--by Trevor Pacelli
COVID-19 had forced many companies to work from home, which to this day still is massively the norm for countless workers. Yet how do managers and supervisors keep their employees productive? Many companies and workers have found the solution, although this new system ironically has been much more convenient—less need for office spaces, no more rush-hour traffic or inflated gas prices, extra time around families, more chances to finish little chores around the house, the list goes on!
Yet working from home can still be a curse because distractions pop up EVERYWHERE. Just look at the recent wave of hilarious YouTube videos where people on Zoom calls are interrupted by kids and pets. Distractions can get much more intrusive in a not-so-funny way: The dog threw up. The laundry must be done before the kids return home from school. Temptation rises to go snack on chips and surf the web. Without a boss around, it’s easier to lollygag and shift attention to something unrelated to work.
That’s where something called, the “dones” system could help those who work from home.
The idea started with my parents/supervisors after I had graduated from college. In my last semester at Arizona State University, I fell into a real pit of despair (no, not like in The Princess Bride) since I had no job ready for me. As one on the autism spectrum, my verbal communication skills are poor, and I learned to avoid customer service jobs because of my tendency to accidentally say something rude without meaning to. Thus, my employment options felt severely limited. Although my Dad worked with me to form professional connections, set up a strong LinkedIn profile, and perfect my resume, I still saw no hope in landing a job; I didn’t know when/if I would get one. I was starting to feel like the four and a half years I spent to get my Bachelor's degree was a worthless waste of time, and that I would just be better off killing myself. So after I arrived back home in Bellevue, Washington, my parents invited me to work for their business, Consetta Group, with a focus on developing my photography and movie review businesses, as well as promoting books they had published. And just like that, on February 1, 2016, I had a job!
Right away, we began using an innovative system designed to ensure I got stuff done, and we literally called it the "dones." Here's how it works: Before the month begins, I fill out a table of responsibilities I plan to focus on for that month; maybe I plan to put up a blog post before the month’s end or put up a new photography website, and those become that month’s "dones.” At the month’s end, I note whether I got those tasks done, and decide on the next month’s "dones." I record all this in a OneNote document, which my parents can access, and at the start of each month, we meet up to talk about the progress I made that month, and what I plan to get done the next month. The system keeps me, my mom, and my dad on the same page with minimal miscommunication, not to mention it makes gargantuan tasks like publishing a book feel less scary. This process also helps lay out a tangible "to-do" list that can refresh my memory on what tasks I should focus on throughout the week. Not that I always finish the tasks every time each month, but the greater priority is in making sure I’m learning and that there are still significant leaps made toward a project’s completion. Sometimes, at our monthly dones meeting, my dad requests I work on an additional side project throughout the month, or maybe research a topic for my personal and professional development.
I took a detour from working for my parents for a few years, but wasn’t seeing any growth in myself or opportunities at the company, so in September of 2021, I returned to Pacelli Publishing as their new Chief Storyteller, and my parents and I continued our "dones" system with five categories: my book series on movies, my education about the publishing process, the website about training churches to be disability-accepting (DiChampion.com), my fiction book series, and the children's book about autism I illustrated.
In my experience, this system puts less emphasis on me fulfilling forty weekly work hours, and greater emphasis on my goals. Although a goal should still exist to meet a mandatory number of weekly work hours, a bigger priority should be on the accomplishment of whatever long-term goals the company must meet. This is where working from home can be advantageous, because the ultra-flexibility with work hours and work environment can allow personal control over what goals to set, depending on the job.
Because of the “dones” system, I got three books successfully published in the last few months.
The “dones” have been the best possible work option for my professional growth, discovering new opportunities, personal accountability, goal-setting, and creative control, none of which would these three books have been possible without.
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