Erdoes joined the bank from Meredith, Martin & Kaye in 1996, and took over the asset management arm in 2009.
Alongside accounts of her earlier career and first forays into wealth management – as a six year old, accounting her grandma’s checkbook – Erdoes gave insight into the “intense training” that graduate analysts can expect during their three year training.
Erdoes describes each day as a “constant education” and revealed that each day starts with an 8am meeting.
“I call it a mini university. It’s not just about what you’ve read in the newspapers as to what happened overnight, it’s about understanding how all of those components fit together within a client’s portfolio,” said Erdoes.
“You’re synthesizing all that information every morning and then you’re going out and figuring how to apply it to each situation.”
Wealth managers provide advisory and other financial services to clients – typically about how to handle and which assets to invest in. 2,200 summer interns have already joined JPMorgan this year, and Erdoes said that 3,600 analysts will have started by September.
Wall Street has been under fire for its work culture
Financial services is among the industries under fire for its culture of long hours.
Kickstarter is launching one of its most interesting projects yet: a four-day workweek for its employees.
The Brooklyn-based crowdfunding platform announced last week that starting in 2022, it will become the first company to join a set of pilot programs called 4 Day Week US. The programs, launched in part by Kickstarter executive Jon Leland, are a spinoff from 4 Day Week Global, a not-for-profit that promotes a shortened work schedule. On Monday, 4 Day Week US circulated an employee petition to help identify companies to target, and encouraged employers to join the program.
For business owners, this could be the perfect time to experiment.
“Remote workers are now coming back, and they’re used to some flexibility,” said Chris Mullen, executive director at Boston-based think tank the Workforce Institute. Mullen advises most employers to try it, provided they first gauge employees’ interest and engage insignificant dialogue about how to do it effectively.
The four-day workweek has gotten some traction in recent years. In March, Spain’s government announced it would pay companies to try it. London-based consumer goods company Unilever began a yearlong test in its New Zealand offices in November 2020. And Buffer, a San Francisco-based social media software company, tried the schedule in 2020 and decided to continue it into 2021 because it “resulted in sustained productivity levels and a better sense of work-life balance,” according to a company blog post.
Kickstarter CEO Aziz Hasan told Axios that the pandemic inspired him to try a four-day workweek for its 90 employees.
“What we’ve been all living through the last 18 months, you feel this compression on your professional life, your personal life,” he said.
A Kickstarter spokesperson says the company has not yet determined how it will implement the schedule. 4 Day Week usually advocates a 32-hour workweek comprising four eight-hour days.
The results of early experiments have been promising. When Microsoft Japan tested the four-day week in 2019, productivity spiked by 40% and 92% of employees said they liked the schedule. A 2020 study of 350 people in the Philippines published in the Journal of Physics suggested that compressed workweeks help workers feel less stressed and manage their personal lives more effectively.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos isn’t a fan of the phrase “work-life balance.”
At an April 2018 event hosted by Insider’s parent company, Bezos said new Amazon employees shouldn’t view work and life as a balancing act. Instead, Bezos said that it’s more productive to view them as two integrated parts.
“It actually is a circle,” Bezos said. “It’s not a balance.”
Bezos said his new hires should stop trying to find “balance” within their professional and personal lives since that implies a strict trade-off between the two. Instead, Bezos envisions a more holistic relationship between work and life outside the office.
“This work-life harmony thing is what I try to teach young employees and actually senior executives at Amazon too,” Bezos said. “But especially the people coming in. I get asked about work-life balance all the time. And my view is, that’s a debilitating phrase because it implies there’s a strict trade-off.”
Bezos said he doesn’t compartmentalize his career and his personal lives.
“If I am happy at home, I come into the office with tremendous energy,” Bezos said. “And if I am happy at work, I come home with tremendous energy.”
The billionaire Amazon founder will have to adjust to a new kind of workflow starting July 5, when he steps down from his role as CEO of the e-commerce giant. He will be replaced by AWS CEO Andy Jassy and will direct his focus to other endeavors, like being catapulted into space for 11 minutes on July 20.
