Episode 147 | Working From Home Pandemic Edition
WITH MAUREEN WERRBACH
- Episode 147 | Working From Home Pandemic Edition 00:00
Working from Home Pandemic Edition
Hi Group Practice Listeners! In this episode, I’m talking all about tips for working from home in a pandemic.
In this episode we cover:
- Obstacles specific to working from home
- Tips to make the most of working from home
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How’s everyone doing today? Today I wanted to talk about work life balance, quarantine addition. As a business owner, I’m sure you’re feeling it now a year into quarantining and working from home. And it has been a wild wild ride. Some observations I’ve had, thinking about what work life balance, is looking like for us business owners these past 9, 10, 11, almost 12 months is is pretty interesting.
And it’ll be interesting to see what it looks like when–I’m air quoting here but–“normal” comes back in terms of how we decide to intentionally pivot back into sort of normal life and what do we want to take from this time that we’ve had these past 12 months working from home.
I think a lot of us are looking at what our future can look like as business owners a little differently, which is definitely a plus from this whole experience. But what I’ve really noticed being such a hard thing for me as a business owner is this separation between my “workspace” again another air quote of workspace because it is right now, as I’m podcasting, I’m in the corner of my bedroom on a rocking chair, that’s so effing uncomfortable, I just need to get a regular chair, I have like three lumbar pillows behind me. Which is vastly different than my office space that has like a recording studio of sorts, that is much better for my recording.
Or sometimes my workspace is downstairs in the front room where most people don’t go but where my kids are just 10 feet away in the dining room or the other parts of the main floor being really loud, doing their schoolwork which is always really interesting. And so I toggle between working downstairs and just being within earshot of my kids both trying to do some e-learning and working upstairs in the bedroom when I need to record because I’ve learned now after literally 10 trials and errors. I don’t know why I’m you know that meme that says like something along the lines of you know, if you’re going to learn things, you’re going to learn things the hard way. I’m the person that learns things always the hard way that’s definitely me. I have tried to record probably I don’t know five or six times we’re halfway through the recording and sometimes they’re webinars where I’m you know, a half hour or 45 minutes into recording a webinar just to have my kid run into the front room and me have to scrap the whole thing.
That’s been the tough part of working from home.
Really being able to have the space to have peace and calm when I’m trying to do some of the thinking behind the business side of work, right? I don’t know about you guys, but aside from seeing clients that I know some of you group practice owners still do, there’s a lot of managing of different hats, you know? Collaborating with your clinicians, talking with your leadership team, just sitting and thinking about what you need to do to scale your business forward. And it can be really hard when it gets interrupted every five minutes. So that’s been, you know, kind of my big observation.
That and the, like leaving your work, and going home, and feeling that distinction between work and home when working from home.
You know, typically, we’ve all been able to leave our offices, and either have that walk or that drive that can help decompress us and shift us from kind of the business work mode, back to home mode. And that’s really not happening when we’re just, you know, when I’m looking at my closet, and I feel like I’m at home and also at work at the same time. So it’s definitely been an interesting journey these past handful of months.
I’m really interested to see what that looks like in the future. When things do shift over back to whatever normal looks like, what are we going to take away from this? What are we going to hold on to, and adapt into our work life balance in the future? And what things are we going to leave behind? What lessons are we learning? It’s, I don’t know, it’ll be interesting to see. I do however, feel like, you know, over the course of these 12 months, I’ve learned a few things. And I wanted to share some very, very simple tips that are not going to be mind blowing, but might be something that you haven’t thought of that can help your day, and help you shift from work to home life a little bit better, when work at home are both in the same place.
One thing that’s really worked for me is removing all of the apps from my technology when working from home.
And I mean, like social apps, apps that you know, ding constantly as a person that does consulting with a group practice exchange and has a Facebook group and all of that fun stuff, social media and Instagram and all that my phone is constantly lighting up with notifications. I found that it was really hard to really put work down when I’m at home. And there isn’t this solid line where I can leave work at work and come home and leave work, you know where it’s at. I found that by turning off notifications, literally all notifications, and removing some apps like Facebook and Instagram, I have left a tiktok on my phone, because it’s my one technology joy that I have is watching tiktoks. But everything else I’ve ever moved. And it I can’t say that I’ve been perfect about it, because there’s been times where I’ve gone back and just use my web browser on my phone to go to Facebook instead of the app because I took the app off. But it’s definitely reduced.
