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Four essential connections now

<v ->Hi, I’m Sue Ashford.</v> I’m a faculty member at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. And I’m happy to share a few lessons today that I learned from doing a lot of research on a special group of people. A group that’s special for the times that we’re in. These were a sample of independent workers. People who worked on their own outside of organizations had to make their own work life work for them. I learned a lot about how to make the situation similar to what we’re in. Where we’re on our own in quarantine, and needing to keep going, being productive, or forgive ourselves for not being productive. But having a vital life in that situation.
And I’m delighted to pass on some of the lessons I think I’ve learned from these people who’ve essentially been doing that for years. What we learned from talking to these people is that there were four connections that they set up and nurtured in order to make their work life work for them. The first was a connection to other people whether it was a writer connecting to her publisher, a consultant connecting to other consultants, or a filmmaker connecting to her spouse. They got from those connections both focus, keeping them on track, and also inspiration to go further and aim higher. Those connections were valuable to them. But that wasn’t the only thing that they connected to.
They were also very connected to the place where they did their work, and they were thoughtful about how they set it up, where it was, et cetera. One writer worked in a family house in Maine, and he had a little shack in the woods that was six by eight. And he said that small space was essential to keep him focused on his tasks. Another said she put into her workspace things that inspired her from the client she had had previously from the way she wanted to do her work. And then place reinforced who she wanted to be, and how she would do her work. The third connection is to routines.
And you’ve seen a little bit about this on the web about having a schedule and having a set routine. Let me tell you, the ones that were most important to these independent workers were having a routine that got them into the work at the beginning of the day, and out of the work at the end of the day. So that they were transitioning from their work to their work life. Now I know for some of you, you get interrupted a lot more than that during the day, but setting up a routine that helps you transition back into work might be super useful for you. And then, the forth connection was to purpose.
Having a bigger reason why you’re doing what you’re doing that you can call on, invoke, and connect back to can really help you stay motivated when time gets tough and we’ve been doing the same thing day after day, after day, after day. So connection to people, place, routines, and purpose can really help you to keep going when you’re working independently on your own. Thank you.

Most of us are accustomed to having physical boundaries between where we work and where we live. But physical distancing measures have changed that for many of us. Sue Ashford, the Michael and Susan Jandernoa Professor of Management and Organizations at the University of Michigan, describes four connections that are crucial for engaging in remote studying or work.

Your practice: Make these four connections each day

  1. Connect to someone around your work or studies
  2. Connect to your physical location
  3. Connect to routines to start and end the day
  4. Connect to your purpose
Did you try the four connections? Which seemed most relevant for your right now? What small routine could you establish to enter and exit your work effectively?
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