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Laptop and lamp at home

Due to the Coronavirus/COVID-19 outbreak, we are currently a part of a world-wide work-from-home experiment, whether we want to be or not.

For some of us, we’re used to working from home, and the only change is that we suddenly have family members home when we’re used to peace and quiet.

For others, we crave the social interaction of a busy office and now find ourselves trying to get things done on the corner of our kitchen table.

OWL Labs recently did a survey and found that 66% of people think their company is “somewhat to very prepared” for employees to work from home, but 34% of respondents thought their employer was not.

This means that if you find yourself suddenly having to work at home, there’s a good chance that it is on you to make it work.

Whether you are a Work From Home pro and want some tips, or you are struggling to focus and make progress away from your familiar office, we want to help you not just cope at home, but thrive. We promise it is possible!

Introducing The Work From Home Challenge

Enter the Work From Home Challenge Giveaway

Get 5 daily emails about the Work From Home challenge and get a chance to win great prizes:

In this 5-day Work From Home challenge, we’re going to show how to focus and get work done, even if you’ve never worked from home before and even if you have (though we love them dearly) distracting family members at home with you.

Plus, if you hang around until the end of the challenge, we’re going to be giving out some fantastic prizes:

First Prize: Bose QC35 II Noise Canceling Headphones ($350 value)

Bose QC35 II

Multiple members of the AE team use Bose QC35s, and noise-canceling headphones are extremely helpful when working at home with others. You need to create the mental space to focus, and these can help you get there.

Second Prize – Apple AirPods Pro ($250 value)

Airpods Pro

If you do a lot of teleconferencing (and if you work from home, you probably will), AirPods Pro are amazing. Almost weightless with a built-in mic and active noise cancellation.

Third Prize – The 12 Week Year by Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington

12 Week Year

A book that will help you plan your life and structure your time that focuses on execution, not theory and planning.

What others have to say

This is the first time we are doing a Work From Home challenge, and we’re super-excited about it. In the past, we’ve done other challenges on focus, personal automation, and email, and they’ve been popular. Here is what some of the AE readers have had to say…

I did this challenge 17 months back and it was phenomenal. Now reading it over again still makes so much sense. – Amratansh

Mind. Blown. How is it that something so BRILLIANT is so ‘unknown’?? – Katie

I am learning so much and it’s so easy. I will also say, very helpful. I completed all the challenges. – Rose

This is a powerful tool. My life has gone through a lot of changes in the past 2 years. And I need to be more concrete on the next few years ‘ direction. Mapped and laid out. – Marian

We’ve found that there’s nothing like a challenge to encourage us all to start taking concrete action. It doesn’t hurt when there are prizes involved too!

We’ve been working from home for more than a decade

When we started putting together this Work From Home challenge, it made me wonder: how long have I been working from home, anyways?

I pulled up my Record of Employment (Canadian thing) from my last corporate job, and to my surprise, my last day was March 31, 2010. So I’ve officially been working from home for over 10 years now.

BD Record of Employment

Thanh has been working from home for even longer — 12 years — and Asian Efficiency has been a remote company from Day 1. The entire team works from home in 4 different cities in 3 different (very different) time zones, so we are experts on working successfully from home.

AE Zoom call

Single, babies, young kids, teenagers, solo parenting, spouses working from home, we’ve worked at home through it all. And by “experts”, I mean that we’ve hit all the road bumps that you are likely going through right now, and are happy that we get to share our experience with you.

Here’s what to expect

We want this challenge to do three things for you:

  1. Help you make the transition from working in an office to working from home (if that’s you) and be just as productive, if not more.
  2. Help you stay focused — even with distracting news, family members, and co-workers who treat you being “Green” on Slack or Microsoft Teams as an invitation to interrupt you every five minutes.
  3. Provide you with systems and practices so that you thrive in a new economy where the ability to be flexible with where and how you work will give you a competitive advantage.

We always have thousands of fellow AE readers across the world take our challenges, and we are looking forward to sharing this journey with you. Here’s how it will work:

During the week, we will be posting ONE new tip each day, starting Monday, April 20. We designed these tips to help you develop your work-from-home skills and give you the tools and techniques that will help you thrive.


For each tip, there’ll be an exercise so that you can put your new strategy into action.

For this first pre-lesson, your homework is simple — comment below to let us know that you’re in, and if you’re a Twitter user, click this button to share that you’re taking the 5 Day Work From Home Challenge:

Tweet: I'm starting my Asian Efficiency 5-day Work From Home challenge! Join me here: https://ctt.ac/UL3wI

Why share? Very simple: You’re more likely to achieve a goal if you write it down, and by commenting and sharing it on social media, you’re letting others know, which boosts your follow-through rate even more.

So don’t skip this step! Comment below and show us, your friends, and (most importantly) yourself that you’re up for it.

Enter the Work From Home Challenge Giveaway

Get 5 daily emails about the Work From Home challenge and get a chance to win great prizes:

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Brooks Duncan

I love taking technical topics and translating them so that they make sense to non-nerds. I'm a Chartered Professional Accountant and have been a software developer and have run software support in very small startups and extremely large public corporations. I strive to be relentlessly helpful in everything that I do. I live in Vancouver, Canada and insert extra u's in many of my words.

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  1. I’m in…going from 20% to 100% WFH, I’m looking forward to the tips that will help improve my productivity.

  2. Currently looking for a new product manager job! I need to be super efficient so I can find the right position quickly. Job search is now all phone/Zoom and the jobs might be too.

  3. ‘Looking forward to it !! Any suggestions on how to deal with my two Siamese cats would be welcome. They are HUGE distractions, and if I kick them out of my home office and shut the door, then I have two YOWLING Siamese distractions. . .’bless ’em!!

  4. New to working from home due to Covid-19; easy to forget meetings when working, even with reminders. Over focus can also be a problem

  5. I’m in! I typically work from home every Friday and our department is completely set up for making this transition but with work being slow, I can use all the tips and tricks I can get to stay focused on the less then exciting tasks that I should be getting done.

  6. I’m in, this is a real challenge because I work from home but I have also to work at the hospital. I think that i will learn some hints useful for my life.

  7. I’m in! I’m looking forward to learning something new and getting more done. Distractions are real right now, so I need this more than words can express.

  8. Never too late to learn some more, and reflect how I am I doing things, and can I do it better. I love working @home, so if I perform well, I may be able to do it more, even in the next chapter after this COVID-19 has passed.

  9. Because of COVID-19, I am working from home for the first time in over 25 years. Additionally, I will be retiring by the end of 2020 and taking up a new home career. I need some tools.

    I have just discovered your blog and all the wondrous info available and I am absolutely looking forward to this WFH challenge. Woo hoo!

  10. I’m excited – I’ve been following AE for awhile but really for the first time feel like I’m in the mental space to actually try to integrate their tips into my life for real. Looking forward to seeing what life on the other side of the challenge will look like!

  11. I’m in! While I’ve been WFH for about 20 years and am a CPO and Productivity Consultant myself, I love to continue to learn from others and “be the client” when I can. Looking forward to the challenge.

  12. I’ve been WFH for 10+ years, but can always learn something new. The struggles ebb and flow, especially during this time when normal WFH environments are likely in some form of disarray. Having kids at home during work has presented new challenges, especially having to assist them with remote school work.

  13. I’m in – hoping for some tips on how to handle work-life integration when work and life are completely co-located. It’s hard (for all of us) when the 6 year old and 7 week old know I’m home but can’t interact with me because I’m ‘at work’. Ok, maybe the 7 week old doesn’t understand that part as much.

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New Training: How to be productive working from home