Successful work from home performance: Pause, ponder, and prioritize

Performing at a high level while working from home starts with how effectively you can manage your calendar. Successfully managing your time starts with a three-step process: Pause, ponder, and prioritize.
Written by Vala Afshar, Contributing Writer

Karen Mangia, vice president of customer and market insights and a member of the Salesforce's Work From Home Task Force, and I have co-authored several articles on how you can reach your full potential and deliver peak performance while working from home. The path towards achieving high-performance work at home starts with how you design and architect your surroundings, followed by how you practice and refine the art and science of public speaking and presentation skills. But perhaps the most important work from home success factor is how you manage your time. 


Karen Mangia, VP of customer and market insights and a member of the Salesforce's Work From Home Task Force.

"An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force."

What Sir Isaac Newton intended as his first lesson in the law of motion, many of us have now adopted as a way of life. And as a means of survival. Jennifer Odessa, Global Head of Business Strategy at Appirio, refers to the time we're living in now as the "Super Bowl of Work From Home (WFH)." She discovered, like many of us, that no matter how long you've been "in training" to integrate work and life -- seven years in her case -- nothing can fully prepare you to simultaneously run offense on your career and on your well-being like the game is on the line every minute of every day.


Jen Odessa, Global Head of Business Strategy at Appirio

There's one strategy that differentiates high-performance athletes and enables them to deliver peak performance. And that same strategy differentiates high-performance adults when the stakes are high. A one-word strategy that has the power to transform your calendar, your career, your relationships, and your health. Even now.


What every high-performance athlete knows is that periods of peak performance require periods of peak rest. Jim Loehr, author of the "The Power of Full Engagement," studied the intersection between high-performance athletes and high-performance executives. "Balancing stress and recovery is critical not just in competitive sports," he reveals, "but also in managing energy in all facets of our lives."

"We live in a world that celebrates work and activity, ignores renewal and recovery, and fails to recognize that both are necessary for sustained high performance." He continues, "Energy, not time, is the fundamental currency of high performance."
How well are you managing your currency?
"I realized I was in so many back-to-back meetings, I couldn't be as responsive as I wanted and needed to be to my employees," Rick Gyan, VP and Regional Success Architect at Salesforce, describes. "So, I took a few minutes to scan my calendar. And to decline a few meetings each day to make time for what matters most right now - supporting my team."


Rick Gyan, VP & Regional Success Architect at Salesforce

Rick's discovery mirrors the formula for success I discovered when major medical forced me to confront the disease that ails us all. The disease of being busy. The prescription? Do Less, not more.

Pause + Ponder + Prioritize = Success With Less

Are you ready to play like a champion in your career and in your life?

Whether you're trying to become a high-performance professional, parent or partner, here's how to run the Success With Less playbook:

Pause. Remember Newton's first law of motion? It's hard to pivot without a pause. Start by calling a timeout.


As you calmly scan your calendar and your to-do list, challenge every "yes" with these three questions:

1. Does it have to be?
2. Does it have to be me?
3. Does it have to be me right now?
"Also use the 48-hour rule," says Dr. Joe Misiewicz, time management expert and coach. "Look at your personal and professional lists and determine what matters most in the next 48 hours."
Leverage the challenge questions and the 48-hour rule as a filter to determine which meetings and tasks can be abbreviated, postponed or canceled vs. which require your maximum energy in the short term.


When everything is important, nothing is important. "Practice ruthless prioritization," Marla Thompson, SVP and GM of Marketing Cloud at Salesforce, coaches. "Understand what's critically important to you, personally and professionally. Write it down and be detailed. Tape it on the wall. Let that guide how you spend your energy and your day. I have to ruthlessly prioritize as, especially during this unique time, my family and the people in my life deserve the best of me, not just what's left of me. "


Marla Thompson, SVP & GM of Marketing Cloud at Salesforce

Are the people in your life getting what's left of you rather than the best of you?
Give yourself permission to pause -- even for five minutes -- to consider what matters most to you right now. Then take one small step toward better balancing your energy currency.
"Check routines," Dr. Joe offers. "If you always do laundry on Saturday, why? Mix things up - do laundry first thing in the morning and fold it while you watch an early show or log on to work.  Then do the next batch another day toward the evening and fold before dinner. Weekends are to be totally free from work!"
Sounds like an impossible aspiration? "Look carefully at what is actually due Monday and then put time on your calendar Friday afternoon to get most, if not all of it done by Friday at 4pm. Then schedule your Monday calendar to make room for what's unfinished."

The difference between intention and results is practice

"Even when practice does not result in perfect," says Erica Kuhl, CEO and Founder at Erica Kuhl Consulting. "I reframed April Fool's Day as April Forgiveness Day. To acknowledge it's been an incredibly stressful time and no one knows exactly which way is up at this point. There's a lot of noise going on right now in the news, on social, and in our minds. So, I made a list of things to forgive myself for."


Erica Kuhl, CEO & Founder at Erica Kuhl Consulting

Every athlete in the Hall of Fame dropped the ball at least once. And you, too, can survive dropped balls and still come out a success.
What are you discovering as you work from home? We welcome your insights here or by joining us on Twitter at @karenmangia and @ValaAfshar.

This article was co-authored by Karen Mangia, vice president, customer and market insights, at Salesforce. 

Karen engages customers globally to discover new ways of creating success and growth together. From Executive Advisory Boards to strategic consulting engagements, her insights are central to Go-to-Market strategy, product development, marketing, and branding. In addition, Karen influences industry thought leadership in her role as Chair of the Customer Experience Council for The Conference Board. Formerly responsible for Insight Innovation at Cisco Systems, she led a global team with oversight into Customer Satisfaction and Experience, Diversity Business Practices, and Global Offset and Countertrade. Karen is also the author of Success With Less and a TEDx speaker.

Editorial standards