Business Bites Episode 112: 4 Tips for Working from Home

4 Tips for Working from Home

Episode 112 on the Business Bites Podcast

The Gist Of This Episode: With all the mandatory closures and stay-at-home orders affecting most of us, new challenges are emerging regarding working from home. In this episode, Rachel shares 4 things we can do to make working from home successful for us and our businesses. 

 

What you will learn:

  • why you should keep to a regular schedule
  • how to keep on top of tasks that need to be done
  • ways to be more efficient
  • ways to increase cashflow without cutting team members
  • and more!

Expand To Read Episode Transcripts

I got to tell you guys, normally I’m a realist, but I am pretty doggone optimistic and excited for the way that corona has forced work from home. The way it has forced the virtual environment. Now I get it. Many of you Business Bites Podcast listeners are creatives, you work from home all the time. So when we see these news reporters joking about, “Ha-ha, I’m wearing a tie up top and yoga pants on the bottom.” We’re like, come on, we’ve been doing that for years. But for those of you that are attorneys, CPAs, or other industries that have subscribed to this whole got a nine-to-five in an office type mentality, you’re sitting here going, “My god, where do I even start?” Well, that is why episode 112, that you’re listening to right now, is going to help you walk through some of the top tips that I have for running a virtual business or working from home.

Welcome to The Business Bites Podcast, the podcast for busy entrepreneurs. Whether you’re an online entrepreneur or seeking after brick and mortar success, this podcast brings you quick bites of content, so you can learn and grow anywhere you are. Now here’s your host, Rachel Brenke.

Hey y’all. Welcome to episode 112 of The Business Bites Podcast. I am your host Rachel Brenke, and this podcast is quick content for busy entrepreneurs. However, I’m also inviting those of you that have been thrown into this work from home environment, and you’re like, “Oh my gosh, I don’t know what to do.” I want to hear from people who have been doing it for years. Well, guess what? I have been doing it for over a decade.

I have done it with multiple businesses, having and raising five kids. I’ve done it through cancer. I’ve done it through lung disease. I’ve done it through all sorts of other life circumstances. Doesn’t mean that I am perfect or know everything on this, but I do want to impart with you some of the top tips that I have found are going to help you be the most successful at home.

This episode, which, by the way, show notes are going to be at Rachelbrenke.com/epi112. This episode has come out of me trolling Twitter and seeing all these people making comments about, it’s so great. My schedule is this. I decided to roll into work at two or three o’clock and I’m still in my pajamas, which is actually going to be my first point here. But guess what? If you’re going to be successfully working from home, it’s almost no different than going to an office. You do get a better quality of life. It is a bit more relaxed. You do have flexibility.

But guess what? You still have to work and you still have to do the things that are going to allow you to be as productive as possible. So these are going to be my top tips, and I’m not necessarily going to dig into specific systems and all of that, because it’s going to be dependent upon what industry that you’re in. But these are my top tips, no matter what industry, what type of career or job that you’re doing, you can apply to you.

So the very first tip is, y’all, you got to work a regular schedule. I get it, the day of this recording, we have not been self isolating, quarantining, whatever you want to call it for all that long. Week, 10 days, two weeks, right? So it has been a fun “vacay” or relaxation for some of us to be able to slow down and roll into work at 2:00 PM, stay in our pajamas. But guess what? In order to be productive as much as possible, your body knows and actually anticipates very specific things from you.

So if you are someone that has been going to an office and sitting at a desk for X amount of time, someone who puts on very specific type of clothes and wakes up at a certain time, and sits at that desk, then you, then you need to keep doing that from home too. You need to make sure that you get yourself up. I’m not saying if you woke up at 4:00 AM you need to wake up at 4:00 AM now, but if you’re somebody that woke up, and went and got dressed for work, put on regular clothes and went to work, you need to do the same thing. Your body, and they have seen this with students. If students study relaxing on a couch, then it’s harder for them to be productive and to recall an information when they’re in a test sitting at a desk. And the exact same thing for productivity when it comes to business, when it comes to getting the job done that you’re doing.

