Talent Development Centre

Category Archives: Soft Skills

Tips for independent contractors to improve in-demand soft skills that IT hiring managers across Canada are seeking for all tech roles.

How Important are Soft Skills for an IT Contractor?

Eagle’s founder, Kevin Dee, recently had the opportunity to participate on a panel in a webinar hosted by CPA4IT. The event, titled The Future of Work for Independent Contracting Webinar, set out to discuss how Canadian IT contractors can survive and thrive in this time and what practical tips that they can utilize to achieve success at work as an Independent Contractor.

One topic discussed was the importance of soft skills for IT contractors. As Kevin Dee explains in this video, although IT jobs require important technical skills, upping your game with soft skills like presentation abilities and interpersonal skills can give you a real competitive advantage.

Eagle’s CEO, Janis Grantham, is joining the panel for the next webinar hosted by CPA4IT on Thursday, October 22nd. They’ll be building on the previous discussion and answering questions about the future of work for independent contracting in Canada. Click here to register today.

Breaking Down the Simple Formula for Better Self-Discipline

We’d all love to get more hours into a day so we can spend more time doing the things we love, whether it’s spending time with family, hanging out with friends, working around the house, making money on more contracts, reading or just relaxing with Netflix. Unfortunately, the Earth has no intentions of changing the speed of its rotation, so we’re going to have to make do with these 24-hour days. That means squeezing as much time into a day as possible to optimize productivity, and for many of us, that means improving our self-discipline.

As noted, being more disciplined can help you get more activities into your complete day, and at a micro-level, it will also help you get more done at work. That results in happier clients, more references, more contracts and, yes, higher rates!

If you have a goal to improve your productivity but are having trouble conquering discipline, check-out this video from Freedom in Thought. While the example they use probably won’t reflect your life, their formula for achieving it is transferrable to anyone.

  1. Find a strong reason why
  2. Focus on singular activities and turn them into habits
  3. Plan for temptation
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 to continue building more discipline

Check out all of the details here…

How to Tell Your Recruiter They Screwed Up (and you’re not happy about it)

How to Tell Your Recruiter They Screwed Up (and you're not happy about it)

Building relationships and working with IT recruiters is one of the best strategies to find contract opportunities and keep a steady stream of work. Like any relationship, situations can go badly and solving problems effectively is important to maintaining a strong connection.

Many things can go astray in the contractor/recruiter relationship and you might feel the blame lies with the recruiter. After all, nearly every contractor has a story about a recruiter who did them wrong. Maybe they failed to include you on an opportunity that would have been a shoe-in for you. Perhaps they miscommunicated information about an interview and made you look like a fool. Or they might have completely abandoned you after the job started, leaving you scrounging to figure out how to get paid and solve certain problems on your own.

If you’ve met plenty of recruiters in your career, then you know who you should cut loose from your future job searches and who’s worth keeping around for a second chance. You want to work out your problems with that recruiter who has had a good track record, always has awesome opportunities and is part of a trustworthy staffing agency. However, you also can’t let them off the hook for their sloppiness that has affected your business. So, it’s time to have a direct conversation and provide (sometimes difficult) feedback, ensuring a strong path forward.

Preparing for a Difficult Conversation with a Recruiter

Your goal is to make sure the conversation goes as smoothly and constructively as possible. Here are a few items to think about before you pick up the phone (yes, the phone… don’t even think about sending an angry message through text or email):

  • Change your mindset. Instead of preparing for a difficult conversation or a call to complain, think of it as providing feedback or solving a problem.
  • Plan, but don’t script it out. Have an idea of what you’d like to say, but don’t expect it to go word-for-word as you’d like. The recruiter doesn’t know the lines you’ve prepared for them.
  • Have your facts straight. Know the exact timeline of events, who did what (or didn’t), and what specific outcomes resulted of these actions. This must go beyond emotion.
  • Consider their perspective. Think about the recruiter’s situation and why they may have acted as they did. Are they going to be surprised by your phone call?
  • Understand your own emotions, motivations and shortcomings. Take a step back before calling your recruiter on their mistakes. Think carefully about why you’re upset, as well as if there is anywhere you could have done better.

