Business in the times of Corona: Maintaining momentum
Your working day has been turned on its head, and the boundaries between home and work are becoming increasingly blurred. While many small business owners thrive on self-motivation and working from home, at some point nearly all will be faced with the challenge of maintaining momentum – especially when faced with unprecedented events such as the coronavirus pandemic.
In the beginning…
Whether working from home out of choice or necessity, most likely you approached this opportunity with vigour; you’d set up your home office or workspace; you’d set your working hours; you’d established your at-home workday routine; the family were onboard; the morning alarm was set.
You’d even shower and dress for work, and be sat at your laptop at 9am ready to seize the day. “It’s work time” [optional jazz hands].
Standards are slipping…
Then one day, you’re not quite sure when this happened, you’re sat in your pyjamas or, worse, underpants. You’re still working away, in fact you’re working every hour of the day, into the evenings and over the weekends – the temptation and obligation to be “always-on” and always available is too great.
Scheduled lunch and coffee breaks have also fallen by the wayside, and irritations are mounting as motivation is depleting.
It’s time to take back control
If you’re flagging or, indeed, flailing, you’re not alone.
Thankfully, there are practical steps you can take to kickstart that drive and determination, all of which involve reassessing and reviewing how you work.
As we work, we need to be constantly reviewing what we do and adjusting accordingly; standards start to slip and energy starts to slow when we’re swept along with simply getting the work done and are no longer conscious of ourselves.
1. Reconfigure or relocate your workspace
If the kitchen table or breakfast bar aren’t working for you, find a space in your house where you can set up a desk. Alternatively, if the spare room remains unused or you’ve always had your eye on the garden shed, now is the time to create your own home office. Most importantly, you need a dedicated space that you physically move away from during breaks and at the end of the day.
2. Re-establish boundaries
Just because you’re working from home, doesn’t mean you’re home. Family and partners need to be as aware of your working hours as your clients, colleagues and employees. Re-enforce your working hours to your clients and employees by setting up a call divert and answerphone message that clearly states your hours, as well as ensuring these can be found on your website, Google listing and social media channels.
3. Realign your expectations
Be realistic about how much you can achieve. Constantly overestimating on the amount of work you’ll get done each day can be demoralising.
And work when you are most productive (this may influence your working hours above). Perhaps you’re more of a night owl than an early bird; if so, stop setting that alarm for 8am!
Once your new schedule is set, tackle the more challenging projects when energy levels and motivation are at their greatest. Save admin tasks, telephone calls and meetings for slower parts of the day or for when you need some headspace – these small “wins” can give you a well-deserved boost when needed.
4. Stay connected
All work and no play makes [insert name] a very dull business owner. Human connection has never felt more important than now, a time when those connections have been taken from us. Make time for your loved ones. They’re an invaluable outlet for sharing frustrations but also for igniting passion and motivation; use them as a sounding board, discuss and test ideas.
And don’t forget about your employees. Keeping the lines of communication open is essential for not only setting clear expectations of what you want them to achieve day-to-day but for maintaining morale; ask them for their input on how to adapt during this challenging time; share your aspirations for the future of the company and invite their feedback.
Finally, although the Friday night virtual drinks may have fallen by the wayside, it is important to maintain connections between your people, so appoint a social secretary and delegate team gatherings to them – there’s bound to be one person in the team itching to take up the mantle.
5. Revisit your goals
When work is slow, the days drag. As such, you begin to stretch out the work you have to fill the time. When you’re busy working on multiple projects to multiple deadlines you’re propelled forward, you have the momentum to achieve more and more and more. If you want something done, ask a busy person – as the saying goes.
Now is therefore the time to pursue new projects and opportunities. A great place to start is by reviewing your business plan. Have you achieved what you set out to do? Has your offering evolved? Can you diversify your business? Can you learn a new skill that will benefit your business or expand your offering?
Once you have the answers to these questions, you can create a plan to pursue these new goals, and the very process of doing so will reignite your drive to succeed. So, put on some trousers and let’s get going!
For more from the “Business in the times of Corona” blog series, see articles below:
About the author: Lucinda Sloane is a seasoned communication specialist and founder of Bird Media, a marketing and communications agency specialising in content marketing, brand development and design. Find her on LinkedIn - linkedin.com/in/lucinda-sloane