Working from home has become a reality for many during these unprecedented times. For some, it’s what they are used to and for others, it’s become something they’ve had to get used to, and for many, it’s still an adjustment they have yet to get used to.
So how do we optimize our productivity while working from home when there is no separation between work-life, and personal-life? How do we turn off our work-mode when we are now working on our kitchens or our bedrooms? How do we set healthy boundaries with our clients, our children, and ourselves?
These are all topics I discussed with my very special guest on this episode, Lori Baker-Schena, a leadership coach and professional speaker who works with business owners and entrepreneurs all across the country to increase their business by enhancing employee satisfaction.
So join me in this episode as we deep dive into how to stay productive and motivated while working from home.
You can find Lori at:
WHAT YOU WILL DISCOVER
How we keep motivated and how we stay productive while we’re working from home
Mindful thought into how to do this
The first thing you need to do is know how to set boundaries
To set boundaries we have to give up guilt and we have to give up perfectionism
FEATURED ON THE SHOW
Hello, hello, welcome to the Happy Productive podcast. I’m Jennifer Dawn business coach and founder of the Best Planner Ever. If you’re ready to start winning big and business in life, you’re in the right place. Happy Productive podcast is your go to resource for learning how to bring awareness and clarity, determination, some mental toughness into your daily productivity, so you can just knock those goals right out of the park, set yourself apart from the pack and start feeling on a whole new level.
So today, I’m super excited, we’re going to be talking with Lori Baker-Schena, she’s a leadership coach and professional speaker who works with business owners and entrepreneurs all across the country to increase their business by enhancing employee satisfaction. And of course, focusing on customer service because who doesn’t love that. But I’m most excited because I want to talk with Lori today about how we keep motivated and how we stay productive while we’re working from home.
Because for so many of you, we’re not like doing that commute. We’re not going into the office every day, and really staying motivated when you are at home, and it’s your work. It’s where you live can really be a challenge. Even for me, like I worked from home before all of this stuff. And so I kind of am used to the balance between home and work, but I can’t get out like I used to. And so even that has been a real challenge for somebody who already worked from home. But when you didn’t work from home, that must be really challenging. So Lori, I’d love to hear your thoughts on that.
First of all, thanks for having me. It’s I’m so excited to be here. Hello to your wonderful audience. They’re so lucky to have you as a host to give them such great advice. Because even the name of your podcast, you know, Happy and Productive, what else can we ask for? Correct?
Right? That’s the idea.
Absolutely. And that is like my mantra as well. You know what’s interesting, 2020 was really kicked us. I say kick our butts in so many ways. But one of the most dramatic things was all of a sudden, literally overnight, people were working from home. Now both of us have worked from home. I’ve worked from home for 33 years of my own business. But it took a long time for me to adjust to working from home. I was in my late 20s and I just married I had two stepdaughters and there was a lot of things going on. And it really took a lot of mindful thought into how to do this.
So Meanwhile, millions and millions of people that were thrown into work at home, and no one was taught how.
I believe it’s as difficult to work from home as it is to swim. And if we don’t teach people how to do it, you’ll sink before you know it. And that’s where you’ll get depression and anxiety, because you just don’t know how to function. It’s not that easy. So what I was able to do all last year was give people virtually some really good tips on how to work from home and stay happy and motivated. And so of course, the first thing, there’s so many things, but the first thing you need to do is know how to set boundaries. Boundary setting is crucial in any time, but especially working from home, because the issue is, is that you have a computer that’s calling you like the sirens, you know. Even though it might be seven o’clock at night and you’re exhausted, you know, there’s an email waiting for you. Right? Problem is, is if you if you answer that call, you will never get your life balanced, because you are always working.
