THE ART OF FO­CUS

Chuck Vadun, 51, Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Direc­tor at Fire En­gine RED and fa­ther of two

Men's Health (Australia) - - Advantage+ -

MY WIFE wasn’t sure I could stay fo­cused and pro­duc­tive work­ing at home. That was al­most five years ago, and I’m do­ing well. She even ad­mit­ted it. I wish I’d recorded her say­ing that.

I’m in mar­ket­ing, col­lab­o­ra­tive work, so I was used to say­ing, “Let’s go to the white­board and sketch it out.” I can’t do that now, so I use Google Docs and Sheets, Slack and other tools to share ideas. It works very well.

When I started, I stuck to my morn­ing rou­tine: break­fast and a shower. My breaks in­clude lunch, walk­ing the dog, yoga and play­ing the drums. I’m also a neat freak, so an­other break may be tidy­ing up one area or do­ing one clean­ing task. Then right back to work.

In my last job, my of­fice was next to an open-plan area with mu­sic blar­ing and Nerf guns go­ing off. Now it’s eas­ier for me to fo­cus and ac­tu­ally think about what I’m do­ing. This has made for bet­ter re­sults.

Iso­la­tion is a prob­lem, I’ll ad­mit. But if you ac­knowl­edge it, that’s half the bat­tle, and you just do some­thing to coun­ter­act it. I meet friends for cof­fee or lunch. Some­times I’ll take a yoga class in the af­ter­noon and then make up the work time later that night. If I don’t have phone calls to make, I some­times take my lap­top to the li­brary or the cafe. Just hav­ing a few mi­cro-in­ter­ac­tions with peo­ple – even if they’re com­plete strangers – can help keep you bal­anced.

All in all, this has been great, es­pe­cially for my fam­ily life. When I worked in an of­fice, peo­ple who left at 5pm be­cause they had kids got the side-eye a lot. Here, it’s not about when your butt is in your seat. It’s about dead­lines and re­sults.

So I’m for­tu­nate to see my two daugh­ters at 3 in the af­ter­noon when they’re done with school. I get a hello from them, and my wife is sup­port­ive of my work­day bound­aries. She waits un­til I knock off be­fore ask­ing me to do some­thing. That said, I’m part of the af­ter­school and sports car­pool sys­tem. Our CEO is a big fan of this: re­mote work­ers can leave when­ever for that kind of stuff. As long as you’re do­ing good work, it’s all fine.

CRUSH IT LIKE CHUCK

Must-have equip­ment: a door on your of­fice. You have to be able to shut out a bark­ing dog or crazy kids. It’s best if that of­fice is a sep­a­rate room. Psy­cho­log­i­cally, hav­ing a des­ig­nated work area re­minds me – and every­one else – that in there is where work is done. And be­ing out of the of­fice means I’m done with work.

Boundary worth push­ing: over com­mu­ni­cat­ing with col­leagues. We spend lots of time in­ter­act­ing via Slack, in­stant mes­sage and con­fer­ence calls. I’m out of sight but don’t want to be out of mind. So I over com­mu­ni­cate. Not an­noy­ingly so, but enough to com­pen­sate for the lack of of­fice drop-bys. Best body-and-mind stretch­ers: yoga and drum­ming. I started prac­tis­ing yoga about three years ago, so I keep a mat handy for a five- to ten-minute minises­sion. I also have a drum kit in the garage and grab my head­phones and play along for a song or two. Short breaks help my cre­ativ­ity. If I take my mind off a task I’m strug­gling with, my sub­con­scious of­ten pro­vides the an­swer when I get back to the key­board.

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