All Episodes

March 19, 2020 37 mins

Workouts between calls. Meditation apps. A desk candle to boost productivity. Work-from-home hacks for all of us, as we self-isolate and practice social distancing to slow the spread of Coronavirus.


Matt Mullenweg, founder of WordPress and Automattic, was an early evangelist of remote work. Back in the early 2000s, many of his first hires at Wordpress were people he had never met in person. Today, Automattic has nearly 1,200 employees spread across 75 countries around the globe.


With the pandemic now forcing many companies to unexpectedly adopt similar policies, Matt gives Laurie advice on transitioning to this new lifestyle and answers listener questions on the best ways for employees and employers to stay productive.


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Show Notes



Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:00):
First Contact with Lori Siegel is a production of Dot
Dot Dot Media and I Heart Radio. It's we're saying
that this is kind of boss level mode and that
this is the hardest version of working from home that
you can imagine, because a lot of people might have kids,
or they didn't really have a chance to prepare for this.
This definitely feels like boss level mode. I'll tell you that.

(00:23):
Much as you talk about kind of boss mode, I
think you know it's it's an interesting time to start
developing those routines and the things that you said you
would and you never did. You know. The hardest barrier
to that what is distractions. Yeah, so I think part
of what makes this harder is that there's so much
going on in the world. Do you use any meditation
apps yet? Well, no, but I certainly should because I

(00:44):
think one thing I've noticed in isolation is um the
mental gymnastics are maybe the hardest part of it. Okay, wow, Well,
we're in some very strange range circumstances, So Matt, I
wanted to bring you on First Contact. Matt Mullenwegg. You

(01:06):
are the founder of Automatic, which is the parent company
of WordPress dot com. If folks don't know what wordpresses.
I'd like to say that you guys power a good
amount of the Internet. You power thirty of websites are
hosted through WordPress. And something that I have always thought
was really interesting is you've been doing the whole work

(01:27):
from home or work remotely thing for a very long time, right,
Like I think, Um, you guys have never had one space, right. Yeah,
you know, we came out of the open source world.
So my first colleagues were actually we were working together
as volunteers over the Internet before the company even got started.
So our founding, in fact, was was on the internet. Wow.

(01:50):
So first of all, to give you a little bit
of a backstory, we just had to create this whole
setup at my place remotely. My colleague Jack was literally
remoting into my computer to help me set this all
up because in the last couple of days everything has
changed and we're all grappling with what this virus means
for us and what it means for work. And I mean,

(02:13):
I'm self isolating right now, and so I'm not leaving
my apartment and you're you too, you're self isolating. Yeah,
I'm doing kind of the physical distancing. So my mom
is a little bit older. So I just tried to
be extra careful with these things. And so I came
down to Houston a few weeks ago. Well, I think,
you know, as a lot of us are kind of
grappling with this moment. I think a lot of us

(02:35):
are trying to figure out how to work from home.
And I've never really done this before, so there've already
been some mishaps, Like truthfully, this is embarrassing to say
to you as like a tech founder, Like I think
I wore pajamas for my first four days in self isolation,
and people would try to face time in and I
was like, I don't think this is the right thing.
So I realized I had to put on real people

(02:56):
clothes like about a day ago. Um, and and so
I really wanted to help give people a sense of
best practices, Like how many employees do you have working remotely? Yeah,
so we're around people now. The company has been pretty
much completely remote from day one. We did do an
acquisition last year of Tumbler actually near you in New York,

(03:20):
and so we have a wee work space for them,
but it's declined to where only about I think fifty
people are going into that office regularly of course before
all the virus stuff started. So what we try to
say is that are our center of gravity is online.
So we use the word distributed instead of remote to
imply that that's not like essential and remote, but really
like every node is connected equally, and you want that

(03:41):
sort of equality of access to information and ability to
participate between everyone and the company. I want to get
started with, you know, because you're the expert in this,
but I guess maybe just to start because I know
this is a really emotional time. I know from me
maybe the hardest part of self isolating is the men
so gymnastics. So I want to just start by asking.