It’s so true and I’m going to stop you right there. What you’re saying is amazing. It’s absolutely right on point and, and depending on how you work, because like my husband, he works for an insurance company. And at 5 o’clock, he can click off and he can be done like he is not obligated to stay on that computer. And even though he works from home, you know, 5 o’clock, he can click off. I have my own business, there’s no clicking off at five o’clock. Like I have clients who have issues. And you know, I was on the call, I was on the phone this morning with a client in the UK at you know, 6am and I might be on the phone, you know, with a client at night at 7 o’clock pm.
So I would love to hear your thoughts on like, if you are working with a company where you can’t just click off at 5 o’clock. Like how do you deal with that when you say set a boundary because I agree or to set a boundary but it’s the setting of the boundary, like how do you set a boundary if you don’t know how to set a boundary? And so can you walk us through like what does that really look like and setting a boundary if you can’t just you know, click off at 5 o’clock like some of us.
That’s such a great question. Well, that we have to back up a little bit because to set boundaries we have to give up guilt and we have to give up perfectionism.
Oh boy, those are big ones!
And we have to give up wanting to please everybody, okay? Because the reason why we sometimes don’t have boundaries is because we’re afraid to make people upset, we feel guilty if we’re not working 24/7, and we all want to be perfect, all right. Those are the three things that are keeping us back. But if you look at your life, and I do a lot of work life balance, if you look at your life, you have priorities in your life, and I’m sure you’ve got a beautiful family. And you have to figure out what those priorities are. Even if you don’t have time, if you just, it’s just you, you should be a priority, you should be number one.
So it’s all about what you can control and what you can’t, alright. So when you’re an entrepreneur, it’s okay to have a 6 o’clock in the morning meeting, I do the same thing. But I don’t do it every day. And I make sure that like the UK, that’s a real thing. Because they, you know, there’s nothing much you can do. That’s a huge, time difference right. But I’m on I’m in Los Angeles, and I have clients on the east coast. And my priority every day is to work walk 5 miles with my husband, okay, and that takes me from 6 to 7:30. So I’m really not ready to go to live until 8.
So my clients know unless there is something unusual, I will not be being with them until 11 o’clock. And I’ve set that boundary and either they are okay with it, or they’re not. But if I didn’t set that boundary, since I have West Coast clients, too, I theoretically could be working from 6 o’clock in the morning till 6 o’clock at night. But by the time you’re done, you’re wiped out. So what I do when you how do you set that boundary, you say to the person, look, I I’ve decided since everyone’s working from home that I’m going to have a set amount of hours.
So I will be at my desk from 8 o’clock in the morning till 6 o’clock at night. If you need anything, shoot me an email. Unless it’s an emergency, you know, give me a text, but shoot me an email. And I promise you, I will get to it first thing in the morning. But I plan not to look at my computer in the evening, so I can devote time to myself, my family, whatever is going on. And when you say that to people like that they will understand. And usually unless you’re doing surgery, something, they can wait for an overnight thing.
Now the issue becomes if you’ve got kids, and you have to work with them, let’s say you’re working with them from school from 9 to 11, and 1 to 3. So you need to figure out your day where you’re going to be working early morning and late night. But what I always say is if you’re working late night hours, you might be tempted to send that email out at 11 o’clock at night. Don’t do it.
Send your emails out at business hours, because people are going to start thinking, oh, she’s working at 11 o’clock at night, I can bother her.
Exactly that precedent that you set. Exactly. You set that. You teach people how to treat you. Yes, exactly.
So these, the setting of boundaries really helps people believe it or not understand. And if they don’t understand they don’t respect it. I’m not quite sure if that’s a good fit for you. Whether you have your own business, or you’re in business, right, because it’s incredibly important to set boundaries without guilt. So that when you’re working, you can really be working. And when you’re not working, you can really be like, work hard, play hard, you can really focus on what you need to do outside of the work environment.
That’s the only way that you can stay sane. But it’s so difficult to figure that out when you’ve just been thrown into the work, you know, people didn’t have a place to work, they worked on the kitchen table on their beds, you know, that’s not gonna work either.