Historically, the world’s richest man has taken a nontraditional approach to work: He has said he made time for breakfast every morning with his family, doesn’t set his alarm before going to bed, schedules surprisingly few meetings, and set aside a few minutes every day to wash his own dishes.
A lot of moms spend their “day off” just like any other: cleaning up messes and watching the kids. In year’s past, I’ve been that worn-out momma.
For example, there have been many Mother’s Days when after opening my gift and shoveling down breakfast in bed, life would go back to normal, with a deluge of diapers to change and dishes in the sink.
But not this year.
This past Mother’s Day, I skipped the subtle hints and gave myself the one gift I wanted more than anything else: an entire weekend by myself.
No shouting toddlers. No waking up in the middle of the night. No endless list of chores. Just utter quiet and complete solitude. Hour after hour to do whatever I desired.
Fellow working moms, can you even imagine?
Even though Mother’s Day has passed, it’s not too late to coordinate your own escape. While many moms find it difficult to justify leaving their families, taking time and space for ourselves is not only good for us – it’s good for our loved ones, too.
Maybe you’re at a conference for work or maybe it’s a girls’ trip. Or maybe it’s a trip orchestrated solely for the purpose of being away. The point is that you’re not physically there to make dinner or help out with bedtime. You’re mentally unavailable to figure out why the baby is crying or carry the load of remembering to reorder wipes.
Not only does a strategic absence give the primary caretaker a much-needed break, but according to Bueskens, it can generate a “structural and psychological shift in the family” by redistributing some of the work that falls onto one parent by default (typically mom) and requiring the second parent (usually the father) to step up.
Now more than ever, families need to shake up their dynamic
I first wrote about strategic absence back in January 2020 in an article for Elemental, where I bemoaned the fact that the most time I’d taken away from my then-two-year-old were the 24 hours I spent in the hospital giving birth to baby number two.
I was long overdue for what some call a momcation – and was in the works of planning one – when the pandemic hit, adding another 14 months onto the two years I’d already essentially been sheltering in place.
A 2018 survey found the average mother ends up with a mere 30 minutes to herself a day. During the pandemic, you can bet alone time was at an even greater premium – at least it was in my household.
Now that people are vaccinated and travel is a bit safer, I could finally have the time off from mothering that I richly deserved.
The thought of just being in a space by myself for an extended period of time sounded magical: Imagine no one is touching you, shouting in your face, demanding snacks, and crying when you give them exactly what they asked for.
Give yourself a (modest) goal
Beyond leisurely bubble baths and uninterrupted sleep, experts say a strategic absence is time away to pursue other dimensions of yourself.
If you’re a type-A working mom like me – you love your job and don’t get enough uninterrupted time in your everyday life to focus on it – there’s nothing wrong with using your strategic absence to tackle a work project.
My goal for this past Mother’s Day weekend was to make a significant start into a new idea for a book proposal that’d been rattling around my head for months – exactly the kind of thing that requires significant “maker” time.
You want a plan – but don’t feel pressured
No one wants to come back from a vacation feeling like they need a vacation, and a momcation is no different. While you may use the time to be productive, it ought to be restorative as well.
After arriving at my destination, I spent an hour in line at Whole Foods. It started raining, I was cold – I’d forgotten to pack a sweater – and so instead of exploring a new restaurant like I’d intended, I went back to the apartment, zapped a microwave burrito, struggled with the beginning of my book proposal, and went to bed. It was pretty uneventful.
Fortunately, I woke up with a clearer head and zero distractions (the beauty of a strategic absence!), and I got straight to work. By day two, I knew I wasn’t going to end the weekend emailing my agent the 30 perfect pages of prose I’d promised her, but that was OK.
Ignore your buzzing phone
The most important part of a strategic absence is to protect yourself from intruders. Trust me, they will intrude.