(04:03):
I know you talk about being in UM Houston, being
close to your mom. How are you doing? You know,
how are you mental health? Wish? Thank you? UM. You know,
I'm a little bit of a hermit with a computer
screen a lot of ways anyway, So I would say
that because I travel so much. Normally, you know, with

(04:23):
your friends, you kind of figure out ways to stay
connected even though you're not together. You know they might
have had you know, postal mail or telegrams or something.
Now we can do FaceTime. I have friends doing UM
dinner where they zoom hangouts you know, so uh, which
is also a good principle for remote work, is to say, like, well,
what what is really the thing that I was getting

(04:45):
out of X Y Z you know, kind of like
our first principle is thinking, well, I really like just
hanging out with my friends and here and what they're
up to kind of ambient intimacy there. Um, what's a
way you can get not a hundred percent, but maybe
a d percent of that without being physically co located
or even being in the same place at the same time.

(05:06):
And that helps a lot. You know, one of my
favorite things. I'm not good at this, but I have
a lot of friends who do voice those voice mesters,
voice memos. I have my friend as that says that
we leave each other voice memos. I think that might
be kind of cool to do during this time. It's
it's cool because it's it's intimate and that it's audio,
but it's asynchronous, right, you don't have to be on
at the same time, which can be hard, especially if

(05:28):
you're having a busy day. So when you think about that,
like what are the kind of levels of communication you know, text, audio, video,
and then can things be synchronous or asynchronous. That's actually
a really good framework to imagine all communication, whether that's
personal or professional. So as everyone um is basically beginning

(05:50):
to self isolate to stay at home, what are the
best practices like for working from home? Would you say, like,
what are the top three things that you need to
keep in mind as you begin to like set up
your work from home space. People have kids, you know,
some people are alone. I mean, there's so many other
factors when it comes to working remotely when you're not

(06:11):
around this community and in a physical building. You as
someone who has built a whole successful company based off
of this, so it could you give us like three
of your top key principles and advice for people who
are beginning to do this set up. Of course, and
it's also worth saying that right now is a little
different than normal working from home. Right we have people
doing it unexpectedly or might be actually trapped in their home,

(06:34):
which is is not usual. But three things I would
say are pretty universal. Or first, have some good routines.
So this sounds basic, but we forget it, you know,
like shower, get dressed, do some home exercise, you know,
kind of do those checkens like, am I hungry? Am
I tired? The routine also helps you build the boundaries, right.

(06:54):
One common mistake people who make when they start working
from home is they don't stop working. It's actually the
most common thing we have when people join automatic is overwork,
not underwork. So billion those boundaries and creating the space
for yourself, I think is around routines is a really
good step. One. What's your routine? Uh, well, it depends
on the day, but I try to read a little

(07:17):
bit in the morning, I meditate, do a little stretch,
and if I have extra time before my first meeting,
try to do some exercise. So and uh because all
sorts of hacks like the seven minute workouts, the one
that you don't need any weights or anything besides like
a chair and your body weight to to do something.
So if you get that movement, it helps a lot. Yeah,

(07:37):
I just started doing a This is very embarrassing to admit,
but I'm never I am not someone who is used
to being home. I just signed up for something called
like Dancing with Jessica or something, and it live streams
a dance class and somewhere in the South, and it's
almost like we get this a little bit of serendipity
back because I'm watching this this random class in the South,

(07:59):
and you she did a random prayer before they started.
It was very different than a New York workout class,
and prayed for the soldiers coming back who were going
to be in quarantine. And it almost reminded me of
that serendipity that we used to have on the internet
back in the day a little bit. So I've been
attempting to do that too. Um And you are talking
to someone who is terrible with uh, with routine in

(08:21):
general and working out in general. So I appreciate that,
and I think that's going to be really really important.
During this time, I started using an app called a
fit bod, which is kind of like a weight training
but you can program in whatever equipment you happen to have,
cool and it gives you a set of exercises. Some
people prefer life classes obviously. If someone has a peloton
like that, it's kind of built in. UM. So there's