So, my recommendation is, every single day you need to get up and you need to get in some semblance of clothes. Yeah, the memes and GIFs and all that are funny about, ha ha, did I put on a bra today? I’m still in yoga pants. And I’m not saying that every day I necessarily get dressed perfectly, but your body is going to respond. And if you are in your regular lounge wear that you have normally when you’re laying on the couch watching Oprah or binge watching Netflix, your brain’s not going to turn on and be as productive than if you went and put on at least some jeans and got out of your pajamas. All right.

And this also is a good little segue way and crossover to mental health, which, I think is something very important that not a lot of people are talking about for COVID and the coronavirus right now, and I think that we’re going to start seeing a lot of information be put out about this later on. But a lot of us entrepreneurs that have been doing this for years already understand that we have to have some semblance of structure. We have to do what needs to be done to be productive, because it also is going to counterbalance the stresses and other mental health issues that may arise.

And guess what? We’re in a fricking pandemic. This is fricking massive. So whether you’re freaking out about it or not, guess what? There’s underlying subconscious that is going to have some stress and fear, and you can help abate that by sticking to a normal routine. So my number one tip is to work a regular schedule, and within that is get up. Workout if that’s what you normally do. Take a shower, put on regular clothes. Put on, not necessarily say put on makeup. Maybe now’s a good time to allow your skin to refresh and all that, but at least put on the clothes, or put yourself into the environment that you need to be productive as much as possible.

Trust me, I get it. It’s more fun to sit with a MacBook air on the couch with a cup of tea than it is to sit at the desk, but you’re going to be more productive if that is the way you’ve conditioned your body to be productive over the years. Now, a side note on this, maybe now’s the time to find a better way for you to be productive. Maybe you’re now realizing you’re not a, sit at a desk person, and that you are a cross legged on the floor in yoga pants type person. That’s great too. Whatever you find to work best is what you need to institute.

Tip number two, and I think you guys already got this because we have no choice because we’re stuck in our houses, but anything that can be virtual should be virtual. Point blank. And this is something that we have always embraced at the Rachel Brenke brand. Whether you’re a photographer and you check out The Law Tog, Business Bites Podcast, or just where you’re sitting, or FitLegally for fitness owners. Wherever you’re at on my brands, we do almost everything virtually.

Even our law firm, Eden-law.com, we are still doing work. But guess what? We haven’t had a vast change. Do you want to know why? Because, we’re primarily virtual. We have physical offices, yes, that’s what we pay rent for it, but we want to see our clients sometimes. And that’s the nature of that industry, which I have a whole nother, maybe I’ll just do an entire Rachel rant, like Soapbox. I’m so thrilled the way the legal industry is being forced into making everything virtual, because what is the number two tip here? Anything that can be virtual should, all right, and you guys are forced to do that.

So some of my top things here that I would recommend if you’re being forced into being a very virtual-based business, Slack for communication between your staff. We use Facebook Messenger for some of our stuff. My other brand, we ended up just using iMessenger, because that’s what we all have. We’re a fairly small intimate team, so that’s what we utilize. But whatever works best for you, those are the communication things that I would recommend.

We also highly recommend that you keep everything in one central place. What I mean by that is, when you’re virtual, there’s this tendency to want to meeting people to death because you want to have the communication. You don’t necessarily want to do that. You don’t have to. Remember, the goal is anything that can be virtual should, so how can we have virtual checklists and tasking? One of my favorite systems is monday.com. We utilize this at Business Bites Podcast. We use it for our sponsors, our guests, for publishing of all of our stuff. We can tag people, we can put deadlines, we can put links, but we’re able to set a template of the workflow for every podcast episode and copy and paste it along the way.

It’s all virtual. I can access it by my phone. I can access it by my computer. Definitely a system that I highly recommend. There’s other systems available out there like Asana, Basecamp, Trello, whatever works for you. And again, I’m going to link all this in the show notes. But anything that can be virtual should be. However, let’s put a little asterisk on that. I don’t want you to do things that are inefficient virtually. Sending a checklist by email every single day is not efficient. It gets lost in email. An employee has to look for it. Put it in a centralized location, that it can have notifications, that it can have deadlines.

I’m going to pause for a second here because I hope that you’re scribbling. Why? Because I just gave you guys an entire checklist of all the things functions it needs to have in order for you to be successful working from home. Maybe you’re sitting there and thinking, “Oh, but I work for somebody and my business is not going to put this into play.” Guess what? You can put it into play for yourself. You can keep yourself on task with checklists this way. I’ve used Wunderlist before, when I have been doing checklists for myself. Don’t have to pay for it. It syncs across all my devices. I can keep a status of where I’m at on things, and keep myself in check.

