Tips to Reduce Screen Time While You’re WFH…

It’s exhausting to look at a screen all day. And yet, if we’re working remotely, it may feel unavoidable. To maintain our energy throughout the workday, let’s try to proactively disconnect from screens whenever you can.

Here are a few tips that can help:

Avoid Video calls if possible – Remember that video calls aren’t necessary for every meeting: Let’s try a regular phone call every once in a while to mix things up. Also, choose physical over digital whenever possible.

Use Pen/Paper if possible – Brainstorming ideas for an article? Write out your thoughts on paper or post-it notes. Creating a road map for a big project? Sketch the initial draft on a whiteboard or butcher paper instead of typing in a laptop.

Move around as much as possible, even if it’s just standing up and rolling your shoulders or grabbing a glass of water between meetings, take frequent breaks.

Take tech-free breaks over lunch, tea time, and find activities that don’t involve a screen to wind down.

Taking these steps will help us reduce our digital fatigue and feel more energized at the end of each day.

Work Stress Keeping You Up at Night…

Work stress is inevitable, but it doesn’t have to get in the way of a good night’s sleep. Try these strategies during the day to avoid worrying about work at all hours of the night.

Make a to-do list. The act of writing down uncompleted tasks allows us to put them out of mind.

Keeping a journal, where you write down thoughts and feelings. Putting pen to paper can help process emotions and reduce anxiety.

Get some exercise. Physical activity — even a single instance — decreases rumination, which is often linked to insomnia.

Practice meditation. Researchers have found that even small amounts of mindful meditation (10 minutes before and after work for two weeks) helped calm racing minds and improved sleep quality and duration.

Lastly, be easy on yourself. Self-compassion can often break the cycle of negative thoughts that keeps you up.

Work stress may be inevitable at times, but these strategies can increase our ability to wake up feeling refreshed and able to tackle the biggest challenges.

Decide Your Meeting Agenda Before…

A good agenda is the first step to any successful meeting. If you want to make the best use of everyone’s time, turn your bullet points into questions that drive to the outcomes you’re looking for.

For example, instead of a general topic like “Budget Problems,” try a specific question like, “How will we reduce our spending by $100,000 by the end of the fiscal year”? Or replace an item like “Strategic Planning” with a challenge like, “What is the key market threat we need to be aware of, how could it affect us, and what can we do to anticipate?” Preparing these questions before the meeting will make it easier to determine who should be there and how much time you’ll really need.

Ultimately, a questions-based approach to your agenda can bring focus, engagement, and better performance to your meetings. And if you can’t think of questions to ask, maybe you don’t need that meeting after all!

Let Daily Chores be Engaging when WFH…

When you’re working from home, you may find yourself feeling distracted by your looming personal responsibilities. You don’t have to push aside nagging thoughts such as, “I really should put in a load of laundry,” or, “Isn’t it time to do exercise?” — you can use these impulses to your advantage.

Physical chores may provide welcome relief after hours of video conferences and calls, thought work, and you can build them into your schedule. For example, if you’re having trouble starting a slide deck, decide ahead of time that you’ll walk the dog as soon as you get the first three slides done.

Weaving the daily responsibilities into your workday can help you feel more productive both personally and professionally, leaving you feeling more refreshed and energized for the days ahead.

How to Encourage Participation During Virtual Meetings…

Virtual Meetings

It’s hard to get people to pay attention in meetings when everyone’s in the same room — let alone if they’re all calling in from home.

How can you get people to actually participate in a virtual meeting? The key is to create structured opportunities for attendees to engage. Do something in the first 60 seconds to help participants experience the problem you want them to solve. For example, you might share statistics or anecdotes that dramatize the topic. Then assign people to groups of two or three and give them a very limited time frame to take on a highly structured and brief task. Be sure to give them a medium with which to communicate, like a WhatsApp group.

If you’re on a virtual meeting platform that allows for breakout groups, use them liberally. Then ask the teams to report back. Never go longer than five to 10 minutes without giving the group another problem to solve. The key is to set and sustain an expectation of meaningful involvement.

Otherwise, your participants will retreat into an observer role, and you’ll have to work extra hard to bring them back.

You Can’t Over Prepare for a Presentation…

Writing a speech or presentation is challenging, and memorizing it takes even more time and effort. But whether you’re speaking at a conference, setting a direction for your team, or persuading upper management to greenlight an idea, it’s important to know your presentation cold.

Transitions can be especially tricky, so break your talk into sections and rehearse the shifts between the sections. Note any troublesome segues and practice them repeatedly. Then, spend time each day memorizing your speech. You might consider recording and listening to it whenever you’re driving, exercising, or running errands. Or you can rehearse a portion of your script right before bedtime or multitask as you brush your teeth.

Finally, have a plan for any slip-ups. Prepare two or three go-to phrases, such as, “Let me refer to my notes,” or “I’m struggling to remember my next point. Let me take a moment and step back.” The lapse will be less awkward for everyone when you don’t panic and do what you need to move on.

Keep Writing Simple…

When you’re writing for work, it can be tempting to rely on industry jargon or big words to puff up your ideas. But overblown language doesn’t make you sound smart, and it can be off-putting to readers.

Most people are drawn to a more conversational tone. So, choose shorter, more familiar words and explain things in a way that anyone could understand. For example, write “things that could affect the merger” instead of “issues potentially impacting the successful completion of the merger.”

Also, whether you’re writing an email or a formal proposal, make sure that your content is glanceable since it probably will be read on a screen — and these days, often a phone.
Assume that your readers will be distracted, busy, and on-the-go.

Formatting can help: Try using subheads, bullet points, diagrams, and tables to highlight your key takeaways. Short sentences and short paragraphs help too.

A good rule of thumb is “one thought per sentence.” If there are too many linked ideas in one sentence, your readers may get lost and just give up.