Taking back control

It’s the little things that start to irritate when you suddenly find yourself AND everyone else having to work from home. Whilst I’ve had jobs over the years that involved working from home part of the time, and I set my business up from home before we had offices, there’s never been a time when all the people I interact with are having to work from home. I am getting calls from the office number, my mobile phone and Teams, plus emails, messages from Messenger, text, WhatsApp, LinkedIn, Facebook and Slack. Not to mention the chats and online meetings in Teams, Slack and Zoom. And I’m supposed to get work done when?!

Several years ago I went on a Personal Productivity course run by @Mark Tonks during which he taught us to ‘chunk’ time to get the most out of it so, after a week of feeling like a rabbit in headlights, I’m going back to some tactics that have served me well in the past, and I’m making changes to improve my sanity and productivity thank you #COVID-19.

The first thing I’m doing is turning off distracting sounds on my computer. I don’t need to know when a news article has come in and I don’t want to know when an email has arrived. Similarly, I don’t need to hear another WhatsApp message arriving to add to the 120 unread ones already there, so I’ve turned the volume off on my phone too. This way I have a choice about being able to concentrate when I need to, versus when to read, catch up and respond to others. It’s really no different to my ‘old normal’ day where I would be at a client or in a meeting and not able to be interrupted.

Some of the places you can control sound are in Control Panel (search sound) from the task bar on a Windows PC. And in System Settings, where you can untick ‘Play a sound when a notification arrives’ from the Notification & actions menu.

Whilst I’m here, some online meeting #etiquette when it comes to sound. Working from home brings all sort of additional hazards in the form of the rest of the family, pets and appliances from kettles to vacuum cleaners. Most people are understanding of the fact we can’t stop things from happening in the background at home as our family have nowhere else to go. But we can appreciate that being on a group call with unmuted microphones can make it very difficult to hear what the speaker is saying when microphones pick up background noises, including people tapping away on their keyboard. Out of courtesy to others on a call or group meeting, please mute your microphone until you need to say something. It makes for a better quality call and stops all the ‘who’s making the noise’ comments!