Third tip here, automate everything that you can, and this is a good little piggyback onto the virtual aspect. But anything that can be automated should automated. And again, depends on what industry you’re in. If you are in the legal industry you should look at things like Clio Grow, because there are automated workflows that you can apply, one click button and templates that can be sent. You can also do things like Dubsado. Dubsado is a good program for, and I’ve seen it, for law firms, I’ve seen it for photographers, graphic designers, et cetera. It’s a CRM that you can utilize, send contracts and invoices. It’s all automated.

So, not only have you checked off the fact that it’s virtual, you’ve checked off the fact that it is to be automated. Automate, automate, automate. And my little asterisk and side note for that is, if it is automated, then obviously it’s going to force you to create some sort of template. You’re going to see that you’re doing the same tasks over and over again, so it’s automated. You’re going to see that you’re going to be saying the exact same things, whether it’s to customer service or to a client, or to a coworker. Guess what? Make a template out of it. That is an automation.

Oftentimes, we fall into this trap of, oh, automation, it means you should be automatically triggered by technology. No. Automation, you can also, putting you on autopilot. You know that you have to send a weekly roundup of a report to your boss, right? Create yourself a template that should fill in the blanks, instead of having to retype, this is what I worked on today. And this, then this, then that, then that. And here’s the weakness, here are the strengths. Make a template, automate it, copy and paste it across the board.

And lastly, the last tip I’m going to leave with you guys, because this is supposed to be a quick episode and I am going to be doing followup episodes on this, you need to budget properly. And I’m not just talking money, I’m talking time and resources. So this, let’s start with time. I want you, if you’re working from home, to take the approach of, you’re trying to lose weight. Except we’re trying to lose inefficient time here. I want you to take a pad of paper and I want you to carry it around with you all day. Heck, use Notepad on iPhone if you want to.

I want you to write down all the minutes and account for your entire minutes during your normal work day. Understand, give yourself grace while we’re in quarantine and self isolation, and we’re having to work from home and homeschool and all that stuff, but I want you to identify where all this lost time is going. Because, one of the biggest killers of working from home is at the end of your “work day”, because, what was tip number one? Work a regular schedule. You’re like, “Oh, well my regular schedule was to end at 4:00. I’ve sat here since 9:00 AM and now it’s 4:00. Didn’t even get up, ate lunch at my desk, but I didn’t get anything done.”

You want to know why? Because I watched you for 23 minutes, share cat GIFs on Twitter. I saw you scrolling through the news and checking out what’s going on. So, what I want you to do, like I said, just like you’re trying to lose weight, I want you to account for every calorie, for every time that you’re utilizing into the day, and calculate it up and see where you lost time. Because remember, budgeting properly is not just money, it’s also budgeting your time.

The equivalent of this, I keep saying, like losing weight and calories, you may think, “Huh! I’ve eaten really well all today,” but then you step on the scale in a couple of weeks you’re like, “I’ve gained weight!” You want to know why? Because you didn’t write down the Snickers bars that you are eating every single day after lunch. Same thing. You didn’t write down the 42 minutes that you spent sharing cat GIFs on Twitter. All right, so budgeting properly for your time.

Now, if you are an entrepreneur, small business owner and you’re trying to maximize money, you also want to budget your money. And now is a perfect time during the coronavirus outbreak, for you to sit back and to reevaluate all your budget line items. I’m going to link on the episode page. Rachelbrenke.com/epi112, our episodes about budgets. I have talked about budgeting line items, cutting costs, and my entire approach to it. Here’s a little insight, a little spoiler on it. If it is a subscription that you haven’t touched or you’ve truly utilized, or equipment or anything in the last three months, and you don’t plan to in the next few months, get rid of it.

Now, during COVID and the coronavirus pandemic, there are a lot of online systems with subscriptions that may allow you to pause so you’re not having to pay. Right now, not only are we trying to set ourselves up successfully to work from home even beyond the pandemic, we’re also trying to save money in the interim by budgeting our money properly. We don’t know how long this is going to last. I mean, even before I got onto record this, we have the White House saying, going back to work in two weeks. You’ve got the Pentagon saying it’s going to be another eight weeks before we can do it.