(08:43):
a lot of cool ways there. Yeah, fit bought. That's
good to know. Okay, these are these are very helpful tips.
I mean, honestly, I don't mean to say like asking
for a friend, but I'm now asking for all of
us because we are in this insanely unique period and
I think for me, I thought, we have access to
people like you who have these understandings, so this specific

(09:04):
stuff actually really does help UM. So anyway, I'll do
fit bought if you do dancing with Jessica at some point, right,
we'll sign up for the same class. All right. Do
you use any meditation apps yet? Well, no, but I
certainly should because I think one thing I've noticed in
UH and isolation is um the mental gymnastics are maybe
the hardest part of it. So I should What meditation

(09:27):
apps are you using? My two favorites are waking up
with same. Harris, which is a good actually has a
fifty day course which you really learned how to meditate
quite well. But Calm, which I'm actually was an Angel investor,
and it's really great because they have specific kind of
things like if you're feeling anxious, then a couple of
day program just for that, and so Calm I tried

(09:47):
to do that at least ten or twenty minutes every day.
That's routine too. I would say, think about your communication,
try to be intentional in your communication. Especially you'll find yourself,
probably communicating a lot more over a written form. Try
to add all the context to the messages to give
whoever is on the other side of the screen all

(10:08):
the information they need to respond, and if you can
fluff it up a little. Because text can sometimes see abrupt,
we can often tend towards brevity or communicating online because
we treat it just like texting a friend and quick.
But try to fill it out a little bit. Um
use emoji, liberally, put some gifts, and try to make

(10:30):
it a little bit more human even though we're communicating
via text. That's a really smart thing. I really like
that because I'm just realizing, I think Sabine is listening
to this call. I was responding to her via text,
and I realized, like, my text message has probably sounded short.
This was for actually prepping for this interview with you,
and I didn't mean them too. It's just some some
of the humanity gets lost behind a screen when you're

(10:52):
moving quickly and you're doing work, and we don't actually
get that ability to look at each other and soften,
if that makes sense. So I appreciate that it helps
quite a bit. And I make this mistake all the time. Too,
of course, if you can ever jump if the person
wants to. If I'm just saying, hey, can we hop
on a call? I almost always say call not video

(11:14):
for much the reason that you said you were in
your pajamas. Like not everyone's always ready and has a
set up or a good hair day or whatever it
is to be prepared for video. But audio you can
hop on pretty much anytime, and there's some really great tools.
I recommend a good audio headset. Seineheiser makes some really
good ones SC thirty or SC one thirty. They're bucks

(11:35):
and it gets rid of the dog barking, it gets
rid of everything else going on. There's also some new
software that's pretty neat, one called crisp dot AI run
on your computer that removes all background noises. So it
uses machine learning algorithm to essentially remove everything it's set
for your voice, so you can actually be in like
a crowded restaurant, even which I guess we shouldn't be

(11:55):
right now, but you could be, and more likely you
might have like street noise is our air conditioning or
a washroom dry or something going on the back. The
audio quality makes a huge difference. It also makes it
so when you're on calls, people don't need a mute.
You know, when everyone's muted, it's weird in two ways.
One to the speaker it's totally silent, so it feels

(12:15):
like very strange just talking to a completely silent room.
And too, if you want to respond, you have to
un mute first, which jilts the conversation, slows it down.
So check out those. It helps quite a bit. You know,
if you're going to be on video, put a lamp
on your desk, better lighting. You don't want to look weird.
All those sort of things like helpe quite a bit.
I know, I would say to our listeners right now, Matt,

(12:37):
I'm looking at him on video, and he has a
very good setup. In the back. He has, like, you know,
a nice bookshelf that has like cool stuff, like is
that like some kind of cool album? Like you? Your
back set up looks much and more interesting than mine.
I have a staircase in mine, and I also have
I don't know why everything is shut down, but there's
construction happening outside. So thank you to all our listeners