During the Conversation

Here are tips to keep in mind during the discussion (no, it’s not a rant where you say your piece and hang up, this is a two-way dialogue)

  • Be confident and assertive. The recruiter needs to know that you are dissatisfied and there is a problem to be resolved.
  • Practice active listening. Listen to their response to ensure the message you’re trying to deliver is properly received. Remember to speak slowly enough to allow the recruiter to ask questions and participate in the conversation.
  • Practice emotional intelligence. Being aware of both your emotions and the recruiter’s emotions throughout the discussion will help you guide the conversation effectively.
  • Keep the conversation constructive. Stay positive and avoid getting dragged into an endless debate of who’s right or wrong.
  • Watch your language. Choose your words wisely to avoid words that are confrontational and will make the recruiter defensive. Speaking slowly and following your plan is a good way to do this.
  • Give something back. You need to hold the recruiter accountable for where they slipped up, but you can also offer responsibility for your own shortcomings, as well as suggestions for next steps in moving forward.
  • Be respectful. Above all, you’re dealing with a human being. Even if the end of this conversation is going to result in you severing ties with this recruiter, there is never a reason to be rude and harsh in your conversation. Always be the bigger person.

Discussing a recruiter’s mistakes is only one example of difficult conversations you have in your professional life. You might also need to tell a client why their project is going badly, tell a colleague that their work is poor, communicate change out to a team… the list goes on. All of the tips listed above are transferrable to your unique situation. How will you improve your difficult communications in the future?

What to Think About Before Transitioning from a Functional to Technical Role (or vice-versa)

What to Think About Before Transitioning from a Functional to Technical Role (or vice-versa)

Hassan Nasrallah By Hassan Nasrallah,
Recruitment Specialist at Eagle

In our ever-expanding and constantly changing IT world, you might have realized you are meant for a career or transition that is more rewarding, whether that be more money, personally fulfilling/satisfying or provides better flexibility with your work/life balance. Your IM/IT experience may be more transferable than you think and here’s what you should know

Career transitions are always a hot topic and now more than ever, people are finding themselves needing to either make a change due to economic pressures or a needing to expand their horizons through bigger challenges and bigger rewards.

OR

Even more specifically, you have been recognized within your client company as a top contractor whether that be for your technical skills or commitment to the industry, and are now being considered for a role that is outside your comfort zone!

From functional to technical or vice versa, I want to delve into some of the challenges that one may encounter when transitioning into an unfamiliar role and a few tips to help make that transition.

Determine Your Career path

First and foremost, determine the path you want to take. One thing is absolutely certain, you are changing your current role to something else entirely. Aside from the obvious immediate change, what other factors do you need to adjust, add or remove in order to be considered “effective” and ultimately, is this the correct path for you?

While salary might off-set some concerning discrepancies in what you’re doing now to what you actually enjoy doing, make no mistake, there is a point of diminishing returns. This will hit you doubly so when you are making a move between a functional and technical position because the skills in tech are usually constantly being updated so you will need to learn fast if taking an interim break is not an option for you. On the flip side, soft skills are called soft not because they are easier to attain but because they are not readily quantifiable. Communication skills, character or personality traits, attitudes, career attributes are all decades long skills that are practiced everyday naturally from our childhoods; however, if an individual is lacking in a critical soft skill in a non-technical role, it would be incredibly difficult to ramp up on them. It’s not like you can just read the release notes of being “emotionally intelligent”.

As an IT recruiter, I am able to peer into the tasks and responsibilities of high-level architects, solution managers and deeply technical software engineers and while they all share commonalities, there are hurdles and bounds that make each role distinct, especially within the software development lifecycle. For example, architects are extremely broad in their knowledge of implementations and understanding of software development while often having excellent communication/articulation skills. In contrast, engineers are excellent problem solvers and have to be quite meticulous when it comes to programming according to customer requirements. (additionally, on average, developers/programmers don’t need the communication aptitude of an experienced architect)

Although there are different ways to approach a change like this, I found that I can work it best through 3 main parts.

  • The mindset or perspective of the target role in which you would like to apply to
  • The working culture surrounding the role
  • The key abilities that make that role become effective within the industry you are working in

Mindset

If you’re coming from a technical role and are transitioning into a managerial setting, you would need to adopt a different way of solving problems than if you were fixing errors in lines of code. People are more fluid and resistant to solutions that you think might work. You need to become accustomed to unsolicited feedback, unprecedented and often illogical challenges.

It can prove detrimental to stick to just a familiar (and obviously previously successful) way of thinking and problem solving. While this may have proven useful in your past roles, mindsets in either technical or functional areas are more often mutually exclusive.

A mindset change is essential to grow within your new role and eventually, your deliverables will be measured and judged on quality, efficiency and innovation.