A lot of the time that I spent doing work related things on technology and not having technology be the thing that brings me back into work mode. So if for you, maybe Facebook and Instagram aren’t that, although I think most of us have business pages on social media, and those can be contributing to shifting back into work mode. But maybe it’s emails for you, right? What does technology do in a negative way for you, when you’re shifting back into home home life that kind of carries over the business stuff for you and remove those apps? Or I know there’s apps that can you know, more apps that can kind of quiet your work apps during certain time periods so that you won’t get notifications between, you know, I don’t know, three o’clock in the afternoon and 9am the next morning.
So that could that could work too.
Autoresponders! Autoresponders. I feel like have been a very simple but helpful tool for me when working from home.
I have an autoresponder I know they’re kind of annoying, you know, because everyone seems to have them these days. But it does do something for my need to feel like I’m not ignoring people or that people aren’t getting a response fast enough, which is my own problem. But I found that autoresponders helped me be able to sort of turn off the work brain and know that they’re getting a notification with what I think is important information that might answer their question, and if not, they know oh, okay, you know, this person’s not working right now. And so maybe you want to think about an autoresponder that turns on whenever you’re supposed to not be working, and have it turn off when you’re back at work. I have mine on all the time, but it’s just because I get a lot of emails and a lot of emails that I get are simple questions that people can find on their own. And so I don’t want to have to respond to them.
But you might find if you no communication with your staff is happening at all hours of the night, and you set boundaries on your end and had discussions with your team, but they still seem to come to you and send emails. One, I find that we all work at different times of day. And it’s on us as business owners not to feel like we need to respond whenever a therapist sends an email. Even if they’re working at nine o’clock at night, or you know, responding to emails at nine doesn’t mean you have to respond back at nine. But I found that sometimes putting an autoresponder is a great reminder for them, that you’ll get back to them the next day so that they don’t feel like they’re being ignored, and they’re getting a response.
Something that might be helpful to really feel good and comfortable with kind of letting go of the the work side of your brain for a little bit along those lines is telling your team or your family about what your plans are for separating work and life while you’re working from home.
Because it can help with accountability. I found that anytime I’ve breathed out into the world what I want to do, and told other people about it, it’s held me more accountable than I might hold myself. And it has made it a little bit easier for me to actually follow through on creating whatever balance it is that I want to have. So that could be helpful is talking with your team and saying, hey, everyone, I am having a really hard time shutting off my work brain, and I am closing my brain unless of an emergency and really list what what is considered an emergency because we all will think an emergency is something different, you know, the building is on fire, someone’s a danger to themselves or others and, and you need help with supporting that, or whatever else you might deem as a crisis, right? And then say, unless it’s one of those things, at starting at six o’clock at night, or seven o’clock at night, and until the next morning, I am unavailable. And you’re welcome to email me. But I won’t respond until the next day. And I want you to help hold me accountable to this because it’s a balance that I really want to make. I think it’s important for all of us and I want to model that because I also want you guys to be able to turn your work hats off, you know, whenever you’re off the clock, so to speak.
Time blocking, that’s another one that’s been really good for me while working from home.
My integrator, Casey, if she’s listening, she really helped create a time blocking system for me, especially as someone who manages multiple businesses. And I know many of you who are listening, also manage multiple businesses. It can be hard to organize your group practice owner work with your side business work or your other business work. I found that really putting blocks of time I have a full day that’s towards content creation. And that’s on Tuesdays, which is what today is, which is why I’m creating this podcast. And my VA’s every Monday go in and put on my Tuesday block that’s purple, and it says content creation. And they will then in the notes of it put all the content that I need to be creating that day. So I can come in Tuesday and just look at what I have to create.
I’m told what to create, which this is just what works for me. And then I can get into a groove.
There’s been research that shows that time blocking and having blocks of time chunking time together, like three, four hours plus at a time doing one thing over and over again, will help with your productivity, you’ll get into a groove and move faster and do the work faster with time versus if you’re shifting from answering emails to going on Facebook to getting up and going to the bathroom to seeing a client to doing some business work or financial work that blocking your time is undoing a lot of the same thing is going to get you to be faster at that.
So I’ve got a great schedule now that time blocks, one whole day of the week for meetings for my group practice one whole day of the week where I’m creating content, one whole day of the week where I’m doing visionary work and writing my book and anything in terms of like vision, reading, that’s my Fridays. Two hours of reading and I do like business reading, any sort of learning on the business end, that’s for two hours. Usually through book reading, and then two hours of book writing. And then two hours of visionary work, where I just think I have a piece of paper and a pen, I close my computer. And I really think about my vision for myself, my businesses, and come up with ideas and let my mind wander. So that’s time blocking.