(12:58):
who are bearing with my my home self isolation attempt
at giving them advice on working from home as I'm
not sure if I'm doing it the best. I actually
think your background is great. You have flowers, it's pretty tidy.
When some software like Zoom actually supports like a virtual
green screen so you can put an image behind you.
But it is good to take a few moments just

(13:19):
to make your background a little bit more professional, or
try to design a little bit, like put some pictures
of your loved ones there or something where it just
feels a little better. Yeah, you know. Finally, I would
say if the first tip was around, or the first
set of tips around like just being healthy so you're
in a good place. Seconds around like kind of the
work communication. I say third would be around, like what

(13:41):
are things you can do to actually make it way
better than you would be if you were in office.
So some examples, I have a candle on my desk.
I love candles. It smells really good. You can't really
do that in an office. You know, maybe you're hot
or cold in the office, so set the temperature exactly
how you like it. Something I like to do that.

(14:01):
I guess you could do an office I would just
be embarrassed. But in between meetings I like to do
just like a little micro exercise like twenty push ups
or twenty squads or something. So think of things that
are actually better because you're at home and by yourself,
that you can kind of building these healthy micro habits.
Put the music on you like as loud as you like.
I like to dance around a little sometimes if i'm

(14:22):
feel what's your song? What? What's your song? What song
are you dancing to? Ah? There's uh, there's It's called
The Days Without You. Crucion remix is one that always
gets me moving. That's amazing. I've decided where's the song.
I'm just gonna look for it for our listeners. I've
decided to wake up every morning to Yeah, Kylie Minogue
the song Dancing By the way, I was even like

(14:44):
a huge I mean I wasn't like a die hard
fan at all. I just it is such a great
song and and it's such a I realized, Um, there's
something about moving your body and smiling during this time. Okay,
we've got to take a quick break to hear from
our sponsors more with my guest after the break, when

(15:20):
I said mental gymnastics earlier, I mean, you know, to
give you more context. You know, it is easy to
get stuck on our own heads. It is easy to
not only just be working from home, but to be
dealing with issues like fear and anxiety about our loved ones,
not just ourselves. I think both of us are in
our thirties, right. You know, my mom is back in Atlanta,
you know, with sick in August. I you know, I

(15:43):
think we all have family right now. And I think
the mental gymnastics of of not knowing and knowing something
scary is to come, and you know, I think that
can be really hard. And I think music for me,
and I love hearing you say music has um has
always played a role in just making us mild during
times that are unprecedented and things we don't know how

(16:04):
much control we have over, although I will say I
think we have control and that we should be staying
inside right now. Yeah, it's the fastest way to shift
your mood, to change your brain. And you have the
advantage that you're not going to know any coworkers, maybe
your neighbors. But so these tools I think are just
things you can look to it just like the way
you put on your auction mass before helping others. UM

(16:26):
it helps and I think about it a lot in
some ways. You know, I've struck it a little bit
because it feels a little silly to talk about these
things while there's a crisis going on. But also I
think that if you know your I maybe not in
the health professions, we're not going to be able to
contribute in that way. Keeping the economy going, keeping lives
as normal as possible, being strong for friends and loved

(16:48):
ones is one small contribution you can do, sort of
keeping things moving even in a challenging time. Yeah, I
totally agree, you know. Part of I think what's important
during this time is for us, I mean especially for
people like you. You're a tech founder, a very successful
tech founder, and you know you have all these systems

(17:09):
in place, and you've been doing this for many years.
And I think for people to have access to someone
like you during this time because we're all turning to technology.
I would say in a way that we were all
using tech, but now I think we're about to develop
a very new relationship with tech because we're so dependent
on some of this. So I tried to do it
a different way, to send in voice memos, which I