A good friend will need to process the fight she’s having with her husband. Your cousin will want to know how your strategic absence is going or talk about where your moms went wrong when you were both kids. If enjoying phone conversations without screaming kids in the background was part of the plan, allow it, but if not, send those calls to voicemail.
The second I arrived and before I even put my bags down, I got a text from my husband complaining I’d overfilled the garbage can. It wasn’t a conversation we needed to have right then, and so I didn’t respond. I checked in with my family every night before bed, but other than that I ignored his messages.
Sure, I felt a little guilty, but they were never an emergency and I knew I wasn’t obligated to respond.
When I got home, my husband admitted that he’d actually enjoyed his time solo-parenting and said that, in some respects, it was easier. This isn’t unusual: Often without the primary parent’s micromanagement, the secondary parental figure develops competences and confidence. Do it often enough, and a strategic absence teaches your kids they can rely on both parents, not just mom.
In the end, I came back feeling more rested, connected to myself, appreciative of my family, and eager for my next escape.
You’ve received the standard advice about setting boundaries with the hours you work if you’re now (or have always) worked from home. You’ve read that you should focus on tasks more intentionally by using software that blocks social media and email notifications. You may have even experienced work-life balance for a while.
However, what’s missing from the conversation about work-life balance is the need for self-prioritization in goal setting, work, productivity and the desire to optimize one’s life. Here are three reasons why making yourself a priority is the key and foundation to achieving work-life balance.
1. Burnout stems from a lack of excitement for what you’re pursuing
Do you wake up, look at your to-do list, and verbally cringe? Chances are, most of what you do each day is the same, and the routine is draining you mentally, and by extension, physically.
When you spend day in and day out grinding with no time allotted for fun and all the personal goals you’d like to accomplish – it leads to frustration, bitterness, and burnout. You aren’t excited to work, which diminishes your energy and motivation. The resulting burnout decreases productivity and amplifies excuses.
Work-life balance has to be about balance. But more than figuring out a schedule that works for you, you’ll need to incorporate plenty of “you time.” Your schedule should include moments when you work on hobbies, do fun things, and focus on personal optimization.
If you’re feeling stressed and mentally exhausted when you think about work and your goals, it’s time to take a step back and ask yourself when was the last time you did something just for you? You’ll be more productive and develop the ability to work more intentionally when your life doesn’t feel like a burden.
2. The ‘work’ part of work-life balance can’t overtake your identity
When you’re good at what you do, it can be easy to let that become part of your identity. It’s not uncommon for someone who’s been the “boss” at a job or business to have readjustment challenges to changes in their work situation – millions of Americans experienced just that over the past year.
If you tie your identity to your work, you’ll lose balance when life circumstances become unpredictable. Work-life balance starts with you being secure in your non-work priorities and unattachment to circumstances you can’t control.
There are so many experiences of life and moments to be lived beyond work. Work helps you build the financial freedom to experience life, but don’t let it overtake the balance and tie your beliefs about yourself to circumstances that don’t have to define you.
3. You’ll get more done when you work from a place of being complete
Whether you realize it or not, you are the most significant project you’ll ever pursue. When you make your optimization a priority, you’ll be more productive. When you’re excited about life and the opportunity to work, you’ll reduce stress and burnout.
Start with making yourself the priority. Family, friends, coworkers, clients, and anyone else that demands your time and energy should see and respect your boundaries.
Spend time each day with one task, goal or fun experience that’s just for you. If you can do that at the start of your day, you’ll train your mind to understand that you’re the main priority. Do this over time, and you’ll wake up excited for what the day will hold.
As you build the self-prioritization muscle and develop healthy self-care habits, you’ll achieve a work-life balance more sustainably.
If you Google “Mother’s Day gift idea,” you’ll be inundated with tacky jewelry, personalized trinkets, and sugary treats. It’s a sad compensation for the relentless stress that comes with mothering. And this past year has been particularly exhausting.
Even before the pandemic, working while parenting was a challenge, especially for mothers. Post-pandemic, the struggle remains. To give just an idea, my husband and I spent last weekend in tears, struggling with the fact that New York City is reopening and he is being called back into the office, separating him from his children and forcing me to reduce my already limited work hours and parent our two toddlers alone.