Another tip is really just to allow yourself some grace to take breaks, to not be productive, to not get everything done.
We’re not machines, we’re in COVID, we are dealing with burnout, we are dealing with loss. So despite everything, or because of everything, I should say, it’s okay to feel like we’re not perfect at separating work and home life, and give ourselves a little bit of grace, acknowledge that we’re not perfect, that we haven’t figured out the perfect system for this. And, you know, sometimes just accepting that and giving ourselves grace for that opens the door for us to find other creative ways to actually separate work and home life while we’re at home.
And then, last working from home tip is pivoting.
I found pivoting, I feel like that was the word of 2020 for me. Not one that I chose. But one that came out in March, when we were all scrambling to figure out what we were going to do for with our businesses. And I really think that that’s a really key takeaway moving forward: how amazing we were at–just as a side note–all of us business owners in all industries all across the world, who’ve pivoted and figured out how to make it work. Despite everything that was happening, you know, none of us were prepared. None of us had previous training on pandemic pivoting. And so it’s pretty amazing what we’ve been able to do it.
And we’re also really fortunate, industry wise that we were able to pivot and be rather successful in our pivot. But I want to think on a more, you know, micro level on this. When I’m thinking pivoting on the daily basis, I mean, on this grand scale, I’m thinking about, like, if you’re having a hard time separating work and life just while you’re at work during the work day. Because you can just get up and turn the TV on or your kid might come interrupt you. Or your spouse might come walking in on a session or not, hopefully not a session walking on, you know, you doing a podcast, or you doing a training or you having a meeting or whatever, that there’s an you’re feeling burnt out. I don’t know, that’s I feel like that’s the key thing, and I’m seeing so much of it in our industry is, is burnout, really happening and being really high right now.
The ability to pivot, and I’m thinking of simple things like in your day that you can do. An example might be taking a lunch nap. I don’t know about you guys, I mean, I’m not a nap person at all. And maybe you guys have been doing this and I’m just, you know, new to the scene here. But I know it’s not air quote, “normal” to take a nap right in the middle of your workday. But that’s part of the ability to separate home and work is to maybe turn off your computer during lunch, literally stop working, go walk into your bedroom, and take a half hour or an hour nap to reset. And to get yourself back into work mode.
If you’re finding yourself having a hard time getting into work mode, because you’re in your house, day in and day out. Maybe it means rearranging your schedule, and drastically shifting it even if it’s just temporary just to jostle the mind a little bit and remind it you know when Work is work, and when home is home time for you. So I’m thinking pivot on a little bit more of a micro level than then what we’ve had to do this past year. But those are my tips.
And I’d love to hear if anything’s worked for you, as a business owner, working from home this whole time who might have struggled with really separating home and work or really finding maybe you know, you’re overworking and just not putting work down.
Or maybe you’re on the other end of the spectrum and really feeling like you’re having a hard time getting into work and you’re waking up later or just not getting yourself ready for work and lounging around the house most days or not getting your computer set up and feeling like you’re falling behind because you just can’t get into it because home doesn’t feel like work. And you’re not getting that motivation is to just think about some of these tips and, you know, talk to some other business owners and see what what have they done that has helped create a balance where they can work at home and be productive when they need to. But also turn it off when they need to as well so that they can actually enjoy part of their time at home as well.! So I hope you guys have a great day and I’ll see you next week.
Thanks for listening to the group practice exchange podcast. Like what you heard? Give us five stars on whatever platform you’re listening from. Need extra support? Join The Exchange, a membership community just for group practice owners with monthly office hours, live webinars, and a library of trainings ready for you to dive into! Visit www dot members dot the group practice exchange dot com forward slash exchange. See you next week.
Thanks For Listening
Thanks for listening to the group practice exchange podcast. Like what you heard? Give us five stars on whatever platform you’re listening from. Need extra suppor? Join The Exchange, a membership community just for group practice owners with monthly office hours, live webinars, and a library of trainings ready for you to dive into visit www dot members dot the group practice exchange dot com forward slash exchange. See you next week.
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Maureen Werrbach is a psychotherapist, group practice owner and group practice coach. Learn more about her coaching services here:
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