April 1, 2020


Crystal Washington: Hello, I’m Crystal Washington technology strategist and futurist.

Karen McCullough: I’m Karen McCullough, Change Agent, and Generational Guru and we’re here to help you ReThink.

Crystal Washington: And specifically, we want to help you rethink it forward because some of the things that have been working for you in the past won’t work for you in the future and honestly aren’t working for you anymore right now. So let’s, let’s get past those things.

Karen McCullough: Today our topic is your home office. We know that a lot of you, a lot of you are now working from home. Some of you are veterans, you’ve been working from home forever. Some of you are entrepreneurs and you’ve got your office down. But we’re really here to help those that have never really had to work from home very long, maybe once or twice when they’re sick. But this is pretty much full time. So we’re here to help you start and create that home office.

Crystal Washington: So first and foremost, I have to say, Karen, this is kind of funny because those that are watching us probably don’t know, Karen and I, we’re both professional speakers, we’re friends, we’re even neighbors. And so we’re doing our part by actually doing our, our videos via distance on zoom because we really wanted to do this together, but we’re doing our social distancing thing. So hopefully after a while, we’ll be able to do stuff together in the same room. But just throwing that out there, it still tickles me cause we’re neighbors.

Karen McCullough: We were looking at each other through the computer, but we only live right down the street from each other. I walked by your house.

Crystal Washington: So let’s go ahead and get started talking about the home office. You know, Karen, I know both of us have been officing out of our homes for a long time. Uh, me, I’ve been doing it for about 13 years now and so I definitely have some cool tips and insights, but can I, can I be honest about some of the mistakes that I made in the beginning? Karen,

Karen McCullough: For sure. We love those.

Crystal Washington: Okay. So first off, it took me a few years to actually put on clothes. Okay. Cause the first thing you think is I don’t have to, you know, do all the things I used to do when I went to the office. I can wear pajamas all day. I didn’t realize that how you dress really does impact your effectiveness and efficiency a lot of times. I’m also Karen, my original home office set up was kind of a pigsty like stuff was everywhere.

Karen McCullough: I’m going to tell everybody about these things. Thank you for admitting that. Yeah, we’re going to talk about that.

Crystal Washington: Yeah. Guess so. You know, it’s, it’s one of those things where it took me a long time including, I even at one point hired someone who was a professional organizer to get my office in order. And so now here we are, I’m going to share some of our best tips with you.

Karen McCullough: Yeah. So I’ll start it off. I’m going to talk a little bit about the physical and then Crystal is going to come in with the technical. So we’re going to kind of get to both of those. So for me, I came from a robust background and working in retail stores, I had four stores. So I was driving around from store to store and I spent most of my time in the back getting the clothes ready to go out and talking to vendors on the phone. And uh, when I got home I never worked home was a place for me to relax. Uh, when I started speaking in 2000, I had to build a home office and I had no idea how to do it. I, uh, didn’t know that I needed to have a designated space, which I’m going to talk to you about in a minute. And for me, uh, it was, my papers were all over the house.

Crystal Washington: I was a mess. And you talk about in your pajamas one day, crystal, I went to the post office, I forgot I had my pajamas on and I walked out the door, got in the car, I went to the post office in my pajamas. So I have made every mistake too. So we’re going to help you today, at least get started creating your home office. And I know many of you already have one, so maybe you’ll pick up a tip or two here that’ll help you. And the first thing that we’re going to say then is number one, you have to get dressed, and this is a mental thing. You have to take a shower. You have to think like you’re going to work because you are, you’re going to do your hair. I even tell where the put your makeup on. You got to look good.

Karen McCullough: You’ve got to look good because you’re going to actually feel a lot better if you look good. Now, I don’t care what you wear on the bottom. You can wear shorts, you can wear yoga pants. I don’t care. But you’re going to get on some calls, which we’ll talk about in a day or two. It’ll look good up here, right? You got to look good. So the first thing is to take a shower, get dressed. The second thing is you have to have a designated office space. I was just in DC with my daughter Meredith and she and her husband Jamie are now working from home and they both, they’re both driving each other crazy. Meredith, don’t kill me for saying that. She took an upstairs closet and she created her office and he’s down in the basement creating his, they have to be really far apart because both of them talk kind of loud like my daughter and they could hear each other on the call.

Karen McCullough: So they had to separate and in between are their two kids, which we’ll get into in another day. We’re not talking about kids today, so create a place where you go to every day and it’s the same place. That doesn’t mean that you can’t go into the kitchen and work where you can’t go in another room, but you really want to make sure that you have a designated space. The third thing that you got to do a better look at my list over here. The third thing that you’ve got to do is you have got to set regular hours. Why do I say this? Because otherwise, you’re going to find yourself working all the time and being crabby all the time. You have to be at the end of the day, close that computer and take a break because if your work starts to get into your personal life, it’s going to cause a lot of problems. The next thing is your wifi. Your wifi needs to not be choppy. Now crystal, when I say wifi, I look at you and I think takeover pack about the technology.

Crystal Washington: No worries. So a couple of things. Number one, internet right now is number one, probably for everyone. That’s the best, the biggest issue. And so I think it’s actually even a question of should you be wired or should you use wifi if humanly possible, go ahead and be wired into your internet connection if that is do that because that will result in the least amount of interruptions. Now if you need to use wifi, okay, here’s the deal. Most routers, you know they have the one little Lantana on them. They’re really only meant for one device. The average American home now has eight devices. And so if you’re now at home with maybe a spouse or other family members, your children, maybe they’re doing a distance education right now, guess what? That router is actually switching between all of your devices really fast and that’s why you’re having this choppy experience.

