Getting things done while working from home


Many of us have been working from home for a long time and it looks like it’s not going to change any time soon.

How has it been for you?

Based on the input I get in my courses, some people find themselves to be more efficient since they are working from home, but others are struggling….

The struggling is mostly linked to the changed circumstances.

  • Some have to home school and/or take care of small children: it’s almost impossible to be as effective as before…
  • Others are worrying about loved ones, suffering from Covid, or in the worst case, even mourning them.
  • Many complain that they can’t get anything done (often people managers) because they have to be ‘available’ all the time and therefore they are constantly interrupted.
  • I also hear that the constant stress and the lack of perspective is starting to take its toll.

Besides, the mere fact of being at home could be distracting: there are so many other things to do…

If you are struggling, my first advice to you would be to take good care of yourself (oxygen mask first!) and to go back to previous articles I wrote.

I have already talked about Stress management in times of a crisis (in March) and I shared my Lessons from Lockdown (July). While these are still valid (do check them below), today I would like to focus on efficiency.

Please find below 10 tips:

  1. No endless to-do lists

Endless to-do lists are not inspiring. Often you get only half (or less) of it done and because of that you feel frustrated at the end of the day. It’s better to only have 3 ‘must do’ items on the list. I try to come up with 3 for the week and then each day 3 for that day. Of course, I will also do other things but … the 3 planned items are a must.

  1. Make sure to also put something ‘important’ in the ‘musts’

… and not only ‘urgent’ things… Even if you can only spend 1 hour on it… this is the way to make sure the important also gets done and you will feel less frustrated.
Besides you do know the story about the vase and the rocks, right? (If not, let me know!)

  1. Start with the hard thing first or … ‘eat the frog’ (another one of those stories)

I agree that for many of us it’s a good thing to do hard things first and get them out of the way. However, if you function/focus better in the afternoon (for instance), it might be better to start your afternoon with it. It is always good to know at what time of the day you function best. The important thing is, make sure that also the hard things get done!

  1. Do not disturb

I am a big fan of helping yourself NOT to be distracted: no mail, no phone, close all the tabs you don’t need. Just do what you need to do. For some of you this is very scary, for a few of you this is almost impossible. But… why not start with 25 minutes? (Remember my article on the pomodoro technique?)

  1. Breaks

Going back to the pomodoro technique which I just mentioned, after every 25 minutes of focus, there is a 5-minute break. Why? Our brain cannot stay focused for too long. Now more than ever: being glued to the screen all day long, as well as being interrupted all the time is very tiring for our brain. So… take a break, and make sure it is away from the screen. If you need inspiration, go back to the articles I mentioned at the beginning of this one.

  1. Mono-tasking

We are all so proud that we can multitask (no, you can’t). Multi-tasking is ineffective and harmful. We need more time to complete a complex task, it exhausts us, it reduces our memory quality, it reduces our IQ… Need I go on?
Again (I know, I’m repeating myself), the pomodoro technique can help: how about working on one thing for one (or 2) session(s)?

  1. Batching

Have you heard of batching? You group similar tasks together and deal with them all in one go. For instance, I did already do some batch cooking: during the weekend, when I have more time I cook bigger portions so I have some meals ready for during the week (=more efficient!). Translating this to work: there are definitely things you can batch: replying to email. Making a series of phone calls. For me it could be writing articles or making videos. It is a way of monotasking. You will be more focused and waste less time. You still need breaks, though!

  1. Parkinson’s law

Have you heard of it? “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”
What does it mean? If I have the whole day to do something, it might take all day… or if I have a week to do it… it will be spread out…
How to deal with it? Break down tasks and deadlines, set clear boundaries. The planning and prioritizing from above will also help.

  1. Take note

When you are in the middle of something, and you are thinking of something that also needs to be done. Don’t start doing it (because that would be an interruption and you might lose focus) but … take note. By writing it down, it will stop distracting you and … you can remain focused. It is recommended to have a system for these notes… Post-its tend to disappear, have you noticed?

  1. Working apart together

When you are working at home, on your own, distractions are everywhere. You can already try and apply the tips from above but … sometimes you need something extra. Working apart together. People work together, everybody from their own home (so corona proof), but they work at the same time, they share their objectives and somehow this creates accountability. It becomes easier to stay focused. In the morning, they say they are going to do xyz, and by the end of the day they want to be able to say that they did! I’ve tried this out in different environments and for me it works. Not every day of the week. But 1 day, if I can organize my time, it really does.

On Sunday I got the idea: why do I not host some of these ‘Working apart together’ sessions? And I will. Starting from Friday. (YES – tomorrow, Friday, February 5 and NO, it will not always be a Friday)

How does it work? We start at 9, work in blocks of 1 hour (50 minutes focus, 10 minutes break), with a lunch break and some catching up. We end at 16.30 or 17.00 (depending on whether or not you want to briefly catch up afterwards.)

If you need to get things done and you could use some accountability, this might be something you want to try out… Let’s help each other to be more efficient.

If you are interested, you can sign up here. I’l send you all the practical details and I’ll even throw in some tips for resourcing breaks! (it’s free! No strings attached!) Let’s do this!

Did you find some of these tips useful? Do let me know!

Would you like me to expand on some of them? Let me know too!

Have a lovely day!

A month of self care


Last Friday it was announced that as from Sunday midnight, Belgium would go into lockdown 2.

I think we can all agree that:

  • The past 7 months have not been easy for many of us (and very hard for some)
  • This lockdown is expected to be ‘harder’ because of the fact that the days are shorter, and the weather might not be so nice
  • Since this has been going on for a while and it’s clear that it’s not going to go away any time soon, people can do with something positive.