Forget bubble bath and breakfast in bed; this Mother’s Day, I want quality, affordable childcare to compensate for the options permanently lost due to the pandemic. I want return-to-work programs to reintroduce those of us who’ve fallen out of the workplace, and family friendlier employers that put an end to secret parenting once and for all.
On Mother’s Day – and every day – I want recognition for the incalculable value of our unpaid, invisible labor, including the mental load that weighs disproportionately on moms.
While I’m always appreciative of a homemade card, a little common courtesy is the gift that keeps giving. To my husband: Put your bowl in the dishwasher. Pick your damp towel off the bed. To his employer: Please don’t make him come back into the office when this doesn’t work for our family – especially considering studies have found employees are actually more productive when you let them work from home.
I spoke with five working moms who got real about what they’ve been through this past year, and what they’re truly hoping for this Mother’s Day.
‘Leave me alone’
People are realizing during the pandemic that health is more important than everything. Moms reach a point where they’re doing everything for everyone else and neglecting their own self care. But at the end of the day, no one’s happy when mom’s skipping meals or forgetting to properly hydrate.
After giving birth in May, I struggled with my weight and gestational diabetes. Even though I had a newborn to care for, I started prioritizing myself and lost 50 pounds with the help of a coach. I was so inspired that I started coaching others.
For Mother’s Day, I want to lock myself in my room for the day and only be interrupted with deliveries of snuggles and coffee. I feel like it sounds horrible, but the thought of ignoring my family and just staying in my bed for as long as I want would be bliss.
– Shoshana Fain, 34, Chicago, IL, health transformation coach, married with 3 boys ages 11 months, 4, and 5
‘I need a real vacation’
Last March, I quit my full-time job as an HR specialist to start my own business. I run workshops and mentor staff at all levels, teaching people about unconscious bias, microaggressions and other barriers to inclusion and diversity. When it comes to things like race, gender, sexuality, and other individual differences, people are overwhelmed and afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing. That’s where I come in.
Being an advocate for change and a minority during this year’s social justice movements and in the midst of a pandemic was simultaneously exciting and terrifying. It brought on a lot of new feelings that were felt by the entire family. But we thrived.
For Mother’s Day, I’d love a vacation out of the country. I haven’t traveled since the pandemic began, and Greece has been on my vision board since forever. The blue roofs, beaches, and cuisine make it the ultimate relaxation destination. I’m ready for a well-earned break.
– Lekeshia Angelique, 39, Clarksville, TN, diversity coach and consultant, engaged with five kids ages 9, 9, 19, 19 and 23
‘A little kindness would be nice’
I’ve loved working in politics news the past three years. It’s felt like a public service more than ever. This past year especially, I poured my efforts into getting it right and amplifying a diverse group of wise and credible voices. My son splits time between me and his father, so my parenting is 24/3.5. I love that I’ve gotten the intense time with him this past year – we’re closer than ever – but I hate how often my attention is divided when we’re together. I’m always at the mercy of my work phone.
For Mother’s Day, I want my son to make me a card, which is a painful challenge for single parents; who’s going to oversee such a thing? I confess that I want flowers. I want the day off, but I work on Sundays. I want democracy and kindness. I want forgiveness to be cool. People can be really mean and unforgiving – especially on social media. I want to never see the Michael Jackson eating popcorn meme ever again.
– Cat, 38, New York City, journalist, divorced with one son, age 5
‘I want a better work-life balance’
Trying to work from home with a two-year-old and no childcare was not easy. Sticking my daughter in front of a screen and depriving her of the attention and social interaction she was begging for – I felt like such a bad parent at times. And at work, everything felt like an emergency. I was giving 100% at everything, but constantly falling short.
When I was let go in February 2021, I was shattered. I realized that as much as I’d loved my work, it wasn’t worth my sanity. I found a job freelancing in my field, plus size fashion.
