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As authorities continue to grapple with the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, many companies have opted to keep most of their employees working from home. While most workers were optimistic about the new work-from-home setup, and initial trends show that remote work improved productivity, many workers are now slowly realising that working from home presents a different set of challenges. 

In this video, I offer three practical tips on how you can stay productive in spite of the challenges of working from home. 

Working from home provides many advantages. It reduces commute times—and if you live in the suburbs and commute to the central business district every day, that’s a lot of time saved. And since you’re working from home, it frees you from the distractions of chitchatting with your co-workers throughout the day? 

Well, if you’ve been working from home these past months, you’ll understand that working from home presents a different set of challenges and distractions. This is especially true if you live with family and have small children running about.  

Productivity experts say that the challenges associated with working from home comes from losing our ability to compartmentalise our daily life. Pre-pandemic, we work in an office and then come home to relax and rest. The change in environment or the shift in context allowed us to separate our work from our home responsibilities.  

However, when we start working from home, we work and relax in the same environment, which becomes distracting and disorienting. When you work, live and relax in the same space, it’s easy to get lost in the long list of things that occupy our daily lives. That also guarantees a chaotic environment that is quite stress-inducing. 

This means that to address the challenges of working from home and to maintain our productivity—and sanity (!), the key is to learn to compartmentalise. With that in mind, here are three things we can do to compartmentalise our lives while working from home. 

Have a dedicated workspace. 

This can be a spare room, if you have one. If not, carve out a little nook that’s just for work. Studies show that having a dedicated space for work puts you in the working mindset—“When I’m in this space, it means I need to work.” 

Do you best to manage your space by creating a conducive working ambience that mimics the workspace that you are used to in the office. Consider investing in a comfortable chair and an appropriate desk, especially if you know that you will be working remotely in the long run. Make sure that your workspace is well-lit. Create a layout where most used supplies are within reach so that you don’t need to run around the house to locate these. Consider the equipment that you need: Internet infrastructure? Laptop or desktop? Printer? 

Your dedicated workspace can be as elaborate or as spartan as you want. The goal is to have a dedicated space that puts you into work mode. By creating and working in this dedicated space, your partner and your family will realise over time, that when you are in this workspace, it means that you are working and that you should not be disturbed unnecessarily. 

Set your schedule. 

Once you’ve compartmentalised your space, it’s time to compartmentalise your time. Set your working hours and create a routine, because routines improve productivity levels. Setting work schedules help put you in work mode. 

Many productivity experts say to plan for only 5 hours of work—the rest of your work hours are meant to address any issues and last-minute tasks that may come up through the day. 

This is important: Begin on time and end on time, too. When working remotely, ending the workday is perhaps the most difficult for some of us. Many of us feel that because we work from home, we suddenly have a lot more time to work. That’s not necessarily true. In fact, it’s this mindset that adds to the stress and reduces productivity. 

There’s a funny but practical tip I’ve heard on how one ends the day: play a “goodbye” song at the end of the workday to signal that the day has ended. Once that song plays, it’s time to put your phones and laptops away. Tidy up the workspace and then leave, as if you were leaving for home.  

The key is to remain disciplined in setting up your work time and sticking to it. And when you find yourself away from that work table, you will not get that guilty feeling of going back to work because you have already completed your workday and that you have given your best attention and most productive time to it. 

Manage your work and tasks. 

Segment your work tasks from your personal tasks. Many make the mistake of juggling work and personal tasks, and that just creates a very chaotic situation that is difficult to manage in the long run. It also reduces your productivity and unnecessarily prolongs your work day. 

But if you do need to do personal errands during your work hours, schedule them in and make them part of your routine. Scheduling these tasks allows you to become pragmatic and less distracted because you know that you have the time to handle these tasks. 

How about you? What tips or hacks have made working from home easy and productive for you? Please send me an email, I would love to hear your thoughts. 

If you are interested to know more about what a business has to go through when facing exponential growth, you can download the first chapter of the book, ”$20K to $20 Million in 2 Years” absolutely free here. The chapter talks about the differences between a good and a great business and puts out questions that make you consider how you can turn your business from good to great. 