Anyway, all weekend I was thinking about how I could help, and I got the idea to do a challenge…

And then… I noticed that Melissa from ‘mellow doodles’ had the same idea and since her graphics are much nicer than mine, I thought: why not ‘use’ hers (while giving her all the credit, of course), and add some extra tips?

She calls it ‘a month of selfcare’ (this is also the official hashtag).

How does it work?

  • She has some tips for every single day of the month.
  • You can join in at any time
  • You can adjust them to suit your personality
  • Aim for 5-20 minutes daily (that is for me the only ‘must’ ;-D)

Goals of the challenge (her words):

  • Support ourselves during a month which may be tough for many of us
  • Do as many as we’re able to do but NOT to feel bad if we don’t do them all. Life happens.
  • Find out what helps us the most so we can use those activities more in the future (I like that!)
  • Share our progress on social media if we know it will help us stay on track! #amonthofselfcare (optional!)


While my definition of self-care is broader (and possibly not as ‘nice’ as hers), I have no problem whatsoever to promote this one. On the contrary. Let’s do this. Because we’re worth it!

I will try and post some tips on a daily basis. Hers + some ‘interpretations’.

Oh, yes, what I really liked about her is that after 2 days she came up with a ‘gentle version’… only 3 alternatives/week. And this makes so much sense… For those who are totally overwhelmed, the ‘original’ one can be too much already. If I think about my own workload and state during the first lockdown, I would definitely have chosen the ‘gentle’ one!

I can’t stress it enough: adapt this to suit your life and personality. Try them all, pick one and do it every day, pick one per week, choose your own, even if it’s not on the list…
Because…  #youalwayshaveachoice #YAHAC

But… DO take 5 to 20 minutes to do something for yourself every day. ‘Because you are worth it’ ;-D


More information:

Mellow doodles websiteInstagramFacebook (for the original version and the amazing visuals/templates)

My English Instagram and Facebook (for my interpretation)

My Dutch Instagram and Facebook (for my interpretation)


By the way… I still think that my contribution can be helpful too:


#takecareofyourself #stayhealthy #staysafe


I need affection


The ‘Boost your resilience’ beta-course is over and I’m happy to say it was a success.

During one of the modules, we discuss that sometimes stress comes from your needs not being met. And then it’s up to you to first find out which need this is and secondly, to come up with several strategies to satisfy that need. And ideally, one of the strategies doesn’t involve anybody else but yourself…

Let me share the (anonymous and generalized) question from one of the participants. Because I’m sure you’ve been there too…

You taught us that we have to find coping strategies for when we can’t have our needs satisfied by the people around us. However, there is one need I have troubles finding a way to satisfy it on my own: attachment / affection. Any tips on that?

In a quick reply I suggested 2 things:

  • I remember somebody in a group from the past who was feeling lonely (living in another country than her own, not knowing a lot of people yet). When doing this exercise, she remembered from her childhood that she got a lot of affection from her pet. She decided to have a pet again and felt much less lonely when she came home to her apartment after work. After a while this also gave her the courage to get out of her comfort zone and to join some groups and find friends there.
    My point being: you sometimes need to think outside of the box. She wanted to get to know people and the pet was a first step towards this.
  • A second ‘piste’: do you have enough affection for yourself and if not, how could you cultivate that?

The person got back to me:
Unfortunately, the need comes from my childhood as my parents were working really hard and the pet is not an option… I have a problem seeing how I could hug and caress myself and feel like I get love from someone else 🙂 but I will continue working on that self-love since I see there is no other way for satisfying that need ourselves

There are a couple of things I want to say here (and again: this is generalized…)

  • This technique is useful when you are experiencing stress NOW for a need that is not met NOW. Do not keep on stressing about things that happened 20 or more years ago… For this I would refer to the article PUNTO!
    It will explain how very often it’s the story about an observation which creates our stress and how it’s important to go back to the observation and leave it there. For instance: when I was a child, my parents didn’t do X (=specific behaviour), PUNTO. (or period, if you prefer…)
  • You might be falling into the trap of only having one ideal strategy in mind. They should have hugged and caressed me to show their affection. No, they might have shown their affection, you just didn’t recognize is as such. They might have worked so hard to give you a better future than they had. This was their way of showing you affection. And maybe this was the only way they knew.
  • Let the affection also come from others. If I said I have a need for affection, but I only want it to come from George Clooney… I might have to wait for a very long time. ;-D You do say you get love from somebody else, be grateful for that.
  • My parents didn’t do X (=show affection) but only Y (=work all the time), whose business is that? Mine, yours, God’s? This is another concept we discuss during the course. It comes from Byron Katie. Somebody else’s behaviour is not under my control. It is what they do/did. And I have to learn not to let this trigger me into a stress reaction.
  • And finally (for now), self-love does not necessarily mean cuddling yourself. It is treating yourself the way you would treat somebody you love. For instance: what’s your internal dialogue towards yourself? Is it encouraging and kind, or … negative? Do you take good care of your own needs or do you tend to be a people pleaser and do you care about other people’s needs first? And so on…

These are just some approaches I would use to explore the problem, manage your stress and boost your resilience.

(Of course, there are many other ways, depending on who you work with…)

Are you inspired by this example and do you also want to ‘Boost your Resilience!’, make sure to put yourself on the waiting list for the next round. This online programme is mainly self-study but with weekly Q&A sessions where we can go deeper into your case.

If you don’t want to wait and you’d prefer a more personalised version, I would recommend the 1-on-1 coaching. I do have some extra openings. If you are interested, you can sign up right here. If you want to have a short discussion with me to see if this would be something for you, reply to this mail.

The beautiful testimonials from the last round AND additional information for the offers mentioned above can be found here.

And remember, #youalwayshaveachoice #YAHAC