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Work From Home – Working from a Hospital Room: Cancer Cured Book Excerpt

Posted by Douglas A Wick on Mon, Mar 30, 2020

Acute LeukemiaIn 2012 I was hospitalized with Acute Myeloid Leukemia for nearly 7 months.

With a home office I’d established patterns for working remotely.  A hospital isn’t an ideal environment to do work for your business.

I’ve been writing a book about my experience through cancer.

I thought I’d share an excerpt from my book to help you understand how I transformed my hospital room into my virtual office. 

This is from Cancer Cured: Chapter III, Imprisoned or Released

Solitary Confinement

Having to be isolated in a private room was a luxury to me.  It’s required for all leukemia patients.  For me, it was the best place for discovering how to fix myself.

Introverts get energy from being alone.  Extroverts get energy from interacting with others.

I’m an introvert. In John Doerr’s book Measure What Matters, he describes himself as an aggressive introvert. 

“people who solved problems quickly, objectively, systematically, and permanently. Following his lead, they were skilled at confronting a problem without attacking the person. They set politics aside to make faster, sounder, more collective decisions.”

That’s a good definition for me.

Leukemia - IV ChemotherapyThere were constant interruptions from nurses, doctor visits, chemotherapy treatments, and the IV-line Caddy I had shooting chemo or other blood cell shortages into my port, constantly going off to alert the nurses when something was wrong.

As I’ll share later, the bulk of those interruptions, I eliminated by putting signs up on the door “In a Meeting,” “Do Not Disturb – Meditating.”

My physician assistant, Kevin Heckman, provided me with a financial and mental premium my first week in the hospital. 

I’d asked him if he felt I could work while I was in the hospital.  His response encouraged me, “I don’t see why not?”

Being able to work provided me with the peace of mind I could continue to support my family, and the distraction I needed to escape my circumstances to focus on my customer’s problems rather than my own.

Nurses with the most tenure at University of Iowa Hospital choose which patients they wish to attend to each day.  On the 7th floor wing for leukemia, I became a favorite because I asked for and required so little attention during the day. Between meditating and business meetings I would have the Do Not Disturb Me sign up 4-6 hours or more each day. 

Leukemia - do-not-disturb-iphoneOnce I got into the habit of meditating, and then working, my door had a sign up to prevent interruptions from occurring. Introvert’s get and rebuild energy when they are alone. That was the case for me.

Prevent Interruptions

How strict was I on preventing interruptions?

One of my customers and friends, Roger Vorhies, SVC Construction in Fairfield, Iowa, visited me at the hospital one day. When he came to my door, he saw the sign up “In Meeting, Do Not Enter!” He immediately assumed it wasn’t for him.

He stepped in seeing me seated in a chair at my computer.  I never looked up, kept staring at my screen and waved him away.HTC phone pictures 047 UHIC Cancer Leukemia 2012

He never got to see me that day.

I was completely oblivious to who it was.  I assumed it was a nurse.  I never even knew he had visited me until a year later, when out of the hospital, Roger shared the story with me.  He’d driven over an hour to Iowa City to visit, due to my interruption rule, had waved him out of the room!  

Three Keys - Make Working from Home Work

When I got to the hospital, the first week I was in complete submission to the doctors and nurses routines.  A flurry of tests, doctor visits, food services, and health administration staff visited me. I was out of my element.  It took a week for me to harness the discipline and routine to manage my environment. Here are 3 keys you can learn to make working from home work for you:

  1. Protect your Environment - Avoid Distractions: If you have children, pets, a spouse at home, there are plenty of distractions. Create an environment to prevent distractions. Do whatever is necessary to keep your work area a no distraction zone to focus on work.  
  2. Establish Your Routine: Routine sets you free. Establish a routine at home and stick to it. You may have daily huddles and meetings. You have certain times of the day you work best.  Establish your routine to take advantage of when and how you work best.
  3. Six Most Important Things Each Day: It’s been my practice for a long time, every day before I end my day, before I end my work day, is write down the 6 most important things I need to get done the next day.  #1 is the most important, critical.  If I can only get that done, I can still feel good about the day.  The beauty of this is if you can cross out one, two or all six, at the end of the day you feel a sense of accomplishment.  Even better, write down the specific time you will do each of them.

One other suggestion; do Take Breaks –Reward Yourself.

Still searching for more good ideas, TalentSmart, the World’s #1 provider of Emotional Intelligence provides this link 5 Things To Do As You Transition To Remote Work

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NEXT BLOG – The MotivePatrick Lencioni - The Motive

Patrick Lencioni’s book the motive has just been released.  Lencioni feels he should have written this book first.  Find out why,  If you’re a leader of your company you should make this boo a must-read, that’s next blog.

Topics: Acute Myeloid Luekemia, Work Environment, Employee Wellbeing, Remote Working, Cancer Cured

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The Strategic Discipline Blog focuses on midsize business owners with a ravenous appetite to improve his or her leadership skills and business results.

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