My wish for Mother’s Day is simple: I don’t want to go back to what life was pre-pandemic.
I miss being in the office, and collaborating in-person with my coworkers, but I don’t miss the expectations put upon me – and that I put on myself. I don’t want to sit in a car for three hours a day battling traffic and then missing dinner or bath time. From now on, I want to define my work schedule. I’d also love for all our laundry to be done.
– Nicole Phillips, 37, Los Angeles, CA, freelance writer, married with one daughter, age 3
‘I need quality – not quantity – time with my child’
The hardest part about working and parenting this last year was throwing out the idea of what I thought everything should look like and becoming compassionate with myself about what life actually was and who I was in it. I was not prepared for a racial and health pandemic that forced me to become so much for my daughter. I had to be OK with not always being OK, and create a space that freed my daughter to admit when she was struggling so we could process through our feelings together instead of getting stuck in them.
For Mother’s Day, it would be glorious if I had some quality time with my daughter. A night or two somewhere close by for us to reflect and have fun together – and maybe a little time for me to just be, and sleep.
– Lydia Elle, 40, Southern California, self-employed, single with one daughter age 11
How is the shift to remote and hybrid work affecting B2B marketers?
Which trends will endure in the post-pandemic marketing landscape?
The dramatic shift to hybrid and remote work that has been brought about by the pandemic is set to forever alter the way B2B marketers and the organizations they work for and with do business.
Let’s take a look at some of these changes, and the trends that are likely to permanently affect B2B marketers, and I’ll offer my own perspective coming from a long-term background in remote work.
Flexibility: Remote & Hybrid Options May Come Permanent
On Monday, March 23, 2007 I started my life of working remotely — a process I wrote about last year as the pandemic first began forcing much of the workforce into unfamiliar remote work situations. In “Day 4,777: Remote Work Tips From 13+ Years As A Distance Marketer,” I looked at how B2B marketers can thrive in the new era of remote work, and offered a variety of tips I’ve picked up during my time as a remote worker.
Since then a great deal has changed in the world. I’m up to 5,106 days of working remotely, and what was once a tiny segment of the workforce has over the past year grown to encompass a massive swath of workers worldwide, including those working in the B2B marketing industry.
Leaders at organizations worldwide have shifted from what had been seen as a temporary emergency move to remote work, to implementing permanent and fundamental changes involving remote and hybrid work variations.
[bctt tweet=”“It’s a very interesting time for the history of work, not even just the history of remote work. I think fundamentally work is going to change, and it’s never going back to the way it was before.” — Liam McIvor Martin @vtamethodman” username=”toprank”]
A Convergence of Forces is Driving Remote Worker Relocation Options
This hybrid and remote work sea change has also had far-reaching and sometimes unforeseen implications. Workers in major metropolitan centers have come to realize that they’re no longer necessarily required to be tethered to a particular work location, and not just within their city, as growing numbers of professionals are leaving cities such as San Francisco and New York for locations that are a world away — and not only in size and cost-of-living.
The safe haven city Sutter’s piece focuses on is Duluth, Minnesota — which happens to be my home of the past 26 years. The city of 86,000, a few hours north of Minneapolis, is where I’ve worked remotely for some 14 years now. My wife Julie and I live next door to Duluth mayor Emily Larson, who shared with Sutter that, “We are known as the San Francisco of the North. I’ll let you decide if you think that’s true.”
Most who visit Duluth do indeed see more than physical similarities with San Francisco — the hills of Duluth line the vast waters of Lake Superior — and I have technology industry friends who have moved here from both San Francisco and New York, thanks to burgeoning remote work opportunities.
The convergence of the pandemic and ongoing climate change create a scenario where more B2B workers than ever now have opportunities to consider living wherever they wish, and as we learn more about the ramifications of widespread remote and hybrid work, many are seeing more positive elements to the shift than negative ones.
B2B marketers and the organizations they work for and with will increasingly need to address these urgent hybrid and remote work changes, whether it’s in attracting and keeping talent, how we communicate with one another, or in the very stories brands are telling in their marketing efforts.
