Since you are likely working from home, it is time to do a pretty thorough analysis of your working-from-home skills.
Yes, I know; there are only 38 gazillion articles on how to master the art of working from home. But, I want to jump in with four strong suggestions of my own, with a few book-reading recommendations thrown in.
Think about the long-established wisdom of having a good strategy, and then executing on that strategy, So, you need to decide what to do (strategy), you need to develop a plan to get that done (tactics, and execution), and you need to communicate – to overcommunicate – to everyone involved. And, you need to reach deep inside yourself to develop an ever-stronger internal motivation.
So, here are my four critical elements of becoming a success at working from homie:
#1 – Decide on your strategy. Having a big, overarching, “this is what I intend to accomplish” plan will set the stage for all else.
#2 Cultivate an ever-stronger internal motivation. The kind of motivation that does not rely on carrots and sticks. The kind of motivation that the experts call “intrinsic motivation.”
Book Suggestion: this is a good time to read Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates You by Daniel Pink. Here is his own “twitter summary” of his book: “Carrots & sticks are so last century. Drive says for 21st century work, we need to upgrade to autonomy, mastery, & purpose.”
It boils down to this: when working from home, you have to be your own taskmaster. You have to want to do the work that you need to do; want to do it from somewhere deep inside of you. Reading this book can help you think through this challenge, and work on deepening your own intrinsic motivation.
#3 – After you decide what to do – what “big things” to do, and what incremental things to do along the way — then you need to get your things done.
Two strong reading recommendations for this part of the work-at-home puzzle. The first is the “bible” of getting things done: Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen. This book is overflowing with practicable, usable advice on how to get your things done.
The other is The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande. Dr. Gawande knows a thing or two about checklists; he developed the WHO surgical checklist, and helped develop the Ebola checklist. But, if you read this book, he looks at checklists from medicine, from construction managers (from really big construction projects), and chefs, and pilots, and…
Read this book, work on and use your checklists, and you will have far fewer things fall through the cracks.
#4 – And…you need to communicate with everyone, all the time. You need to over-communicate!
Though there are snippets of wisdom in a number of books about this, what I most recommend is that you read this blog post: “The Rule of Seventeen” – If you Want to Get Your Message Across & Accepted, Repeat, and Repeat and…..
One of the developers of this concept is Ed Savage, a regular participant at our First Friday Book Synopsis events in Dallas, and an organizational development guru. This practice is critical.
When you work from home, you simply have no “accidental” encounters to help spread the word; about anything. No coffee break encounters. No spur of the moment “let’s have lunch” conversations. No bumping into each other in the hall, to ask quick questions. So, you have to become very, very intentional about overcommunicating.
Communicate; then communicate again; and again; and then some more.
As Verne Harnish put it in Mastering the Rockefeller Habits: “until your people are mocking you, you’ve not repeated your message enough.”
Now, admittedly, this post did not deal with many other critical issues of working from home: how to set up your office; what to wear while working; how many cat videos to watch a day. But, if you pay attention to these four, and do some serious reading, you will get better at the job of doing good work from home.
I have presented synopses of all of the books I mentioned in this post. You can purchase my synopses: each synopsis comes with my comprehensive, multi-page handout, along with the audio recording of my presentation. Click on the “buy synopsis” tab at the top of this page, and search by title. Click here for our newest additions.