(17:30):
wasn't sure if that would be a little bit creepy
but I'm like all for human connection right now as
I sit here isolated in New York. UM. And so
we had some people send in voice memos to ask
you questions because I want people to be able to
access UM some of the tech founders in the way
that that I'm able to kind of get on the
phone and call you guys. So I would love to

(17:51):
play some of those uh for you and then have
you just respond to them and their questions. Is that cool?
Sounds great? All right, he's the first one. Let's see, Hi, Matt.
I work at a real estate tech start up here
in New York City. Like many others, my company made
the decision to close the physical office last week in
response to the coronavirus pandemic and have all employees work

(18:16):
from home. And this is likely to be a period
of prolonged disruption. It's so important to have the right
culture for making a distributed workforce succeed. So what advice
would you give to leaders and companies who don't have
a distributed work culture as an inherent part of the operation,

(18:36):
but who are perhaps being forced to adopt such a
working style because of this crisis. And secondly, do you
think that this COVID nineteen outbreak will jump start a
paradigm shift in the way we think about work and
perhaps get businesses to become more permanently amenable to distributed
working styles. What do you think too? Really good questions?

(18:58):
One is I think we're trying to answer through the
whole this whole podcast, right is the advice for leaders.
The only thing I would add on top of what
we've already said is it's just to try to re
examine everything you're doing from that first principle's place. So
don't look at the input, look at the output. Not
like we need to meet Monday in this conference room

(19:19):
at nine am every week, but say what's the result
of that meeting? Why do we do that for the business?
And is there a different input that could get the
same output. So I think that you know, unusual times
are a perfect opportunity to reset habits, including work habits,
that you might have fallen into just doing things by

(19:40):
default doing it this week because we did it last week,
versus really looking at it from scratch and saying, well,
if we're reimagining everything, what is a different or better
way to address these things? And that is I think,
you know, if there's a way to make lemonade from
the lemons, here is one of the best things any
of us could do. To his second point, which is

(20:02):
how things might permanently shift. You know, they say about
democracy that once you've had a taste of freedom, it's
hard to return to your previous state. My hope is
that after the initial toughness that a lot of folks
are going to through through unexpectedly working from home, that
they can start to find some of the autonomy, agency,
and joy that can come from having more control over

(20:23):
your your work environments, your work schedule. Um again, being
judged on the output, not just the input, of what
you're contributing to your organization, and that we also will
understand that this is the first of these that we've
really experienced, but probably not the last. So just like
everyone's probably going to be a bit better prepared at

(20:45):
home for whatever you find that you're missing this time, UM,
I hope that everyone spruces up their home set up
a little bit there, thinks about where they'll work from
the plans for their kids or their spouses. If there's
two calls like it's going on at once. Whereas whereas
each partner or each person in the house going to
do it from And there's some pretty small and inexpensive

(21:06):
investments you can make, like a lamp on your desk
that can be a huge help to the quality of
your your ability to work from home in the comfort
of working from home. So make a list. Whatever you
find challenging, now write it down, talk to your colleagues
and friends about ways to address it, and uh, you know,
when as things settle down or Amazon is still working

(21:28):
wherever you are, start to uh you know, make those
small investments and tweaks so allow you to be as
productive or ideally even far more productive uh and your
own environment than you are in your shared office environment.
I think that's great. Advices Someone I know who's a
leader of a big company message me today and SIT's
something along the lines of, you know, there is so

(21:48):
much more efficiency to and some of it when there's
something like this that happens, people are cutting right to it.
Some of these video calls like are very very efficient,
and so I think there is something about this moment
where we're we're cutting through the fat and some of
the important things are rising to the top as well.
And I think that that will probably manifest itself in

(22:08):
some capacity into our work as well. It's we're saying
that this is kind of boss level mode, and that
this is the hardest version of working from home that
you could imagine, because a lot of people might have
kids or something at home that aren't used to are
unexpectedly at home, or they didn't really have a chance
to prepare for this. So I do hope that there's
a positive outcome. But I also would say that if

