I get asked a bunch of questions about… you know… stuff. And in the early morning hours I enjoy responding (hopefully) thoughtfully and thoroughly. A couple members of my team suggested I start sharing my advice. Previous AMA’s are here. So, without further ado, please enjoy this installment of Ask MilEs Anything:
A reader asked me: “How do you turn work off around your family when you work remotely?”
Our entire company (along with 24% of Americans according to Bureau of Labor Statistics) is comprised of remote workers whose primary offices are their homes. So we know a little bit about this, and we know it’s really freaking hard. Over time I have learned a few things that I believe help. At least I think they do…you should probably ask my wife to be sure.
Routine and commitment are key.
The more you can make a routine the more comfortable your family and your friends get with understanding you wacky schedule. Consistency matters for everyone. That’s true and in dog training, it’s true in people training. The more consistent you can be, the easier it is for people who love you to meet you where you are. Then you have to continue that routine over the long-term. Commit. Then commit some more.
I remember a story from my mentor Roy Williams and his wife Penny, they worked from home and ran the business together. They had a lamp that was symbolic in the house. When the lamp was on it was working hours, and when they were finished for the day whether it was 3:30 in the afternoon or 8:30 at night the lamp went off and work went off.
When you work remotely, you have to have times where you are absolutely 100% available to connect. You have to have essentially “office hours” when your team knows they can reach you if they need you.
On the flip side, it is critical that whatever communication tool you use, it has to have some sort of do not disturb element to it. If you’re working from home, or even if you’re a project based company where you work on a task until it’s done versus punching a clock at eight and punching that same clock again at five – you have to have the right to shut off.
Because if you’re not careful it will take up every waking moment of your day.
So, when it’s family time that we’re talking about, put your phone on Do Not Disturb and set it down. I’m talking in-another-room-out-of-sight set it down, not let-me-check-it-every-10-minutes-to-make-sure-I-didn’t-miss-anything set it down.
Commit to being with your family even if that means you have to schedule time on your calendar for it. If you have to think of it as making an appointment with your family until it becomes a habit, that’s not callous, it’s responsible.
And when that anxiety kicks in that the entire organization is falling apart without you, take a deep breath, and remember it’s alright to give yourself permission to rest.