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Oct 13, 2020 Raymond Huan (0)

The negative impact of the global pandemic is felt by businesses large and small around the world. To keep afloat, many are looking for ways to not just stay in business but also to find more business.  

In this video, I explore three ways that you can start doing today to set you up for increased sales.  

Covid-19 has brought economic challenges across the board, forcing many businesses to find ways to stay afloat. Some businesses have opted to do the #COVIDPivot, which I discussed in a previous video. Essentially, the #COVIDPivot entails developing a new business model, introducing a new product, or finding a new market. Doing any of those three may help you get more sales.  

But what if this doesn’t apply to your business? Or, what if I’ve done that already, but it isn’t working as I had hoped it to work--what else can you do? Or how else can I supplement my other efforts so that I can bring in more sales? 

Here are three things that you can start doing today, or more of today, to help you bring in higher revenue or turnover for your business. 

  • Reach out to your customers, or potential customers.  

If you haven’t reached out to your customers since Covid-19 hit, it is best to do it now. Many businesses do this.  

Talk to them about how you are doing, too. Were you affected by the crisis? How are you affected by the global pandemic? How has that affected your ability to do business? How has that affected your employees—and what are you doing to help your employees? Continue the conversation by telling your customers how you plan on moving forward—and how you would like them to move forward with you. 

And once you continue with this conversation, you’ll find that you’re not only building trust between you and your customers, but you are also building and nurturing a community around your brand, just as I discuss in the video on how to build a community during the age of social distancing (link forthcoming).  

  • Develop your distribution channel. 

Part of the reason for reaching out to your customers is understanding their pain points. One of the challenges that consumers experience during the pandemic is finding ways to purchase goods and services as a result of community quarantines and lockdowns imposed by governments to curb the spread of the coronavirus. This resulted in many businesses operating in a limited capacity, so getting goods and services to customers became a challenge. 

So when you get to reach out to your customers, ask them for feedback. Would they prefer that you deliver to their doorstep, instead of buying in-store? Would they prefer that they order online instead of purchasing in-store? Do they want these changes only in the short-term, or do they want these options available to them permanently? 

The global pandemic is said to affect normal as we know it—and many things, including consumer lifestyles, will change permanently. And so the immediate need is to understand how your customer’s lifestyles will change and how you can address these changes so that you can keep up with their wants and needs. 

  • Develop complementary or supplementary products or services. 

Many businesses had to turn to digital marketing when governments ordered lockdowns and community quarantines. To supplement their limited offerings and to ensure that they can keep in touch with their customers, many of these businesses offered webinars or online training classes. Some of them were offered for free, like Single O Café, who offered short classes on their social media accounts. Some bundled these classes with their offerings. 

Asian Mint, a Thai restaurant in Texas, USA, had to quickly pivot and create a new product when the state of Texas ordered the closure of dining rooms to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. Asian Mint offered cooking kits to allow their customers to cook some of the restaurant’s favourite dishes in the comfort of their own home. Each kit contained raw ingredients and instructions on how to cook each dish. As a complement, they also offered free virtual cooking classes, which they streamed on their social media accounts, to help customers learn how to cook their kits. The restaurant also opened their pantry where their customers can source additional ingredients. 

Some vineyards offer wine tasting classes. Wineries would send in bottles of their wines and a link to an online virtual class. Other wineries would partner with restaurants so that they can offer cold cuts and cheese and offer a class that discussed how to properly pair wines with dishes.  

What I find very interesting during this global pandemic is how businesses are responding to the challenges that it brought about. Many business owners are creating their own disruptions and finding different ways not just to stay afloat but also get ahead of the curve.  

If you are interested to know more about what a business has to go through when facing exponential growth, you can download the first chapter of the book, ”$20K to $20 Million in 2 Years” absolutely free here. The chapter talks about the differences between a good and a great business and puts out questions that make you consider how you can turn your business from good to great. 

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While the global pandemic has disrupted economies and industries around the world, many small businesses are fighting back by pivoting and creating disruptions in their own market. What emerges are inspirational and admirable examples of how businesses can respond to challenges that are outside of their control.