(22:30):
this seems extra rough for you the next week or two,
think about what might make it easier the next time.
This is this is a highly unusual situation in every
sense of the word. And if it doesn't go well,
don't don't write off work from home just because, you
know the time when we weren't really allowed to leave
our apartments, it was extra hard. This is boss level mode.
This definitely feels like boss level mode. I'll tell you

(22:51):
that much. All right, I'm going to play the next one.
It's Nick Smooth from Quarterline, Idaho with Innovation Collective, and
I wanted to ask, what are you things you're doing
to hold on to routines as they're being completely destroyed.
Routines usually come from a place of priorities, and uh,

(23:12):
you know, I'm on day six and trying to rediscover
how to implement my priorities through new routines. But um,
it's a struggle, to be honest, and I have two
boys through seven and nine, and their routines are being
completely jacked up as well. So any advice on personally
rediscovering routines and things to experiment with and how do

(23:33):
you help your kids rediscover and redefine their routines. That
is a tricky one because, as we just talked about,
this is an unusual situation. So I answer for me personally.
As Laurie knows, I I travel a lot because we
have a distributed company, so I would travel a lot
to meet people. I did over five hundred thousand miles
last year, so that means my average miles per hour

(23:55):
twenty four hours a day, it was like over fifty
seven miles per hour. So thanks still for a couple
of weeks now and maybe a month or two more after.
This is highly unusual. So I'm using it as an
opportunity to look at things I found harder when I
was on the road that I'm trying to like build
in the good habits now. So for me, much like

(24:15):
you said earlier, Laurie, like I actually found working out
really hard because I might be in a different hotel
or airbnb a couple of times a week, and it
was just kind of hard to get that routine. And
so I'm using this one thing being the same every day,
which is where I am. Let's trying to build in
that routine. It's kind pretty well so far. I'm also
trying not to beat myself up if I miss a

(24:36):
day because it's a really really busy work day or
something like that. But I think that that is a
good opportunity to readdress in terms of kids, family members, spouses,
all these folks being thrust into the situation as well.
What I found most effective is just taking a little
time to zoom out and check in with folks. So

(24:58):
often we kind of go day to day just doing doing,
doing doing, and it's nice to reflect and just take,
you know, ten minutes at the beginning of dinner for
every person to go around the table and say, how
has this been, what have they found challenging, what have
they found easy, what have they liked, what have they disliked,
and just take that without judgment. And then have just

(25:20):
a little brainstorm, where are some things we can try
over the next few days that might be different, and
then do that chuck in a few days later, see
how it went. That sort of iterative process is so
simple it even feels silly saying it because it's so simple,
but is the most effective way to drive change in
any organization or a group of people. I love that advice,

(25:44):
and I think for me personally, you know, before this happened,
I had all these things I said I wanted to
do right about taking care of myself. And I've like you, Matt,
like we've known each other for how many years? I like,
I don't even know, well over a decade, now, well
over a second. I should mention the show is called
First Contact, our first contact we had. I think, I

(26:05):
ate Ribs for the first time with you in Brooklyn
and our first contact. And and I think there have
been so many years, I've said, because I, you know,
a reporter for CNN for ten years. I was on
the road all the time, I was moving so quickly,
and I think, um, you know, there are so many
things on that to do list of how I could

(26:26):
take care of myself better right in self care and
something like you talk about having a candle dancing a
little bit. You know, from me, it's on the list
of self care. It's been you know, trying to take
a bath, right, like enjoy something like that. It's been
try to learn to be home and work out, try
to be still more. And I think to a degree,

(26:47):
this is potentially for me when it comes to routine,
forcing me into that in a way that I said
I was going to do it, and now that's it's
almost a survival technique for me, having been a nice elation.
Now for I would say seven days, and we don't
know how long this is going to go. So I
think using this as an opportunity for some kind of

(27:07):
self reflection. Someone message me the other day and said,
I'm an extrovert, what do I do? And by the way,
who am I to give this advice? Right? But I
think for me personally, using this to look inwards and say,
here are some of the things that I want to
work on personally, and this is horrible what's happening. But
to be able to actually spend some time to try
to do those things, because you don't really have another option.