Right! Oh, I agree. And I love what you said. I thought that was so powerful when you said we’ve got to give up being guilty. We’ve got to give up perfectionism, right? Letting go of some of these things can be really, really hard. But if we let go of the guilt, if we let go of the perfectionism when I hear that, I think yeah, it’s about reclaiming our personal power. It’s like taking that power back. Because as soon as we’re walking around in a state of feeling guilty about everybody and not setting any boundaries, and trying to be perfect, which is totally unrealistic anyway, we basically are just giving our power away to all these things. And now, of course, it’s going to be you know, we’re going to be more stressed and it’s going to be hard to set a boundary if you give away all your power to other people.
Absolutely. So you know, I don’t think you know, I think at the moment I don’t think you have to sacrifice customer service. I am the queen of getting back to people. I mean, my leadership brand is people can count on me. I rarely forget meetings. I’m always on time, this sort of thing, but that doesn’t mean hat you have to, you know, be so busy that you can’t set those boundaries. The key, the key, Jennifer, is communication, communicating what you’re going to do, and why you’re doing it. And what are they gonna say? No, you can’t have any family time, you know, like, So working with communication and letting people know, Jennifer that, that they’re still important, even though you are setting those boundaries. And you know, and when you’re working from the outside to set boundaries with your family. Mama is working from nine to noon today, I can’t help you with anything unless it’s an emergency like you’re bleeding.
So you’re gonna figure out what you’re going to eat, you know, you’ve got older kids, younger kids is a whole different thing. But setting those boundaries and saying I love you, but I need to focus. And that’s what the spouse, anybody, even in your co-workers, you know, I love you, but give me these two hours. So I can complete this project.
These types of things these asks, in a compassionate, nice communicative way really will make your life better and allow you to be more productive, and happier.
I agree. 100%, especially with the children. And so my children, I have three children, they are currently ages 21, 18 and 11. And I have been a business owner really my entire adult life. And so when my oldest my 21 years old was born, I had my software company. And so she came to work with me. For the first year and a half. My son, he made it six months, and then he just had to be like in daycare because he was a wild man. So but they all came with me.
And so this was something with all my children like I was really adamant about like Mama’s working, Mama doesn’t have a job where she can flake off like Mama has to do a Mama has to do or clients are not going to pay because Mama works for clients. And that’s you know, I’ve taught them this from an early age is that that’s where the money comes from. It comes from the clients who are happy with the services or the products or whatever that we’re providing. And so you can do this if you’re tempted if you’re hearing this, and you’re just like, oh, not my kids, that’s baloney.
Like I have taught my children from a young age to take care of themselves. Like they can all do basic cooking, you know, they know how to pick out their clothes and get themselves dressed. And like if I were called away for a week, I know that my kids would survive on their own and be completely fine. But starts with a parent, it starts with the boundary, and even setting a boundary with your child of teaching them how to care for themselves to the basics for themselves. And even all my children know like from a young age, if my office door is closed, you better be on fire. If you come in here.
That’s exactly me, too. We have the exact same story. Yes.
But on the flip side, when the doors open, I’m there, I’m like, I see them. Are the guys glued, is everybody happy? What do you need, like that’s the flip side of it is you really do need to spend that quality time making yourself available when you can be. But it’s definitely in this whole working from home. And it’s funny because I see, I work with so many people in so many different places. And I’ll see you know, the kids running through the background or, you know, parents getting very distracted. And, you know, we were so lucky with school, we just send them off to school, but now they’re home with us. And so think the boundaries goes even to the children of having to kind of re-educate them on how this works if mama or daddy is you know, working from home.
Absolutely, you know, as a college professor for 25 years. And the worst thing you can do for your kid is do everything for your kid. Because they get to a point where you know, high school, you can still help them but in college, not so much. And all of a sudden, they had don’t have any kind of coping skills, if they get a bad grade what to do, or any organization skills or time management skills, or financial skills. All these things that you should be modeling as a parent, but some of us you know, don’t want because we want to hurt their feelings, or we, you know, we were afraid of what they’re gonna think of us that sort of thing.