My best advice when trying to think differently about certain approaches that one might take is to appeal to an authority. Find a trusted advisor or expert that can answer your questions and provide you some perspective on how to implement different solutions that were resistant to your initial efforts. This will give you a foundation to grow from and hopefully start a pattern of successful learning experiences

Culture

Another huge area when considering a potential switch is the work culture. What is your new role’s culture like and do you see yourself fitting into it?

I place a lot of importance on this because humans are creatures of habit. We fall into environments that complement our social mannerisms and when removed, it tends to affect us in adverse ways. You may be more familiar to a team environment when your new role requires you to be alone most of the time. You may like to dive head-first into your projects and take a very hands-on approach when your new role requires that you go through compliance/guidelines/approvals/etc.

A personal example is a candidate of mine that was an innovative thinker that really wanted to change some work processes to ensure success and “productivity” when really, the role called for him to “toe the line” (referring to him ignoring any inefficiencies). He eventually quit the position and the hiring manager was not saddened to see him go.

Your work culture is essential to your success and some people might turn up their nose at this citing that it’s less important in the IT contracting world. I would argue that it’s more important due to the finite amount of time to understand the tasks given to you and how you can achieve them operating through an unfamiliar culture

Take the time to properly understand how things are done at your client company, how it might revolve around your new role and what you can do to effectively integrate yourself within that environment

Ability

Lastly, I’ll touch upon ability

I don’t mean to question your own ability to perform well in this new career path but to recognize and utilize your already well-earned abilities to your advantage. Make use of your own KSAs (knowledge, abilities and skills) and actively try to meld them into your new environment. If you’re more used to design and are now working in development. Try to bring your design knowledge into your workstream and incorporate in any way that you think might coincide effectively with your new tasks and responsibilities.

It will differentiate you from others when meeting project deadlines and increase your value to your client when they get more than they bargained for!

All in all

Making a switch into a completely different avenue of work can be very challenging and in a lot of ways, a brave and respectable endeavour. You will gain an entire scope of knowledge that you may have not known even existed. I hope to have brought some helpful advice to individuals who are considering a transition into a new field and I wish you good luck in your future success!

 

Asking a Favour From Your Boss: A Contractor’s guide.

Asking a Favour From Your Boss: A Contractor's guide.

Brianne Risley By Brianne Risley,
Director, Delivery Strategy & Development at Eagle

A question I am often asked is “What is the best way to approach my boss to ask for something important?”

As an independent contractor, it can be daunting asking your leader for something you need. This is particularly true today when most workers do not want to ‘upset the applecart’ during a precarious time for companies in the market.

You may be looking to address one of the following big topics affecting your work-life:

  • Work hour concessions during the pandemic
  • Accommodations for a return-to-the-office work plan
  • A recommendation/reference for a new project
  • New project work, or a transfer to another department

In this article, I will give you an easy way to frame a conversation where you have an important ‘ask’ in a way that it will work for any audience – your client, family, friends, anyone.

The Format:

The message is best delivered in person (voice-to-voice) first, with a follow-up via email in a work setting. The verbal delivery helps the listener understand the tone of your message and helps convey the sincerity and importance of the ‘ask’. The written follow-up is like any business proposal – it helps to ensure follow-up.

The Opener:

This will be a gracious expression of a heartfelt thank-you, and appreciation for the current state of affairs. Your focus is to establish a sense of gratitude, and convey your positive energy – both as a team player, and a core contributor to your organization. You will also take the time to list out your personal key, results-based achievements. When listing your achievements, try to include as much detail as possible including facts, figures, earnings, time-saved, users helped, recommendations, etc.

The past few months with a reduced staff have been hard work, but have been motivating for me. Thank-you for retaining and supporting our team members. We’ve worked well together to deliver significant achievements on the project, and on a personal level I’ve really been able to excel in the following areas: 

  • 15 integrations completed resulting in a 20% reduction of admin time
  • Completed 3 remote workshops, and trained team members on how to achieve good meeting facilitation results via Zoom Meetings.
  • A business user had this to say about my customer service ________.

The Ask:

A common mistake people make when asking for something is not stating how it benefits the employer on a business level, and themselves on a personal level. In my view, you can’t ask for more of something while still offering the same work results or benefits.

State what you want, and then explain how that change will save you time/money/piece of mind that you will reinvest in other areas to get a return. Make sure there is a carrot to motivate the decision maker to side with you.