(27:29):
As you talk about kind of boss mode. I think,
you know, it's it's an interesting time to start developing
those routines and the things that you said you would
and you never did, you know. You know, the hardest
barrier to that is destructions. So I think part of
what makes this harder is that there's so much going
on in the world, so you do have to create
that space for yourself to get done whatever you feel

(27:50):
like you need to do that day. I'm going to
say this, but I will also preface it with this
is really hard for me too. But the news will
still be there in a few hours. Twitter will still
be there, I Spooker still be there. So you can
turn those things off. You'll find your mental health is
a lot your mind's a lot clearer, and you're not
actually going to miss something that's going to make a

(28:10):
huge difference. You know. I spoke to an entrepreneur who
was in quarantine in China and I said to him,
what's the thing about this that's been hard? And he said,
you know, I've started being fully engulfed digitally right and
because of that, it's like jokes, He's like I swallow
the red pill man, like I went all in, you know,

(28:30):
And so it's almost harder. Um. I think it's incredible
and that we can all find connection right now and
we all need human connection and tech, which has gotten
a pretty bad rap for the last you know, a
couple of years, has helped us find some humanity again.
But I do I'm with you. I think we've got
to be pretty careful because some of the days that
have gone by, like I could spend easily without even

(28:52):
realizing it hours almost like it's almost okay now in
a way that it wasn't just completely going away. So
I love this idea of like maybe putting away your
phone if you can for a couple of hours, or
finding some time to to try to do that, and
don't do it just because someone on a podcast said
to try it. So for example, take a day and

(29:12):
say I'm gonna check Twitter as much as I want,
and then at the end of the day just say
how you feel, write it down, and then try another
day where you stop yourself from it. And if they
just write down how you feel. I mean all these things,
this sort of opportunity of self experiment can be really rich,
but you have to be a little systematic about it.
So write things down. They'll just go with what you
think you felt or how you felt. So it's really helpful. Okay,

(29:39):
we've got to take a quick break to hear from
our sponsors more with my guest. After the break, We've

(30:00):
got one more before we wrap, so hold on, hi,
this is many. My questions are how to be more
focused and productive while working from home, given that I
did not work remotely in recent past. Also how to
navigate around various destructions while working from home. So I

(30:21):
know we've covered a lot of this, but maybe if
you could kind of recap it. I know I'm with you, man,
like I I am totally with you and dealing with that.
So that is why I brought in Matt. That's great
software like QB Serve, screen Time, et cetera. So I
like the self profile. So sometimes it's very eye opening

(30:41):
to look back and see how much time you actually
spent on a certain website. So check out rescue time,
QB Serve, and of course screen Time, which is built
into a lot of Apple devices, to see where you
actually spend your time and whether that aligns with what
your priorities are. On my desk, the candles actually a
nice hack because I find it actually does help me focus.

(31:02):
If you can have some sort of totem or reminder
on your desk that if you find yourself being pulled
to distraction, which often is a symptom of some other
feeling like anxiety, loneliness, something else, if the totem can
remind you of that to take a deep breath, or
to close the new tab or something like that, it

(31:23):
can be really really helpful. I use a Chrome extension
called Momentum that when you launch a new tab, it
can tell you what percent of the day you have left,
or show you a custom message or a different image.
So just use this as a reminder because often opening
a new tab is that point of distraction. Um it
just you know, to try to catch myself before I
trigger this sort of unproductive habit, and those can be

(31:46):
most helpful. But like I said, don't beat yourself up,
and also just try different things. One thing I've started
doing to kind of balance is I'll set a timer
when I go to a website, So I use um
some soft are called Tomato one, but it's any sort
of pometeral timer or set a time on your phone.
Let's just say, hey, I'm gonna spend fifteen minutes on