But you have to really elevate yourself above that. And say this, I am doing this so that I can teach you how you can set boundaries. Wouldn’t it be lovely if we can tell our sons and daughters how to set healthy boundaries so that we can live healthy lives. So it’s like a cycle. It’s also important, but that boundary setting is my number one thing we need to do to be successful working from home. And it really extends to everyone from friends, family, parents, even older parents or college-age kids or, or people in your life. It just is a point and you don’t have to be mean you can say you know I need this. I appreciate your understanding and I look forward to blank blank blank. And it’s just those type of things and stop feeling guilty if you have to set a boundary.
Yeah, no, I love this so much and so it can be hard sometimes to stop feeling guilty. But I think what you said was so important that you’re not being mean when you set a boundary. Now, you could be mean when you set a boundary. But that’s not what we’re talking about, we’re talking about setting a loving boundary and doing it in a loving way. And when you lovingly set a boundary, actually, you’re being more loving, you’re not being mean. And the way I look at it, my job is not to raise babies, my job is to raise fully functioning adult humans can go out and make the world a better place. And doing it all for them is not helping them. And in some ways, I look at that as like, that’s how I would be mean to my kids to do everything for them and to not teach them how to function on their own.
That would be far more mean to send them out into the world because the world is not going to baby them, the world is not going to do everything for them. And that’d be far more mean to send them out completely unprepared than it would be to set a boundary, teach them how to handle it, you’re going to have to deal with that. You know that in the moment crap where they are like, I don’t want to do it. Tough. Like, this is what you’re gonna do. Like, to me, that’s a far more loving and kind gesture than to send them out into the world unprepared.
Absolutely. And if you tell your kids the why, just tell them why you’re not just doing this. But you’re doing this for a reason. And it’s a lesson. And this is why we do this. I think that’s very helpful.
I agree completely. And you know what, it’s kind of the same for your employees too, you’re not supposed to baby them either. To do everything for them either, supposed to empower them and teach them and set boundaries, just like with the children.
That’s great parallel data for great parallel. That’s exactly correct.
I love it. So tell me, Lori, like, let’s say you are working from home, and you’re feeling just like oh, my God, and you’re really struggling to stay motivated in that working from home space. I work from home for so many years, like I don’t have an issue like I get into my office, this is where it all happens. And off we go. But I’ve worked with so many people who are just not like that. And it’s really hard for them, like when they’re at home, they’re at home, and to get into that zone of working can be so tough. And so what do you recommend, if you’re just really having trouble staying motivated working from home?
That’s such a good question. You know, what you first need to do was get yourself really psychically separated from work when you’re home. Someone asked me early on what happens if you’re in a studio apartment? You can still do this, you put your desk to a corner, and you don’t go near it. And so what you do is you have kind of a morning routine, I’m a big one on having a morning routine.
The first thing you get ready, you don’t just dip into work. So you get it to work. And you go to work at the if you can at the exact same time every day. And you don’t necessarily take a shower every day, everybody. Now we’re kind of every other day people. But you want to kind of get into a work mode, dress up a little bit, but feel different than your pajamas. And you want to take 15 minutes and plan out your day. So that you know what you need to do you know the priorities, and you don’t feel overwhelmed.
And then it’s really important to plan breaks. And I suggest you plan a morning break and afternoon break, break for lunch. And on these breaks, have some fun, watch a half-hour Netflix, take a quick walk. But plan out your breaks so that you are doing something fun. Even if you’re overwhelmingly busy, you cannot work five hours straight, not take a break and think that you’re being effective and you’re working at maximum speed. So giving yourself that time to take breaks is important.
