How has the Canyon team been dealing with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic while maintaining a healthy work-life balance working from home? We asked them and here’s what they had to say and valuable advice they offer.
Dale: Being Proactive When All Seems to Be Upside-Down
When the pandemic hit, I felt absolute panic. How would our business survive? Would we need to let go of our treasured staff? How would we market ourselves in this new virtual age? How would we afford to pay the rent, insurances, payroll, taxes, utilities…? I had many sleepless nights.
Once the initial shock wore off, I got to work. I was not going to let it defeat me or Canyon Creative. We continued to meet remotely with our business coach, shifting our focus to maintain business and get new business, even in these hard times. We worked diligently with our bank, accountant and the Vegas Chamber of Commerce.
As two minds are better than one, I ramped up participation in virtual meetings with the CEO Stars (10 like-minded/successful agency owners from across the country) where we discussed our fears and how we were going to tackle this new reality head-on.
After receiving helpful input, I talked with our staff being completely transparent about everything, no matter how painful it might get. I told them updating our website was a priority. It would give them hours for payroll and all of us renewed inspiration. I also brainstormed ways to foster business relationships and market ourselves with my business partner/wife.
As a team, we came up with a plan and started to generate ideas to improve and market our business. First, we would actively seek out more viable RFPs and write proposals. Next, we created a blog plan and implemented it, set up an email marketing campaign, social media plans and we are working on a Google Ads campaign.
All this is happening while genuinely connecting with clients, working on their projects, invoicing, watching cashflow very carefully, staying in constant touch with our accountant and keeping the whole team engaged. We also put new processes in place that help us monitor jobs from afar and regularly stay in touch. It seems to be working for everyone.
Though I’ve been very busy during this time of COVID-19, I keep my work-life balance in check. I walk in our neighborhood a couple times a week, continue to work on my golf game and started oil painting again (I have commissions to work on).
Our home has benefitted from my new-found invigoration, too. I’ve retiled the master bath floor and fixed the drywall that got destroyed when we had a leak. I’m laying new wooden floors in our bedroom and cooking more with my wife.
I had a lot of time to think while by myself in the office since March. We have a plan. I feel efficient and productive. Even hopeful.
Ann: Making the Best of a Crappy Situation
The big lockdown has inspired me to be more productive. The first thing I did was to set up a desk on my kitchen table. Since we usually eat in front of the TV (don’t judge), this seemed like the logical location for work to continue. I have my laptop and all the job folders I need. Arranged nicely, some of the time. There are pens, highlighters and a notepad, just in case. And a stapler.
I flip-flopped several times about bringing my desktop and two big screens home, then settled on using the laptop. I rationalized that it’s small and efficient. But I do miss the two screens….
On a side note: We don’t have little kids in the house, so we don’t have the added chore of remote learning or figuring out how the heck to keep them occupied. I feel for all you parents out there. Yikes.
Every day, I come downstairs and do my usual tasks. Plan the day with my husband. Feed the cats. Take vitamins. Maybe go for a walk. Watch a little TV. Just a little. Eat breakfast. Take a shower on most days. But, do I get dressed every single day? I confess, I do not. My jammies are quite comfy and since I’m not seeing anyone (when there are no Zoom or Google calls), I figure…why not? I was once a freelance writer for many years and quite capable of staying on track with projects. Even though most people-in-the-know frown on this behavior.
The extra time gained back by not commuting or having as many interruptions during the day has made me more effective in what I get done in a timely fashion. My concentration is better and I feel that work is more gratifying and worthwhile. After all, we are in this together and I feel a certain pang of “I-really-need-to-keep-things-going” for the team.
Do I miss my co-workers? Of course. We were accustomed to spending our days together. But Facetime, Slack video, Zoom and Google Meet kind of makeup for our separation.
The “free time” has also allowed us to reorganize closets and drawers, sort and shred old paperwork and start new house projects. I like to cook, so it’s been fun trying new recipes that require more finessing than the usual dishes I serve up. I’ve also been able to figure out who is getting what for Christmas, which is usually (sadly) a last-minute dash to Amazon. I did that planning in October, so I’m way ahead of schedule.
I’m also being more thoughtful to people. A kinder version of myself. There is literally nothing we can do about the pandemic, but mask up and ride it out. I’m taking things as they come, not getting riled up and setting off on a different path. Going with the flow, as they say.
Stay safe out there, everyone.
Ross: Planning Ahead and a Learning a Military Regimen from My Dad
Working from home during COVID-19 has been the ultimate test of maintaining a proper work-life balance, especially in terms of self-discipline. With your TV and couch in close range, the lines between work and home are extremely blurred. You can lose an hour very quickly with the smorgasbord of distractions around the house. I find, at a bare minimum, you must commit to a daily routine and stick to it. You can wake up and the day is your oyster, but it can quickly disappear without some basic planning.
My top tip is to plan the next day before you go to bed. Take stock of what you accomplished and still need to work on. With your plan, what worked? What didn’t work? Then, make adjustments and just jot down the basic course of action for navigating the next day. Nothing crazy, it can just be bullet points.
Then, when you wake up, you can grab that coffee, and jump into your nicely folded laundry list of items ready to go. For me, starting the day with a plan is the most important thing that can decide the fate of a productive day. The old adage is, if you fail to plan, plan to fail.