In this video, I talk about three small businesses, how they pivoted and adjusted their businesses, and how they took advantage of the changing needs in their respective markets during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The global health crisis has brought about sweeping changes in how we work, where we eat, where we go, and how we go about our daily lives. While many have been negatively impacted by the pandemic, there are some businesses who have been able to turn things around and make the best out of this situation.

This is exactly what three businesses—Single O, Walks, and Education Perfect—did. In what is now known as a #covidpivot, these businesses have been able to create a new business model, a new product, and a new market for their business, respectively.

New business model: Single O

Founded in 2003, this café based in Sydney serves customers with ethically sourced coffee. Before the global pandemic, they operated three cafes, a stall at a local farmer’s market, an overseas branch in Tokyo, and also a thriving wholesale business.

When social distancing restrictions were imposed, they immediately switched to a takeaway model. More notably, within 48 hours, they created a special blend they called “Stimulus,” which was meant to give people a “caffeine hit and a boost in productivity” because they wanted to bring something uplifting to an otherwise difficult situation.

They didn’t stop there. They added a pantry that sells like butter, eggs, and flour because they knew that supply of these essentials would become an issue. They also started making restaurant-quality ready-made meals; vacuum packed for people to enjoy at home.

They also partnered with their wholesale customers in a program they called “Kickback,” where their customers earned 30% in coffee credit if they ordered directly from them, thereby creating an incentive for customers to come back and order from them again and again. They also launched “Parachutes,” ready-to-go, single use bag of coffee grounds. They’ve also partnered with new businesses and hosted brewing masterclasses on Instagram.

They are still innovating. They are redesigning the café customer experience for the post-covid new normal. This includes, among others in their pipeline, the world’s first self-service batch brew tap system.

New product: Walk’s Tours from Home

Founded in 2009, Walks is a tour company that offers walking tours of cities in Europe and the USA.

The travel and tourism industry is one of the worst-hit industries in the world. To support Walk’s guides, to keep their customer base engaged, and to nurture brand awareness, the company launched Tours from Home, a virtual city walking tour where guides, chefs, and storytellers engage their customers in the comfort of their homes.

According to their website, these special “Tours from Home” feature limited time only content covering topical, provocative, and fascinating subjects not generally covered on existing Walks tours. While these tours provide an entirely different experience, these provide measures to help keep the company afloat, support their partners, and continue to engage their customers.

New market: Education Perfect

Based in New Zealand and with offices in Australia, United Kingdom, United States, and Singapore, Education Perfect is an education platform that claims to “enable transformative learning and learning experiences for lifelong learners.” They offer education platforms for home, school, and work.

As schools physically shut down across the world and learning moved to the home, Education Perfect grabbed the opportunity to push its platform to new markets. They offered free licenses for institutions in Asia at the beginning of the outbreak, which they allowed  schools to use until May. They expanded their offering worldwide as more countries were forced to lockdown and keep people home.

In the process, they were able to sign up more than half a million users in over 100 countries.

Single O Café, Walk’s Tours from Home, and Education Perfect are just some of the many businesses around the world that have adapted in response to measures introduced during the pandemic. This is by no means an exhaustive list of business models that have emerged. Do you know of other businesses who have successfully pivoted? I would love to hear these stories, send me an email, and let’s chat.

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The most common productivity advice is to begin with the easiest tasks first and then move to the more difficult ones. This is to help create momentum to push us to become more productive.

But is it really the most productive way of tackling our to-do list? In this video, I explore what productivity experts are saying and why doing what is contrary to the commonly held advice might lead to better productivity.

People tackle different types of tasks every day. Some tasks are more important than others. People make decisions on what tasks to tackle first in their daily to-do list. Some tasks are easily accomplished, and some are more complex and take a bit more time.

As we go through this list, we make the very conscious decision on how to prioritize the tasks so that we can get as much done as possible. The goal is not to appear busy—the goal is to be productive and to get as many tasks ticked off the list as possible.

The question now is, what is better for productivity? Do we tackle the easy tasks first, then proceed with the more difficult, more complex ones later? The short answer, according to productivity experts, is to address what is difficult first. Doing so is better for the long term.