Next month, I will continue the complex integration work on this project to make both us and the project stakeholders happy. That said, there is an important impediment that I need your help and support with. I would like to shift my work hours from 9am – 5:30pm to 7:30am – 3pm in the month of September to help balance my remote work schedule with my children’s re-entry into the classroom.

  • The early-morning hours will allow me to clear off after-hours work orders before my colleagues start, thereby promoting faster ticket response times. (employer benefit)
  • On a personal level, this would give me piece of mind that I am able to handle any school-related issues well outside of my core working hours and avoid unnecessary distractions. (Personal benefit + employer benefit)

The Closer:

Finish with a quick recap of the ‘ask’, and invite the chance to answer questions.

  • I like being a top contributor to this team, and I enjoy doing it for an organization that values customer satisfaction and work-life balance.
  • I welcome the chance to discuss this with you further. What questions can I answer?
  • Thank you for the continued support, and I look forward to discussing how we can be even more successful moving forward.

As the ‘hired gun’ on a project team, consultants are paid to be self-sufficient and low-maintenance. If you find yourself needing something big from your leader, let this framework give you the tools you need to get it.

Helping Your Co-Workers Deal with Stress

Helping Your Co-Workers Deal with Stress

We all come across these colleagues occasionally. People who are completely stressed-out, to the point that they’re snapping at others, putting off decisions, and are just scattered. Some of these folks seem to live their lives in this state (and enjoy it?) and for others, it’s an unusual occurrence when things just pile up too much. We’ve all been there, but working with an over-stressed person presents different challenges than being said person.

At first, you might avoid them and keep your head down, hoping they’ll sort it out. But when a co-worker is stressed and unable to find a way out, it starts affecting their work, your work and the overall morale of the team. In these cases, you can take a leadership approach and help them get that stress back under control and focus properly on the tasks-at-hand.

Approaching a strained person can make matters much worse if done insensitively. There is truth to that witty social media meme that says “Never in the history of calm down has anyone calmed down by being told to calm down.” Here are a few steps you can take:

  1. Start by checking yourself that you’re not being judgmental. Everybody reacts differently and manages different emotions. Keep that all in mind before moving too much further.
  2. Acknowledge the person’s stress and ask if you can help. If they say no, respect that.
  3. Start by listening carefully. Sometimes people just need to vent and put the situation into perspective.
  4. Continue listening and asking questions to help uncover the root of the stress, as well as consequences the person may be worrying about, again, to put things into perspective.
  5. Help the person solve those root problems with practical solutions. Offer to step-in where it makes sense.
  6. Encourage your colleague to take some time to relax with a walk or meditation, giving them time to reconnect with the present moment.
  7. Don’t get too involved yourself. Stress is contagious and your own mental health needs to stay intact. It’s great to help, but don’t let it bring you down.
  8. Most importantly, remain positive and keep calm yourself. If the person refused your help back in Step 2, maintaining that approachable and friendly demeanor is what will bring them to you for assistance when they’re ready.

Stressed out team members, colleagues, clients, recruiters, or family can all affect your life and career, as they bring down both attitude and productivity. You can’t keep avoiding them so the next best step is to help where you can. But while that’s all nice, remember, you’re not a trained psychiatrist and it’s certainly not your job to deal with other people’s stress-levels. It’s great to help, but everything must be balanced. How do you deal with the people in your life who are showing signs of excessive stress?

The Dreaded Question: “Are you busy?”

“Are you busy?”

Don’t you hate it when people ask you that while you’re clearly in the middle of doing something else? How do you even answer that? There’s a chance their next question is probably going to be a favour or more work, and what if you don’t want to do that work?

This humourous video from Julie Nolke dramatizes the thought processes going on when you hear that dreaded question. Can you relate? How do you answer when interrupted by somebody asking “Are you busy?”

Don’t Let Knee-Jerk Decisions Destroy Your Career

Don't Let Knee-Jerk Decisions Destroy Your Career

We work with thousands of senior IT contractors. They have incorporated a contracting business and have been participating in the gig economy for years. As the economy gets challenging and contracts get halted, we’ve seen an increase in these professionals deciding that they’d prefer the lower-risk position of a permanent employee. They start seeking out these jobs and, because of their high qualifications, many companies are thrilled to have the opportunity to scoop up such talent. On the contrary, it’s common in economic downturns to see IT professionals who are typically more comfortable as an employee embrace the IT contracting side of things, and start to pick up these contract opportunities.

