Nick Sarnicola (@nicksarnicola) is the Founder of NextGen, an Entrepreneur and the longtime business partner of Blake Mallen. Together, they founded and scaled several global companies and billion-dollar lifestyle brands that have transformed millions of lives.
About This Episode:
In this episode of “#quarantineconversations” I have a conversation with my business partner for two decades, Nick Sarnicola on how to optimally work (and succeed) from home through useable tips, simple hacks and practical advice.
[Abridged conversation notes below]
NICK: One of the things Blake and I have done for 20+ years is build businesses from home. We’ve had corporate offices, but our gifts, strengths and knowledge base has always been working from home. Right now, many of us are working in our homes, so we wanted to give you usable tips and hacks you can apply to your career. This is in our blood and is second nature to us. We started these quarantine conversations out of the desire to provide value in this difficult time frame and most importantly to create better people coming out of quarantine than they were coming in…
BLAKE: Today, we’’ll adapt what we’d normally teach to elevate your effectiveness, productivity, results, and overall happiness and fulfillment levels, no matter what you’re doing for business.
NICK: One disclaimer first: Remember that Blake and I are not desensitized to what’s going on in our world today. We have empathy. We send our love to everyone who is struggling. But, in these conversations, we are choosing to stick to the positive, lead people through and focus on helping people become better because of this.
Tips 1 & 2: Have a Clear ‘Work-From-Home’ Mindset and Create a Work Environment
BLAKE: We need to define our work environment—a designated place we can actually “go to work.” If that’s a room, awesome. If it’s a space where you can shut your door, or even if it’s just a corner of a room, I recommend having at least an area where you can focus on getting work done. You need to design that area conducive to doing your best work, like eliminating distractions. Also, let people know that is your work environment and that is where you’ll be working. Nick and I both have families with little kids, so we have to set the expectation that we are “going to work” when we step into your office so that other family members know.
NICK: A lot of people think this is obvious and will undervalue what we say. It’s really about creating a mindset combined with an environment. You need to accept your work-from-home identity and stop complaining about it. Mindset is “I get up today and I walk to my office.” I recommend you create a routine around that. I’ve seen a lot of people quit their job to go work from home and totally fail because they don’t know how to create a mindset and environment of working from home. Make it look and feel like a different space: your work zone
BLAKE: Make sure you’re comfortable in that environment. You might be spending hours sitting, for example. Get a comfortable chair. If there is a television that is constantly on and distracting you, remove it.
Tip 3: Set Focus, Maximize Productivity and Know When to Reset
NICK: Maximizing your productivity goes back to mindset. If you’re not allowed to watch TV or be on social media in the office, don’t allow it at home. Your ability to self-regulate is important. If you can figure out how to succeed in this environment right now, you’ll be able to create other businesses from home even after you go back to work. Assume your boss is watching you at home and ask, “Would they be impressed?”
BLAKE: Set hours. How many hours are you going to focus on actual work? During those hours, define what you’re going to accomplish. Create the priorities and plan the tasks. Consider the 3 ‘R’s: What’s REQUIRED from me? What will get the biggest RETURN on my time and investment? What will give the biggest REWARD? Also, get dressed. If you roll out of bed and you roll into your workplace in your pajamas, you’re going to feel very different than if you’re wearing work clothes.
NICK: Regarding productivity, know when you need a reset. It can be 60 seconds or 15 minutes. You need to recognize when you feel burned out or distracted. Take a break, and then get back to work.
BLAKE: Resetting can be as simple as stretching, grabbing a drink, or touching base with the kids. A lot of people just ignore those little things but then become so mentally or physically worn out, they don’t maximize their productivity. Also, play a little reward system game with yourself that “When I do this, I’ll be able to do this or reward myself with this.”
NICK: Music is one of my favorite ways to reset. Throw the song on and jog around the house. Also, find a co-worker who can be your accountability partner.
BLAKE: If you’re in a place with other people around you, get a good pair of headphones. Also, keep off social media if you want to get something done. I’m a personal advocate of turning off all notifications when focused on completing something.
Tip 3: Set the Expectation with your Kids
NICK: For many parents, today’s new way of working from home has been complete culture shock. Now that children are in the same place as parents the whole day, life is different. I have two kids 6 years and younger, and this is what I’ve always done—even before quarantine. I speak to my children like they are intelligent and like they are young adults. I let them know my schedule. I sit down with them and pull out my phone and explain when I am unavailable. I’ll let them know that when I’m done, I’ll have 15 minutes where I can have a dance party with them. Then I’ll go and have another call. I’m constantly reminding them what my schedule is, and I’m rewarding them along the way with something like a treat or a movie. Also, I recommend that you have some sort of sign like green or red on your door. If green, they can come in. If red because you’re on a Zoom call or working on deadline, they know they can’t come in. And if your kids happen to come in while you’re on an important call, act normal. Don’t make yourself look like a bad human yelling at them. Let them come in and say “Hi” on the camera. Involve them, but don’t over-involve them.
BLAKE: In my family we make a plan. My younger daughter is not quite 2 yet, but my 4-year-old son understands and we start every morning reviewing the plan with them and also give him something to look forward to later on in the day, like a walk around the neighborhood.
NICK: If I had teenagers, I’d outsource work to them and compensate them. It’s a good way to get them involved and engaged.
BLAKE: I see a question wanting to know what technology we use. I use Zoom for meetings. For project management, I recommend the Trello app or Asana. I use Evernote for my notes and journaling. You can also hook up your phone or laptop to your TV with an HDMI cable to operate as a big screen.
NICK: Or, just go simple with a white board and write out what you need to do for the day with check marks.
NICK: So, the summary of how to master working from home comes down to:
- Start with a mindset.
- Create your environment.
- Stay focused and productive.
- Learn how to reset.
- Set the expectation correctly with your kids.
- Kick ass and take names, or don’t.
- Leverage your tools.
What’s 1 thing of value you got from this?
Mentions on the Show:
Trello project management tool
Asana project management tool