When I was young, my mom, who was a psychotherapist, dragged me around to take aptitude test after aptitude test. The results were always the same: A career in real estate was suggested, followed by one in litigation and then photography. My traits that matched well to these professions included possessing high energy, enjoying being outdoors and working well alone.  Like a cowboy.

Since I left Trammell Crow to start Cardinal Real Estate Partners, I’ve enjoyed the freedom that working for myself gives me. For years Cardinal had a permanent office, but after I started practicing with Dan Sullivan of The Strategic Coach 15 years ago, I discovered a love of working remotely.

Dan has been a big proponent of working remotely for decades. He calls it the “The No Office Solution”. Sullivan points out the word bureaucracy is French and means “the rule of the desk or office.” Generally speaking, offices are where bureaucratic activities take place. For most real estate practitioners, the office is where they feel the least productive.  It’s where they become bogged down in stuff and messes. Without an office, successful entrepreneurs have learned that there is no alternative except to focus all their time and attention on productive, value-creating activities.

I’ve been sharing office space at Industrious for about two years (I also work from a home-based office), and I love it. Friends who normally work in a more typical office environment have been telling me they are going nuts working from home these days.

Problems they point out include distractions, interruptions, loss of time, inefficiency, incompletions and waste of effort, all of which result in a loss of confidence. In times like these, we are all as stressed as we can handle. Add in the loss of confidence and my normally productive colleagues are a wreck.

Here are my tips for keeping sane and organized when you are working solely, and possibly surrounded by spouses, kids and other distractions.

  • Overcommunicate: Make certain that those on your team know where to find you. Do you prefer for them to reach you via phone, text or email?
  • Watercooler: I suggest that you have a regular Zoom time where you work together. Yep – no agenda, just turn on Zoom for one hour and work. This will allow for impromptu “water cooler” type discussions that you get at the office.
  • Close your door: Have some way of telling others in the house that you rather not be disturbed now. I suggest that you make a sign and put it on the door.  Perhaps you wear a certain hat. For me, it’s a lava lamp and a scowl on my face.
  • Get comfortable with tech: Find some Zoom tips, watch a how-to video about Slack and investigate Asana and Trello.
  • Tune out: Freelancers will tell you that one of the bad byproducts of working from home is that it is hard to stop working. My tip is to work in 24-hourspurts. Plan entire days off from work and do something fun. I find that deciding that after lunch you are going to quit does not work. It takes me three hours to unwind.

We will get through these unusual times and be stronger in the end. I leave you with an article by Dan that I found inspiring. Here’s to a productive, new working environment.