend in Texas just last week. 29 year old female in perfect health who contracted Covid and wound up in ICU. After 7 days she appeared to be making progress and was looking forward to being released. 2 days later she was on a vent, and now she's gone. Even if you're going to your agency's office, keep your home office ready to go in the event you need to retreat back there due to restrictions or exposure.
It hasn't been any picnic for the past year but we're in sight of some sort of finish line. Together, we can get there if we stay smart, stay alert, and stay productive.