Also, it’s important to connect with the people who you work with one of the things that the biggest grief and the biggest loss is not having people to hang with. So I suggest creating coffee dates, where you call up your friends you plan on zoom, and you just have a cup of coffee for 15 minutes to half an hour, once or twice a week with people who you care about. And just stop and that will bring the connection that you need. But then, but back to the 15 minutes you plan and then you get to work and do the stuff.
You can stand early in the day when you’re fresh. And then put the stuff that’s easier to do later as the day goes by. Be sure to do something for somebody else every day as well. If you’d be sure to reach out and see if anybody you know needs help. Because that elevates your spirits and allows you to feel useful. And also don’t forget why are you working for that company because no matter what company you’re working for, it is doing something good for society.
So let’s say your software company, Jennifer, the things that you do, are helping people be more productive to be on their computers to do what they need to do, you’re adding value to everybody. So remember the value that you’re adding, even when things get dicey in the weeds. Remember who you are and that value. And that really helps elevate the joy level on the motivation level
Two other things I always recommend are keeping a strengths journal. So keep an eye out for what you did right, and write down and then figure out what characteristics of yours contributed to you doing that, right. Because if you’re a good responder, you’re a good communicator with finance, you’re good at HR, what are you doing, that’s allowing you to be good, and just jotting that down at the end of the day, or even in real-time helps. And finally, of course, that gratitude journal, which I live by, I learned about it my 30s. 5 things that you’re grateful for every single day, no matter how bad things get. And it really helps you focus on what you have versus what you don’t.
And if you look at our jobs, just the fact that we have a job, and you can make a living, that you’ve got the resources that you are working from home, a lot of people have to be out and about in might be some dangerous. There’s so many benefits to working from home, even if you don’t like working from home that we have in this moment. So focusing on that goodness, that positivity, that pivoted positive, which is so important, really will help elevate your mood, and make you more productive, because you’re focused, you’re happier, and your everything is organized, which is crucial.
Oh, I love that you said so many great things there. And a couple things that stood out to me were the, I can’t remember exactly the way you said it. But the way I heard it was like guys, and talking to all of you guys, like sometimes you gotta like get up, take the shower, do your hair, but on nice clothes, you know, especially if you’re not on zoom calls, you may not have to like go through the effort that you used to go through to get ready for work. But like, make that effort, I think that can really make a difference.
I know on the days where I don’t have zoom calls. And it’s not that I don’t love working from like yoga pants and, you know, having my hair up, but those are the also the days that I will like, Okay, this is gonna sound gross, but I’ll like do my workout, and then go to work, and then not take a shower because I’m like, Oh, I don’t have to take that extra time because nobody’s gonna see me today. So I can just keep working.
And then I end up skipping the shower, and I don’t you know, then my hair. I’m just like, oh, not that I do much with my hair. But you know, at least if it’s washed, it’s like, alright, that’s a win. So just going through that process of getting yourself in a place where you just feel a little more ready for work. I thought that was a fantastic tip. And your strengths journal, I love that that really ties into what we do in the Best Planner Ever at the bottom of the planner page, there’s a wins. And I love like, before I end my day, I want to get really clear on what are my wins today? What did I do, right? Because what we focus on expands.
So if all we focus on is whatever we didn’t get done, that’s gonna get bigger, but we want to focus on like, what we did, right and let that grow. And that will really help I think with the guilt and the beating yourself up and the whole perfectionism thing, like letting some of that stuff go when you everyday really have to require yourself to be like, how did I win today? What did I do, right. And I think that ties right into gratitude, which is just one of the best mindset shifters that there is.
And it does take time, it takes practice, like, you know, when you go to the gym, you build your core, your inner core, that takes time. Well, same with this, you know, really, really, you know, it’s easy to beat yourself up, it’s easy to hear everybody be negative, so it’s harder to be positive all the time. So building that muscle to positivity muscle, it’s worth it. Because if once you build it, you understand it and you realize the power of it. And so I love that your planner has that at the bottom, it’s incredible to stop for a minute, and know how good you are, by knowledge that you’re doing okay, and you’re doing things right.