For some of these people, the change is perfect. Whether it’s the individual who gave up contracting or embraced it, the economic uncertainty forced them to review their career paths and do something they needed to do long ago. But that’s not everyone! If you’re considering this type of career change, you need to first ask yourself if you’re reacting too quickly with a knee-jerk decision that, although is a short-term solution, will have negative consequences down the road.

What happens when the economy starts picking up and operating at healthy levels again (and it will!)? If we consider the long-time contractor who transitioned to becoming a senior employee, are they going to want to get back into the game and leave the company high and dry, shortly after it invested significant time and money into that professional? Or, is that new-found contractor going to take the first secure permanent job opportunity they can, breaking whatever contract it is that they’re working on? In both of these cases, the results are angry companies, bad references and tarnished reputations for the IT professional.

We’re certainly not saying that IT professionals should remain without income and pass up opportunities. When you find yourself out of work, of course the best thing to do is to get back into the game. And when the economy is going through a rough patch, you have to take the jobs that are available. What you do need to ask yourself is whether or not you’re making a decision based on an immediate, emotional reaction without taking time to think it through — a knee-jerk decision.

The above is just one example of reacting to a situation without enough thought. Something goes wrong and we need to stop the bleeding so we implement a solution as soon as possible, without much analysis. The problem is, that quick a reaction opens up another problem which leads to another knee-jerk reaction and the vicious circle continues. It’s a common shortfall in management and leadership, with plenty of literature on that topic, and we also see it with many job seekers.

Suddenly quitting because a contract isn’t going your way, severing ties and burning bridges with recruiters because of one bad experience, or even picking up and moving the family to an entirely new city are all other overreactions that happen more often than we’d like to see. Next time you find yourself in a brutal situation where you are making decisions that you might regret down the road, consider some of these tips:

  • Take Time: When it comes to your career, very few (if any) decisions need to be made within hours. Often you even have a few days. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Before making any rash decisions, sleep on it and talk it through with others.
  • Understand Your Emotions: It’s important to know yourself and what kinds of triggers in your life might spark which emotions. From there, dealing with the emotions and understanding why you’re feeling them will help to put you in a more rational state-of-mind.
  • Don’t Judge the People: Too often we make decisions based on the other people involved. We have a preconceived judgement of that individual’s character and assume that their behaviour is malicious. The resulting reaction is unnecessary and out-of-place.
  • Ensure You Have the Facts: Taking time, understanding emotions and keeping feelings towards people out of the way are all steps you can take to gather the facts from experts and view the big picture.
  • Avoid the Herd Mentality: Related to gathering the facts, often we see people make bad decisions quickly simply because everyone else is doing it. They’re not always right.
  • Set Goals as a Guide: Great leaders look to their company’s mission and values before making important decisions to ensure their being guided by the right principals. Set goals today and know what you want. Then, when it comes to making that quick decision, you can look back on your original goals and ensure you’re following your guiding light.

There is a definite balance between making a quick decision and taking too long to make decisions. While some situations need faster action than others, always ensure you’re going through a rational decision-making process, especially when it comes to your career.

Stop Playing the “Blame Game” and Start Finding a Solution

Stop Playing the "Blame Game" and Start Finding a Solution

The “Blame Game” is a habit that humans pick-up at a young age. Kids are quick to learn how to pin their mistakes on their siblings, cousins or any other sucker who can get them out of trouble. As they get older, students push responsibility for their failures and shortcomings onto teachers, coaches and peers. You would think that as we mature this behaviour stops, but many adults are guilty of it… some more than others. We’ve all had those colleagues who are adept at dodging accountability and shifting responsibility — they’re experts at professional dodgeball!

There’s no single reason people point blame at others, whether it’s intentional or subconscious. It can be a natural form of survival as people try to hide their mistakes to keep their job and avoid consequences. Serial blaming may stem from insecurities, jealousy, office politics or simple dislike for others. It’s mostly irrational yet still all too common.

Blame culture, in the workplace or any other aspect your life, is harmful. The aggressive and attacking behaviour hurts feelings, damages relationships, and destroys reputations. It’s also contagious, meaning when one person starts laying blame, it begins a vicious circle where others get angry and point blame back. In the end, everybody’s now sidestepped accountability and, even worse, absolutely no progress is made on the project at-hand.