Some of the fascinating take-aways from the Microsoft report, gathered from data in 31 counties and more than 30,000 people, along with more than a trillion anonymous signals from its Microsoft 365 and LinkedIn* products, include the following:
40 percent of the workforce has considered leaving their employer over the past year
73 percent of workers want to continue having flexible remote work options
65 percent crave spending additional in-person time with their teams
66 percent of business decision makers are considering redesigned physical work-spaces to better suit hybrid work
46 percent have said their employer doesn’t provide help with remote work expenses
67 percent want more in-person work or collaboration after the pandemic
Time spent in meetings has more than doubled
Team chat messaging has increased by 45 percent
1 in 5 have met their colleagues’ pets or family members virtually over the past year
39 percent say they’re now more likely to be their full and authentic selves at work
Remote job postings on LinkedIn have climbed by more than five times
46 percent of remote workers plan to move to a new location this year
On this last point, Karin Kimbrough, chief economist at LinkedIn, noted in the Microsoft report that, “This shift is likely to stick, and it’s good for democratizing access to opportunity,” Kimbrough said. “Companies in major cities can hire talent from underrepresented groups that may not have the means or desire to move to a big city. And in smaller cities, companies will now have access to talent that may have a different set of skills than they had before,” she added.
B2B Marketers Rethink Hybrid & Remote Work
The shift to hybrid, flexible, and remote work options is an active and ongoing process to be certain, however significant movement has already been made. The genie of rethinking work fundamentals has been set in motion, and can’t ever be put back in its bottle.
New studies highlighting shifting perspectives on remote and hybrid work are publishing frequently, such as a recent WeWork and Workplace Intelligence report which found that 64 percent of employees said they were willing to pay for access to office space to support hybrid work, and that 75 percent would forgo at least one job benefit or perk in order to have the freedom to choose their work environment.
A Gartner survey showed that some 80 percent of business leaders plan to allow remote work once the pandemic has ended.
How B2B marketers react to these changes is likely to be crucial to thriving among increased post-pandemic competition.
We hope that this brief glimpse into a few of the remote and hybrid work changes that are already taking place, and others likely to be implemented in the years to come, will help inform your own marketing efforts.
Entrepreneurship is challenging. Some days, it’s downright exhausting. For many entrepreneurs, there comes a “last straw” breaking point where the conditions are too stressful or too overwhelming to continue.
But for most others, the eventual loss of passion for entrepreneurship – better known as burnout – is something slower and more gradual. It’s a creeping feeling that grows from day to day and eventually begins to affect your work performance.
You won’t go from happy-go-lucky to ready to quit overnight. One day, you might be a little extra irritable. The next, you might wake up and dread the idea of going to work. Not long after, you might make worse decisions, rushing through projects, or you might seriously contemplate leaving.
It’s not a position any entrepreneur wants to find themselves in. The good news is, it’s mostly preventable.
Why it’s important to stop burnout
There’s nothing wrong with changing jobs, selling your business, or retiring. But burnout itself can be devastating. Not only will it force you to leave your business prematurely, it can also leave you feeling despair and exhaustion. Even more importantly, it can negatively affect you on a physical level; burnout is associated with higher stress, higher susceptibility to illness, and even a higher risk of heart disease.
These effects compound with time, so acknowledging and stopping burnout early can put you in a much more favorable position long-term.
The trouble is, burnout is difficult to catch, especially early on.
How to identify entrepreneurial burnout
We all feel stress. We all get nervous. We all experience anxiety or dread sometimes. So how do you know when this is just part of the job and when it’s an early sign of burnout?
You dread going to work consistently. One of the hallmark signs is dreading going to work. Everyone dreads going to work some of the time; there might be an awful client to deal with or negative consequences from a bad decision to manage. But if you dread going to work on a consistent basis, it’s a sign of developing burnout.