We don’t know what way is up, so we need to approach this like we’re not going back to real world life anytime soon. We need to budget money accordingly and strap our cash where we can. And, if you guys follow me on Twitter, if you’ve seen me on Instagram, if you’ve followed my podcast, you guys know I am huge on loyalty for staff members. I hate seeing that the very first cost-cutting measures that small businesses are taking during this, #Rachelsrants, is that they’re getting rid of staff, they’re getting rid of team members, cutting off people’s livelihood during a time of pandemic. We’re not even sure of grocery stores are going to have food next week.

You guys can hear my heart rate is getting up, my blood pressure’s going, because I don’t think that should be the first cost cutting measure. There is a bunch of budget stuff that you can be doing right now. And I’ve got a couple of experts coming on the podcast in the next couple of weeks, to be able to share. Very good financial experts, they’re going to help you guys a bit more on this, so make sure you subscribe to be notified when they come on.

But, there are cost cutting measures that we can take right now. You don’t have to wait for the pandemic, because here’s the problem. A lot of entrepreneurs or work from home folks, you get in this mindset of, “Well, well I got to make more money. I got to still get paid to have money.” No, you can maximize already what you have coming in or what you already have in the bank by cutting the costs that are going out. So my big recommendation right now would be, here’s a little quick checklist. Take a pause if you need to, get a piece of paper and a pencil.

We’re going to reach out. Well, I’m going to back up for a second. We’re going to sit down and we’re going to compile our entire costs of doing business if we haven’t done it yet. I know, I said I was going to link the episode, I’m going to go ahead and share a lot of it now. You’re going to identify all the costs, all the recurring payments, all the money that’s going out of your bank account every month. You’re going to identify which ones you can pause or completely get rid of. Is it something you really need right now?

Let’s talk about Facebook Ads. You probably are not going to be pumping 100% of your normal marketing budget into Facebook Ads right now. Why? Because, consumers are not buying. Drop it to 50%, drop it to 40%. Right there, you’ve just saved yourself 50% to 60% of your budget and the cash going out, that you can put into yourself or put into your team, or put into the savings because we don’t know how long this is going to last. We’re going to look at that.

We’re going to look at other things that we can cancel. Now, and I’m adding this down as we’re talking here. I’m going to bring an episode of how we can add on additional revenue streams during the pandemic, because, guess what? I’m one of those people that truly believes that it is not bad. It is only good for a small business to continue business during the pandemic. I’m not saying to be fraudulent, I’m not saying to be scammy, but guess what? Other business owners are wanting to work on their business. You have stuff that you can do from behind the computer, there’s services that you can still provide. I’m going to give you guys a lot more information on that later, but that is going to be another tidbit to throw into that checklist. Ways that you can bring in additional cash during this. So we’re looking at cutting costs, cutting time, expanding our budget and increasing our cashflow. Those are the quick four tidbits to go under a tip number four of budgeting properly.

All right, so working from home tips, this was a bit more expansive than I wanted it to be for you guys. I feel like I say that every episode, but that’s because I get excited about sharing this sort of stuff. Again, dig into the Business Bites Facebook Group. We’ve got good threads going on. I think you guys will find a gold mine of other entrepreneurs and work from home folks. They’re going to be able to share other tips, because guess what? These four tips are not the be-all and end-all of tips on how to successfully work from home. These are not the be-all and end-all of expanding your money and surviving the pandemic, and being able to maintain your staff and your team. This is not the be-all and end-all of the systems that you can utilize.

Make sure you dig into Rachelbrenke.com/epi112. I’ll see you guys in the next episode.

Thanks for joining Rachel on this episode of The Business Bites. For show notes, a list of recommended tools or referenced episodes, you can find them at thebusinessbitespodcast.com. Until next time.

Hi, I’m Rachel Brenke

Rachel Brenke

As a mom, team USA athlete and cancer-survivor, I want a real life while I have a real business.  This is why my resources don’t promote hustle-culture, rather tough-love and no-holds-barred tips to achieving both.  In addition to this website, I have a top-ranked business podcast, been featured in places like Forbes and work 1:1 with so many of you.

Enough about me though. I am proud of you for pursuing entrepreneurship. It is rewarding and amazing.  Keep at it!

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