Crystal Washington: And so for some of you, you actually need to upgrade to a different type of router. Now I’m going to actually look at my notes to make sure I’m saying this right. It’s called Miu Miu Miu or some people call it a mew. My Mo, I don’t care what you call it, but what it actually stands for is multi-user multi-input multi-output device. Basically these are the routers that you see that look like something from an alien movie. My husband has one of these downstairs, so it has like a bunch of antennas coming from it. They look all ominous and crazy. The thing about them is they can actually send signals to multiple devices at once. And so now you don’t have to worry about if your spouse is playing. Um, I don’t know. Uh, some type of video game downstairs and if your kids are watching Netflix, you’ll still be able to be per participant on your zoom call.

Crystal Washington: Okay? So make sure that you have the right, have the right kind of router. That’s number one. Probably the biggest tech tip that I can give you. Um, outside of that, you know, you want to make sure you have the right kind of equipment. If you’re going to be doing conference calls, and we’ll talk about that a little bit more later, but you do want to make sure that you have a decent computer processor. You want to make sure that you have a decent webcam and you need some type of decent mic. Whether you’re using your iPad and you’re plugged in that way it doesn’t matter. But you need something where people aren’t going to hear all the noise around you. I know that you love your dog, Sparky. We do not. The people want calls that are communicating with, you don’t want to hear Sparky even when they say, Oh, is that Sparky?

Crystal Washington: He’s cute. That’s our nice way of saying, shut Sparky up. Right? So make sure that you have that in order, have some good lighting. Now there are some really sneaky tips to this. Okay. You can actually buy lighting, but the other thing is you could just make sure that you’re facing natural light. So the window in my home office, I’m facing it so I can look at it right now. Right now this is all-natural light on me, so you don’t have to get lighting kits and stuff if I realize we’re all in different positions. Um, if you’re going to have to get on conference calls or if you’re going to have to do little video instructions or whatever else outside an app. Um, couple other things for some of you, you know, you’re going to run into tech support issues and this isn’t like being in the office when you have a tech support issue.

Crystal Washington: When you go and get Brett from it and Brett comes and fixed fixes, whatever the problem is, you might be able to call into it, but some of your issues might actually have to do with your home network. It might have to do with something they can’t see. And so I just want to give you some millennial tips if that’s okay on how we do it. All right? It’s really not that hard. You go in this order to get help, number one, whatever errors you’re seeing, whatever issue you’re having, taking notes. I know, right? Go into YouTube. If you don’t, you have to take notes. It’s pretty basic. Go on to YouTube and type whatever you’re seeing or experiencing into YouTube and see if a British guy has already created a video to teach you how to fix this problem because it’s always a British dude right now.

Crystal Washington: If YouTube doesn’t have it now, go to YouTube, parent, Google, type in a Google search, type in whatever air or whatever you’re seeing, and some type of chat room and some type of discussion groups. Some will may have discovered the problem or the, uh, the solution to your problem. The last thing, Karen, is if all else fails, fails, go to upwork.com or guru.com and I want you to bastardize the way the service is supposed to be used. Normally you go in there and you hire an independent contractor to do work for you. I actually go in there and I’ll post, you know, it fixer needed. I’ll put whatever the issue is as basically the job description, $15 the first person to give me a solution that works. Those are your IT solutions. My basic tech suggestions for you in your home office.

Karen McCullough: Okay, well let’s now get back to that home office. One of the biggest problems that I’m hearing people have is distractions and distractions come in all sorts and sizes. They come from your little five year old coming up to the door and they come from you looking around as you’re there at your house and you’re going, wow, I’ve got dust bunnies on the, I get a got the vacuum cleaner or either I’m going to go wash a load of clothes right now. I’ve got some free time. It’s a great time to do my laundry, so here’s what I want to tell you. Years ago I, when I got my office, I started thinking about distractions because I was, I couldn’t wait for a distraction. I was hoping that somebody would knock on my door to get me away cause I, I didn’t really even know what I was doing when I was working, in the beginning, I started reading this book called the power of full engagement and I read it all the time.

Karen McCullough: I still have the book, I use it in many of my keynotes and Tony Schwartz talks about distractions and he talks about taking a break. He says, if you take a break every 90 minutes and he said, that break can’t be work-related, do something totally different. I want you to think of your distractions and put them into those 90 minutes segments. If you want to wash a load of clothes, go do it in 90 minutes and you will come back, refresh because you’re telling yourself you are taking the break. You’re taking a real break, getting away from work, and coming back and powering up. I thought that was really good. Another suggestion, you know we talked yesterday about not spending money as an entrepreneur, I believe that we always have to, even in tough times take care of ourselves. We have to buy the right tools to help us do our job properly. And these little babies have kept me alive during home. Officing when I want to listen to something I put these on. So I suggest if any of you are doing any calls whatsoever, get a good set of earbuds and that may really help you. And one last thing for me, stay away from the refrigerator. Just stay away from it. Trust me. Trust me. It’ll help you. Hey guys, I’m finished with my side. How about you, crystal? I’m done on that note. Dip in my mouth. We’ll see you tomorrow.