(32:08):
Twitter and started, and when that alarm finishes, close the
tab or closed the app or whatever it is. These
things sound silly, but you kind of need a little
bit more self discipline, especially in the beginning, to do this,
and don't don't rely just on your willpower, like use
the technology to make it easier for you. Those would
be the ones that that I say, I'll go a

(32:30):
little extra. On that new tab screen, it allows a countdown.
So I actually went to an actuarial calendar calculator and
sort of plugged in my data birth and whether I
smoke or not, and it it gave me the the
age I would probably live to. So I plugged that
into the countdown timers. So every time I launch a
new tab, it says memento morin and the number of

(32:52):
days until that day when statistically I'm likely to kick
the bucket. So right now it's four five hutour. That's
about how many days I probably have left going around
the sun or with Earth rotating, And so just reminding
myself of that is a really great thing to to say, like,
is what I'm doing truly important? Right now? Okay? Am

(33:14):
I doing the thing that you have fourteen thousand days left,
is it is how I want to spend those days.
So look just around your environment, your habits, everything you're doing,
and see where you can kind of insert either a
reminder or a trigger or an interruption that can help
you make good choices to try to make it easier
on yourself. There's no reason to make it hard. Um.

(33:37):
We have a lot of technology, and almost every piece
of technology you use can be customized. There's time well
spent things on your phone where you can limit time
on certain apps. You can get software for your computer
that blocks certain websites between certain times of the day.
Sometimes I put my computer in airplane mode just to
like make sure I can read a document without interruptions.

(33:58):
So just figure out what it is that makes it
easy for you and I do that. I love that advice.
We launched a community number so people can text me
and and someone texted. Something they did when they were
in the military to take care of themselves during tough
times was they would write down things they were going
to do when things got better, right down restaurants they

(34:21):
wanted to go to. So I'm going to start doing that,
you know, because we don't know how long we're going
to be in quarantine and self isolating and we don't
know how long this is going to be. So what
are you looking forward to when all this is, when
all this is over? Yeah, I think just getting together
with friends of that worry. It's one of those things.

(34:42):
Like I said, I'm still trying to see my mom
when I can, So that means that everyone else I'm
trying to avoid saying because I don't want to be
an unknown carrier or asymptomatic carrier to her. So just that,
you know what, I'll pick one thing. Hugs. I'm gonna
hug or given and receiving hugs, and uh, we're kind

(35:04):
of not doing that right now. We're doing elbow bumps
if you even you see someone. So just I'm looking
forward to hugs again. Yeah, I'm with you. I can't
wait to give folks giant hugs. No time soon, no
time soon, but but wow, I can't wait till this
is over and we can all hug each other. And
I think that's a nice way to end with a

(35:24):
hopeful future and hugs in these times of social distancing,
when everything feels completely unknown. I have always believed it's
important to stay connected but I believe that now more
than ever, So I say this and I mean it.

(35:47):
Reach out to us, reach out to me, keep an
eye out on our social media. We're gonna have ways
to participate. You can text men five zero three four zero. Also,
if you have anything you're thinking about, and if you're
sitting in self isolation you want to say something, you
have questions, send me a voice memo to First Contact

(36:07):
Podcast at gmail dot com. We're going to do our
best to be there for everyone during this tough time.
Thanks for listening. You can connect with me. I'm self
isolating and here I am at Lorie Siegel on Twitter
and Instagram. The show is at First Contact Podcast on
Instagram and on Twitter. You can find us or at

(36:27):
First Contact Pod and First Contact of production of dot
dot dot Media. Executive produced by Lorie Siegel and Derek Dodge.
I will say we're executive producing it from home at
the moment. This episode was produced and edited by Sabine
Jansen and Jack Reagan. The original theme music is by
Xanders Seeing. I hope everyone is staying home and staying
healthy during this time. We're sending our thoughts to each

(36:50):
and every one of you, guys, First Contact with Lorie
Siegel is a production of Dot Dot Dot Media and
I Heart Radio.
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