Your mood and personality have changed (according to others). It’s hard to notice the changes in your own personality since they often unfold gradually and beneath our notice. However, burnout often leads people to experience mood and personality changes. Talk to the people around you; do they notice that you’re more irritable, angrier, or less pleasant than you used to be? Chances are, something external is responsible for this.
You’re experiencing physical symptoms. As burnout develops, it tends to be associated with more and more physical symptoms. For example, you might feel more stress headaches. You might have trouble getting to sleep (or getting enough sleep). And you might even be more susceptible to contagious illnesses. Keep an eye out for these developments.
You always feel tired. No matter how much sleep you get, burnout will leave you feeling tired. You’ll be physically and mentally exhausted most of the time, even after a good night of sleep or a break away from work. It’s almost impossible to feel full of energy.
Solving the burnout problem
It’s tough to make a one-size-fits-all recommendation for how to get rid of burnout because there are many different types of professionals and many different types of burnout.
For example, your burnout might stem from your own over-investment, in which case, delegating more and reducing your workload could help. You might also be worn out from a specific type of stress, which might require you to change up your daily responsibilities. You might even feel under challenged due to excessive predictability and routine, in which case the solution is finding new ways to be stimulated, like learning a new skill.
In any case, one of the best steps to take to address your burnout is to take some time away. Use up a few vacation days or take an extended hiatus from your work; it’s a great opportunity to de-stress and get away from the burden of work. It’s also a chance to get some perspective. Once you’re away from the office, you’ll have a much keener sense of what’s actually stressing you out (and what you might be able to do about it).
You can also talk to the people around you for advice. They may have a better perspective on your work style than you do. Once you have a better understanding of your current position, you can invest time and energy into making an action plan. How can you change your environment and your approach to work in a way that relieves your stress?
The action plan will look different for everyone. But as long as you’re consistent and proactive, you’ll have a good chance of reversing the effects of entrepreneurial burnout in your career.
Working from home blurs the line between “work time” and “free time.” On the plus side, you can throw some laundry in during the middle of a busy work day. On the flipside, you might struggle to watch TV at night without feeling a twinge of guilt that you don’t at least have your laptop in front of you.
The pandemic has definitely made the division between work and home even more complicated. For many families, home has become the gym, the office, and school.
And while you don’t need to have a clear delineation between home and work all the time, a little separation between the two can help you feel more present when you’re working and allow you to fully enjoy your leisure time.
1. Establish a work area
Most people don’t have the luxury of having a dedicated home office. If you do, commit to working while you’re in the office and when you’re done, exit the room and leave work behind.
If you don’t have a separate office, create a work area. This doesn’t have to be the place you physically work from all day (like the dining room table or the couch). Instead, it might be the place where you store your work-related items when you aren’t working.
If you can, put the laptop, piles of papers, and other work-related materials completely out of sight when you’re not working. Tuck them in a drawer or put them in a closet.
Just tucking those items away can grant you some psychological relief during your off-time by signaling to your brain that you have permission to relax.
2. Change your clothes
While some people say they feel better wearing nice clothes while working from home, dressing up isn’t mandatory.
After all, when you’re at home, you might find wearing nice clothes adds more stress to your day because you have to worry about getting dog hair on your shirt and spilling your soup on your lap.
If you’re into more casual wear in the confines of your home, you can still use your attire to your psychological advantage. Simply change your clothes when you’re done working – even if that means replacing your green joggers with the black ones.
There’s something about putting on different clothes that can help your brain see that it’s time for something new – even if it’s a lateral switch in outfits (as opposed to the downgrade from the business suit to the sweatpants).
You might even find you dress up more in your off time. If you’ve been trying to pass off your pajamas as business casual on a blurry Zoom call, you might find a trip the grocery store actually warrants a wardrobe upgrade. Either way, a change of clothes can go a long way to helping you create a distinction between “work time” and “free time.”
3. Create a fake commute
Under normal circumstances, commutes are often the one thing that helps people prepare for the transition between work and home. Whether that commute involves listening to a podcast on a train or it’s a daily call to mom while driving on a country road, physical distance can help us create some psychological distance too.