Outside of planning your tasks, it is very important to have cutoff times, leisure times and bedtimes. Make sure to “leave work” at a certain time and switch to “home mode.” Then, have the same bedtime and wake up time every day. Sleep is very important, but the consistency of your sleep patterns is even more so.
My father, a Korean War veteran does it best. To this day, he still follows the same principals from the Navy. At 11pm, it’s lights-out and he goes directly to bed. No TV or Instagram scrolling in bed. He just tucks himself in, lays back like a vampire, and he has the best nights of sleep.
In short, when working from home, plan for tomorrow, tonight and maintain a daily routine. It is essential to steer the brain in the path of least resistance to accomplish your tasks and it is much easier when you have already defined the parameters. Also, get a dog. They are great when working from home. The end.
Claire: Taking Control of Personal Time Creates Better Productivity
Here’s how I’ve found work-life balance in the time of COVID-19: being more self-aware and developing a stronger inner voice to aid in autonomy, flexibility and dedication. This has helped in many aspects from keeping focused and motivated to knowing when to switch-off and clock-out.
There are certain drawbacks, but there are copious amounts of positive snowball effects. Not having to commute saves gas money, is better for the environment and adds more personal time. Time that you control. Time that could be used for more sleep, meditation or exercise; which increases your work productivity, let alone making you a healthier person.
The increase in productivity has supporting research to back it. Apollo Technical reported that “productivity while working remotely from home is better than working in an office setting. On average, those who work from home spend 10 minutes less a day being unproductive, work one more day a week, and are 47% more productive.”
Joslynn: Being Flexible to Change and Communicating Well
When we started working from home, I felt very grateful. I had neighbors and friends who weren’t given the opportunity to continue to work during the pandemic. With the relief of still having a job came the stress of balancing all that came with working from home while having two kids under the age of 5 and a partner who in addition to myself, needed to get 40 hours of work in during the week. We have a lot of people we care about who are high risk in regards to the virus and so, we were on our own to find a way to take care of our family while still being productive professionals.
The first step was creating a schedule and understanding the flexibilities both my husband and I had with our jobs. This helped us to create a routine of when each of us would work and when one wasn’t working, the other was being the caretaker to our two kids. The biggest downfall to this schedule is not having alone time with each other – but as time has gone on, we have gotten better at that.
I found some useful resources to help us with this transition. My favorite source so far is an article on themuse.com. It lists 7 essential tips for working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic and I find that all of them are extremely useful in keeping a sensible work-life balance.
Get Dressed – It’s easy to get lazy while at home – but getting dressed helps your mind become prepared for the day. I find that I am more awake when not staying in my jammies all day.
Designate a Workspace or Home Office – We are still perfecting this space, but it has helped a lot to have a space that is for “work.” Especially with the little ones needing to understand that if we are in the office space, they need to respect that space.
Keep Clearly Defined Working Hours – This has worked better for my husband than me, but I am working on it. Since I am the main caretaker of the kids during the day, my times to get work done can vary drastically from day to day.
Build Transitions Into (and Out of) Work – This helps to ease you back from the home world to work or from work to home. It’s hard to send your last email and then a second later to be bombarded by home matters. Transitions help your mind to be prepared.
Don’t Get Sucked in by the News – or Anything Else. – Distractions can be a downfall.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate – This is vital now that my co-workers and bosses don’t see me on a daily basis. I need to keep my boss happy and to be happy, he/she needs to know what I’m working on my weekly goals. It helps to put their minds at ease knowing that I’m making work a priority and completing tasks. This is also a rule for my partner and me. We need to communicate about our weekly schedule and when we have big events or deadlines for work and or appointments for the kids.
Don’t Forget to Socialize – It’s important to continue to have small breaks with co-workers to help stay connected and a part of the team. I have set time aside to Slack with co-workers to see how they are, but think I can improve on this.
Alicia: Navigating the Pandemic with Kids and Keeping Yourself Sane
When this pandemic hit, my world was turned upside down. I was instantly thrown into having to quickly figure out how to be a mother, teacher, wife and productive employee all at the same time. There was no more leaving the mother and wife role at home while I left for the office daily. And now on top of that adding in a teacher role to my list.
I have always had to multi-task prior to all these roles being meshed together, but this was a whole new level. I quickly realized creating a schedule helped keep track of what needed to be done. It helped the whole family as everyone soon got into a routine. Scheduling times when to get work done, when to work on schoolwork and keeping the routine, I would say is the biggest source of feeling successful and productive.
Work-Life balance during COVID-19 really is a balancing act, but now that I have been doing it so long it is starting to feel normal. Do something enough and it just becomes part of your everyday life. Another thing that helps me is to look at the positives. I save wear and tear on my car, not to mention gas. I do not spend as much money on eating out for lunch daily. Most importantly, I get to be present for my kids.
There may be some late nights working in my make-shift office. Some days are more hectic than others and some days a bit more tiring. But, seeing my family enjoy moments throughout their day while being able to help provide is very rewarding.
I am also learning how to schedule a little time during the day to take walks. Making a little time, even 20 minutes to stretch your legs, is vitally important when managing so many different roles. It is easy to have the whole day pass without stepping outside and that is definitely something to be mindful of.
Sometimes, I put too much pressure on checking emails and work throughout the day and night. This is something else to work on – knowing when to disconnect from work. It’s hard with the computer right there and the kids quiet or sleeping. It’s a challenge knowing when to turn it off and leave work alone when it’s just steps away. You can only check the same messages so much.