Nellie Working from Home

A Marketer’s Guide to Working from Home

You’ve probably seen dozens of similar articles floating around the internet or pushed to your inbox. I’m sorry. Here’s another one. Yep. I am going to write another one of those articles about how to work remotely; however, this comes from someone who has tested these methods and actually uses them to push through an eight hour day with their chihuahua and homemade coffee.

Get A Dedicated Space

I see you at your kitchen table. You think you’re cute. But you might regret where you’ve placed your new corner office. Please do yourself a favor and build a dedicated location for your work. If you’re going to use your kitchen table, that’s okay, but it’s no longer the kitchen table. It’s a desk with all of the materials you need for work. It’s set up with monitors and maybe even pushed into a corner so it no longer feels like a kitchen table. Eating dinner will happen elsewhere.

If you have the luxury of living in a residence with a separate office, use it. Close the door and don’t spend time in that space when you’re not working. Similarly, don’t continue sitting at your kitchen table office when you’re not working. Keep it as a separate space for the intention of work. This will help you feel more relaxed when you’re off the clock and more focused when it’s time to get your 40+ hours in for your employer.

Embrace Technology

When I was a child the thought of a video call was a big deal. It was not accessible and definitely not cheap. Fast forward to 2020 and there is little point in a verbal phone call because every piece of technology has a video component. If you’re a leader that is holding regular meetings, turn your camera on. Most laptops come with cameras and showing your face in a meeting is a great way to bolster your contribution to the team and your support of the company that employs you. If you’re a business owner, consider inviting your clients to join you on a video call. I recently heard a great piece of advice (sorry I don’t have attribution for this), if the meeting facilitator has their camera on then yours should be on too.

I should share one caveat with you about video calls. Learn how to use your camera, speakers, and microphone, before you make or join a call or meeting. There is no excuse for the echo. Google how to fix it. Speak to your IT department. figure it out. Oh, and if you hear feedback in a meeting – it might be you. So mute unless you’re talking. Please.

Snacks and Drinks Help You Think

Trying to work on a detailed project while you’re depleted of glucose is not useful. Leaving your dedicated workspace every ten minutes for a small cup of water is distracting to your productivity. Pack a bag of snacks and drinks to last at least four hours. Use ice packs. Or, invest in a mini-refrigerator. It’s worth it and will save you at least an hour in lost productivity. How? When you go to grab a drink you also see the dirty dishes, the dog that wants a treat and the plants that need to be watered. Don’t allow yourself to be in a position where you can meander over to other tasks when you were simply looking for a Fresca.

Take Breaks. Sometimes Many. 

Some people can focus non-stop for hours on end. I am not one of those people. I need variety. If you have worked with me then you know I am a conversationalist. This was a way for me to take a mental break between projects. My work in marketing is very project based and interpersonal interactions help me create transition time between projects. Working at home means being alone. There is no one to chat with about the odd power outage that happened because of a herd of deer. I am not sure that has ever happened but it’s possible in Vermont. 

Oh, right, breaks. So instead of speaking with colleagues I take periodic breaks. I use this time to check in with myself physically. Do I need water? Food? Social interaction? If I need social interaction I may not always scroll through social media. I may actually take that time to speak with followers or post something. This helps me still feel like I’m speaking with someone. Other times I will take the dog out for a five-minute walk down the street. Or, I’ll pop through the drive-thru for coffee. I try to do something that has an obvious ending. For example, going for coffee means that once I get the coffee and arrive home, the break is done. It’s on to the next project.

If you feel you need to take more breaks and work a longer day, do it. If you’re hourly and working from home, speak with your Manager about how you can best work mini-breaks into your day. If you’re salary, get to a full day and build your breaks in as you go.

Set Boundaries

I’m feeling very empathetic toward parents that are working from home. Especially parents who would otherwise have the escape of an office environment. Yes, I said escape. It can be very jarring for a parent to go from a 40hr office work week to a 40hr co-working space with their toddler. For those without children, like myself, it’s still important to set boundaries.

So what boundaries can we set to enhance our remote work experience? Consider the following ideas:

  • Set a start and end time for work. If you’re taking more breaks, then your day may actually end later than usual.
  • Break up the childcare duties. I don’t have much experience with this matter but balance in all things is valuable.
  • Be careful not to set lunch dates or social visits when you should be working. Granted, we’re all pretty confined to our homes but a socially distanced brunch could drag on and distract you from your day.
  • Do still use PTO. Just because you’re home doesn’t mean you don’t need a vacation or time to focus on your medical appointments. Early on in the pandemic I took a Friday off just to process what was happening in the world. You can too.
  • Don’t work 15hr days because you can. I remember working so late in one office that I had to wave my hands to turn the sensor lights back on. Overworking can lead to physical and mental stress so be sure you’re setting the expectation that the day ends after eight or nine hours. Or less if that’s what is required of you.

I hope you found these tips helpful. Perhaps they’re the same tips you’ve seen all over your TikTok “For You” page. Regardless, stay sane out there. Grab a snack and enjoy this time of personal grounding as we get through 2020, together.