Putting an End to the Blame Game

The first step to ending this toxic behaviour is to take a look at your own habits. Things go wrong and mistakes happen, it’s a natural part of life. For IT contractors, a bad interview, not getting the interview at all, a project going off the rails — these are all cases where it’s easy to cast blame on the recruiter, manager or team member. While it may be true, there are some important steps to take in order to remain professional:

  • Point to Facts, Not People. Maintain the big picture of why things went wrong, including the process and environment. Avoid pointing to an individual unless it is absolutely something that was their responsibility.
  • Admit When You’re at Fault. Understand that nothing was 100% outside your control. Take an objective look at what failed and figure out what you could have done differently to prevent that situation and take ownership.
  • Know Your Responsibilities from the Start. Great communication prevents so many needless problems. When responsibilities are clarified at the beginning of a project, it’s less likely there will be mistakes and, if there are, accountability is clear. A tense argument over fault won’t be necessary.

While you should refrain from needlessly pointing blame, the same is true on the other side of the scenario — don’t be the person who always accepts responsibility for somebody else’s errors. IT contractors are in a position where you get blamed for more than necessary. It’s easy for clients and their employees to push responsibility for failures onto you. Even lousy recruiters will tell their boss that you flubbed the interview when, in reality, they didn’t prepare you properly. Sure, they all should have been more prepared and communicated better, but why damage their internal relationships when there’s a perfectly good contractor to use as a scapegoat? This is where preparation and documentation are key. Double-check responsibilities, ask many detailed questions, and confirm agreements by email, ensuring that if things go wrong, you can back up all of your work.

Whether working on a project or searching for a job, things are going to go wrong. Finding and solving the root of a problem is a difficult process that often includes accepting responsibility and addressing other people’s shortfalls… all without hurting relationships. That is not easy. What tricky situations have you found yourself in? Do you think you could have handled them better?

You Need to Have a Routine When You Work from Home

You Need to Have a Routine When You Work from Home

When the COVID-19 pandemic really became a reality for Canada in March, millions of Canadians were forced to work from home on a full-time basis, and many were setting up home offices for the first time. It was a big change, and understandably, productivity was expected to slip as we adjusted to a new way of doing this.

Eagle’s COVID-19 resources have had no shortage of work-from-home advice to help you get set-up and the Internet in general is overflowing with information to help you out. So, it shouldn’t come as a shock that three months later, clients and employers expect that you should now be working at full capacity. If you’re not there yet, then it’s time to build a routine to get yourself moving. And you need to do it now.

Routine will bring a sense of normality back to your day. It helps you build a regular schedule and to-do lists which are going to prevent procrastination and help you avoid bad habits overall. You’ll also begin to develop some great habits and your productivity will return to a level you can be proud of.

Having a routine in place is also critical to your own health. Indumathi Bendi, M.D., a physician at Piedmont Healthcare recently told Apartment Therapy “Carrying out routine activities reduces stress by making the situation appear more controllable and predictable. Preparedness is a key way to prevent stress.”

If you seek out expert advice on “the best morning routines” or “#1 work from home routines to make you a star” you’re going to be overwhelmed with different opinions and theories. The truth is, your routine is going to be different from anyone else’s. It will depend on your personal life (do you have kids hanging around the house?), your personal productive periods (everybody is more productive in different parts of the day), and hundreds of other variables unique to you.

Your best routine is going to mirror the regular work day you used to have — from waking up to commuting to working hours — as much as possible. Here are some elements to consider when creating your work-from-home routine:

  • Your Workspace: Your bed or the couch is not going to cut it. Even if you live in a small apartment without a private office, you still need a small area with a desk/table to keep organized.
  • Start/End Times: Setting specific “office hours” for yourself helps you build work/life balance and clients will know exactly when you’re available.
  • Breaks: Plan a regular lunch break and coffee breaks throughout your day, just as you’d have at the office.
  • Exercise: If you used to go to the gym in the morning or after work, continue to build those workouts into your routine at home. Don’t forget that walk you used to take from your car to the office. Even that void can be filled with a quick walk around the block.
  • Sleep: It’s easy to get into the habit of sleeping in a bit longer when you no longer have to worry about a commute or spending so much time getting ready. But that will creep up on you and, when the time comes, returning to regular office hours is going to be extremely difficult. Continue to wake up at the same time you used to and use that new-found time for yourself. Exercising, meditating or connecting with people are all amazing things we didn’t used to have time for but now the opportunity is there!

Your daily routine doesn’t need to be written down in stone and followed aggressively, but some sort of structure and predictability will do wonders for your productivity and mental health combined. What does your daily work-from-home routine look like?