Now you might ask: if the goal is get as much done as possible, why tackle what takes a long time to do? Let’s take this step by step.

We already know that tasks aren’t created equal. If we go by the urgent-important matrix, more commonly known as the Eisenhower Decision Matrix, there are 4 kinds of tasks.

  1. Tasks that are both important and urgent
  2. Tasks that are important, but not urgent
  3. Tasks that are not important, but are urgent
  4. Tasks that are neither important nor urgent

How do we prioritize these tasks?

Productivity experts say that if the task is …

  1. … neither important nor urgent, you should stay away because these are distractions.
  2. … not important, but urgent, you should delegate to someone else.
  3. … important, but not urgent, you should do this later.
  4. … important and urgent, you should do this immediately.

To understand why we should focus on the difficult tasks first over the easy ones lies in understanding the last two tasks. Important but not urgent tasks are usually tasked long-term tasks, while the important and urgent tasks are short term tasks.

However, we also need to be mindful that some tasks become urgent today because we didn’t plan out for or didn’t accomplish them yesterday or last week or last month or even last year, when they were clearly not urgent.

The problem with prioritizing urgent tasks today is it makes us more reactive, than proactive. I will acknowledge that there are some factors that are out of our control that contributes to the urgency of some tasks, and so we need to focus on these urgent and important tasks immediately. But the context of our discussion is on the important tasks that we have set aside because they were not yet urgent at that time and because they were probably difficult and complex that we decided to put it off for another day.

Why do we do this? Why do we favour the easy over the difficult?

We tackle them first because they are easy and getting these tasks out of the way gives us a sense of accomplishment—we get more done in half the time. The problem is when we hide behind these tasks because we are procrastinating on the more important and more complex tasks—focusing on the easy tasks now become counterintuitive. We think we’re accomplishing more, but it takes time away from tackling what truly matters.

If you feel that this is you, you are not alone. A lot of us do this for many reasons. One significant reason why we put off the difficult but important tasks is that it takes us more time to do, and we’re more likely to make mistakes in the process vis-à-vis doing what is easy.

So what should we do?

The first thing we need to keep in mind is to focus on what is important. You don’t necessarily need to ALWAYS choose the difficult over the easy—but you need to be conscious about what is important for you and your business both in the short term and in the long term. Then find a balance so that you can address both needs.

You also need to change our mindset about how much time it takes to finish a difficult task. Yes, it takes more time than usual. Yes, we’re likely to make a mistake or two (or even more). But don’t think of that extra time as a wasted resource. Think of it as our time investment towards learning the task. Mistakes are great teachers—and if we learn our lessons well, then we’re likely to do better as we progress in the task.

If you are interested to know more about what a business has to go through when facing exponential growth, you can download the first chapter of the book, ”$20K to $20 Million in 2 Years” absolutely free here. The chapter talks about the differences between a good and a great business and puts out questions that make you consider how you can turn your business from good to great.

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With many of us encouraged to stay home in this new normal, Daymond John of Shark Tank urges everyone to "take the time to reinvest in yourself" while working from home. In this video, I explore what you can do at home to reinvest in yourself.

In the beginning of the global pandemic, governments around the world introduced community quarantines and lockdowns to help contain the spread. Activities were limited to just essentials: picking up supplies, outdoor exercising with stringent social distancing rules, essential work and operations, and emergencies. In some places, the spread has been largely contained, and this has led to the easing of quarantine and lockdown measures.

Nevertheless, things seem far from normal. In fact, many experts claim that the pandemic has introduced a “new” normal that we are likely to live within at least the next year or so.

With many of us encouraged to stay home in this new normal, we have found an abundance of time. Time saved from fetching our children from school, commuting to and from work, even from going out for social events. Some of us have utilised this time to sleep in, to rediscover what cooking is like in the kitchen, and some of us have discovered the joy of Netflix.

However, I would like to encourage you to explore what you can do at home to invest in yourself. There are many good reasons to explore learning at this time. In the short term, and particularly during this time, learning may help our mental health.

