Secrets to Success in a Virtual Environment

With so many of us working and learning from home, we asked three alumni how they keep themselves organized and energized in a virtual environment.

Alissa Rabat, C’Ara McCrea, Dylan Fogerty

Alissa Rabat (M.S. in Global Commerce ’19)
AB InBev, Digital Marketing Specialist (Panama City, Panama)

It took me a while to establish a work-life balance, as my job is very demanding. However, I made it clear to myself that after work hours I would not answer any emails or chats. I try to shut the phone off on weekends to focus on doing things not related to work. This helps keep my mind from overexhaustion. In my experience, the setting of boundaries, especially as we work from home, is important for our well-being. Not only set boundaries for when and when not to work, but also for where you work. Creating a dedicated area or space where you can focus on your work helps keep a routine during these uncertain times.

I also believe it’s important to find one thing you love doing, regardless of the situation. In my case, this is photography and reading. For my creative outlet, I started practicing subject photography using my sister as a model while experimenting with lighting and colors. I have used this time to learn more about the camera, which I had been putting off for a long while. For reading, I started using Audible as my go-to soundtrack and try to listen to a variety of books I find interesting, from business to suspense. It’s important to find balance in everything you do.

C’Ara McCrea (M.S. in Accounting ’17)
EY, FSO Tax Senior (New York, NY)

If you are like me and have found that heightened expectations and lack of motivation have become a hindrance to your productivity, I hope you can use the tips below to help you transition in these unprecedented times.

Set and honor your boundaries. Constant activity does not equate to productivity. The global pandemic has awakened an “always-on” culture like never before. While this may seem like a great way to get ahead, it presents an opportunity for burnout. Understand there’s a difference between working from home vs. working at home. Set boundaries for yourself and honor them.

Set your intentions for the day. Having a clear roadmap of what needs to be accomplished for the day helps me move my day along efficiently. At the end of the night or before the start of a new day, I create a to-do list. Checking items off a list throughout the day can help curb thoughts of not doing enough.

Take breaks or alternate between tasks. It’s helpful to alternate between tasks after you’ve reached a good stopping point. If you are unable to alternate between tasks, then you might try taking short breaks throughout the day to run an errand, complete a household chore, or simply take a break and watch a 22-minute episode of “The Boondocks”!

Understand your maximum productivity hours. When are you most productive? I have a deep appreciation for life before sunrise, and that has afforded me many benefits. I am able to start my day before everyone else, which means uninterrupted hours. Most importantly, starting my day early often means ending my day earlier than most, unless I have pressing deadlines.

Change locations. My kitchen table is my home office, so I have found joy in being able to alternate between work environments in my space, whether that’s from my kitchen table, sofa, back porch, or even garage! The change in scenery helps me refocus.

Nourish your body and exercise. It’s easy to forget to eat and keep on top of workouts when working at home. It is important to pay attention to your body and ensure you are giving it nourishment throughout the day. While I have struggled to maintain my intentional diet, I try to remind myself every so often of the importance of eating healthy.

Build discipline. I have learned that you may not always be motivated, but you can always be disciplined. That said, it is important to challenge your bad habits and build mental capacity to stay the course. Remember to be patient with yourself. Building a healthy self-discipline has helped me become more of the person I intend to be.

Dylan Fogarty (M.S. in Commerce ’16)
Decoded, Commercial Director, Americas (New York, NY)

I turned on my laptop one day, and my Momentum browser screen flashed the quote by John C. Maxwell: “The secret to your success is found in your daily routine.”

As I sipped my second cup of coffee, I start to reflect on my energy level and why I felt—more than most days recently—refreshed. My morning routine is very sacred to me. For those days that I am unable to complete the routine, I can feel it in the way that I communicate, make decisions, and express myself—my energy, my confidence, my happiness.

It took me a few months to build the habits that make up my routine, but I feel better for it and look forward to my mornings every day. So, here’s the secret to my success:

⏰ 6 a.m. – The alarm sounds, and I attempt to avoid any “snoozing.”
☕️ 6:15 a.m. – My first cup of coffee drains from the cup.
📚 6:30 a.m. – A book cracks open at the spine (currently I’m reading Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde).
👟 7:30 a.m. – My sneakers run and get dirty with Nike Running Club.
🚿 8 a.m. – Water rains from the showerhead to cleanse.
☕️ 8:15 a.m. – A second cup of coffee brews.
🍳 8:20 a.m. – Eggs, kielbasa, spinach and avocado are prepared for breakfast.
🗞 8:50 a.m. – Emails are opened for the consumption of the daily news (Bloomberg Technology for technology news, The Points Guy for travel news, 1440 Daily Digest for general news).
👨💻 9 a.m. – The (many) Slacks are answered as the workday begins.

Find out about all the exciting things happening in the McIntire community. Visit our news page for the latest updates.

More News