darren-nolander-wfhMuch of our workforce has been working from home (WFH) for an extended period of time by now. This change is typically met with either excitement or resistance, followed by a period of settling in and creating a new daily schedule.

Many people find the WFH approach refreshing…at first. You relish in the three-second commute, comfort of your own home, and money saved on dry cleaning, makeup and other office-related expenses. You approach each day with gusto for a while, until you see the fridge, remember that pipe you wanted to unclog, go down a rabbit hole on an internet story or find that 20 minutes have passed as you discussed what you should have for dinner with your family…who’s also at home.

The WFH plateau is normal, but it’s not an excuse. Outlining objectives and creating an intentional focus each day – while eliminating distractions – can ensure you remain on the path toward achieving your goals. And with more than half the year behind us, that’s something we all need to remember.

Stick to your goals by exercising these strategies:

Prioritize based on importance, not ease.

This sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s easier said than done. Most of us have a habit of wanting to knock out the easiest projects on our to-do list first. I mean, they’ll only take a few minutes, right? Then I can spend the rest of the day attacking the big task.

But guess what? Those small tasks will continue to pop up again and again (heard of email?). This mentality keeps you on a virtual treadmill of tackling small tasks that are either unimportant or could be completed at a later date.

So bite the bullet first thing in the morning. Dive right into your major goal or project while you’re still fresh. Once you’ve finished that, there’s plenty of time to putter around with non-urgent, non-important tasks that give you the warm fuzzies when they’re checked off the list.

Adopt the 25-5 rule.

This lesson is courtesy of Warren Buffett (or not, depending on how the legend goes). Make a list of your top 25 career goals, then circle the top five. Now stay focused on those top five goals and push the rest out of your brain. Why? It’s all about focus. We’re not wired to work on 25 goals at a time, so forget about it.

Instead, take what’s most important to you and create a plan for getting them done. Before you panic, this doesn’t have to be a list of lifetime goals. You can still totally buy that Lamborghini when you retire. Rather, you want your to-do list to focus on your weekly, quarterly and annual work goals. Once you know what you want to accomplish in the very short-, short- and longer-term, you can devise an action-based plan that will knock these items out in your desired timeline.

You’ve got your whittled-down goals. You’ve got your actionable to-do list that will take you through the end of the year, with solid progress checkpoints in between. You’ve got…distractions. Yup, that’s right. You’re still working from home.

And it gets worse. WFH may not be your only distraction. It’s summer. The weather is beautiful. Your college buddy is in town on vacation with his family. Your son’s teacher wants to know if you’d be willing to run the back-to-school bake sale. Netflix is still a thing. You’ve just discovered TikTok.

Distractions are everywhere, and no matter how important your goals are, they can fall to these greedy little you-know-what’s.

So come up with a plan to keep distractions at bay by asking yourself these two questions:

  1. What are the actions that are keeping me from reaching my goals?
  2. How can I avoid them at all costs?

These responses will be different for everyone, but chances are you know exactly what distractions you face. This may involve banishing all social media until after 5 o’clock. Or getting in a run early so you’re not tempted to “just step outside for a minute” at noon and not come back for several hours.

It may mean creating a schedule with your partner and/or family that will limit the amount of interruptions you have during the workday. It could also involve meal planning so you’re not stuck in front of the fridge six times a day.

Goal planning is the one time where it pays to be negative and think of all the ways you may be sabotaged. Because then you can address those distractions one after the other until it’s just you, your goals and the tools you need to get them done!

Regional Vice President - Southwest

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