As discussed in a previous video, exercising your brain puts you in a position of being in control and lessens feelings of helplessness. In the long term, lifelong learning helps you be a better business owner, a better boss, and a better person overall, as I discuss in a previous video on how being committed to lifelong learning makes you a better business leader.

Before I begin the discussion on ways that you can invest in yourself, I’d like to introduce a caveat. Productivity experts say that this is a good time to explore learning options when you can. The pandemic is a good time to explore learning options when you can. Let’s acknowledge that some people are weathering the pandemic better than others—and self-investment has many forms. This is why this discussion about investing in yourself is not limited to just learning options.

So how can we invest in ourselves during this pandemic? Here are three things that you can start with today:

(1) Take online classes or read books

There are several being offered online. Other workshops and seminars have also been converted into online classes. There are also courses that are offered for free, such as those offered here and here. Many of these courses are also offered by Ivy League School professors in the United States.

If you can’t take classes right now, maybe you can start reading a book. Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger are all voracious readers—and they all associate reading to their success in business. This is the perfect time to read a book or books that you’ve always wanted to but never had the time for. If you need more books to read, here’s a link to some free ebooks.

One of the leading advantages of online learning is how it benefits careers and businesses. Many of those who have taken certification courses online have enjoyed career advantages and professional benefits as a result of taking these courses. Online courses improve knowledge and develop technical skills—and because many of these online courses provide certification at the end and gives the impression that you are committed to learning and development.

The upside is that you take these online courses at your own pace and right in the comfort of your home. No commutes, no fixed schedules, and all at your convenience. Many of these are short enough to only take up a couple of weeks at a time, with a time investment of an hour or so per week.

If you’re worried about the cost, many courses online can be accessed for free, but the downside is that sometimes you don’t get the certification. However, if you find the online course to be relevant and of great interest to you, you can always upgrade to a paid access at any point of the course. This gives you the full experience and certification at the end. All that is required from you to begin is go online and sign up.

Personally, I have found that by paying for courses, I tend to be more committed to completing it as I have invested my own funds into it. It also forces me to choose the courses I take carefully. And who benefits from this? I do! You, too, can benefit from following this strategy, too.

(2) Connect with your community

Most events, including networking events, have been cancelled or postponed. Many of them are moving online. Maybe your community has already organised one—or perhaps you can create one and build your own community.

You can set up a Facebook Group and invite the people you know to join—and then maybe, you can also ask them to invite people in their own network to join. Let’s use technology to network and connect with people.

Remember, in business, it’s not just what you know but who you know that matters. The people you meet in these virtual groups may eventually become your suppliers, your clients, or even your partners. They may be people who can provide you with assistance and support—and vice versa.

If you are interested to know more about online networking groups, send me an email, and I’ll share with you what I have.

We don’t know how this new normal will pan out in the next few months or years—anything is possible, and so we take every opportunity that we can to adapt and move ahead.

(3) Invest in your well-being

Remember, when I said that there are many ways of investing in yourself? This is what I mean.

You do not have to push yourself when you feel overwhelmed during this period. While it may seem like a very conducive time to learn a new skill for many, your own circumstances may be different from others. We are in a global pandemic. Maybe you've been working hard all of these years, and you never had the time to focus on yourself. Reinvesting in yourself may mean something else—such as taking this time to rest and focus on your own health, physical, mental, or otherwise.

Quarantine rules encourage exercising--so maybe stepping out for a quick walk or run will do wonders for your health. Many successful entrepreneurs put a priority on their health and block time for exercise in their daily schedules. A healthy body nurtures a healthy and sound mind.

Some people have also started journaling. Journaling has been proven to be beneficial for your mental health as you start to describe how you feel in words, and many experts have said that journaling helps manage our worries and anxieties during crises. From a pragmatic point of view, journaling allows us to put our ideas down. Who knows, maybe you'll find inspiration for your next entrepreneurial venture by journaling and putting ideas down to paper.

Many have said that this pandemic has allowed people to focus more on what matters, because it has taken away the many distractions that would normally clutter our day. Maybe it is time for many of us to focus on ourselves, whether that means investing our time to educate ourselves, connect with the people that matter, or to take care of our physical and mental health. Maybe we need to do just that.

Thank you and keep safe.

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