So you might find it’s helpful to create a fake commute for yourself. Even if it’s just a walk around the block before you start working, a daily activity like this can signal your brain that you’re going from “home” to “work.”
I know one man who walks out his back door as if he’s going to work and then just re-enters through the front. He swears this helps him feel like he’s “going to work” again. So while his “commute” only lasts a minute or two, he finds the strategy helps him feel more effective.
4. Use a different page for work/home apps
If you have a lot of apps for work – like your work email or Slack channel – put them on a different screen on your smartphone.
Separating your “fun” apps from your “work” apps can help you resist the temptation to check your work email at all hours of the day.
This can also help you enjoy your fun apps a little more. And signal to your brain that you have permission to have fun right now.
Distinguishing work time from free time can go a long way toward helping you feel your best when you’re working from home. This can be key to preventing burnout and helping you perform at your best.
Based on my own many years as a business executive and advisor, I have seen many professionals “mature” from hotheads to people who are cool and calm under pressure, becoming better leaders and decision makers in the process.
With some coaching and mentoring from other leaders, I was able to do it myself. So I know you can do it too, by committing to the following strategies:
1. Train yourself to always look for positives, not negatives
Optimistic business leaders see value in every new business challenge, rather than stress and risk. You must recognize that change is the norm in business, so problems represent opportunities to learn something new, and improve your productivity and the competitiveness of the business.
2. Write down your top five core values and review them often
Pressure and emotion in business is often an indication of core value conflicts. Once you see and understand the conflict, it’s easier to make a decision, respond rationally, or simply remove yourself from the role. Don’t try to be someone you aren’t, or be everything to everyone.
3. Create a short to-do list at the beginning of each day
A mind overloaded with a large and growing list of critical items is not efficient, and will always be prone to burnout and emotional outbursts. I recommend a three-item high-priority list for focus. Then limit the external interruptions, so you can comfortably and effectively address each one, and more.
4. Practice delegation and decline unreasonable requests
Learn how to courteously turn back requests outside your realm of responsibility, and recommend others who may be more qualified. The most respected business leaders know their limitations, and are not afraid to admit them. Do the same for any commitments to the community and family.
5. Never schedule more than 80% of your time
Pressure and emotion become dominant when your schedule is overloaded, or too many predictable interruptions occur. Of course, most professionals are optimistic, so they tend to over-commit and underestimate work requirements. We all need a buffer to handle those special cases.
6. Put more focus on building the right relationships
Since business is generally not rocket science, relationships with peers, partners, and customers are often more important than skills. Find time in your work schedule for networking, working lunches, and business conferences, where you can test your ideas, learn, and generate support.
7. Define a clear break between work and private activities
Practice a ritual, such as a cup of coffee with a peer, to define your workday beginning, and maybe tea with your spouse to reset to family time. Then diligently don’t let these worlds intrude on each other, except in emergencies. Use the transition to reset stress pressures and emotions.
8. Never use emotion as a substitute for preparation
Effective business professionals always prepare for tough issues and key meetings by doing their own research and getting early counsel from experts and coaches. Not only do they do the homework, but they prepare mentally and physically to be at their best, rather than on the edge.
9. Take satisfaction from wins to balance against setbacks
No one in business wins every battle, so frustration on any issue needs to be offset by other wins and achieving incremental thresholds along the way. For most of us, this requires setting aside some contemplative time on a daily basis to measure key item progress and enjoy small wins.
10. Maintain at least one non-work passion for energy balance
Everyone needs a focus outside of work, such as a hobby, exercise regimen, or sports, to grant relief from work pressures and reset emotions. Emotional outbursts and losing one’s cool are often indicative of burnouts and pending meltdowns. Spread your energy to family as well as work.
Don’t let anyone tell you that what you can accomplish is limited by your culture or old habits. Everyone has the ability to control their own actions and emotions, which I find to be the keys to success in most business roles.
I encourage you to learn and practice the strategies outlined here, to minimize stress, and enjoy the journey as well as the destination.