My Favorite Leadership and Marketing Tools

As leaders we’re constantly bombarded by advertisements requesting our time to try a new tool. Most of these tools offer little value, are overcrowded with partner advertisements, or have a poor user interface. In this post I’ll share a few of the tools I use to manage some of my marketing tasks and overcome time management quandaries.

Buffer, HootSuite, and Social Scheduling 

I’ve said this before and i’ll say it again, schedule your social media posts. I’m still floored when people think I’m posting to Facebook at 7:53 AM on a Sunday. Seriously? Ain’t nobody got time for that. By “that” I mean posting for your business in real time. Check out Buffer, HootSuite, or any social scheduling app and get rolling. You could become a social media maven while only spending two hours per WEEK scheduling posts. 

Also consider reposting older posts. If you write your content to be evergreen you can recycle your posts over and over again. You can also schedule posts from other likeminded thought leaders. 

Feedly, Paper.li and RSS

Feedly is a site which allows you to pull RSS feeds from many sites by imputing the RSS URL, or by searching a keyword. If you’re looking for content to reshare Feedly allows you to make a real time library of content on the web. 

Paper.li has the same functionality as Feedly but also allows you to create your own branded online newspaper to share on social media. For example: If you own a hair salon you can curate articles about techniques (cut, color, etc…) and share that newspaper online with your clients or social followers. Your paper will automatically update with new content from the web based on the search terms you setup. 

Audiobooks & Podcasts

I cannot put a value on the knowledge I’ve gained by listening to audiobooks and podcasts. I travel frequently for my job; by listening to podcasts and audiobooks I’ve essentially turned my car into a rolling university. I recommend Stitcher, iTunes, and Audible as tools for adding this content to your daily commute. And here’s the kicker — most podcasts are free! I’ll share some of my favorite podcasters and authors in a future post so be sure to “stay tuned” to my blog. 

Toggl

Your time is valuable. Do you know how much time you’re spending in meetings, on projects, or on the golf course? Wouldn’t you like to see how your time is used and break down where you’re most productive? Toggl can help. People think it’s a little nutty that I document every work task. I think it’s nutty not to understand how many hours are spent on non-essential tasks. I clock in and out of everything I do during work hours. This allows me to stay on task, and find out why I’m ahead in one area and behind in another. For example: I know that website visits drop during weeks I’m at trade events. Why? Because I neglected to schedule web content. Remedy? Schedule content before I go out of town. 

Slack

I admit, I just found out about Slack. This neat app allows you to create chat groups and work on projects with anyone. It’s great for extracurricular projects (non-profit boards, bands, etc…) and works via app and desktop. You just have to be sure you’re not adding a duplicate tool for communication. People are habitual so it may take some training to get your teams or groups on board to the idea of using Slack more regularly. 

Coffee

No explanation nessesary. ☕️

How to Dominate Social Media with Zero Free Time

  If you’re like me you don’t have all day to be posting on social media. In fact you really don’t want to post on social media at all. Your primary focus is to get a job done. Maybe you’re working for your own company, or maybe you’re working for another brand, but if you’ve been tasked to post on social media you can slash your tasking in half with one simple tip — batch processing.

In fact, I’m batch processing this blog post right now. I am writing this blog post late in the evening and I plan on posting it later this week. You can do the same thing with social media. All you have to do is schedule it.

So what do I mean by scheduling your social media? I mean you can write your posts in one day and then schedule them to be distributed throughout a week, month, or even a year. I would caution you not to schedule posts too far in advance, you may want to change your thought later on. 

What platform?

So how do you schedule posts? Where do you go to batch process your thoughts so you can send them out on social media? 

There are a few apps that can help you with this. Some of my favorite apps that I use for publishing on social media include: Buffer, HootSuite, TweetDeck, and Crowd Fire. If you use a CRM, or a marketing automation platform, you can typically automate your posts and publish them in a scheduled format there as well.

Personally I find Buffer to be one of the best tools for publishing on social media. I really like it’s minimalist platform and suggested posts they offer.

What’s next?

Once you’ve established a platform that you’re going to use to publish on a regular basis you should really create your content. Think about the type of brand you want to have, and the type of media you want to distribute, and then start writing it out. Collect 20 separate social media posts and schedule them out over the next couple of weeks. Be sure to use hashtags, photos, videos, and attribute any sources that you use.

Once all of your content has been written, and everything is scheduled, sit back and watch the fruits of your labor. You will be able to track your analytics and see how your posts are doing on social media. Remember to duplicate the types of posts that do well, and don’t waste time on the posts that didn’t deliver engagement to your brand.  

Now get scheduling! 

The Launch

Control switch on a panel pointing at the word Launch
Photo courtesy of http://www.dollarphotoclub.com.

Welcome to my website. This is my first post, and hopefully one of many to come.

My name is Christal and I created this site as a place for leaders, marketers, and entrepreneurs to go for tools to advance to the next level. I also wanted a home to share my best tips, life hacks, and inspirational messages.

 

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