And if you have to, you know, do it every night and have that thing that is so crucial, because that self talk and put in you know, being our own cheerleader is so important to be happy and productive in your job.
I agree completely. I agree. Absolutely completely. Happiness is a choice, then there’s a lot of people and just because you choose to be happy, it doesn’t mean that we’re, you know, distracting ourselves or ignoring things and not that there aren’t people who sometimes do but those of us who know like happiness is a choice and it often can happen with like, not in the best of circumstances where you still have to choose to align with happiness.
We have a new hashtag called WINHAPPY, actually just put it on a T-shirt, which is my new little project right now. But WINHAPPY means that I’m going to show up, I’m going to win today to do the very best I can. But I’m going to do it in a place where I’m choosing to be happy. Doesn’t mean I don’t deal with stuff doesn’t mean life won’t happen. But it’s about putting yourself into the best place that you can be. So you can show up and you can handle these other things. I mean, think about it. What’s the mindset that you want to show up in when you have a challenge? Do you want to show up all sad, depleted no power? Or do you want to show up in a happy clear, like, okay, I’m here to solve the problem kind of place, right? I have a no-brainer on that one.
But it’s so important to remind people and I love that whole concept. It’s so important to choose joy every morning, you wake up, I’m going to be happy today. And it is a choice. Yeah, I have a choice.
Yeah, to work, I still have to deal with stuff. But I can do it from a happy place if that’s what I choose. So I love that so much. And that’s part of where Happy Productive came from was, you know, we want to be productive. But we want to do it in a happy way. So that we’re, you know, of course, making more happiness, as we work and are out in the world and all the people we’re interacting with.
Can you imagine having a podcast miserable, productive. I mean, right, exactly.
No sad to see people are. Yeah, no, I love that. I love that so much. All right, Lori, this has been so wonderful. But I want to end it with one question that I want you to share with everybody, which is, what’s your favorite productivity tip that has just completely changed the way that you work?
I’m a big one on blocking your time. And I’m saying if you have a project don’t, at least once or twice a day have two-hour shifts of uninterrupted work time. So you’re not answering emails, you’re not having meetings. And that again, is a setting a boundary thing, right, Jennifer? You have to set boundaries it look this is my work time. Otherwise, you will never get anything done. So I’m a big-time blocker and plan everything in your day.
I mean, plan those breaks, planned social hours, you know, plan those coffee breaks, plan, plan, plan, block, block block, but that is how you get things done.
Oh, I love it. And I’m going to add just a tiny piece to that because you’re absolutely right. When you when I do the time blocking and I do I have to take it off my electronic calendar. That’s my trick. I can write it in my planner. But if people can still get on my calendar, I’m screwed. So for the time blocking it’s great. I love it. But I did I had to like block it off my electronic calendar. And then it worked because I wouldn’t get like surprised with you know, people scheduling and I was like, uh-oh, there goes my you know, my time block time to work on whatever I’m working on.
That is absolutely a great extra tip. Absolutely. Absolutely. The only way to get it done or I’ll still be filling it all up. You know, like, uh,
Yeah, exactly. All right. Lori, tell everybody where they can find you. If you if they want more information about you and what you do.
Yeah, you can find me on my website. It’s www.loribakerschena.com. And we’d love to hear from you and get some more ideas and see where we can go with productivity and joy.
Yeah, we love both of those. So Lori, thank you so much for being here with us today. Guys. All of you listening, if you like what you hear, please share it. We don’t you know, spend money on paid ads. It’s all about word of mouth. And so if you heard something today that you love, please share it with other people in your life who could benefit from this. If you want to find out more information about us you can check us out at bestplannerever.com or JenniferDawncoaching.com.
Alright, guys, that’s it for today. Thank you so much and get out there and have a Happy Productive day.