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Peak Performance.  Dudley ‘Tal’ Stokes explains how to main it by implementing his key elements and skills whilst working from home.

a working from home photo of desk and computer
Photo by Jay Wennington on Unsplash

Peak Performance coach Dudley Stokes knows a thing or two abut his expertise. Six years after crashing spectacularly in the Calgary Olympics Dudley’s Jamaican Bobsleigh team ended up was 14th overall in Lillehammer, Norway.

An amazing achievement and the ranking was a result of having achieved 10th place on each of the final two runs. They became the seventh best Nation, ahead of the USA, Italy and Russia.

Furthermore, this was the best finish in Olympic Competition for a black driver, and was achieved with massively limited resources in only six years.

Self-taught Dudley developed a number of skills and habits in this pursuit, which in turn have served him beyond sport.

A graduate of the Royal Military Academy and a successful entrepreneur, Dudley is a massively inspirational speaker particularly in the area of creating and maintaining high performance for individuals and workforces alike.

Dudley’s key points are:

 Know your time:

  • Decide on your working hours so you can achieve your peak performance
  • Make a schedule
  • Record what you actually did each day
  • Review actual against goals, refine

Organizing your home working space, however temporary:

  • Set a specific area for working
  • Try not to work where you sleep
  • Your space must allow you to sit or stand in the correct posture
  • Make sure that your lighting, allows you to see comfortably
  • Hard but necessary – try and minimize distractions. Sit behind a door if possible or separate the space with a chair or a desk or a potted plant.
  • The space has to suggest to you that it is time for business so you can go full throttle
  • Make sure you are equipped
  • Ensure your WIFI/ Broadband will cope. And your work Computer, laptop or desktop dedicated to work can access work network. If your desktop is not connected to WIFI, make sure you have an Ethernet cable and that it will reach your workstation.
  • Use your cell phone data as a back up
  • During the day the most important factor is to be productive and two monitors might help if you have them.
  • You might want to add an external monitor to your laptop if a desktop is not available
  • And if you have any use noise cancelling headphones to avoid audible distractions

Determine your support:

  • Google, search any problem
  • Who do you contact for company support – something crucial for proprietary software?
  • Who do you contact for Equipment and software manufacture support?
  • Which colleagues, friends and family are the best for support?

Your working day:

  • Most importantly, schedule work for your most productive times – the entire 24 hours in a day is yours, choose your best 8.
  • Have a definitive routine as if you were going to work. Shower, brush teeth, get dressed, gab breakfast and or a coffee. Always remember you are going to work. You don’t have to be dressed as you would be for work but be presentable as you never know when someone might skype you and it helps to maintain a work attitude.
  • Make sure everyone in your home is aware of your work hours and that they know when the can and can’t interrupt you.
  • If necessary and available check in with your colleagues, boss or entire team. A 10-minute meeting at the start or end of the day is often helpful. Eg WhatsApp for forming groups, keep in touch informally. Google Hangouts for Small group conferencing. ZOOM (how to send a zoom invite) for larger groups more formal conferencing
  • Work from lists and divide what you have to do into routine tasks and specific projects.
  • Work your work chores and projects in blocks of one and a half hours, stopping for 5 minutes in every 30 minutes.
  • After each 90 min block, take at least 30 minutes off to do routine tasks or domestic tasks such as laundry or cleaning or to exercise.
  • If you can go outside for exercise.

“I developed the trigger phrase, ‘work time’ which moved the athletes from ‘Jamaican and Feel the Rhythm’ to ‘German’ mode.”

  • It is important to develop trigger words and thoughts to change from home to office mode. As I moved the Jamaica Bobsleigh Team from comedians to competitors, I developed the trigger phrase, ‘work time’ which moved the athletes from ‘Jamaican and Feel the Rhythm’ to ‘German’ mode.
  • Many of you will undoubtedly have to incorporate natural interruptions into your schedule, e.g. if you have a baby, young children or elderly relatives so best work around their rest schedule. Try where you can to make arrangements for young children during your work time as you can’t watch over children and work effectively
  • It’s best to start early or otherwise schedule around peak internet usage times. It’s useful to work when demands on the network are low.
  • Very importantly shut down social media. This is where most of us fail. It is imperative that you turn off social media during work time. Best log out of every account. If you’re using Google Chrome, incognito mode works well and most browsers will have a similar feature. You can set specific times to catch up on your social media, and if it is part of your job, you should ensure that you keep separate business and personal accounts.
  • You might like to play music to fit your work if you like or run a TV* in the background on an informative channel like History or Discovery

*Why TV or music:

Your mind assigns resources to monitor for threats, much like a cat when it is eating. This makes you acutely aware of anything out of the ordinary, and breaks concentration. The sound from TV or music occupies this part of the brain  and allows you to focus on the task.

Other useful tips to maintain peak performance:

  • Where you can prepare your meals from the night before or a week in advance, so you do not have heavy cooking in the workday.
  • Animals can be a distraction so find a way to keep them out of your workspace unless they are specially trained

Keeping up morale:

  • Your morale is vital. And your willingness to achieve each goal is made up of your ambition, your commitment to the team or colleagues and the team ‘you’re your colleagues’ commitment to you. Nurture it by talking to them via WhatsApp, skype, facetime, phone and make sure you are easy to reach.  It is vital to do an electronic Face to face at least once a day
  • And finally make sure you laugh a little too.
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